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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I stand corrected that "Rebirth" was in #11, not #12 as I mistyped. The edit window closed before I could correct it, and the GCD is off-line right now, so I couldn't double check to post a link to a cover image. And I understand now that you were referring to a comparison between Orion/New Gods and Capt. Marvel now.

 I've read your opinion of the mish-mash that Captain Mar-vell became before, and I agree about the changes of direction every few issues.

However, I think you have mis-attributed the authorship here. There's a very informative introduction written by Roy Thomas as the preface to the Marvel Masterworks volume that explains how he came to head the project, how Gil Kane came available, and how they had very similar ideas on everything from costume design to color scheme.  But also how the project got detrailed AGAIN, after just a few issues, and missed schedule, etc.

It would be well worth your reading up on it, if you can find a copy. I'm not sure that I can scan it, but I'll try and maybe email or post it for you all.

I have attempted to scan the last couple pages of Roy Thomas's comments from the Intro to Marvel Masterworks volume 82 Captain Marvel 10-23.  I hope they are legible below.

It was my friend in Wales who made that comparison of the change from sci-fi character to generic super-hero. I hadn't thought of it before, because the late-70's NEW GODS stuff, I'm not sure I ever read any of it more than once, more than 30 years ago.

"However, I think you have mis-attributed the authorship here."

Well, I'm not sure the details of the "NEW!!!" CM matter to me that much, I liked it so little.  The funny thing is, I don't think anyone besides me has ever suggested that CM #11-12 were written by Gary Friedrich, since the credits say Arnold Drake. Arnold has been catching hell for that since it came out, but after reading the run 3 times, I just don't believe he actually wrote those 2 issues.  The first 4 pages of #11, YES.  There was a peculiar "tic" in Arnold's dialogue that was in the first 4 pages, but not after, after page 5 was exactly where the plot ABRUPTLY veered off in a different direction, and, the place where the art went completely to hell at the same time.  Arnold actually told me his records indicated he was paid for at least one of those issues (#12, I think).  However, this does not rule out that he wrote scripts for both issue, which then went unused.  (Steve Englehart once wrote a VAMPIRELLA story, "Into The Inferno", but what got published, even though it had the same story title, had nothing to do with what he wrote.)  Further, Arnold had written 2 episodes of DEADMAN, but initially was only paid for the 1st one.  A lot of weird things like that happen.

As an aside, Arnold apparently had a falling-out with Stan Lee. On several occasions, he talked about how Stan never let up hassling him about how he felt Arnold was a "Communist" for trying to get medical benfits for DC freelancers. Decades later, Arnold had an open hatred for Stan, to the point where he actually used to write folk songs about him which he performed at conventions. I can't think of anyone else who worked for Marvel that short a time who had that much hatred for Stan apart from Wally Wood..

Anyway, it's a shame when you see a series that had a lot of potential, but never managed to achieve it.

The one thing I did read about the Thomas-Kane run was, Roy says he did the story for #17 all by himself;  he & Kane collaborated on the plot for #18 about 50-50 (which is funny, considering John Buscema drew the 2nd half of it-- what the hell happened there?); Kane did the story for #18 entirely on his own.  #18 happens to be the really sick, violent, pointless one.  Someone at another board lambasted me for saying Kane did a lot of sick, violent comics, since, after all, "He was the artist!!!"  But something must have been going on, considering Kane was there for Capt. Stacy's uncalled-for death, Gwen Stacy's murder, Norman Osborn's accidental suicide, Maxwell Glenn's suicide and Matt Murdock's nervous breakdown.

I don't know if sales on CM were already plunging too far to save the book before Kane arrives (MAYBE!) but nothing in what Thomas & Kane did, in my view, would have inspired new readers.  My first exposure to their run was when the last 2 issues, the Hulk story, was reprinted in an Annual.

I do wish Archie Goodwin & Don Heck had been given a chance to save the book. I mean, when else has a new creative team actually been kicked off a book BEFORE their first issue even got to the printers?  It's funny, but the Heck-Shores art, plus Archie's story, reminded me a lot of when Steve Englehart & Al Milgrom were doing the book.

CM was perhaps the only comics series where an editor actually apologized to readers for what he now admitted was a misguided series direction. The thing is, that editorial was so vaguely written, I've never been sure if Stan was apologizing for Gary Friedrich's 5 issues, or EVERYTHING from the very beginning!

Forgive me if I've been unclear. I didn't mean that you had the writer of the individual Captain Marvel issues incorrect.

What I was trying to suggest was that it was Roy Thomas's move to hop onto Captain Marvel, not Stan's idea.  I'm thinking that Roy was becoming more and more significant writer as Stan backed off, and eventually (not sure on the dates here) becomes Editor in Chief after Stan departs, or steps back/down, whatever.

Back to the New Gods, I wrote a bit about their Post-Kirby days here. Writers, particularly Conway, wanted to expand on what the King did and prove that they could make a profit off the characters if not the themes. Altering Orion's costume was clearly a way of "editing" Kirby to give the series a more contemporary look. The likeness to Captain Mar-Vell does seem fairly obvious now.

As for 1st Issue Special, it made little sense that Scott and Barda would want to live on New Genesis. IIRC, Scott doesn't even wear his Mister Miracle outfit there. Perhaps Conway wanted to merge the strips but decided to revive both New Gods and Mister Miracle. But he carries the team concept by including Metron, Lonar, Forager and a new character, Jezebelle.

This may be sacriliege but The Return of the New Gods was my introduction to them and I feel that the series, taken on its own merits and seperate from Kirby, was not that bad. Books like Mister Miracle's Brave & Bold team-ups with Batman and Super Team Family #15 with the Flash and Secret Society of Super-Villains #1-5 are fondly recalled. For better or worse, the Fourth World became an integral part of the DCU that allowed Darkseid to be its ultimate evil.

Kirk G:

"What I was trying to suggest was that it was Roy Thomas's move to hop onto Captain Marvel, not Stan's idea."

Gotcha. I wish he HADN'T.   : )

I suppose the question is, whose idea was it to BOOT Arnold off in favor of Gary "Burnout" Friedrich?  (Well, that seems pretty obviously Stan, since he & Arnold never really got along.)  Perhaps Stan WAS apologizing for Gary's short run after all, since it really derailed the momentum Arnold had been slowly, steadily building.  Also, how did Archie Goodwin wind up replacing Gary? It comes across as a fill-in, yet they were promoted as the "new regular team".  Sure seems like those in charge behind-the-scenes couldn't make up their minds. 

I'd guess replacing Gary with Archie was Stan's call, but then Roy talked Stan into letting HIM do it instead.

Philip Portelli:

"The likeness to Captain Mar-Vell does seem fairly obvious now."

Yeah, it's funny how my friend from Wales keeps doing thing slike that-- pointing out the obvious that I never noticed before.

"As for 1st Issue Special, it made little sense that Scott and Barda would want to live on New Genesis. IIRC"

That was something that bugged me when I re-read MISTER MIRACLE #18.  Scott, Barda, Oberon and the Female Furies had been steadily building a life for themselves, and Scott & Barda were slowly growing closer until the marriage seemed the most natural next step in the world.  But the two of them leaving Earth in the last pages of MM #18 came totally ouit of lieft field, and I feel sure only happened because the book got canned, possibly after Kirby had already finished doing it, and wound up going back and doing new pages for the 2nd half of the book (which does not read "right" by Kirby standards).

To me, the most important missing piece is the relationship between Scott & Izaya. That would be dealt with later by Englehart & Gerber.

"Perhaps Conway wanted to merge the strips but decided to revive both New Gods and Mister Miracle."

 

1ST ISSUE SPECIAL #13 has too many characters crammed into it.  the odd thing was the announcement of the new MISTER MIRACLE series by Pasko, Ric Estrada & Joe Staton, which never materialized.

"The Return of the New Gods was my introduction to them and I feel that the series, taken on its own merits and seperate from Kirby, was not that bad."

Same here, except even then, I could tell Steve Englehart was 10 times the writer Gerry Conway was. It makes me shake my head in dismay that Englehart planned in advance to only do 3 issues, and then, they had Len Wein in mind to take over after him, except Len was backed up with other work, so, first, Engehart did a 4th issue under a psudonym, and then, Steve Gerber did 3 issues, in a completely different direction, but somehow JUST as brilliant as Englehart's had been-- yet, like Englehart, Gerber was (as someone put it) only a "place-holder".  ABSURD!!!!!  So the "new regular" writer never did wind up working on the book...

KAMANDI, THE LAST BOY ON EARTH #41 / May'76

The image I found of this was so far off-rotation, I wound up having to "fill in" art on all 4 edges (left, right, top and bottom).

On the other hand, the colors were easy to adjust, though the skin tones are a BIT faded...

KOBRA #2 / May'72

I couldn't find a single decent-sized image of this one!  But I did find one of the original (ink) art...

KAMANDI, THE LAST BOY ON EARTH #42 / Jun'76

A real "quickie" (which I could use more of).  Mostly the left edge needed a bit of cleaning up.

Art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez!

The composition of the cover to Kamandi #42 is fantastic.  The triangle in the corner, the full moon.  It all works.

I definitely prefer Garcia-Lopez over Kubert. I was reading last month that Garcia-Lopez' designs were apparently the "standard" that the characters on SUPER-FRIENDS and SUPER POWERS were based on.

I wish the paper wasn't so thin. I would have had to spend a LOT more time on that thing to eliminate some of the all-too-obvious bleed-thru from the inside.  (Of course, it could be the way it was scanned... hard to tell.  I don't have any of the KAMANDI issues, except for the final one.)

And speaking of SUPER-FRIENDS... you can probably guess which cover is coming up next!!!

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