Sunday, March 23, 2014

Private Strong!

I'm not even sure how I ended up with this comic! But it turned up in my stuff as I was organizing my collection. My suspicion is that I bought it when I was still a retailer of old comics and I brought it home to take a close look at it, never having seen a copy.

THE DOUBLE LIFE OF PRIVATE STRONG was part of a superhero resurgence at Archie Comics of all places. Kirby and his longtime partner Joe Simon had resurrected older characters and created a few new ones for Archie who were, apparently, interested in testing the superhero waters after DC's then-recent success. So Kirby helped them bring back the old Shield character (which they already owned) under the title of THE DOUBLE LIFE OF PRIVATE STRONG. Why they went with such a long-winded title is beyond me. Seems something like THE SHIELD would have been better.

Some of the art and story are by Kirby, and some of the material was at least illustrated by George Tuska, if not written by him. I've never read who wrote each story, so I can make no comment on that aspect of the book.

At any rate, the book made an attempt to resurrect the Golden Age superhero character using the same basic story types that had worked in the 1940s, with the addition of a little bit of cynical humor. I like the stories, but it doesn't seem to have worked with the fans of 1959, when the books initially appeared. DOUBLE LIFE lasted for a grand total of two issues. It's hard to say why it was cancelled, but I can only assume that the sales must have been awful.

One of the other Simon/Kirby creations about this same time  (THE FLY) did much better for Archie, lasting for 30 issues, only a few of which were done by Simon and Kirby. I suspect that Kirby jumped ship when he began to create/write/illustrate the various superhero titles at Marvel Comics and couldn't continue at Archie.


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