As I recall, Zzzax shows up multiple times... Or am I thinking of the white furry abominable snowman with the tin-hat that shows up in the Defenders? He came back multiple times too. (Can't think of his name right now...)
That's Xemnu the Titan you're thinking of Kirk. Of course when he first appeared he was called.....the Hulk!
One more loose end...
AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS #1 / Jul'74
Under this Carmine Infantino cover was a 5th Jack Kirby story—"MURDER, INC.", intended for the unpublished IN THE DAYS OF THE MOB #2. Like Marvel's F.O.O.M. magazine, AWoDCC was only available by mail-order.
Unless I've missed something, I believe I now have EVERY single cover of an early-70's DC Comic with a new Jack Kirby story in it "restored" and posted on my blog! "Only" took a year-and-a-half to get it all done.
Thanks. I only started that so I could post "adult" material and keep it separate from the rest. If you want humor, check out "BUNNY ROGET". Very different from the rest. I was inspired by Harvey Kurtzman, Wally Wood, and a few others.
The unpublished SPIRIT WORLD #2 (which would have been Winter '71) featured 4 stories, all of which turned up, one apiece, in four different color comics.
Here's a page from the 4th story, "THE PSYCHIC BLOODHBOUND", in which Mike Royer did pencils & inks over Kirby layouts! I just noticed (11-12-12) the set-up here is rather similar to Stephen King's "THE DEAD ZONE", in that the hero gets psychic images and impressions from TOUCHING people or things. Could Stephen King have been inspired by Kirby, or could both have been inspired by some earlier source?
Yet one more thing where Kirby was years ahead of something that became popular by someone else. If ever there was a guy who SHOULD have been working in Hollywood his whole life...!
The Legacy Of OMAC
When Jack Kirby left DC to return to Marvel for a 3rd run there, the last story he started in OMAC, a 3-parter, was left unfinished. This was a case of history repeating itself, as 6 years earlier, Jack had begun new stories in both FANTASTIC FOUR #102 and THOR #179. Unlike those 2 books, OMAC, a bi-monthly, had not been selling that well, and someone at DC decided to pull the plug. Considering all the books Jack was working on near the end, it burns me that nobody thought to make sure he did OMAC #9, instead of some of those other, arguably far lesser items.
On the last page of OMAC #8, Dr. Scuba’s machines had caused Brother Eye to be buried under a barage of meteors, which were then fused together into a solid mass, cutting off all communication between the Global Peace Agency and their orbitting satellite. Clearly intended as a cliffhanger, this was derailed when someone replaced the final panel with an explosion, and text indicating that Scuba’s entire base and all within it were destroyed in a massive feedback explosion. Was this the end of OMAC? It would be several years before anyone found out.
In mid-1978, almost 3 years after the last issue of OMAC, the series was revived as a back-up feature in KAMANDI #59 (Oct’79). The editor in charge was Al Milgrom. Writer-artist Jim Starlin, who had gained such notorety on MASTER OF KUNG FU, CAPTAIN MAR-VELL and WARLOCK, proceeded to take on another Kirby character. With inker Joe Rubinstein (who first teamed with Starlin on AVENGERS ANNUAL #2 and MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE ANNUAL #2), he picked up exactly where OMAC #8 left off... or, I should say, where the published version left off. The opening pages showed us that Dr. Scuba’s lab and all within it had been destroyed, except for Buddy Blank, who had been transformed back to OMAC by Brother Eye at the very last second. We also learned that Brother Eye had sustained irreparable harm, and would only be able to serve as counsellor and guide from now on. OMAC’s strength, while still super-human, now had limits.
The next thing we learned was the the Global Peace Agency had been wiped out as part of a first-strike by the forces of a corporation intent on conquering the planet at all costs. It also turned out that under those featureless masks, the GPA members were actually aliens from another planet. OMAC was captured by the corporate army, and in an amazing scene, convinces the head of the company to put HIM in charge of their army, in order to bring the corporate war to an end as quickly as possible. The next episode was a veritable bloodbath, with Starlin’s patented sense of extreme exaggeration showing OMAC at the end resting on top of a literal MOUNTAIN of dead bodies.
I admit, this impressed me at the time... but then, I was a big fan of Starlin, and I’d never seen OMAC before.
As it happens, one month into the much-touted “DC Explosion”, the company suffered a turnaround, and wound up cancelling half their books in one go, including KAMANDI, which had managed to last longer than any of Kirby’s new books. As a result, Starlin & Rubinstein dropped off OMAC after only 4 episodes (described above). The remaining 3 eventiually turned up when DC began to expand again 2 years later, as a back-up in WARLORD #37 (Sep’80). When the Starlin episodes ran out, the series continued with writers Dan Mishkin & Gary Cohn, and artists Greg LaRocque & Vince Colletta. They did 6 installments before the series was cancelled. At the time, I was not too impressed. Not long after, I got ahold of all 8 issues of OMAC by Jack Kirby, and was so totally blown away by it, it became my favorite of all of Kirby’s early-70’s DC work. I also realized that Jim Starlin’s new direction, while impressive, was actually completely wrong-headed and character-destructive, its sense of ultra-violence at odds with the more balanced approach Kirby handled his creation with. By comparion, I suddenly realized that Mishkin & Cohn had attemped to drag the series, by force, back toward the feel Kirby had given it. They just didn’t have the skills to pull it off successfully. Also, it was probably too much of a radical shift in tone from the Starlin episodes—even though Starlin had already done the same thing.
After that, OMAC made a guest-appearance in DC COMICS PRESENTS #61 (Sep’83) by Len Wein, George Perez & Pablo Marcos. 8 years later, John Byrne did a 4-issue prestige format mini-series (in B&W) which began as a “Twilight Zone”-style “What the hell is going on here?” scenario, which turned into a time-travel story, proceeded to reveal heretofore unknown facts about “The World That’s Coming”... and then meandered to an ending that I found completely confusing and impenetrable, even though I’d just read the whole thing. (And still struck me that way when I read it again.) Byrne got into the habit in the 90’s of having the attitude that he was the “only” writer who knew the “right” way to handle certain characters—and in his mind, that included those characters’ original creators. That, combined with a writing style that was increasingly composed of nothing but gimmicky and confusing storytelling, caused me to slowly lose interest in his work.
Since then, EVERY use of the “OMAC” concept from DC has been further afield from what Kirby did, each one more and more of a bastardization of what started out as a really brilliant series. With ONE notable exception...
(to be continued)
OMAC #9 / 2002 – “IS THIS THE END OF OMAC?”
In 2002, 2 fans in the UK, Dek Baker & David Morris, decided to do their own mini-comic fanzine, OMAC #9. I read about this in an issue of THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR, and sent away for a copy. What a blast! Their 22-page story picks up exactly where Kirby’s story originally ended (before the last-minute editorial tampering), ignores every single “OMAC” appearance that followed, and finishes Jack’s intended 3-parter.
The inside-front cover kicks things off with “Previously in OMAC...” An interesting thing brought up here concerns how Buddy first became OMAC. “Unfortunately, when Buddy’s life was endangered, they had to transform him into Omac, without any preparation. Buddy’s personality was completely buried by the shock. Before he could address this, Professor Forest was assassinated at the orders of the villainous billionaire, Mr. Big. The Global Peace Agency attempted to take care of Omac’s social needs as best they could, but did not dare tinker with his psychology.” One particularly negative review of OMAC #1 I found online focused almost entirely on the way Buddy had been “murdered” by the GPA in order to create OMAC, and that Buddy was “gone forever”. This flew in the face of the last 2 issues of the book. But this introduction followed up on the idea, mentioned in one of the letter columns, that Buddy might not always be OMAC, but more, that his mental state might be something that could still be addressed. It also expanded on the circumstances in OMAC #1 where Buddy was transformed rather abruptly, in order to save his life.
“IN THE WORLD THAT’S COMING, mankind will face many new threats... threats like ECO-TERRORISM! A maverick genius is BLACKMAILING the planet by holding its WATER HOSTAGE! The Global Peace Agency must try to stop him... but first, can they FIND their GREATEST AGENT?”
In a scene mirroring some from NICK FURY, AGENT OF SHIELD in STRANGE TALES, we see the GPA communications center, located high in the Himalayas, a hub of activity as the crew of technicians try to re-establish a link with the disabled Brother Eye. After Scuba contacts them directly with his ultimatum, one of them orders a space shuttle prepared. Scuba, in his hidden base, subjects Buddy to painful cellular analysis, which renders him unconscious. In that state, Buddy has visions of all the enemies he’s faced as OMAC—as then sees Brother Eye as well. He remembers everything that happened since his transformation. When he awakens, Scuba quickly realizes what’s happened, and orders him locked up.
Meanwhile, in orbit, the GPA member sets explosive charges to free Brother Eye from the rocky cocoon, sacrificing his life in the process. Below, Buddy find himself surrounded by monsters who were once men, all victims of Scuba’s atomic manipulation experiments. In a near-replay of the 1st issue, Brother Eye sends the “structure print” to change Buddy, just in time to save his life again. “Welcome back, OMAC. I regret the damage I have sustained may limit the degree to which I can aid you.” “I think I can live with that.” This rather mirrors the situation from Jim Starlin’s 1st episode, except that with the GPA still intact, I’m assuming they could send another space shuttle crew up to make more extensive repairs, once this situation was taken care of.
The climax has OMAC facing down Scuba, who’s used cells taken from Buddy to effect his own transformation into a being of “vast physical power”. As they fight, Scuba reveals that his previous experimental subjects were unstable, and all of them, including his own daughter, will die within the next few hours! Just then, Brother Eye tells OMAC to clear the area. “Shouldn’t I ARREST Scuba?” “Ideally, but our priority is recovering the world’s water and others are taking action NOW!” While OMAC makes his escape via Scuba’s aircraft, his daughter and son-in-law, knowing their fate, unleash the waters of Madras Bay-- “millions of tons of water”—the sudden force of which completely destroys Scuba’s base and all within it.
“Apollo and Seaweed are revenged!” “Too bad about those two. They didn’t seem EVIL, just greedy and WEAK.” “But it was that SELFISHNESS that blinded them to the DANGERS of helping SCUBA!” “I suppose we’ll be needed until ALL see an alternative to MEAN DESPAIR.” The final shot is of Scuba’s airship flying off toward the horizon, a virtual replay of the last page of Jack’s final issue of JIMMY OLSEN.
WOW. It's NOT by Kirby... but while the art is crude, it captures the look and feel of Kirby the way early Barry Smith did. Still, it's the writing that really pushes it over. You'd almost SWEAR Kirby did it himself.
I understand Baker & Morris only ran off so many copies of this, but I wish they'd do more. More, I wish DC would cut a deal with them and include it in any future reprints of Kirby's run. IT'S THAT GOOD.
That 2 "fans" should do a BETTER job capturing the look and spirit of Jack Kirby & his concept than anybody (and I mean anybody!!!) at DC has ever, ever done since, is bizarre. To me, it is the ONLY "legitimate" continuation of the character ever done.
Since the fanzine mini-comic is out of print, HERE it is in its entirety. ENJOY!
1st ISSUE SPECIAL #13 / Apr’76 – RETURN OF THE NEW GODS / “LEST NIGHT FALL – FOREVER!”
Somewhere on Earth, Orion crashes into a warehouse being used as a base for Apokalips soldiers, led by Kalibak. Despite apparently being killed in their last encounter, Kalibak is still very much alive, and Orion demands to know the whereabouts of Darkseid. In a flashback, Highfather, Scott Free, Barda & Metron greet Orion, returning from a scounting mission to Apokalips, who reports they are definitely preparing for war. A moment later this is confirmed as Apokalips warriors attack, before being driven off by Metron’s use of a Boom Tube. Back on Earth, Orion causes the floor beneath Kalibak to collapse. He’s then confronted by Granny Goodness, whose own men subdue Orion and take him prisoner. Metron uses a Boom Tube to spy on Darkseid and Doctor Bedlam. On Apokalips, Orion recovers, escapes, battles Kalibak, then confronts Darkseid, who tells him what Highfather and Metron already know. Darkseid’s scientists have managed to somehow attune his heartbeat to Earth’s sun, so that if he dies, the sun will go nova, destroying Earth’s solar system in the process. With a stalemate, they leave, while Darkseid vows he will rebuild his damaged organization .
Jack Kirby’s most “personal” project was NEW GODS. It really hurt him when it was cancelled in mid-story, and there’s every indication he hoped to continue it eventually. But things at DC just weren’t going right, and he wound up accepting an offer from Stan Lee to return to Marvel. Ironically, one month after his last DC book, NEW GODS was revived in the pages of the last issue of 1ST ISSUE SPECIAL. Before my current re-reading project, I’d only read this story once, sometime in the early 80’s. I wasn’t too impressed with it then, even when compared to later issues of the revived ongoing. But reading it again now, so soon after plowing thru all of Jack’s early-70’s books, I think I’m in state of shock. This is one of the WORST comics I’ve read in years!
Let’s start with the cover. Dick Giordano does a perfectly serviceable, if rather stiff, shot of 5 characters flying through space. However, at no time in the past have we ever seen Barda, Orion, or Mister Miracle flying under their own power (like Superman). Nor has Barda gone into action as such in a bikini, rather than her armor. Also, down in the lower-left corner, they list 5 characters—including Darkseid (who is not pictured), but not Lightray (who is!).
The splash page gets things started on the wrong foot, as some character, off-camera, yells out, “It’s ORION of the NEW GODS”. Nowhere in any of Kirby’s stories did any of these characters refer to themselves or each other as “New Gods”. The story title, “Lest Night Fall – Forever!” is one of those really stilted, psuedo-Shakespearean-sounding things, and the lettering for the title is so small, crammed into a corner, like an afterthought.
The dialogue in this comic is abysmal. For some years now, I’ve run across many references to Jack Kirby’s dialogue & narration being “awkward and stilted”, or “unnatural”, yet apart from a tiny handful of instances, most of what I read was powerful, dramatic, gripping, poetic, and memorable. Not this stuff. This is just bad on top of bad. And there are multiple examples of thnings that just do not sound like anything these characters would ever say, like when Orion calls Highfather “Wise one”, or Metron says to Orion, “Dear friend” (he’d be too detached for that sort of familiarity). On page 5, Highfather asks, “Metron—is your MOEBIUS CHAIR fully CHARGED?” When did he ever have to “charge” it? And how about this exchange on page 8 between Orion and Kalibak-- “You hurl ASTRO-FORCE at me?” “Not AT you, brother mine—UNDER you!” “Brother mine” sounds like something Roy Thomas would have used. On page 9, Granny Goodness says, “You DO remember me, don’t you, dear boy?” Apart from a cople panels of MISTER MIRACLE #18, when did Orion ever encounter her? Her words seem like they shuld have been aimed at Scott, not Orion. Even Darkseid sounds completely uncharacteristic, when he speaks to Highfather, saying, “...he HAS overheard it through Metron’s BOOM TUBE—HAVENT’ you, dear Izaya?” “Dear”???
When Jack Kirby was working on this series, he did the initial concept, the story, the layouts, and the dialogue, so it was all “ONE” creation, consistent, each element supporting and enforcing the others, even before the actual illustration (which could have been done by someone else without really changing things that much). Here, the story, the layouts and the dialogue are being done by THREE different people—Gerry Conway, Mike Vosburg, and Denny O’Neil—and each of these elements seem to be working at odds with the others. Nothing is really “clicking”. As for the art itself, I never saw this before, but Mike Vosburg’s art and rendering here reminds me of 2nd-rate Joe Kubert art (maybe 3rd-rate). Editor Gerry Conway, from the moment he took over from Kirby, apparently favored Kubert art on the covers, so I suppose this explains why the art looks this way. (But then, why have Dick Giordano doing the cover, and a cover which does not really reflect the story’s contents?)
Next, what was the point of completely re-designing Orion’s outfit? Instead of the “science-fiction warrior” look he had up until now, here, he looks like a “generic super-hero”, right down to a face-mask, and an “O” on his chest. As if that wasn’t bad enough, there’s also Kalbak. Under Jack Kirby, Kalibak reminded me of Ulik, the troll from THOR. In most of his appearances, he wore a tunic and cape, as if he stepped out of some Roman Empire epic. In his final appearance, he went bare-chested, like a Roman gladiator. Here, his entire physique has changed. He looks taller, thinner, and appears to be wearing a sleeveless t-shirt. He looks less monstrous and more like a pro wrestler.
On top of anything else, there are just too many characters in this story, especially as it’s only 18 pages in length. The editorial page, which attempts to recap things and bring new readers up to speed, is so awkwardly and confusingly written, I can’t imagine anyone who wasn’t already a Kirby fan plowing through it and wanting to go any further. In effect, this entire magazine seems less like a “relaunch” and more like an attempt to finally drive the last nails into something that DC didn’t like in the first place. Why? Why did they even bother???
Oddly enough, a revival of MISTER MIRACLE was announced, to be done by writer Martin Pasko, artists Ric Estrada and Joe Staton, and editor Joe Orlando. As far as I know, this never happened. (Unless there’s a never-published comic sitting in some drawer all these years?)
What a complete waste of paper!
If you'll pardon a quibble, in New Gods #6 Lightray uses the New Gods term after reprogramming the leviathan's controller. I think Kirby likely understood it as embracing the people of both Apokolips and New Genesis.
A friend of mine in Wales sent me the following comments...
"Change of outfit…
This reminds me of how unhappy I was with Captain Marvel. He starts out as a scifi spaceman. I found that refreshing and different. I'm a SF fan and the idea appealed to me. Then all of a sudden he starts wearing a superhero outfit. Became a run of the mill man in tights. What a let down.
I lost interest."
Wow. That's fascinating. I mean, I never connected the two series that way.
I've gone on about MAR-VELL before, but it's my belief that after Arnold Drake wrote CM #11, that Stan decided the series needed a drastic change-of-direction. The first 4 pages of "Rebirth" read like Drake, but the rest read like Gary Friedrich, who did the bulk of the "Zo" storyline. Ayers & Colletta's art in #11 was so wretchedly bad, it looked like the entire book could have been done over a weekend. I keep wondering if there isn't a full issue of Drake-Heck that went unpublished laying around in some drawer?
CM #15, oddly enough, is like a more coherent retread of #11! Both seem to pay tribute to the "Star Gate" sequence in 2001. #15 was much better-done, with Friedrich doing the layouts as well as the story, and Tom Sutton & Dan Adkins doing really nice, if freaking-weird artwork. I wonder exactly what Friedrich had in mind for #16, which seems like it would have been the wrap-up of the "Zo" story? Instead, Goodwin, Heck & Shores turned in the BEST episode in the entire run. It HAD to be better than whatever Friedrich had in mind. Archie took that mess and made it make sense, and also made it look like what he did was planned from the beginning, which I don't believe for a second.
But before it got to the printers, Stan decided on ANOTHER major change-of-direction. Part of that, apparently, was that Gil Kane, who'd spent nearly a decade on DC's GREEN LANTERN, wanted to do CAPTAIN MAR-VELL. Both series featured mostly-Earthbound stories about someone with close ties to a space military force of sorts. So the last couple pages of #16 were modifed to reflect the chanbges in #17. Oddly enough, #17 almost completely ignores #16. Between that and the death of Col. Yon-Rogg in #18 (the 2nd part of that issue wasn't even done by Gil Kane, but John Buscema), the whole feel is of people in a hurry to sweep the previous issues under the carpet.
I find it funny that when the book was revived, after 3 issues with Conway, Wolfman & Wayne Boring which were even worse than the Thomas-Kane issues, they announced another new team... who cold have imagined that 2 newbies from Detroit would finally make the book "work"? It also struck me as nuts how Jim Starlin's "Metamorphosis" was in many ways a remake of Gary Friedrich's "Rebirth", only done about 20 times better.
Anyway, I think readers were ripped off, for not having a nice run by Goodwin-Heck-Shores. Archie was by far the best writer, and while low-key, Heck was by far to best visual storyteller. (He just REALLY needed damn good inks.) #16 made me wish Heck had done every issue from the beginning (with good inks, of course).