Mattel Superman Comic Game

Featuring the art of Jack Kirby

In 1970, Jack Kirby left Marvel Comics for DC, and created his famous Fourth World series of comic books. He also took over art chores on Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen. The executives at DC, who were very protective and felt that Marvel’s artwork was inferior to DC’s, weren’t happy with the style in which Kirby drew Superman, so they had other artists redraw Superman’s and Jimmy Olsen’s heads. (You can read more about that on author and former Kirby assistant Mark Evanier’s web site.) During this same period in 1971, Mattel released this Superman Comic Game, a card game which featured artwork by Jack Kirby. It’s one of the few pieces of Kirby Superman merchandise that I’m aware of, and it’s pretty unusual in that the artwork is signed by him.

The card game was originially sold on an illustrated blister card with Jack Kirby art front and back (with an unretouched Kirby Lois Lane), and the cards were contained in a yellow or green embossed plastic case. My set is loose, so I don’t have pictures of the card, but eBay usually has an unopened set or two. The object of the game is to build a large picture of Superman using puzzle cards and there are 45 cards in a complete set: 36 puzzle game cards, 4 key cards which show the complete pictures you can make, 4 cards with gameplay instructions, and a promotional insert card with some of the other Mattel card games available.

Here are some scans of the key cards. My first impression, aside from the head style clashing with the rest of the artwork, is that I wish they would have made some posters of these. If it were printed in fluorescent ink, Key 2 in particular would be right at home alongside those Third Eye Marvel posters.

Here’s a look at the back of the card.

And here’s the sneaky part. The insert card has an original unretouched Kirby Superman head.

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