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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KAMANDI, THE LAST BOY ON EARTH #50  /  May'77

I would never have imagined I'd reach a point where I actually restored 50 KAMANDI covers in a row!!!

When I used "levels", the lime green background faded out too much, so I had to go back to an earlier version and adjust the green areas separately.  Next up was some "fill in" down the right edge, as I didn't want to have the main character's foot, or the white circle at the top, cut off.  A few specks of black here and there needed clean-up, as did the bottom edge, where the color was fading out.

It seems editor Jack C. Harris had it as part of his agenda to connect the future world of KAMANDI with the future world of OMAC.  I don't see why such a thing should be considered necessary, or even desirable.  KAMANDI wasn't the only one of DC's alternate futures that this kind of thing was going on with, either.  It was a misguided attempt to "unify" the DC Multiverse, and make it more like the "Marvel Universe".  But as Frank Frazetta liked to tell other artists, "You should be a first-rate YOU, not a second-rate ME."  Unfortunately, this obsession with making DC more like Marvel would continue into the 80's, culminating in the admittedly creative CHAOS that followed their year-long company-wide crossover mini-series, CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS.  Ironically, in the shake-up and restructuring of the "New DC Universe", the future Earths of both OMAC and KAMANDI became out-of-continuity.  Stories that had deep meaning to readers suddenly "no longer existed", the events in them, at least from the point-of-view of the New DCU, "never happened".

But that was still 9 years away...

I remember seeing an ad for an issue of The Amazing World of DC Comics that had an article on how to fit Omac's, Kamandi's and Hercules's (from Hercules Unbound) futures together. The story in Superman #295 was a sequel to Kamandi #29 in which that future timeline was represented as an alternative one to the LSH's.

SECRET SOCIETY OF SUPER-VILLAINS #7  /  Jun’77 – “LUTHOR’S LEAGUE OF SUPER-VILLAINS”

Lex Luthor—“the most brilliant criminal scientist in the history of the world”—announces that HE’s taking over the Secret Society, so he can use it to defeat Superman.  Doesn’t this guy have any new ambitions?  The Wizard, upset about this, since Funky Flashman “promised” him HE could be leader, objects, and tries to pick a fight with Luthor.  It goes badly.  Finally, he decides to play along.  Now, it seems Funky has a reputation for being able to “recruit” people, and Luthor wants him to get Felix Faust and Matter Master to join HIS new Secret Society, since Superman is vulnerable to magic.  Lex tells The Wizard that if he’s willing to apologize, he can join in.  

As it turns out, in Sapporo, Japan, actor Gregory Reed is currently filming the “SUPERMAN” movie—and Luthor sics his trio of sorcerers there to disrupt it, certain it will draw Superman’s attention.  Instead, it draws the attention of Captain Comet and Hawkgirl.  And in the ensuing chaos, somehow, it completely escapes the baddies that the guy playing Superman in the movie is NOT the genuine article!  In the frustration, Funky tells Lex, “Calm yourself, my good man!  You must learn to tolerate the trivialities of your compatriots!”  Angered, Lex replies, “COMPATRIOTS?!  What have I got in common with ANY of YOU?”  Funky yanks off his toupee...  “Why LEX—we both agree that BALD is beautiful!”  “Good lord!”

Following the humiliating defeat (in which the real Superman never even showed up!), Lex gets angry at Funky, who reminds Lex that LEX picked the team of baddies.  Lex departs, determined to get back at Funy another way—and decides to contact the police and let them know about the Secret Society and their HQ.  But Funky beats him to the punch, and phones the cops, who ARREST Luthor as he exits the building!


For the first time since he appeared, we have an explanation for exactly what good Funky Flashman can do for the SSoSV.  Despite his long-winded never-ending ramblings over the last several issues, until now, I didn’t have a clue.  I’m just wondering if the writers did until now, either?  There’s something really perverse (and hilarious) about a story involving the making of the SUPERMAN movie, which features both Lex Luthor and Funky Flashman... especially when you consider that in the real world, actor Gene Hackman appeared to be playing FUNKY in the film, not Luthor.  Not only would this go for his personality, and wardrobe, but the notable scene in the film where Hackman YANKS off his toupee!!!  I’ve heard that the producers of the SUPERMAN movie did not have a clue what they were doing, and this seems like further proof of it.  It’s as though someone, somehow, used THIS comic for reference—and then got the 2 characters confused!!!

If nothing else, Bob Rosakis proves he’s got a sense of humor—never anything to dismiss lightly.  Rich Buckler & Bob Layton continue to do decent work, and among other things, Funky continues to be a DEAD RINGER for Stan Lee.
    (12-11-2012)

This scan required a bit of "fill-in" in the upper-left and lower-right edges, and the graytones had to be lightened up on a separate layer.  About an hour's work-- not bad.

NEW GODS #12  /  Jun’77 – “THE RETURN OF THE NEW GODS”  /  “PRELUDE TO A HOLOCAUST”

A group from New Genesis—Orion, Lightray, Forager, Metron, Lonar and a blue-skinned woman named Jezebelle—travel to Apokalips on the word of The Source, to seek out Darkseid.  Following a brief battle with some Para-Demons, they discover he’s left the planet, and set up a base on Earth’s moon.  There, they find a computer with a list of six people Darkseid suspects may have the Anti-Life Equation.  Each one of them takes one of the people on the list and goes to contact them, to let them know their lives are in danger.


THE NEW GODS is considered Jack Kirby’s most “personal” project.  Apart from telling a compelling story with well-drawn, sharply-defined characters, it also gave him a platform to make commentary on then-current affairs within a science-fiction allegorical framework.  Perhaps it it should not be surprising, then, than in others’ hands, it had been almost universally handled badly.  And, perhaps as a direct extension of that, Kirby’s own work on the concept has been derided by an inordinately large percentage of comic-book fans and critics.  Having just recently re-read Kirby’s stories, however, what I see is that the original stories stand out as some of the most inspired comics of their time in their inspiration and execution, while at the same time, they just don’t “continue” well under others.  Many fans are so in love with characters and their universes, and wish to seem them continue endlessly, no matter how bad they might be.  In many, if not most fans’ eyes, they don’t even realize, indeed, have no conception of just how bad some of the books they’re reading really are.

The best thing I can say about NEW GODS #12 is that it’s a major step up from 1ST ISSUE SPECIAL #13.  Believe me, that’s faint praise, and definitely a left-handed compliment.  

My first exposure to Kiry’s Fourth World was the late-70’s revival, and the main reason I checked it out was because my favorite comics writer at the time, Steve Englehart, had been driven away from Marvel, and decided to spend a year at DC, before quitting comics entirely to become a novelist.  Thus I found myself buying Englehart’s JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, DETECTIVE COMICS, and MISTER MIRACLE.  Except for JLA, I actually missed the first 2 issues of the other books, and wound up buying them soon after as back issues.  I liked what Englehart did with all 3 series.  I suppose it was natural curiosity to check out the “other” Fourth World book, NEW GODS.  As with the others, I walked in in the middle and got the first 2 issues as back-issues soon after.  I’m not sure I ever re-read these in sequence before, but I’m starting to now.  What I do remember was, while MISTER MIRACLE was inspired and entertaining under both Englehart and then Steve Gerber, NEW GODS seemed “flat” somehow.  Whatever “magic” there was supposed to have been in the original series, I couldn’t see it in the revival.  Decades later, I’ve come to realize this is actually par for the course with MOST books, and a state of affairs most comics fans (and editors) willfully blind themselves to.

The editor on this project was Paul Levitz, who at the time, was still a relative newcomer to DC, having come up from working in fanzines with the likes of Bob Layton & John Byrne.  Levitz wrote a rather “generic” introductory editorial in which he tries to give readers “enough” info without giving them “too much”.  None of it really inspired or grabbed me.  I’m afraid that was reflected in the rest of the book.

Writer Gerry Conway at this point seemed to be known mostly for having become a professional at a very young age, and having written tons of comics, most of which were not very inspired, the bulk of which tended to be overly-serious, somber, lacking in any sort of humor, and with a tendency to kill off villains (most of whom wound up being brought back in later stories by other writers anyway).  Shortly before this, he had a stint as both editor and writer of KAMANDI (mostly writing new dialogue over Jack Kirby’s—the blind arrogance of doing such a thing boggles the mind at this point).  Conway briefly returned to Marvel, where he served as Editor-in-Chief for an astonishingly short time, during which he somehow managed to kick several of their best writers off long, very impressive runs of books, just so Conway could make extra money on the side writing the books instead.  Across the board, his issues were flat, generic, and uninspired, which made it even more of a travesty for how he got on those books in the first place.  And now here he was, taking on Jack Kirby’s most “personal” project, which, according to Levitz, he’d been a strong advocate in reviving.

Conway’s narration and dialogue, as always, is flat, generic, uninspired and overly-serious.  But let’s get into specifics.  Why would Orion suddenly become part of a “fighting team”, when he’s always been the extreme example of a “lone wolf”?  Conway spends 2 pages giving us a brief background on the history of New Genesis and Apokalips, but between the words and the illustrations, nothing even hints at the grandeur or the horror that came before.  What on Earth is Lonar and his stallion doing as part of this “team”?  We learn virtually nothing about him here.  And who is “Jezebelle”, who makes her first appearance here?  She’s given NO introduction whatsoever, no background info, the brief scenes she’s in she exhibits no apparent personality, etc.    And people have the nerve, the utter stupidity, to complain about Jack Kirby’s writing???

The sequence where Orion approaches the air force base to contact Brigadier General Maxwell Torch (one of those believed to possibly hold the Anti-Life Equation) reminds me of nothing less than a rehash of multiple scenes from the Stan Lee-John Buscema SILVER SURFER book.  The “hero” is spotted by the military, who goes into attack mode, several planes are blown out of the sky, and nobody even tries to communicate or explain what’s going on—at least, until after-the-fact.  I know at this point the SURFER comic was considered a “big deal” despite its abject failure in the sales department.  Perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me that someone who spent so much time honing his skills at Marvel should pay such obvious tribute to a book that may have seemed like Marvel’s equivalent of Kirby’s NEW GODS—big, serious, violent, pretentious, “important”, and a sales failure.  After all, wouldn’t it seem to some misguided types that the best way to do a “Kirby” book would be to strip away Kirby and turn it into a “Stan Lee” book instead?

Don Newton came up from the fanzines, where he did a ton of work, much of it focused on Fawcett’s CAPTAIN MARVEL.  Then he spent some time at Charlton, where he did THE PHANTOM.  Like Jim Aparo, when I look back, I sometimes wish Charlton paid better so Newton could have made a better living doing THE PHANTOM instead of BATMAN.  At any rate, one of Newton’s 1st assignments when he finally, after many years, managed to break into DC, was NEW GODS.  The artwork is beautiful.  No one can deny that.  Newton has a very “naturalistic” look to his work, with feeling, sensitivity, mood, shadows, and a certain knack for technology.  But what I’m seeing here is in places an almost total disconnect between the illustrations and the story that is trying to be told.  I suppose the problem is that instead of ONE man doing both, and there being an automatic, instinctive, intrinsic connection between the two, you have one man doing the writing, and another, living on the other side of the country, doing the art.  And as I said, the writing is nothing to brag about in the first place.

Added to that is that, somehow, Newton’s depictions of Apokalips and the DNA Project seem totally removed from anything Kirby designed.  WHY re-design so much from scratch?  The brief vision of Apokalips, looking back at it now, reminds me more of the work of French artist Phillipe Druillet than anything in ALL the Kirby Fourth World books combined.  I don’t get it.  Didn’t Newton have any research material?  Or did someone (Levitz? Conway?) suggest he come up with his own architecture?

Of the various inkers who worked with Newton over the years, my personal favorite has always been Dan Adkins.  Over at Marvel, Adkins proved he was one of the best inkers who ever worked for the company.  His work as inker on MASTER OF KUNG FU was my favorite of that book’s entire run.  That track record continued without a break at DC.  Imagine my delight, decades later, to read an interview with Newton in which he revealed that HIS favorite inkers for his own work were Dan Adkins and Alfredo Alcala—the same two as mine.  What utterly BAFFLES me, as I re-read this book, was when Paul Levitz, in his editorial, describes Adkins as “one of the few inkers who can create the detailed realism and psuedo-Kirby machinery THE NEW GODS demands”.  EXCUSE ME?????  Wouldn’t—shouldn’t—that be the penciller’s job?  Is it possible those backgrounds I complained about were all Adkins’ work, and not Newton’s, at all?

In a mirror of NEW GODS #1, this first new issue opens with the main characters travelling around, having conflict, coming into contact with those believed holding the Anti-Life Equation, and then, on the last page, we see Darkseid, who is looking forward to the conflict.  He mentions the “The Pact” which has been broken—yet surely that happened before NEW GODS #1, not recently?  

One problem with comics from this specific time period is, as the page count got lower and lower (here down to a mere 17 pages of story!) it seemed as though you were getting more ad pages than you were story, and often, the ad pages had a way of grabbing your eyes more than the story pages.  That’s sad.

The cover is by Al Milgrom, who, oddly enough, was a mainstay as inker on MASTER OF KUNG FU in its earliest period.  He also did a lot of pencilling for Marvel, notably CAPTAIN MAR-VELL and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.  Here, in a total departure from anything he’d ever done before, he creates a tribute to the look of Kirby-Royer.  Which almost makes sense—except it’s absolutely NOTHING like the interior art of Newton-Adkins.

I’d like to sum up by mentioning again the “disconnect” between writer and artist.  I do love the art of Newton & Adkins. I just don’t think the storytelling here is that good.  But I feel it’s the writer than mostly at fault.  After all, while DC may have been leaning more toward (AHEM) “Marvel Method” by this point, they always had a strong sernse of editorial control, and part of that was deliberately keeping a separation between writers and artists, lest they “get above themselves”.  I think there’s only one way this book could really have worked with Newton & Adkins on the art.  That would have been if JACK KIRBY had been writing it.  After all, that’s the kind of arrangement he wanted in the first place!
    (12-16-2012)

I thought the cover looked alot like Ambush Bug #1, or is it the other way around?

from the MASTERWORKS board (discussing, among other things, Jack Schiff):

I once had lunch in NYC with writer Arnold Drake, who was a good friend with Alvin Schwartz, and during our lunch, Arnold happened to mention that Jack Schiff was "the most honorable editor he ever met".  I'd come to like Arnold as a friend, and respected his opinions on many things, but this totally flew in the face of many things I'd read about Schiff.  In particular, of course, the underhanded dealings he had with Jack Kirby regarding the SKY MASTERS newspaper strips.

It was a deal that, frankly, Kirby never should have signed on for.  Because of existing "commitments" to DC writers, not one but TWO writers were assigned to the strip (Dick & Dave Wood), even though it would have been better-served if Jack Kirby had simply written it himself (which, because of communications problems with BOTH Wood brothers, he wound up doing anyway-- UNPAID!).  In addition, Kirby had to pay both his inker and letterer out of his own cut.  And further, simply because he'd brokered the deal, Schiff was ALSO getting a cut.  This was already an impossible situation, but what made it intolerable was when, after-the-fact, Schiff decided to INCREASE his cut.

It kinda reminds me of that scene in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK"How can you change ONE HALF of a bargain?"  "PRAY I don't change it FURTHER!"

From various accounts I've read, it seems BOTH Kirby AND Schiff saw the newspaper strip as a "big chance", an opportunity to score big-time, and let it cloud their judgments and caused them to act unwisely.  But Schiff was the one in a position of power, so he was the only one who could possible come out on top in any dispute.

I keep wondering if Kirby in any ways felt coerced into accepting the assignment in the first place, for fear that his DC work might dry up anyway if he didn't?

There's a few scenes in Jack Kirby's NEW GODS series where a mysterious, disembodied hand is seen to write words on a wall.  This is, apparently, "The Source" speaking directly to Highfather.

Of course, this has its inspiration in the Hebrew Bible.  Check it out HERE

(from BOYS' LIFE magazine, Feb'56)

From the Kirby_Land group...

"T." wrote:
"Reading Kirby's output from 1970 onwards in order for the first time, and
reading this series in order for probably the first time as well"


An experience I can now relate to quite well.




"it struck me that the first few issues of The New Gods were not as good as they
are generally held to be. They appeared to veer all over the place."


APPEAR! One has only to think of Orion to know how deceptive that can be.
(Unless one is a card-carrying "MMMS" member, then it becomes a mindless mantra
of mysogeny.)



"After observing some giants – those who attempted to enlarge themselves in an
effort to reach beyond the final barrier"


I haven't re-read that far yet-- a testament to how inspiring GERRY CONWAY's
work really is (HE SAID, SARCASTICALLY), but it seems to me, Gerry Conway got it
ALL WRONG, and claimed that those who attempted to breach the barrier were
enlarged as "punishment" for attempting to do so. My feeling these days... if
KIRBY didn't say it, it ain't so.




"This is the beginning of the revelation of Orion's true nature that Kirby has
merely hinted at before."


Yes, now that I think about it, it was a slow, but steady, progression over the
existing 11 issues.




"Orion versus Slig. This is possibly the greatest fist-fight in Kirby's entire
oeuvre."



Certainly one of them. The only other one that really comes to mind is Iron Man
vs. Sub-Mariner-- in TALES TO ASTONISH (Subby's series), where Jack was merely
"filling in". If one read the credits, you'd think it was Stan Lee's story, and
Jack was just "illustrating" it. WHAT A PILE OF B.S. It's mind-boggling to
think that the guy who was actually WRITING the story-- who was ALSO
uncredited-- GENE COLAN-- should catch the flu, Jack should fill in at the last
minute (probebly did 5 pages a day over a weekend) and winds up with one of the
MOST exciting fights scenes in his entire career, totally blowing the regular
team out of the water!!! (Roy Thomas also filled in doing dialogue for Stan--
it proved to be, in my opinion, Roy's single BEST dialogue job in the whole of
the 1960's. I figure, maybe Jack inspired him.) Only Dick Ayers was NOT
filling-in-- he'd done several issues around that time, before and after.




"`Tell me!! Tell me how I will die at your hands!'"


I like how you quoted most of the same dialogue I quoted in my blog article, and
then re-posted in that thread at Masterworks. I still delight in the fact that
it was perhaps the FIRST time that a group of Kirby fans actually managed to
SHUT UP the Lee lunatics-- and, at their own board!




"`Spawn' ends with our first view of the titular beast in a final full-page
panel."


Talk about suspense. It takes the ENTIRE story before you get a glimpse of the
title "character"!




"It only occurs to me on this re-reading., over thirty-five years after my
first"


I'm reminded of the late but unlamented "Kirby-L" group, where I used to see
endless discussions of these stories that went on at excrutiating length, when
for many years I hadn't re-read the stories since the 80's, and many of the
details I'd forgotten. Maybe that's why I went so overboard on the project the
other year-- re-reading, writing VERY lengthy reviews, and doing all those scans
& restorations. I didn't just read those comics again-- they became an
"EXPERIENCE"!




"Lightray or Darkseid"


Day vs. night. (And this time, it's personal!)




"Perhaps this is in line with the Evanier-Sherman remark in the letters column
to one reader: `This comic's official title is simply The New Gods, a title
which allows us maximum latitude in our scope.'"



As I understand it, the original intention was an oversized anthology titled THE
NEW GODS, which would feature 3 ongoing series-- Orion, The Forever People, and
Mister Miracle. Which no doubt explains why "ORION" keeps being doisplayed so
prominently on covers and splash pages.




"A late addition: I am informed by the television the other day that 'metron' is
Greek for 'measure.'"



A "Metrone" (I think) is also a race whose representative was voiced by "The
Control Voice" (Vic Perrin) on a STAR TREK episode, "Arena".


Which makes me suddenly think... Vic Perrin (The Silver Surfer) and Ted Cassidy
(Galactus) both appeared on STAR TREK. Too bad Paul Frees (The Watcher AND Ben
Grimm) never did.

From the Kirby_Land group:

"T." wrote:
"`It's like a diabolical car-wash!!'"


Jack should have been writing scripts AND doing storyboards (though I doubt they used them) for the '66 BATMAN show. Imagine how much better it could have been with writing like Jack's!  (William Dozier would never have allowed it, though... he WANTED the show to be terrible.)




"`This should teach your officers not to send ordinary infantry against one of the special powers force!!'"


Jack never quite explained this, but... was the "special powers force" on Apokalips some kind of scientific process to imbue someone with super-powers?  (Sort of like The Inhumans?)  Because I get the feeling people are born there "normal", then deliberately mutated by someone's choice (not necessarily their own).




"Scott reveals that all of the occupants were given names like those in Dickens's Oliver Twist."


This is a point many critics fail to have ever taken notice of.




"I can no longer soldier in the company of twisted fiends like yourself – who worship their power – more than Darkseid!'"


I keep wondering if there's two meanings to that.  Does she mean, they worship their own power more than they worship Darkseid-- or that they worship their own power more than Darkseid worships HIS own power?  If the latter, it would mean they're more F***** up than HE is!  (And since HE's in charge, that does seem very likely.)




"Scott is standing, smiling, behind them."


That shot is so HILARIOUS!!!




"Scott repeats the trick he used to escape Virman's trap to send Virman and his men into a deep pit."


And so is THAT.




"The issue is filled out with a reprint of the Boy Commandos in `the Invasion of America' from Detective Comics No. 76 (June, 1943) if anyone's interested."


I re-read all the reprints in chronological order, digging out the Fourth World books JUST to read them Golden Age stories, then filing them away again until a COUPLE YEARS later, when I had re-read all my 1940's Kirby stories, my 1950's Kirby stories, and every 1960's Marvel Comic story in my entire collection.  They work much better on their own, and should NEVER have been included as back-ups (or, worse, plastered on the covers).


I'd much prefer a complete, chronological collection of each Kirby series from the 40's.  I understand most of them have been done in recent years, but I haven't been able to afford any of them.


Of course, I found his post-war stuff MUCH better (isn't that what everyone always said about Will Eisner???).  And despite the miserable reproctrion, that FIGHTING AMERICAN "Masterworks" format book was one of my favorite. It was just so much FUN!  (Totally put the Lee-Romita CAP revival to shame.)

from the Kirby_Land group...

(old Tim quoting Jack Kirby):

 

`This should teach your officers not to send ordinary infantry against one of the special powers force!!'

 

(Henry):


Jack never quite explained this, but... was the "special powers force" on Apokalips some kind of scientific process to imbue someone with super-powers? (Sort of like The Inhumans?) Because I get the feeling people are born there "normal", then deliberately mutated by someone's choice (not necessarily their own).

 

(Tim):

 

I had never thought of this, but it's a good point.

 
(old Tim):

Scott reveals that all of the occupants were given names like those in Dickens's Oliver Twist.


(Henry):  

This is a point many critics fail to have ever taken notice of.

 

(Tim):

 

One might wonder whether many critics fail to have ever read the stories with any real degree of attention.

 

(old Tim quoting Jack Kirby):

"I can no longer soldier in the company of twisted fiends like yourself – who worship their power – more than Darkseid!'"
 
(Henry):

I keep wondering if there's two meanings to that. Does she mean, they worship their own power more than they worship Darkseid-- or that they worship their own power more than Darkseid worships HIS own power? If the latter, it would mean they're more F***** up than HE is! (And since HE's in charge, that does seem very likely.)
 
(old Tim ):

Another point that did not occur to me. I am fairly certain that it means that they worship their own power more than they worship Darkseid, but the other interpretation is a valid secondary meaning which is in there.
 
I find it interesting that what Barda objects to about Apokolips is that the flunkies of Darkseid are infected by hubris, not that it is a totalitarian dictatorship dedicated to destruction. I suspect that she began thinking this and that once she had began to think she found that she could not stop... As we'll see when i get around to Mister Miracle No. 9.
 
(Tim):
 
Scott is standing, smiling, behind them.
(Henry):

That shot is so HILARIOUS!!!
 

(Tim):

Absolutely.
 

I do rather enjoy Scott's self-confidence. I imagine that Jack Kirby enjoyed writing it as well, after a decade or so of Stan the Man's attempts at characterisation.  

(Tim):
 
Scott repeats the trick he used to escape Virman's trap to send Virman and his men into a deep pit.

 
(Henry):

And so is THAT.

 
(Tim): 

Yes, in context, though not as much so (YMMV, of course).
 

However, it now occurs to me that in this scene Scott uses his escape gadgets to trap Virman and his men, transforming his defence weaponry into attack weaponry. This demonstrates his ingenuity and also the fact that he presumably has no attack weaponry.

(old Tim):
 
The issue is filled out with a reprint of the Boy Commandos in `the Invasion of America' from Detective Comics No. 76 (June, 1943) if anyone's interested.

(Henry):
 
I re-read all the reprints in chronological order, digging out the Fourth World books JUST to read them Golden Age stories, then filing them away again until a COUPLE YEARS later, when I had re-read all my 1940's Kirby stories, my 1950's Kirby stories, and every 1960's Marvel Comic story in my entire collection. They work much better on their own, and should NEVER have been included as back-ups (or, worse, plastered on the covers).
 

(Tim):

I agree with you on this. As, indeed, does someone in the loccol in either this issue or one near it in my read-through - he suggests a regular Giant series, if memory serves.
 
I would happily buy an all-new Fourth World comic and an issue of a comic reprinting material from the fear-fraught 'forties. However, sticking both together in one magazine creates a comic which is neither fish nor fowl and gives the impression to the reader that he is being cheated.
 

(Henry):

I'd much prefer a complete, chronological collection of each Kirby series from the 40's. I understand most of them have been done in recent years, but I haven't been able to afford any of them.
 

(Tim):

Yes, there have been volumes of The Newsboy Legion and the Boy Commandos, and, I think, Sandman, though not Manhunter yet if my memory serves me correctly.
 

(Henry):

Of course, I found his post-war stuff MUCH better (isn't that what everyone always said about Will Eisner???).

 

(Tim):

Presumably because they prefer the work of Jules Feiffer and Wally Wood to that of Will Eisner?

 

(Henry):

 

And despite the miserable reproctrion, that FIGHTING AMERICAN "Masterworks" format book was one of my favorite. It was just so much FUN! (Totally put the Lee-Romita CAP revival to shame.)

(Tim):

Yes, Kirby comes into his own after the war.

from the Kirby_Land group...

Tim Bateman wrote:
("scientific process to imbue someone with super-powers? (Sort of like The Inhumans?))"

"I had never thought of this, but it's a good point."



Amazing how some of these stories still have levels and details to be explored and interpreted even after all these years and many in-depth reviews (and sadly, a LOT of casual but aggressive dismissal).




"One might wonder whether many critics fail to have ever read the stories with any real degree of attention."


"I'M ONE OF KIRBY'S BIGGEST FANS, AND i'VE READ EVERY ONE OF THESE STORIES 5 TIMES, BUT THERE'S NO GETTING AROUND THAT THIS GUY JUST COULD NOT WRITE!"  --typical Stan Lee fan




"Another point that did not occur to me. I am fairly certain that it means that they worship their own power more than they worship Darkseid, but the other interpretation is a valid secondary meaning which is in there."


Like what I said above. Perhaps it not only can work both ways, but it was meant to?




"I find it interesting that what Barda objects to about Apokolips is that the flunkies of Darkseid are infected by hubris, not that it is a totalitarian dictatorship dedicated to destruction. I suspect that she began thinking this and that once she had began to think she found that she could not stop... As we'll see when i get around to Mister Miracle No. 9."



That also crossed my mind, but I didn't think to comment on it.  Thanks for picking up the slack. It's like she's defending HITLER-- or NIXON. (Or GWB.)



"I do rather enjoy Scott's self-confidence. I imagine that Jack Kirby enjoyed writing it as well, after a decade or so of Stan the Man's attempts at characterisation."


Just yesterday, somebody at the Masterworks board (I think) mentioned how "Stan Lee liked FLAWED heroes, and so..." --and I forget the rest of the point-- an example of one of Stan's SCHTICKS which, truthfully, gets tiresome after awhile.


Come to think of it... you know how I said I suspected that Stan Lee ONLY "contributed" to ONE single, sole, solitary Steve Ditko DR. STRANGE story-- the origin???  I initially said this because it's been very obvious over decades that Stan loves origins, and INSISTS on having them (see NICK FURY #4-- and that's not evenb a "real" origin). It became VERY obvious to me that Ditko's art evolved over the course of DR. STRANGE, and by studying the evolution of the art, it's clear the origin is NOT the 3rd or 4th episode drawn, but about the 9th or 10th.  Which STRONGLY suggests Stan told Steve, once he decided to run the thing regularly, "Listen, if we're gonna keep doing this, we NEED an origin."


Ditko-- so I've heard-- does NOT like "flawwed" heroes. Dr. Strange may be "human" (even if he seems so cold, distant and aloof that he often lacks humanity in the early episodes).  Where is he his MOST "human"-- his most "flawwed"?  THE ORIGIN. The origin is also the one that appears to SWIPE outright ther most elements from other,m previously existing stories-- namely, LOST HORIZON and the origin of MANDRAKE THE MAGICIAN.


The big question is, did Stan swipe those ideas himself, OR, as SEVERAL "Kirby-L" members have suggested, over and over and over, he swiped them from JACK KIRBY's origin of DR. DROOM?  (Perhaps Jack swiped Frank Capra & Lee Falk, then Stan swiped from Jack, as Stan ALWAYS swiped from Jack?)


Scott Free doesn't need any "flaws".  His BACKGROUND, childhood and upbringing are enough.


And a thought that just crosses my mind RIGHT NOW as I type this... Stan Lee's obsession with "flawed" heroes-- an increasingly-common thing in the 60's, with "anti-heroes" and the like-- strikes me as a reflection of those who feel "there are no black and white, ONLY SHADES OF GRAY".  And it's ALWAYS the evil people who love to insist on that. (Think about that one.)




"However, it now occurs to me that in this scene Scott uses his escape gadgets to trap Virman and his men, transforming his defence weaponry into attack weaponry. This demonstrates his ingenuity and also the fact that he presumably has no attack weaponry."


Clever observation.




"I would happily buy an all-new Fourth World comic and an issue of a comic reprinting material from the fear-fraught 'forties. However, sticking both together in one magazine creates a comic which is neither fish nor fowl and gives the impression to the reader that he is being cheated."


I ALWAYS hated mixing new and reprint in the same package.  EITHER WAY, you feel like you're being cheated.  Plus it makes it hard to index, file & FIND those reprints for later re-reading.



("Of course, I found his post-war stuff MUCH better (isn't that what everyone always said about Will Eisner???).")

"Presumably because they prefer the work of Jules Feiffer and Wally Wood to that of Will Eisner?"



I got Kitchen Sink's SPIRIT comic reprints-- the ones done in chronological sequence, which STARTED with the Post-War stories.  Repeatedly, over and over and over, Cat Yronwode kept beating it into the ground about HOW MUCH BETTER Will Eisner and THE SPIRIT were after the war rather than before it.  It took me another decade before I was able to actuially read most of the early ones. I know Jules Feiffer was involved (not sure when or to what extent) but Wally Wood didn't come along until the last couple months. Rather than save the strip, he proved to be "the straw that broke the camel's back".  when Wood proved unable to make the deadlines (mostly because he was doing other work at the same time), Eisner made the decision to PULL THE PLUG while the series' reputation was still intact.


WOULD THAT MARVEL OR DC had the done the same thing with countless series of their own.




("And despite the miserable reproctrion, that FIGHTING AMERICAN "Masterworks" format book was one of my favorite. It was just so much FUN! (Totally put the Lee-Romita CAP revival to shame.)")

"Yes, Kirby comes into his own after the war.:


Yes, I know the reproduction SUCKS, and Kirby did so much other "better" stuff... but I'm sick of hearing that. When I re-read all the stuff I had from that period, FIGHTING AMERICAN was what put the biggest smile on my face. And that counts big-time with me.

Y'know, I definitely think there's a place on this board for discussion of the New Gods. They're great books, that offer a lot of food for thought both in their content and in the context in which they were made.

But I'd really prefer to limit the conversation to members of this board. Reposting conversations wholesale from another group -- and not just your own contributions, but another person's* -- seems a little over the top to me. Not only does it prevent the other person from rebutting anything you have to say here, but it also keeps the rest of us at arm's length in the conversation. We don't know the rest of the context of the conversation, we don't know whether it's moved on since then, we don't know which points have already been made. 

Please, if you want to talk about the New Gods, do so. But on this board, it'd be great if you addressed us, and not Tim -- and keep on talking to Tim in the Kirby group.. Or if he wants to come here to discuss it, he's more than welcome!

Rob

*And that's assuming you even have his consent to repost his words here. 

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