Jack Kirby’s The Losers : Lest We Forget

Sure, we’re all excited for the coming comic film season. From Kick Ass, to Iron Man 2, Scott Pligrim, Jonah Hex and beyond.

I’m also excited about The Losers . The trailer looks great and indications seem to suggest the producers have followed the bluprint to sucsess laid out by Andy Diggle and Jock’s excellent series from 2003-2006. A stellar cast, from the sizzling hot Zoe Saldana as Aisha , Chris (the OMAC of  comic films)Evans, and Jeffery Dean Morgan as Clay.

Today, during a rare moment of house cleaning, I came across last years purchase of the DC Archives collection of Jack Kirby’s 1974 run on the original group of DC’s Losers. They were former solo DC war heroes in their own features, Capt. Storm, Johnny Cloud, Gunner and Sarge, the stars of Our Fighting Forces.

I’ve read and heard many interviews with men who knew Kirby and worked with him in the various comic art studios and the consensus was that he was forever haunted by his WW2  service.  He was an infantry scout who was sent in advance of his unit to report enemy presence in unknown territories  suffered terrible frostbite that turned his toes black . Doctors considered amputating his feet, but luckily his condition slowly improved  Kirby spent over a year  recovering  in an British army hospital.

There’s a real sense of the weary soldier’s tale in his 12 issue run. In OFF #153  I found an essay by Kirby explaining the stories he wanted to tell in the series. Interesting that he reffered to himself as Editor in this piece.

“The  Losers are not fictional characters, but bits and pieces of myself, and the people who shared the war with me. In this context we shall all see it, sniff the air of the times, and know that the sounds spelled out graphically in the action panels are true duplications of what I heard with my own ears, in places where men really died or suffered their wounds until they could be moved to the rear.”

It comes through.In some ways the Losers become less like their former depictions and more like 4 guys sharing the same mind set of being ineffective spectators to the hugeness of the war.

Still there were fans who didn’t like the shift from the tone of Robert Kanigher’s war stories to Kirby’s  style . In fact one FURYOUS letter writer in #154 said that in Kirby’s hands “OFF was looking too much like an issue of Sgt ‘You Know Who’ . ”  I’d disagree. Fury & The Howlers seemed to enjoy their skirmishes more than the  Losers did under Kirby’s watch.

Judge for yourself. Jack Kirby’s The Losers is a great collection of some of The King’s best stories of the 1970’s.

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One response to “Jack Kirby’s The Losers : Lest We Forget

  1. Thanks for the suggestion John.

    I’ve been intrigued by these characters ever since they were put to good use in Cooke’s “New Frontier.”

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