RIP Steve Ditko: You, Jack Kirby and Wally Wood Opened My Eyes to a World of Heroic Fantasy

Steve Ditko's cover for Amazing Spider-Man No. 4, possibly the first super-hero comic I read, as a nine-year old in 1972.Today I’m remembering the US comic artist Steve Ditko, who has died at the age of 90, and was one of three comic artists who opened my eyes to the world of super-heroes — Marvel super-heroes — on a summer holiday in Devon in 1972, when I was nine years old.

On a wardrobe in a B&B where we were staying were pages from a couple of comics, Smash! and Pow!, which were published in the late 60s by Odhams Press, a subsidiary of IPC, featuring reprints of Marvel comics from the 1960s — especially, I remember, Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man, Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four, and Wally Wood’s Daredevil. 

All three titles were written by Stan Lee, whose abilities with characterisation and breezy dialogue helped to ensure that Marvel made super-hero comics cool in the 1960s, and made their main rivals DC, the home of Superman and Batman, look increasingly irrelevant.

However. while Stan may have had the patter, the vision came from the artists. Jack Kirby’s heroic, electric style epitomised the new face of super-heroes, creating a template that continues to fundamentally define the medium. The Fantastic Four started Marvel’s’ super-hero era in November 1961, and in the extraordinarily fertile few years that followed, Kirby, with Lee, also brought forth almost the entire basis of the Marvel Universe — Thor, the Hulk, Iron Man, the Avengers, featuring the revival of Captain America, which Kirby had created with Joe Simon back in the 1940s, and the original X-Men, as well the Silver Surfer, the Black Panther, and a host of memorable villains from the galactic greed of Galactus to the deadly deviousness of Doctor Doom. Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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