Jack Kirby was a bit of a prophet, but he didn’t always foresee a rosy future of helpful satellites and friendly mother boxes.
As Elana Levin pointed out in a fantastic article about a Forever People story, Kirby’s Glorious Godfrey is an uncanny dead ringer for a certain commander-in-chief. But I’m seeing familiar orange monstrosities in a lot of Kirby comics lately, much to my chagrin, dismay, horror, and amusement.
The monster comics Kirby made with Stan Lee and Larry Lieber just before the creation of the Fantastic Four are full of orange monsters similar in appearance, if not philosophy, to our very own orange monster-in-chief.
The disgraceful presidency we currently labor under gives Kirby’s behemoths a relevance Kirby would likely appreciate, since he fought fascism and Nazis personally — and ferociously — in and out of World War II. It’s a lovely cosmic coincidence that our white supremacist, Nazi-hugging, sexually predatory “President” shares a repulsive hue with so many Kirby villains.
I’ve been admiring Kirby’s monsters for a while, but the one that made me look deeper at these creepers was this panel from decades later, featuring Vykin of the Forever People:
I was inspired to tweet that pic along with this observation (which I’m hoping may lead to a job offer from MSNBC): “Jack Kirby’s illustration of an orange monster attacking a Black man feels relevant for some reason.”
The fact is, all of Kirby’s orange monsters feel newly relevant — except for the Thing, a cigar-chomping tragic hero whose personality is pure Kirby. But as for the rest of these orange beasties, they provide unintentional but karmically appropriate caricatures of the most disgusting and powerful person in America.
For example, Orrgo.
The cover copy—“What would YOU do if you were suddenly to come face-to-face with the worse menace Earth has ever known?”—would apply equally well to a potential meeting with President Day Care.
Another orange beast is Pildorr, whose hobbies include plundering and making humans take long walks on short space planks:
I can neither confirm nor deny that this cover inspired the United States’ current approach to immigration, healthcare, and collaboration with fellow Republicans.
Pildorr came from outer space, but Gigantus is “the demon from the depths,” who might have had both Aquaman and the Sub-Mariner for lunch. I sure hope he’s wearing trunks, a la Fin Fang Foom.
Our worldly orange monster would likely resink Atlantis if his gelatinous ooze every made contact with a natural body of water, so he isn’t exactly like Gigantus. However, the POTUS is also a product of the depths — not of the ocean but of hatred and madness.
Then there’s Grogg, who’s more of a flier than a swimmer.
Sadly, these pitchfork-carrying villagers have more sense than many Americans.
But maybe I’m being too harsh in comparing America’s top political pumpkinhead to the likes of Orrgo and Spragg. Wait, did I compare him to Spragg? Here’s Spragg:
Spragg and company aren’t exactly pillars of the community, but they never encouraged Nazis, attacked war heroes, questioned Barack Obama’s birthplace, sucked up to Vladimir Putin, or seemed hellbent on instigating both civil and nuclear war while lowing the dignity of the Presidency somewhere beneath the Mole Man.
By comparing this lot to President Evil, I may owe an apology to the massive orange community.
For a more accurate comic-book representation of our current situation, you’d have to go to Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson’s Transmetropolitan — featuring the Hunter S. Thompson-inspired Spider Jerusalem.
Jerusalem describes a two-term (Grogg, help us) President known as the Beast as the “…thing in us that votes to fuck other people in the gall bladder, the lizard brain that says nothing but eat-kill-hump-shit.”
Sound like anyone you know?
Ellis’ perfect words, like Kirby’s insane images, are a comfort in dark times. None of Kirby’s orange monsters—not even Spragg—ever got the better of humanity in the end.
Let’s pray ours doesn’t either.