FOREVER PEOPLE #1  /  Mar’71 – “IN SEARCH OF A DREAM!

When Jack Kirby went to DC in late 1971, the first thing he did were the first issues of FOREVER PEOPLE, NEW GODS, and MISTER MIRACLE.  However, in order to get a quicker return on their “investment”, the higher-ups at DC insisted that he take over some established book, and they apparently didn’t care which one.  They gave him his choice of any one he wanted.  He looked over them all, and felt none were right for him.  (CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN, which he had started himself, was about to be cancelled, and apparently was out of the running.)  Kirby asked for whichever book didn’t have a regular team, and as JIMMY OLSEN was in the midst of switching creative teams, JIMMY OLSEN it was.  Also, several people apparently suggested Jack revive his NEWBOY LEGION, and since Jimmy was already a “newsboy”, it seemed to make sense to somebody.  Anyway, this is how Jack got on JO, and how his 1st JO arrived 4 MONTHS before any of this other brand-new series.


Jack had a long tradition of creating “group” books, going back to “kid gangs”.  In the tradition of the “Dead End Kids” (who themselves eveolved into the East Side Kids and then The Bowery Boys), Jack, together with Joe Simon, had done The Young Allies, The Newsboy Legion, Boy Commandos, Boy Explorers, Boys’ Ranch, and finally the more grown-up CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN.  With Stan Lee, he did FANTASTIC FOUR (who only acted liked kids), THE AVENGERS, X-MEN (definitely a return to “young” heroes with an adult mentor).  And so it was, when he returned to DC, the very first thing he did (apparently) was a new “kid gang”, but one geared toward the modern-day of the late-60’s youth and counter-culture movement.  THE FOREVER PEOPLE were not quite hippies, not quite bikers, and not quite super-heroes either.  More like a little bit of each.  I always had the most restrictive, conservative upbringing anyone could imagine, and yet, in the late 60’s, while I admit I probably shook my head in dismay at some of TV’s depictions of “hippies”, there was something about the attitude, the philsophy, and the design and dress sense that I found appealing... and still do.


The cover of FP #1 shows the group racing toward the readers in their “Super-Cycle”.  Between the characters and the bike, the colors are as wild and glaring as you could get.  Probably for commercial reasons, Superman is a guest-star this issue (in a similar way that Spider-Man kept turning up early in the runs of new Marvel Comics).  If ever a costumed hero’s whole personal screamed “conservative”, by the late 60’s, Superman was it.  So how curious to see he’s racing after the young heroes of the book, apparently desperately in NEED of help only they can give him!  Like so many DC Comics of the 60’s (never mind that this probably came out right at the end of 1970), here was an image sure to pique any potential reader’s curiosity.


If you look close, it’s also very obvious the cover was inked by Frank Giacoia.  I always thought Frank did more work for Marvel than DC (in fact, I was somehow under the impression he worked exclusively for Marvel), so it was a surprise to realize he’d done this.  Apparently, he only did it because the cover was the very 1st piece of art Kirby turned in—and Vince Colletta hadn’t worked his back-office deal to ink ALL of Kirby’s books.  (Jack was FAST—so was Vince.  I guess SOMEBODY must have thought having them together was a good idea.  Oy.)


The book opens with 3 consecutive panels which show—SOMETHING—appearing from nowhere.  A glowing light, radiant energy, a cylinder-shape, accompanied by a steadily-increasing high-pitched noise.  And then—“RRRABOOOOM”—a strange, multi-colored multi-wheeled “bike” (it’s got handlebars, what the heck else would one call it?), with 4 equally-colorful teenagers (presumably) riding the thing, roaring out of the energy cylinder and into our reality.  The title reads, “In Search of A Dream!”, which suggests a combination of 2 different Moody Blues album titles, “In Search Of The Lost Chord” and “On The Threshold Of A Dream” (1968 & 1969, respectively).  “Biker” movies were a big fad in the late 60’s, the most famous and successful perhaps being EASY RIDER.  If that film had Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild’ as its theme song / anthem, looking over these first 4 pages, The Moodies’ “Departure” and “Ride My See-Saw” come to mind.  I can easily picture them being used over the opening credits of a possible FP feature film, as they seem to perfectly reflect the style, the attitude, and even the philsophy of the comic.


Teenagers will be teenragers (wherever they might come from), and sure enough, no sooner does this wild bunch arrive on Earth than they almost cause a traffic accident.  But here they display some amazing talents, first by shifting their atoms to avoid a head-on collision (Barry Allen’s FLASH would be proud), but then to catch a plunging car in mid-air after it’s soared off a cliff.  Whoever these guys are, they’re definitely not baddies.


The large group shot on page 6 for some reason makes me think of the cast of THOR, as filtered thru an entirely different generation.  Something in their various appearances and personalities remind me of Hogun (Vykin), Thor (Mark Moonrider, the obvious leader), Volstagg (Big Bear) and Fandral (Serifan).  As if, if those guys had kids, this might be what they’d look like.  (I’m reminded that right around this time, Hanna-Barbera had a short-lived series on Saturday mornings, PEBBLES AND BAMM BAMM.)  By luck, the 2 people they saved after running them off the road are friends of JIMMY OLSEN (small world?) and intent to pass on their story, with pictures.


With the introductions out of the way, we’re plunged right into the drama, as Serifan collapses, exhibiting psychic power which clues him in on ther location of their missing friend, “Beautiful Dreamer”.  And while this is going on, they’re being watched by some underworld types, members of a group called “Inter-Gang”, who in turn are working for some nasty-looking character called “Darkseid” (nothing subtle about some of these names, is there?).


Meanwhile, in Metropolis, Clark Kent has just finished interviewing a fighter named “Rocky” (who doesn’t look like Sylvester Stallone—heh).  Rocky’s upset, because despite his fame and success, he points out how, with someone around like Superman, the whole “fight game is a farce”.  After he leaves, Clark (who, of course, IS Superman) finds himself pondering, does the general public fear, resent, or even hate Superman?  And after 30 years of comic-book stories, he suddenly begins to feel alone in the world.


Just then, Jimmy pops in with news and a photo of the “Boom Tube”, and, incredibly, his microscopic vision actually allows him to see something in the photo invisible to any other eyes—the sight of a CITY in the far, far distance, at the other end of the dimensional tunnel.  He’s suddenly overcome with the desire to find this “Supertown”, where, he hopes, he might find others like himself.  (I guess his buddies in the JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA wouldn’t be too flattered by his attitude here.)


Things happen fast for the rest of the story.  Supes is shot out of the sky by a helicopter that’s trailing the teenagers, who, after seeing him take out the copter, mistake him for being someone from the same place they come from!  As famous as Supes is, this clearly demonstrates they’ve never been to Earth before.  Then, attacked by a group of monsters, Supes seems helpless—until the kids gather as one around their “Mother Box” (apparently a sentient, living computer), and shouting a certain word—“TARRU!”—disappear, and are replaced by a super-hero type called “The Infinity Man”.  He makes short work of the critter, when suddenly, Darkseid appears in person.  He reveals he was after the girl, Beautiful Dreamer, because he believes she’s one of the few can fathom “The Anti-Life Equation”.  However, her mind somehow refuses to “interpret” it, making her useless to Darkseid, who nonetheless reveals there aree “others” who can—“and when the secret is MINE, I shall TEST it here!  --snuff out ALL life on Earth—with a WORD!”  With that, he vanishes.  WHOA.  Heavy stuff!


That’s when they notice Dreamer is laying atop some bombs which will detonate if she’s moved.  Supes quickly figures out the only way to save her is to move SO fast he can OUT-RUN the blast—and he DOES, taking her and Infinity Man with him to safety.  The hero vanishes, replaced by the kids, who offer to help him find “Supertown”, while telling him the fight is HERE, and he’s needed HERE as much as they are.  As Big Bear puts it, “You’ve earned the trip!  But I hope you can LIVE with your CONSCIENCE—LATER!”  He flies into the re-materialized Boom Tube, and almost makes it thru, before he realizes whatever is going on behind him is too important to put aside for personal reasons.


This is one WILD comic-book.  Kirby creates a non-stop thrill ride, and Vince Colletta doesn’t do all that badly (though I thought he did MUCH better work on the JIMMY OLSEN series).  There’s a few problems, though, and most of them center on Superman—and Jimmy.  For the most part, I didn’t mind when Murphy Anderson re-drew Supes & Jimmy in JO, as he’s just so good, and somehow the difference between him and Kirby isn’t as glaring as it might be.  But Al Plastino, who did the redraws on the first 2 JO issues, also did this one, and Supes is in SO much of this book (the teens are almost reduced to guest-stars in their own mag), it’s really glaring, especially as Plastino did both pencils AND inks with no regard to how the rest of the book looked.


Also, when Jimmy walked into Clark’s office—all smiles and wearing his BOW-TIE, I suddenly realized, THIS issue MUST take place before the story in JIMMY OLSEN #133-138.  Has to!  Aside from anything else, there’s no mention of Morgan Edge, who, presumably, took over the Daily Planet JUST before the events in JO #133.  Also, Supes & Jimmy do not leave “The Project” until JO #139, and there’s NO obvious break between issues or during the issue wherehis other appearances should take place.  (Having no knowledge of Supes’ OTHER books, I’m not even gonna try to figure out the continuity between Jack’s stories and the rest of them.)


This may seem odd, considering how slowly, subtly, Darkseid is introduced and built up, a bit at a time, over those JO issues, while HERE, he gets a full-blown personal appearance, and actually SPELLS OUT what his goal is.  I know this was done FIRST, but I imagined the JO issue (since they came out first) were designed as a “prologue”.  Now, I feel THIS is the prologue, and the JO issues are the first act, though in the beginning, it’s not apparent to everyone involved.


The funny thing about that is, in the JO story, Supes repeatedly shows no care for the fact that he’s up-staging everybody (Jimmy, The Newsboys, etc.), and that becomes a deep concern of his here.  Also, in this issue, Darkseid talks about “the war”, and the “Anti-Life Equation”, and the fact that there are “others” he will find who can put it into effect for him.  Which of course, makes this story serve as a direct lead-in to NEW GODS #1, which came out a couple weeks after this comic did!  In effect, FOREVER PEOPLE #1 can be seen as a direct lead-in to JIMMY OLSEN #133, NEW GODS #1, and of course, FOREVER PEOPLE #2.  Take yer pick!


Before I finish, I’d just like to mention two things that struck me re-reading this time.  One, the way the Forever People say “TARRU!”, disappear and are replaced by The Infinity Man (and vice-versa), seems like nothing less than a modern-day (1970) version of the Billy Batson-Captain Marvel transformation!  In current comics, writers have completely re-interpreted “Captain Marvel” as being Billy himself, in a grown-up body (but still with the mind of a child).  Apparently, for the characters’ entire existence at Fawcett Comics, this was NEVER the case.  Secondly, when I look at Beautiful Dreamer, especially when she’s sleeping, she reminds me a young Shelly Winters.  So there!
    (6-17-2011)

Oh yes.  And one more thing.  As far as I can recall, FP #1 is the ONLY time Darkseid is wearing a CAPE. You know, WITH the cape, all of a sudden those boots make me think of something out of some tiny European country from the middle ages. Not sure I ever noticed that before. Sort of like in THE PRISONER OF ZENDA. As far as I know, he was NEVER seen with a cape again... until Kenner gave him one with their SUPER POWERS line action figure!  (It still butg me how those IDIOTS packaged those things.  In a crate, they'd have like 10 SUPERMANs, 10 DARKSEIDs, and 1 of each of all the others.  And specialty dealers who were pals with the guys who worked at the toy stores would have access to them FIRST, so a lot of the figures NEVER even got on the shelves.  Is it any wonder they wound up going for SO MUCH per figure at conventions?)

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KOBRA #1 Postscript:  I forgot to mention... in a strange case of history repeating itself, one of Jack Kirby's last books before leaving DC centered around a plot involving twin brothers, one good, one evil.  In both cases, before the story was published, it was BUTCHERED almost beyond recognition, with altered plot AND artwork, and, had a TERRIBLE cover slapped on it. (5 years earlier, it was the story he did for FANTASTIC FOUR #102, which was instead published in greatly altered form in FF #108.) Isn't that bizarre?

And now, we come to the FINAL Jack Kirby comic of the early-70's DC period.

KAMANDI, THE LAST BOY ON EARTH #40  /  Apr'76

Apart from a few specs and the left edge to clean up, the main thing here was adjusting the skin tones (which went too light) and the dark brown areas (which, as usual, were too dark) on separate layers.

Allen Smith wrote:
"Thanks for the look at Kobra, a series I don't think I ever saw."

I first became aware of "Kobra", PROBABLY, via some Bat-story (not sure), but I do remember Geoff Johns doing a big story about him and his organization in "JSA" in the late 90's.

It was later that TJKC did an article about it when I suddenly found out, OH, this was one of Kirby's ideas, TOO?  Sheesh.


"It likely wasn't distributed very well in my neck of the woods."

Can't say one way or the other. In the early 70's, I was mostly buying Marvels, though I noticed some DCs and some Atlas issues when they came out. I remember seeing THE SHADOW, it probably caught my eye because I was listening to the radio show at the time (1974). It was tough enough trying to keep up with what few Marvels my parents would let me buy, without branching out into too much else.  The only DCs I really bought before getting out of school (and having a job so I could afford to buy more comics) was reprints, mostly collections of stuff from the 40's-50's.


"My interest in it ends with the end of Kirby's participation"

In KOBRA's case, that happened long before the 1st issue ever came out. Some weeks back, when I mentioned the DRASTIC changes, someone else online succumbed to the SICK compulsion to try and defend the book by saying "They probably felt a college-age hero would appeal more to their readers, by giving them someone they could relate to".  WHAT UTTER NONSENSE.

I took a close look at those interior pages I posted last night.  Some of them are half-and-half, with the original dialogue in one panel and the altered story in others. They went from an older, experienced hero who was giving a younger Interpol operative the run-down on what's going on, to the Interpol guy giving some COLLEGE STUDENT the run-down on why his life is now in danger. So instead of a veteran bringing a rookie up to speed, you have a non-descript agent trying to explain to some poor schmuck why his entire life is being thrown into total chaos, and the younger guy, naturally, is scared out of his wits. I don't know about anyone else, but I know which story I'D rather read. Also, how dangerous are we supposed to believe the VILLAIN is, if the guy running an international crime cartel is in his early-20's???  They just didn't think this through.

The fact that in 7 issues they went thru Jack Kirby, Pablo Marcos (those 2 on the SAME first story), Chic Stone, Keith Giffen, Pat Gabriele, Rich Buckler & Mike Nasser on pencils just shows that Gerry Conway leaves ONE HELL OF A LOT to be desired as an "editor". When Paul Levitz took over as editor, his 1st issue had Rich Buckler (on both cover & interiors, a first for the book, I think), his 2nd had Mike Nasser on both.  Nasser lasted 3 whole episodes! But the book was cancelled after his 2nd, and the 3rd was shoved into some miscellaneous anthology book 6 months later.

It's clear, at least to me, that whether they were gonna TAMPER with Jack's idea or not (and they should NOT have), the book, as such, should NEVER have been put on the schedule UNTIL they had a stable creative team first. Had they left Jack's "pilot" episode intact, I could then see someone else starting on #2. But BUTCHERING Jack's story and art with Martin Pasko (did you see my comment about "AWKWARD AND STILTED"??) and Pablo Marcos ("WTF?????") and then completely murdering the package with a really bad Ernie Chan cover (he got much better after he changed his name from Chua to Chan and switched from DC to Marvel), then racing headlong into a revolving-door of artists, was sure to SINK the series before it ever got any kind of a chance.


"while DC has some good solid series during the seventies, some of them were just not good at all.  But, that was true of every company during the seventies and at other times.  It's that the comics of the seventies just looked so junky most of the time with lower production values, especially on the design of their covers.  Great looking covers were a rarity in the seventies."

YEP.


"And I never liked disco either."

The only "disco" I liked, apart from a FEW Bee Gees songs, were songs by established bands who decided to cash in on the fad by the time it was already dying-- "Miss You" (Rolling Stones), "Dr. Music" (Blue Oyster Cult), "Street Player" (Chicago), "Last Train To London" (ELO), "Take Me Home", "Wasn't It Good" and "Prisoner" (Cher-- hubba hubba!).

Another one that's overdue...

SPIRIT WORLD #1 / Fall'71

Read Christopher Allen's article at the Trouble With Comics blog
Read Jon B. Cooke's article at the TwoMorrows site

Read "House Of Horror" at the Por Por Books blog
Read "Children Of The Flaming Wheel" at the  
     Diversions Of The Groovy Kind blog
Read "Amazing Predictions" at the Gone And Forgotten blog

Just as with IN THE DAYS OF THE MOB, Jack Kirby finished a 2nd issue of SPIRIT WORLD, but DC pulled the plug before it was ever published.  Instead, the 4 stories appeared in 4 different color comics:  WEIRD MYSTERY TALES #1, 2 & 3, and FORBIDDEN TALES OF DARK MANSION #6.

Got a few odds and ends to close in on...

FORBIDDEN TALES OF DARK MANSION #6 / Aug'72

This issue features "The Psychic Blood-Hound", a Jack Kirby story intended for the unpublished SPIRIT WORLD #2. Despite the caption on the cover, I don't believe the superb Alan Weiss illustration has anything to do with Kirby's story, but rather the Mike Friedrich - Jose Delbo back-up. I find many such cover captions are misleading, intrusive and annoying like this.  The series itself was a continuation of another oversized B&W magazine from DC, DARK MANSION OF FORBIDDEN LOVE.  This goes to show Jack Kirby was FAR from the only creator to have projects cancelled out from under him at the time. I think the original title was a much better one, as was the original logo.  The new logo for FORBIDDEN TALES OF DARK MANSION is nice, but in an "early 70's" sort of way, and really does NOT fit at all with the title or the tone of the book it goes with.  And that's before you have those 2 big circles and that huge banner which reads "ALL NEW STORIES / BEST IN COMICS" getting in the way.  (There was an awful lot of really BAD "design" work on covers back then!!)

Does anyone else think this over bares more than a passing resemblance to the Gorn story from the classic/original Star Trek?  Or is it just me?

Henry R. Kujawa said:

And now, we come to the FINAL Jack Kirby comic of the early-70's DC period.

KAMANDI, THE LAST BOY ON EARTH #40  /  Apr'76

Apart from a few specs and the left edge to clean up, the main thing here was adjusting the skin tones (which went too light) and the dark brown areas (which, as usual, were too dark) on separate layers.

Oh yeah-- "lizard in a tunic".  Well, we already knew Jack was a STAR TREK fan!   : )

It crosses my mind those rocks they filmed around were some of the most recognizable and iconic in TV history.  They even made fun of that episode and that location, in both an episode of THE SIMPSONS and one of the BILL AND TED movies. (Earlier, they turned up in an OUTER LIMITS episode-- "The Zanti Misfits", if memory serves.)

Another loose end...

WEIRD MYSTERY TALES #1 / Aug'72

The same month as FORBIDDEN TALES OF DARK MANSION #6, DC started another mystery anthology.  Considering the first 3 issues each featured 1 Jack Kirby story, one might almost think they started WMT as an outlet for Kirby "inventory" stories. Of course, those 3 issues also featured stories illustrated by Howard Purcell, who I first ran across doing pencils & inks for NICK FURY in STRANGE TALES over Jack Kirby's story & layouts.  After the first 3 issues, the contents became more varied. 

The 1st issue featured "Horoscope Phenomenon  or  Witch Queen of Ancient Sumeria?", the 2nd of 4 stories intended for the unpublished SPIRIT WORLD #2.  The cover was by Mike Kaluta.

The battle with the Gorn in the ARENA episode of the original STAR TREK was filmed in Vasquez Rocks Park in Agua Dulce, California, northeast of Los Angeles. It was named for the old-west outlaw Tiburcio Vasquez, because it was the site of his last stand.


It was also used in the film STAR TREK: GENERATIONS as the site of James Kirk’s death.



Henry R. Kujawa said:

Oh yeah-- "lizard in a tunic".  Well, we already knew Jack was a STAR TREK fan!   : )

It crosses my mind those rocks they filmed around were some of the most recognizable and iconic in TV history.  They even made fun of that episode and that location, in both an episode of THE SIMPSONS and one of the BILL AND TED movies. (Earlier, they turned up in an OUTER LIMITS episode-- "The Zanti Misfits", if memory serves.)

Richard Willis:

"The battle with the Gorn in the ARENA episode of the original STAR TREK was filmed in Vasquez Rocks Park in Agua Dulce, California, northeast of Los Angeles. It was named for the old-west outlaw Tiburcio Vasquez, because it was the site of his last stand."

Somewhere online, I found some really nice photos of that spot awhile back.  I bet if you typed the above into a Google search, it would come right up.  (How did I ever get along without the internet for so many years?)

"It was also used in the film STAR TREK: GENERATIONS as the site of James Kirk’s death."

I'd prefer not to think about that... or pretend it "never happened". That movie is so awful on so many levels. So much of ST:TNG seemed hell-bent on paying tribute to every 60's TV show there was, EXCEPT "Star Trek", I used to wonder about the writers. And what flipped me out was the realization that ST: GENERATIONS actually had so much in common with-- of all things!!!-- the feature-film THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO!, which itself was a TERRIBLE spin-off of that TV show.

Of course, speaking of THE OUTER LIMITS... not only did "Arena" use the same location as "The Zanti Misfits", it was also (apparently) based on the SAME story as the OL episode "Fun And Games", and, it featured Vic Perrin, who was "The Control Voice" of the earlier show!  3 OL references in a single ST episode is a bit much, isn't it?   : )

And yet another loose end...

WEIRD MYSTERY TALES #2 / Oct'72

This issue features Jack's "Toxl, The World Killer", the 3rd story intended for the unpublished SPIRIT WORLD #2.

Pretty cool cover by Howard Purcell, who, like Jack Kirby, had stories in the first 3 issues. The intricate coloring job, an occasional fixture of DC here and there, is no doubt the work of Jack Adler.

Oddly enough, Gil Kane's cover for SUB-MARINER #52 (Aug'72) had a similar shot of a ship going down just 2 MONTHS earlier!

Still another loose end...

WEIRD MYSTERY TALES #3 / Dec'72

This issue features Jack's "The Burners!", the 4th story intended for the unpublished SPIRIT WORLD #2.

Nice cover by Nick Cardy. This one kinda reminds me of "Zzzax", a monster from THE INCREDIBLE HULK #166, which came out 8 months later (Aug'73).

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