AFL: The Top 13 Not-So-Great Jack Kirby Characters With Awesome Names.

Not counting artists who worked exclusively in the medium of pantless ducks, Jack Kirby is the most creative, most talented man to ever work on comic books. Kirby created or co-created so many important comics and characters (Captain America, the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk, Thor and my favorite character ever, Mister Miracle) that listing them here would be an exercise in futility. You know why The Avengers made a billion dollars? Because a guy who worked on comics in the 1930s was fucking amazing at his job.

That all being said, part of creating 8,000 comic book characters is that even if you create 1,000 amazing, important ones, you're still left with 7,000 that probably should've stayed in your sketchbook. Jack Kirby rarely created a total dud -- he didn't create a lot of BLOODSHOTs -- so characters with dumb names could turn out great (The Silver Surfer, for example) and terrible characters could end up with great names.

Because the Arbitrary Friday List celebrates only the least important aspects of popular culture (and it's Friday the 13th), here are 13 terrible Jack Kirby creations with killer names. Remember "terrible" for Jack Kirby is Deadpool for Rob Liefeld, so know the list was written with love and take it with a grain of salt. Or better yet, take it with GRAIN! THE SALT THAT KNOWS LIKE A MAN.


13. Murder Machine

Jack Kirby always had the weirdest interpretation of what a "robot" should be. It was either a floating metal thing with claw hands or something that looked like a dude in a helmet and hot pants lurching at you. Oddly enough this is also what he thought Gods should look like.

Anyway, enter THE MURDER MACHINE, a killer robot who should probably be more threatening looking than a muscular guy with a sunburn. If I was writing Murder Machine, I'd have him kick sand into Reed Richards' face on the first page, then have Reed and the Fantastic Four visit Charles Atlas to learn how to defeat him. In the actual comic, Murder Machine shows up and can't be hurt by anything until the Silver Surfer shows up and kills him with his normal powers. At no point is the machine used for murder, but it's pretty funny when he tries to kill The Thing by holding him in the ground while a volcano erupts.


12. Brute That Walks

Jack Kirby created a lot of monsters, and he usually couldn't just call them BLERGH or whatever, he had to make up a sentence for them. It usually was just there to explain that they had a basic skill or ability. THE BRUTE THAT WALKS is a good example, as if just being a BRUTE wasn't good enough. When you said "brute" I thought you meant he was a monster and all he could do is lie down! BLERGH, THE MONSTER WHO CAN BRUSH HIS TEETH

Long story short, the Brute That Walks is one of the shittiest dudes in the history of comics. He's a scientist who gets rejected by a pretty lady scientist, so he creates a serum that will turn him into a big monkey. He chases her around an amusement park, and when the serum wears off he gets a bunch of praise and money for saving everybody from a big monster. He's like the Hulk, if Hulk had been created on Facebook.

He should change his name to "THE BRUTE WHO CAN GO FUCK HIMSELF".


11. General Argyle Fist

General Fist is one of probably two dozen characters like this from Captain America lore, a ranking military officer with a borderline porno name (like "Sgt. Rock", or the "Howling Commandos") who can't do fucking ANYTHING unless Captain America shows up to bail them out. These guys would be standing in the middle of Berlin shrugging their shoulders, asking the guy who looks suspiciously like Hitler in a Shirley Temple wig where they could find Nazis. 10 pages later Cap dives in and shields the shit out of Hitler and they're all GREAT JOB CAP.

What I'm getting at is that "General Argyle Fist" is a great name for a person, and might be my favorite scene in American Psycho.


10. Lo-Karr, Bringer Of Doom

You are ... The Thing with a furry collar!

Remember that part in Watchmen where Ozymandias figures out that the only way he can create world peace is by uniting warring nations in fear using a fake alien invasion? Jack Kirby did that 25 years earlier in Journey Into Mystery #75 with Lo-Karr, a fake alien created by a scientist to trick the world into putting aside their differences to keep aliens from killing them. It works, too, and the reason we haven't had any war or bullshit since 1961 is because of Lo-Karr. He BROUGHT DOOM.

If I ever get into a hydraulics and sound system competition, I'm calling my vehicle "Lo-Karr, Bringer Of Boom".


9. X, The Thing That Lived


The next three entries go together, as they're a random combination of "it", "thing" and "live", because "it is a thing that is alive" is a science fiction knockout. See also, It, The Thing.

X shows up in a Tale To Astonish and is Kirby's attempt at a Charlie Kaufman thing where he writes the story of a comic book writer who creates a character that comes to life, and the only way he can be killed is to destroy the typewriter used in his creation. If you write him to do stuff, he'll do it in real life! He is the thing that lives! He shows up years later when a kid creates a manga about him (timely), and X is forced to do battle with the low rent Canadian X-Men.


8. It! The Living Colossus

As a disclaimer, my knowledge of comic books stops around 1993 (thanks, Rob Liefeld) so just assume I don't know about these characters being brought back as jokes in Deadpool comics or whatever by the man-children who run comics. I'm sure Super Adaptoid is now She-Hulk's gay Hispanic teen friend or whatever because somebody keeps paying Judd Winick to fuck up everything.

It! is a living colossus a Soviet statue brought to life by a "hostile extraterrestrial", so the next time you're watching Signs and you're all, "LOL why would aliens who are allergic to water come to a planet that is 80% water, why can't they open doors" remember that the best comic creator of all time thought "the alien is mad at us, so he makes a statue come to life, and also it's a communist" was a good idea.


7. Thing Called It

This Thing Called It, I just ... can't handle it.

Thing Called It is a monster created when a scientist used electricity and sodium (seriously) to bring a thing of melted Tupperware to life. Yes, the Thing Called It is plastic given life, and eventually he gets struck by lightning and dies, because if Jack Kirby wasn't great at character resolutions and if he didn't have Deus Ex Machina on his side his only creations would've been Rickey Rouse and Monald Muck.

And while we're talking about it, "Thing Called It" is awesome, but also easily the laziest monster name ever. Could you get any more vague? If it's called "It", why do I have to identify it as a thing called that?


6. Creature From Planet X

Creature From Planet X is a creature (from Planet X) who gets taken from his home (Planet X) and put into a zoo on Earth, because King Kong is a pretty good story and you might as well just make Creature From Planet X look like a giant ape.

Creature From Planet X might be a lazier name than "Thing Called It", but dammit, I hope I'm never too cynical to give interest to anything called "Creature From Planet X". If Hollywood had gotten into comic book adaptations 40 years earlier, Ed Wood would've been all over this shit. It could still work well as a film pitch, I think, as long as we put the Creature in some leather pants.


5. Hulk Hogan

wait a minute

Okay, so it's not that Hulk Hogan, but I'm choosing to believe Old West Hulk Hogan was his direct descendant, and this is a Back To The Future III thing where Hulk's pulled a talented young gunfighter aside to tell him he'll never get famous because he's too small.


4. Midnight Monster

Midnight Monster sounds like he should be the coolest character ever, but it turns out he's just a mad scientist who was granted immortality by a potion that made him look like Forest Whitaker. That's what you get when you play with God.

His bio on (a wonderful resource where I found most of these pics) features one of the greatest lines of sudden information ever: "At some point the Midnight Monster was decapitated."


3. Monster At My Window


"Monster At My Window" is the most hilariously literal thing ever. It sounds cool enough ... anything Jack Kirby created with "monster" in the name gets a pass ... but man, this dumb fucking monster's plan for world domination is to sneak up to a science fiction writer's window and feed him lines about how Monster At My Window's race was all powerful and great. Turns out the one science fiction writer in the ENTIRE WORLD he picked to feed lines to was ALSO A MONSTER SECRETLY, and they end up battling on his roof.

I wish they'd written a sequel called "MONSTER USES THE DOOR THIS TIME".


2. Gor-Kill: The Living Demon

You're expecting a Lobo type, right? At least The Demon, a gargoyle looking guy who maybe has claws and maybe a red jumpsuit and some guns, and he comes to life suddenly and starts gore killing people. "Gor-Kill The Living Demon" is a space ghost. No, seriously, a ghost who lives in space. A "sentient cloud of gas", but whatever, he's a spooky Halloween ghost of the cosmos. Here, look:


Who forgot to tell Jack about how planets work?


1. Brainosaur

Number one with a Stark Industries bullet goes to "Brainosaur", a thing that should be a DINOSAUR WITH A SUPER BRAIN (how hard is this) and ends up being a drone. Not even a drone that kills people ... this is a drone you launch at incoming bombs and it disarms them. Jack Kirby and Stan Lee got together to create something called BRAINOSAUR and it's an airplane that makes things NOT EXPLODE.

Hydra really wanted to get their hands on the Brainosaur, but if they did, they would've been really disappointed. They would've had better luck with the Murder Machine.

That's our list for this week. Be back next week when I rank the 50 best Todd McFarlane drawings of somebody jumping with their head in their own crotch.

For more rankings of things you half-remember, check out our Arbitrary Friday List section.

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