Long before Dr. Fredric Wertham created the unnecessary panic about the “harm” comics reaped on the impressionable youth, the industry was proving crime does pay. Not through criminal acts, but through the endless stream of amazing crime comics, none of which held a candle to the work of Jack Kirby and Joe Simon. The men who gave us Captain America cemented their partnership, and their legend, by creating the most varied, unsavory and diabolical cast of characters in crime comic history. Titan Books has collected these treasures, given them an overhaul and presented a must have for any comic book lover.
It’s impossible to point to any one starting point in this mammoth collection because everything is brilliant. Cover to cover, there is not one bad panel or poorly written story amongst the three hundred plus pages. Joe Simon’s gifts with dialog and plot are above reproach. Even with the simplistic themes happening, Simon gives the stories depth and character. These adventures are sordid, a glimpse into a world that’s visceral and exciting. Dialog is key here and Simon’s work pops and crackles with the best of them. As different as the mediums were, Simon’s writing belongs up there with Dashiell Hammett, Richard Stark, and Jim Thompson. His characters are just as real, his situations just as dark and the conversations truly authentic.
Assisting Simon in the world of crime comics is the legend, the man, the icon, Jack Kirby. What can you say about Kirby that doesn’t sound stupid? He was a brilliant artist? He revolutionized comics? He was the Michelangelo of the comic book world? Bah, those are platitudes that can’t even begin to touch his genius. Jack Kirby simply could not draw a bad panel, nor could he create something that didn’t burst forth with a life of it’s own. The hard-boiled look of the villains, the steady nerves of the hero, the violence – it was a dance and Kirby was the master of ceremonies. Bullets felt like they were whizzing by you, the bare-knuckle brawls were alive with pain; everything moves and breathes like living art. The genesis of his achievements came with these crime comics. This is where he honed his craft to a razor’s edge. Each time you flip the page with Simon & Kirby's Crime it’s a new wonder to behold. I don’t care if I’m gushing; there is simply nothing on earth like the work of Jack Kirby.
Even if you’re not a comic book fan, Simon & Kirby's Crime is something you should pick up. The historical significance alone makes these collection worth owning. These are the stories that took comics from a children’s medium to the million-dollar industry it is now. Simon & Kirby, along with Will Eisner and a few others truly believed that comic books were an art form and their work reflects that. If you’re a crime buff but not into comics, trust me this will be the collection that gets you involved. Simon & Kirby's Crime proves without question that these two are the past, present and future of comic books.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 10/10 (Because it only goes up to 10)
(Editor's Note: You want an example? Check out an exclusive complete story excerpt from Simon & Kirby's Crime right here on Crave Online.)