Ned Balbo
May 2013


For Jacob Kurtzberg

                Better known as Jack Kirby (1917-1993)

Nothing beyond his power, in Mineola,
drawing furiously, the artist Jacob,
“Jack” to friends and fans, finds one idea
compels him, hurtling, through every job—

for money, sure, but also (lit cigar stub
trailing smoke) for love: he knows his genre
offers myth, and heroes need a problem
that will test their powers. In Mineola,

working from home (postwar suburbia),
an East Side kid, Jack punched his way past trouble,
gave the world Captain America,
and more: the pantheon of heroes Jacob

draws for Marvel now. Aye, there’s the rub
(eraser-shreds brushed back, tabula rasa
of the next page waiting): credit-grabbing
wordsmith Stan will think this new idea

is his alone; still, pages fill the sofa,
ready for the shoot. No time for “grub”—
Jack’s on a mission, as at Omaha
ten days after the landing, when the job

eclipsed, by far, some petty contract’s quota.
But what foe must his quartet face and clobber?
A silver angel falls, his gleaming aura
crackling as he wakes in fiery rubble, 
nothing beyond his power.

Information on the life and career of comics giant Jack Kirby is drawn from The Comics Journal Library, Volume One: Jack Kirby (Fantagraphics Books: Seattle, WA: 2002), especially “Interview I: ‘There is something stupid in violence as violence’” (conducted by Mark Hebert) and “Interview II: ‘I created an army of characters, and now my connection with them is lost’” (conducted by Tim Skelly). 

Kirby co-created Captain America with Joe Simon prior to the U.S. entry into WWII. Kirby’s collaborator and editor during the 1960’s (and co-creator of the Marvel Universe) was Stan Lee. The “fallen angel” is the Silver Surfer, herald of world-devouring Galactus.


Originally appeared in Archaeopteryx: The Newman Journal of Ideas 1 (2012).