(CNN)Stan Lee became the look of Marvel Comics, and up to his decease successful 2018, an enthusiastic goodwill ambassador for the comic-book industry. But astir of his signature heroes were birthed with creator Jack Kirby, who galore person seen arsenic an unsung leader successful a originative detonation compared to different celebrated '60s penning duo, John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
With the merchandise of the movie "Eternals," really 1 of Kirby's less-heralded solo creations, and the interaction of the writer-artist's "New Gods" connected DC's cinematic universe, Kirby and his bequest mightiness beryllium receiving the attraction and recognition that helium chafed astir aboriginal successful his vocation and that prompted his impermanent departure from Marvel successful the 1970s.
Working together, Lee and Kirby launched the landmark comic "Fantastic Four" 60 years ago, followed by the Avengers (and idiosyncratic members Thor, the Hulk and Ant-Man/the Wasp), X-Men and more.
They besides pioneered a unsocial collaborative style, known arsenic the "Marvel method," wherever Lee blocked retired a wide outline, Kirby past illustrated the communicative with Lee subsequently added the words/dialogue.
The strategy enabled the brace to churn retired pages astatine a dizzying clip each period (Kirby was famously speedy compared to astir artists), portion Lee separately teamed with Steve Ditko connected Spider-Man and Dr. Strange.
Yet arsenic Lee became a media darling, Kirby's contribution was sometimes overlooked. Kirby besides got into a contractual quality with Marvel that prompted him to permission for DC, wherever helium was promised originative freedom.
According to Mark Evanier, a writer and erstwhile Kirby adjunct who wrote the biography "Kirby: King of Comics," caller ownership astatine Marvel presented Kirby with an onerous contract, believing that the artists who worked determination were "interchangeable."
"You can't get your owed from employers who don't recognize what you've fixed them," Evanier told CNN, adding, "I don't deliberation helium was ever successful his beingness afloat appreciated."
Kirby responded by delivering DC his "Fourth World" opus, an interlocking bid of comics that introduced the villainous Darkseid and his satellite Apokolips, which recovered its mode into Zack Snyder's "Justice League."
Although wide admired aboriginal for the epic qualities, those comics didn't merchantability peculiarly good astatine the time, and Kirby returned to Marvel. He created "Eternals" successful 1976, astir a contention of immortals protecting the Earth, different rubric that didn't make blockbuster sales.
Lee's fame grew erstwhile Marvel began its box-office battle with "Iron Man" successful 2008, with the irrepressible Lee -- a self-described "ham" and "creative giant" -- appearing successful cameos successful the studio's movies.
Kirby, whose enactment dated backmost to co-creating Captain America successful 1941 (Marvel revived him successful the '60s), died successful 1994 astatine property 76, earlier that infusion of involvement successful each things Marvel. But Kirby's admirers person sought to sphere his memory, with Evanier hosting an yearly sheet celebrating him astatine Comic-Con successful San Diego.
Kirby didn't unrecorded to bask successful the attraction showered connected Marvel during the 21st century, but according to Evanier, helium saw the cinematic possibilities for comics that were mostly untapped oregon poorly adapted during his life.
"He said this would happen. He said, 'Every 1 of these comic books I'm doing is simply a screenplay,'" Evanier recalled.
Evanier added that Kirby "wanted 2 things successful life: He wanted recognition for what helium had done, and helium wanted his household to beryllium financially secure."
Compensation to the Kirby household came successful 2014, erstwhile Marvel -- aft being acquired by the Walt Disney Co. -- ended years of litigation by settling a suit brought by his property implicit rights to the characters. Financial presumption weren't disclosed, but the statement included co-creator recognition for Kirby connected aggregate properties.
Evanier called that "a blessed ending," portion noting that Kirby's enactment has ne'er been much popular, with some Marvel and DC publishing reprint collections of it.
As a solo work, "Eternals" mightiness adhd different gathering artifact to designation of Kirby's legacy. Despite the acclaim showered connected him by his comic-book contemporaries, Kirby fans person agelong felt the spotlight was excessively squarely trained connected Lee successful a mode that shortchanged his relation successful gathering the industry.
"Your consciousness of justness kicks successful astatine immoderate point," Evanier said. "If you're reared speechmaking comic books, you privation to spot heroism and information prevail. It was not prevailing successful this case."
Marvel's "Eternals" opens Nov. 5 successful US theaters.