This collected book reprints several comic books crime stories created by comic book greats Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Simon, who is still alive and nearly 100 years-old as well as Kirby’s estate collaborated on the production of this book. The book contains several stories published in various comic books between 1947 and 1954.
I didn’t read most of the stories in this book because it was difficult to go into that period of comic book history just for fun. These are not the best stories and the best-drawn stories created by Simon and Kirby. They are stories, however which are owned by both Simon and Kirby’s estates. Most of the stories are very short and extremely didactic. Readers back then were supposed to earn something as well as be entertained. Some of the stories are based on actual events.
The real value of this book is not its entertainment value – the stories are not that good. What is valuable is the historical artefact and collection of material from a period that was difficult in the comic book industry when super heroes’ popularity was waning and crime, romance and other now, almost rare genre in North American comics took up the relay race.
It seems that Kirby’s work was better-suited to super heroes, where he could draw lean and slender figures instead of being overwhelmed with the folds and flaps of regular clothing. One thing that Kirby did well in this collection was storytelling. In bit a few panels, he could capture vast quantities of information and share it dynamically. His weakness was in the actual rendering of figures which looked rough. In hindsight, a collection of stories dealing with petty criminals and women of questionable morals could not be a superbly polished piece. The book is thick and has several stories to pick from. Yes, it’s a great coffee table collection, but also for the budding comic book historian, it’s a great resource – provided you are either studying the period in between the super hero age or you are interested in comparing Simon and Kirby’s work with the comics published at EC Comics over the same period. EC Comics had better illustrators and the stories were a bit more mature.