I'm sure everyone who's a REAL Jack Kirby fan (as opposed to "Marvel" or "L**" fans) would agree that NOBODY but Kirby should ever have been involved re-writing HIS stories. It's my understanding, that's the kind of thing he wanted spelled out in a new contract with Marvel, which they refused to give him, and which Carmine DID give him.
That said, there's a reason Kirby doing exactly what he did AT DC probably did not work as well as it might have AT MARVEL... if he'd gotten the kind of contract he wanted (editorial control and payment & credit for the writing he was actually doing).
When you start any new series, the tendency is-- OR SHOULD BE-- to smart small. You do a pilot episode that stands alone (whether it's a 1-hour or 2-hour movie). Then you do a series of stories that expand on that. It's not until a certain amount of time passes, and a series is firmly established and successful, that it's "safe" to do a "BIG EPIC". Lots and lots of TV seeries in the last 20 or so years have followed this pattern. Heck, FANTASTIC FOUR, or the Marvel Universe in general, followed this pattern. Even DR. STRANGE.
The Fourth World could have worked at Marvel, purely on the basis of it being seen as some kind of extension and expansion of what was already there. I've already theorized that the initial 6-part introductory storyline (seen in JO #133-138) could have been done as a crossover between AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, FANTASTIC FOUR and THOR. This would serve as a lead-in to FOREVER PEOPLE #1 and NEW GODS #1.
But doing this at DC was just NUTS.
People say, "assigning" Kirby to JIMMY OLSEN was a slap in the face. Why? It was a long-established, successful book, and featured SUPERMAN. Hard to get more "DC" than that.
Even so, everything else Kirby did-- and Kirby doing it on his own, in his style, must have seems so totally ALIEN to DC readers... they probably didn't know what the hell to make of it.
And then of course you have the "Marvel" fans. They either refused to follow (because it WASN'T "MARVEL!!!"), or thought it was "weird", because "IT DIDN'T SOUND LIKE "S*** L**". And their "hero" had spent 10 solid years lying to them, telling them HE wrote the stories that JACK had actually written.
You know, maybe it would have been better if MISTER MIRACLE had not been part of the Fourth World?
Something very misleading about the reprint series NEW GODS #6-- the issue with #11 and the all-new "conclusion"-- is, they do NOT take place back-to-back. They take place with more than a DECADE in between them, story-wise. (Yeah, I know, time doesn't pass the same in comics-- deal with it.)
What so many completely miss in comparing NEW GODS to some sort of "inferior" version of THOR (just as Frank Thorne's masterpiece, GHITA OF ALIZARR, is so often dismissed as being somehow a "lesser" version of RED SONJA, despite having vastly-superior writing) is, NEW GODS as a concept was intended to comment on MODERN times. Mythology-- Greek, Roman, etc.-- put into fictional terms concepts to help people deal with their world. NEW GODS was meant to do the same, for "today". It's amazing how something so simple tends to get totally overlooked by so many, in their mad dash to DISS the books as "NOT BEING MARVEL" (or L**).
It's been discussed before that Kirby was planning all these new characters right around 1967. Note: the long epic that led to Asgard ALMOST being destroyed started with the Aug'67 issue. Note: the issue of F.F. that (Kirby's editor) TOTALLY F***ed over ("What Lurks Behind The Beehive?") had a Sep'67 cover date. Note: the "Summer Of Love", which epitomized the entire hippie / love generation era, was 1967. Note: THE FOREVER PEOPLE seem to have stepped right out of an idealized version of what "1967" was all about (or, should have been).
And "SCUBA DUBA" was off-Broadway in... 1967!
Some thoughts inspired by JO #147, p.23...
I don't think I really thought about this before. A lot of people, the ones who tend to DISMISS the Fourth World as merely "2nd-rate" variations of THOR and such, will point to High-Father as a knock-off of Odin. Here's it's clear there's a difference. Odin was always a hard-headed pain-in-the-ass. He had 2 sons-- a natural son (not by his own wife!!) and an adopted one (who was a non-stop trouble-maker). And he always, repeatedly, gave more hell to his real son, the loyal, steadfast one, than he did to the one who was forever trying to KILL his real son, or take over his throne.
High-Father winds up with 2 sons. His natural son he treats in the most mind-bogglingly- WORST, HORRIBLE way possible, almost beyond imagination. His adopted son (the son of his sworn enemy), a savage, brutal animal, he treats so well the guy becomes a hero despite himself. Kirby never really got around to reconciling High-Father & his real son. MM #18 went by too fast, too abruptly, for that to happen. It took Steve Gerber, OF ALL PEOPLE, to finally deal with it. Hard to believe he was only ever meant to be a fill-in writer...
Now, in the Marvel-DC comparison game (which I enjoy playing a lot these days, more and more of it becomes more obvious), Superman actually fills in as the most blatent analog for Thor. He's not Thor, but for the purpose of these stories, he fills that slot. And High-Father, perhaps because he's NOT the guy's father, shows him more thought and consideration than Odin EVER showed Thor. Sheesh.
But then, New Genesis does seem to live up to its name. The spirit of "1967" lives on... despite, or because, of the stark contrasts, the nightmarish horrors existing side-by-side with the blindingly bright optimism for a better future.
When the JLA and JSA wound up in the Fourth World in Justice League of America #183-185 (O-D'80), much was made of Orion's conflict with his father, Darkseid. Even though Highfather was held in a torturous prison, Mister Miracle never mentioned him at all nor was there any sense of concern.
At least, Big Barda "visited" her Granny! ;-)
MM moved from Earth to New Genesis when he got married at the end of MM #18. However, in Steve Gerber's 2nd issue, he pulled a "180" from how Steve Englehart had been handling the character, and had him move back to Earth, making a big deal over the way his father had essentially abandoned him to a lifetime of growing up in an unrelenting HELLHOLE. So he felt no closeness or connection with Izaya, and preferred to be his own person, just as he had broken away from any initial allegiance to Darkseid.
I'm looking forward to re-reading those issues one of these days...
Picking up a bit late here...
MISTER MIRACLE #19 / Sep'77
“IT’S ALL IN THE MINE!”
When Gerry Conway barged into Marvel to become their new Editor-In-Chief, among other tings, he deliberatley kicked several very successful & popular creative teams off of books, just so HE could write them himself to make more money in his spare time away from the office. Among the atrocities he committed (yes, I just can't say enough BAD about this guy lately), was nit-picking Steve Englehart to death on THE AVENGERS to the point where he managed to send Englehart off the deep end, inspiring him to decide to QUIT comics altogether!! But first, he'd spend a year at DC, and get whatever he had left out of his system.
One of the 3 books Englehart tackled was MISTER MIRACLE. There had been plans announced for a MM revival at the time of the infamous 1st ISSUE SPECIAL issue of NEW GODS. That never materialized. But here, Englehart was teamed with Marshall Rogers (who he also worked with on DETECTIVE COMICS, on what many consider the "definitive" run of BATMAN ever, ever done), and, perhaps in a sign of just how pathetic DC could really be... Vince Colletta.
Of all the various "Fourth World" revivals ever, ever done since Jack Kirby had his most personal project cancelled out from under him, THIS brief run remains, in my mind, the BEST ever done. When I look back on it (and keep in mind, I have NOT re-read these... YET), so much about it seems... "wrong". But compared to EVERYTHING else I've seen...and that especially goes for the Conway-Newton NEW GODS that was running at the same time... THIS-- is a MASTERPIECE.
I reccomend it without any reservations!
NEW GOD #14 (Oct'77)
cover by Rich Buckler & Al Milgrom
"A CHILD SHALL LEAVE YOU!" /
"WHILE MAN-GODS WAR"
by Gerry Conway, Don Newton & Dan Adkins
I have very little memory of this. Except, I think, Esak gets kidnapped in this one. If I'm right, that MAY have been the inspiration for what Kirby did with Esak later on.
Apparently, Orion fights Dr., Bedlam in this. Doesn't seem right, somehow, Orion fighting a Mister Miracle villain...