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 agree that FF #25-26-27 would have been better with chic Stone's inks over it.  I actually owned FF 22 (first of Sue's storm's force field) and #25, first half of the Think/Hulk battle royal.  It really felt like this was the high point of the series and very desperate feeling...the weight of the world was on poor Ben's shoulders... but when I finally did get to read the second half "The Avengers Take Over", I felt it was anti-climactic in some ways.  It's only recently that someone pointed out here in Captain Comic's land, that Avengers #3 &4, and FF #25 & 26 form a long continued story of "The Hulk in NY".


Henry R. Kujawa said:

FF, in my view, definitely got a LOT better after the first 2 years... however, among the "junk" are a FEW of my all-time fave FF stories. I guess it was hit-and-miss. These would include the 2nd half of FF #1 (1st Mole Man), FF #6 (Sub-Mariner & Dr. Doom), #7 (Kurrgo & Planet X-- and although the visuals are very cool, the story itself was done BETTER in the 1967 tv cartoon-- go figure!!) and #13 (Red Ghost & his Super Apes, plus The Watcher).

Sadly (in my view), just when the stories were getting better, Dick Ayers went to do something else, and "George Bell" filled in.  According to George Roussos, during that period, as a favor to Stan, he inked books for half price over the weekends. I was stunned when I read this. It means he was probably inking 10 PAGES A DAY!!  No wonder they looked like crap. Roussos went on to say he was happy when Martin Goodman finally put up the money to hire a "better" inker-- in the form of Chic Stone. I really admired that Roussos seemed to have no ego whatsoever. I do think his work for DC-- and his full art for Warren-- was better than anything he did for Marvel.

Kirk G:

"It's only recently that someone pointed out here in Captain Comic's land, that Avengers #3 &4, and FF #25 & 26 form a long continued story of "The Hulk in NY"."

"Captain America Joins The Avengers" was (after FF ANNUAL #3) my first real exposure to Cap. At the end, he asks Rick Jones to be his partner, and Rick thinks about, what will The Hulk think?

Little did I know the answer came out a couple weeks later!!  It took me at least 15 years (maybe more) before I was able to read that 2-part FF story.

The "epilogue" of sorts was in AVENGERS #5, Hulk's last appearance in the book for ages, when he shows up right at the end, saves the day, then disappears.  I'm not entirely sure, but I may have read both of these first when the original Masterworks volumes came out.

Hey, isn't there a general "F.F." thread around here yet?   : )

Robin, I think you're right.  You had to be there.  I was just about a year or two behind you, and so all those OLD issues that seemed so hard to find (yeah, they were scarce!) were only a year or two prior!  That's one of the reasons why I valued my FF Omnibus #1 so that I could read the letters pages that are reproduced there, as the FF served as the clearing house for ALL Marvel mags and also as the Bullpen page for announcements until it was split off and all books got their own letters' pages.

I had never tummbled to the fact that the story bouncing between Avengers #3,, 4,.. 5 (all of which I didn't have until reprinted in Marvel Superheroes or Marvel Tripple Action) and FF #25 - 26 before.  Althought I did recognise there was a continuing   theme of a quest or search for the Hulk...I didn't attached the thought that they were a thread.

I guess that's an example of what you can accomplish when you write all the mags yourself...and  you have a great artist like Jack Kirby churning out all version (visions, images) of the same characters week after week...

Little did I know the answer came out a couple weeks later!!  It took me at least 15 years (maybe more) before I was able to read that 2-part FF story.

The "epilogue" of sorts was in AVENGERS #5, Hulk's last appearance in the book for ages, when he shows up right at the end, saves the day, then disappears.  I'm not entirely sure, but I may have read both of these first when the original Masterworks volumes came out.

 

PS: I was thinking about how the Hulk shows up at the end of Avengers #5 The Lava Men story to save the day, and how he's not seen in the series for the longest of times. 
Recently, I had flipped through the Avengers title covers to see if that's really true, and while I don't disagree, I did note that the image of the Hulk appears on the cover of Avengers #17 or so with the Minitaur story, and I don't recall Hulk actually appearing IN the storyline (except for maybe a slide note, flash pannel of what he's doing in TTA) until #100 "Everybody Who's Ever been in the Avengers" jam piece.

Oh yeah, there's the exception of Avengers Annual #2 since it's a time travel story back to the earliest days, but that's an exception.

And there's Iron Man's charge to Cap's Kookie Quartet to "Find the Hulk"...which leads directly into #17 on the cover only.

 

The only other places I can recall the Hulk popping up would be in FF #12, 25-26, a crossover issue of TTA with the Submariner in the same theatre, "Like a Beast at Bay", Spider-Man #14 with the Green  Goblin, Iron Man #9 with the Mandarin, and Captain America #109 when Rick becomes Bucky, and Captain Mar-Vel #21 for a two part Gil Kan slugfest.

Have I missed any others? (oh yeah, a Daredevil issue early in Miller's run) (and let's agree to ignor the Defenders and She-Hulk runs, ok?)

 

If Henry didn't read the FF two parter from #25-26 until fifteen years later, he must have missed their reprinting in FF Kingsized Annual #4, cause I also missed it when it came out. A Durn 25cent expensive comic book!

Yes, for all the deficiencies of Roussos' inking on the FF, not all of it was bad.  It had a certain charm to it, although his work did look sloppy.  But he was a talented colorist and was a better artist than he showed on some of the FF inking jobs.  Of course, I liked some of Paul Reinman's inking on early issues of the X-Men and the Hulk, so my opinions of inkers isn't always consistent.

     Allen Smith

Henry R. Kujawa said:

FF, in my view, definitely got a LOT better after the first 2 years... however, among the "junk" are a FEW of my all-time fave FF stories. I guess it was hit-and-miss. These would include the 2nd half of FF #1 (1st Mole Man), FF #6 (Sub-Mariner & Dr. Doom), #7 (Kurrgo & Planet X-- and although the visuals are very cool, the story itself was done BETTER in the 1967 tv cartoon-- go figure!!) and #13 (Red Ghost & his Super Apes, plus The Watcher).

Sadly (in my view), just when the stories were getting better, Dick Ayers went to do something else, and "George Bell" filled in.  According to George Roussos, during that period, as a favor to Stan, he inked books for half price over the weekends. I was stunned when I read this. It means he was probably inking 10 PAGES A DAY!!  No wonder they looked like crap. Roussos went on to say he was happy when Martin Goodman finally put up the money to hire a "better" inker-- in the form of Chic Stone. I really admired that Roussos seemed to have no ego whatsoever. I do think his work for DC-- and his full art for Warren-- was better than anything he did for Marvel.

I'd think that the New Gods concepts would be great for a line of toys as well as an animated series.  Now, I don't follow animation all that much, but aside from playing supporting roles, have the Fourth World concepts ever been featured in cartoons where they are the stars, and not just supporting players?  I think DC is missing something here.

If it were an animated series, it would have to be on cable. I think that title would still have trouble on network affiliates in some parts of the country.

I think Mr Miracle would be a great subject for an animated cartoon series.

The New Gods were made pretty central to the Superman Animated cartoon of the 90s which ended with a climactic focus on their war.  As they were originally the central characters with Superman as a supporting player, the switcharound to being background characters in Superman's show isn't such a comedown as it might have been.

 

(The creators of the cartoon said that they had to go to the New Gods to give Superman a set of baddies that would pose a real challenge to him.  It might have just been the happenstance of the time, but I thought Superman and the New Gods were a good match.  They are both grandiose concepts, and it helped modernise Sueprman for the 70s.)

 

But you are right.  I can see a short series of those animated DVD movies that they make these days being about the New Gods, telling a single focused story.  They'd have to work out some kind of closure for it all though.

PowerBook Pete (aka Tim Cousar) said:

If it were an animated series, it would have to be on cable. I think that title would still have trouble on network affiliates in some parts of the country.

I think Mr Miracle would be a great subject for an animated cartoon series.

Or on DVD, where reasonably-minded deists could decide whether to buy it or not.

I think the quotation marks were Kirby's way of accenting certain things the characters said.  Having said that, though, I think DC could do a good job on a New Gods cartoon.  Not sure why the title "New Gods" would cause a problem, though, would a conservative audience take the title literally?  What title would work?  "Darkseid and Friends"?

 

      Allen Smith

Robin Olsen said:

I don't see any problem with New Gods being a cartoon at all, as Kirby's art (and definitely his dialogue) got cartoonier as he got older. I actually loved his Darkseid dialogue, I guess it wouldn't be the same on a cartoon without those quotation marks.

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