CAPTAIN VICTORY AND THE GALACTIC RANGERSMedium: Comic books
Published by: Pacific Comics
First Appeared: 1981
Creator: Jack Kirby
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Captain Victory & the Galactic Rangers was not the best effort of Jack Kirby, who created or co-created Captain America in the 1940s, Fighting American in the '50s, The Mighty Thor in the '60s, Devil Dinosaur in the '70s, and much, much more. It didn't last very long, and so far, revival attempts have fizzled. It didn't have great impact on
any universe of characters, so he doesn't resonate throughout any company's line. It didn't break new ground artistically or dramatically. What it did do was pioneer a major change in the entire landscape of the American comic book industry.
The advent of the direct market in the mid-1970s enabled publishers to get an accurate reading on a comic book's sales before even going to press. That made it possible for comics to be printed on a smaller budget, since fewer copies would be wasted in a distribution system that mandated waste, and that encouraged less well-capitalized publishers to enter the comics market. The first major entrant was Pacific Comics, which originally got into the field as a direct market distributor. After putting on its "publisher" hat, Pacific introduced such major properties as Starslayer and Mr. Monster. The first character it published was Captain Victory.
Pacific, wanting to launch its line with a bang, offered Kirby, a whose name had been selling comic books since his Boy Commandos days, complete ownership of whatever he might create for them. This had been an "issue" with Kirby for years — he'd left Marvel Comics over frustrations that included their assertion, following standard industry practices, of full ownership rights in Fantastic Four, X-Men and other hits he'd made for them; but the only other major company remaining, DC, followed the same standard industry practices and instantly glommed his Kamandi and The Demon.
Pacific's offer was more like the book publishing industry, which generally allows authors to retain ownership of their work while contracting for publishing and a share of ancillary rights. Kirby took the deal, and dusted off Captain Victory. He'd developed Cap in the mid-1970s, first with hopes of launching his own line of comics, then as a graphic novel without a particular publisher in mind, and eventually to pitch an animated TV show. Pacific Comics put out the first issue with a date of November, 1981.
Captain Victory was an interstellar lawman or military hero (the line between the two was fuzzy). He and his crew (The Galactic Rangers) were first seen chasing the villainous insectons, catching up with their queen, Lightning Lady, on Earth. But it wasn't quite the same Captain Victory at the end of the first issue, as at the beginning. The one readers first saw was killed early on, and routinely replaced from a closet full of clones. Whoever he was at any given moment, Captain Victory vanquished Galaxy-spanning menaces for 13 approximately-bimonthly issues, ending January, 1984. There was also a special, dated October, 1983. The third issue introduced Ms. Mystic, by Neal Adams (Deadman, Green Lantern/Green Arrow) in its back pages.
In the latter part of its run, Captain Victory's back-story was dealt with. It was strongly implied that his father was Orion of The New Gods, which would make the villain Darkseid his grandfather (tho he was called "Blackmass" here). But it was never stated outright because The New Gods, like so many of Kirby's creations over the years, was owned by its publisher, in this case, DC.
The first attempt to bring Captain Victory back came when Topps Comics (an offshoot of the trading card company that first marketed Mars Attacks and Garbage Pail Kids) put a five-issue mini-series on the schedule as part of a large Kirby project titled Secret City Saga. But only one issue (June, 1994) came out before the company pulled the plug on its comic book line.
Subsequent attempts were made by TwoMorrows Publishing (Alter Ego, The Kirby Collector, both fanzines), which published pencilled pages from early versions; and an outfit called Jack Kirby Comics, run by Kirby's grandson, Jeremy Kirby. The latter announced a three-issue re-telling of his story, but only two saw print (tho the third has been seen on the Internet). In 2006, Lisa Kirby, Jack's daughter, wrote a series for Marvel, titled Jack Kirby's Galactic Bounty Hunters, where Captain Victory made at least a brief appearance.
In 2007, Image Comics (Savage Dragon, The Maxx) announced a hardcover edition of Captain Victory, reprinted from the original series, but with up-to-date coloring. As a follow-up, a new Captain Victory comic book series, featuring unpublished Kirby artwork and unsold characters, was promised. This should finally indicate whether or not a Captain Victory revival actually can succeed.
But in one way, Captain Victory has already enjoyed tremendous success. Following its appearance, the typical comic book publisher, even Marvel and DC, offers one form or another of creator ownership of its properties.
Captain Victory hardcover availability online.