Tuesday, January 21, 2014

365 Days of KirbyTech, Day 21: The NYPD's Recoilless Rifles and Shock Missiles

A huge amount of the tales of the Marvel Universe take place in New York City, and as a native New Yorker, Jack Kirby generally portrayed the town so nice they named it twice's non-superhero denizens and workers as realistic as possible: think of say, a taxicab driver who complains when the Thing settles down in the back seat of his hack, or the newstand operator who hassles Spider-Man for hanging upside-down and reading the Daily Bugle. Or, for that matter, Foggy Nelson. Also Jack's policemen were generally pretty much by-the-book square-jawed boys in blue straight out of a 1930s black-and-white movie, with shiny badges, nightsticks, and no weapons more dangerous than handguns.

Then, for absolutely no reason at all, there's these guys:


Panel from Thor #141 (June 1967), script by Stan Lee, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Vince Colletta, letters by Artie Simek

These members of what seems to be New York's Finest Hunger Dogs never appeared before, and will never appear again, certainly not with their futuristic heavy armor (with groin-guards!), massive Recoilless Rifle and boxes fulla Shock Missiles. Usually in this part we'd have General "thunderbolt" Ross and his Army men shouldering bazookas, but for some reason Jack (and I'm guessing it's Jack who came up with this rather than Stan) has added some heavy-duty, futuristic cops to battle the biggest superhuman threats to Manhattan, in this case the rampaging robot Replicus.

We don't get to see these police shock troops again, but about nine months later Jack gives the NYPD some futuristic and very definitely non-standard handguns in their battle against the Wrecker:


Panels from Thor #150 (March 1968), script by Stan Lee, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Vince Colletta, letters by Sam Rosen

A letter-writer in Thor #155 catches this:


Panels from Thor #150 (March 1968), script by Stan Lee, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Vince Colletta, letters by Sam Rosen

I've deleted it here, but the original printed letter had Len Uricek's full street address. I'm sure the good men and women of the NYPD did not go by his house to have a few words with him about his attitude towards the police, nosiree.

The idea of a police squad specifically formed to battle NYC's superhuman threats and equipped with futuristic armaments is actually a pretty great one. When the concept does appear in the Marvel Universe, it's two decades later and also in the pages of Thor: Code Blue, the NYPD's answer to the Howling Commandos. And it's headed up by Samuel E. Jackson. Eh, like Marvel would ever put Samuel L. Jackson in charge of anything in their universe!


Panels from Thor #426 (November 1990), co-plot and script by Tom DeFalco, co-plot and layouts by Ron Frenz, finishes by Dan Panosian and Joe Sinnott, colors by Mike Rockwitz, letters by Mike Heisler

They're the best there is at what they do, and what they do is stand on some vaguely perspective-breaking checkerboard linoleum.

8 comments:

Jason Glor said...

Jason Glor thinks that introduction panels always sound forced.

David C said...

Bully, the credits for #426 are incorrect (unless Stan and Jack were still going in 1990!)

Bully said...

Thanks, David! (I wish!) The perils of copy and paste. APlease hereby accept this Bull-Prize, Credits-Spotter-Edition!

Delta said...

Another slightly earlier example would be Thor #107, p. 13 where "a special police detail reaches the scene, armed with portable flamethrowers!" against the Grey Gargoyle... saying, "Flame can turn stone to lava!".

Bully said...

Thanks, Delta! And here it is!

Bully said...

PS: for service above and beyond the roles of blogdom, Delta is hereby awarded a specially fireproof Bull-Prize with Kirby Krackle on it!

Delta said...

For Brooklyn! [KRAKATHOOM]

Blam said...


// I've deleted it here //

Wow. Even 45 years later, Colletta lingers on newsprint enough to be contagious.