Tales of the New Gods

Tales of the New Gods

By various (DC Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-84576-746-4

Here’s an intriguing item that should appeal to a broad spectrum of readers. When Jack Kirby moved back to DC in 1970 he created one of the most powerful concepts in comicbook history. His Fourth World inserted a whole new mythology into the existing DC universe and blew the developing minds of a generation of readers. Starting with Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, where he revived the 1940s kid-team The Newsboy Legion, introduced large-scale cloning in the form of The Project, and hinted that the city’s gangsters had an unworldly backer, he moved on to the Forever People, New Gods and Mister Miracle; an interlinked triptych of projected miniseries that formed an epic mosaic.

These three titles introduced two rival races of gods, dark and light, risen out of the ashes of a previous Armageddon to battle forever. And then their conflict spread to Earth…

Kirby’s concepts, as always, fired and inspired his contemporaries and successors. The gods of Apokolips and New Genesis have become a crucial foundation of the DC universe, surviving the numerous revisions and retcons that periodically bedevil continuity-hounds.

Many major talents have dabbled with the concept over the years and many titles have come and gone starring Kirby’s creations. This compendium collects a lovely one-shot from 1987 and a large selection of back-up strips from Jack Kirby’s Fourth World and its follow-up title Orion, both published a decade later.

The Mister Miracle Special was released when the heroic Super Escape-Artist was a high-profile member of Justice League International (see Justice League: A New Beginning – ISBN: 0-930289-40-4 and Justice League International: The Secret Gospel of Maxwell Lord – ISBN: 1-56389-039-9) and is a delightful, loving pastiche-cum-homage by Mark Evanier, Steve Rude and Mike Royer. This action-packed romp stars Scott Free, his wife Barda and their assistant Oberon in desperate battle against Darkseid, Granny Goodness, the hordes of Apokolips, the unctuous Funky Flashman and incipient bankruptcy; a bright and breezy taster to contrast the heavier content that follows.

The short stories thereafter were originally historical background tales to the lead features and concentrated on revealing secrets from the long lives of the key players. Originally appearing in Jack Kirby’s Fourth World #2-11, #13-20 and Orion #3, 4, 6-8, 10, 12, 15, 18, and 19, there is also a wonderful bonus for older, wiser fans.

When Orion was cancelled there was one back-up tale completed but never published. Included here for the first time is ‘Infinitely Gentle, Infinitely Suffering’, a powerful character-piece starring Darkseid, Desaad and Granny Goodness written by Mark Millar, inked by Mick Gray and pencilled by the magical, unique and legendary Steve Ditko.

Other creators featured in this star-heavy tome are writers John Byrne, Walter Simonson, Eric Stephenson, Howard Chaykin, Jeph Loeb, and Kevin McCarthy, plus pencillers Ron Wagner, Frank Miller, Dave Gibbons, Eric Larsen, Rob Liefeld, Art Adams, Jim Lee, John Paul Leon, Allen Milgrom and Eddie Campbell as well as the aforementioned Byrne, Simonson and Chaykin wearing their drawing hats. The inkers include Byrne, Simonson, Gibbons Miller, Adams, Leon Campbell and Chaykin as well as Ray Kryssing, Al Gordon, Norm Rapmund, Scott Williams and Klaus Janson and thirteen colourists and letterers complete the small army of fans paying their dues.

As for the stories, they may not be Kirby, but they certainly demonstrate the overwhelming love and admiration for what he created. In tales recounting the early days of Scott Free on Earth, the origin of Infinity Man, Kanto the Assassin at the court of the Borgias, the collusion of Metron and Darkseid which led to The War, the birth of the Forever People, a retelling of their first meeting with Superman, many individual insights and glimpses at the huge cast and even the origin of Darkseid himself, comics’ greatest talents expand the legend.

At a time when DC is concluding the saga with its Death of the New Gods miniseries, this spectacular book is a shining example of what Kirby’s masterpiece inspired. Tales Of The New Gods is a Must-Have Item for all fans of the medium and lovers of Sheer Imagination.

© 1987, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2008 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.

One Reply to “Tales of the New Gods”

  1. I think the idea of the Fouth World books as ‘mini-series’ is a little overplayed these days. While Kirby certainly intended them to have a definite end, that end wasn’t coming any time soon. Had the books been successful, Kirby would have kept them running pretty much as long as they were successful; hundreds of issues if need be.

    Kirby’s original intention was that he wasn’t going to draw the books at all. He basically dreamed of being Stan Lee at DC: he wanted to run his own line of books and co-ordinate the talent working thereon. Upon leaving Marvel for DC, he contacted John Romita, Don Heck and Steve Ditko and invited them to come and work for him on the Fourth World. Kirby would plot and create, with Don Heck drawing New Gods, Steve Ditko on the Forever People, and John Romita on Mister Miracle. DC, of course, had other plans — and Kirby got screwed.

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