Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Classics - News Gods #7

To continue from where we left off with last week's Classics review, Jack Kirby rocked the comics industry in 1970 with the announcement that he was leaving Marvel and joining DC Comics.

When his New Gods comic debuted, I was shocked to find that I wasn't that crazy about it. Today, of course, it's acknowledged as a masterpiece - but I didn't catch on to that until I picked up this issue.

The previous six issues had focused on Orion and his battles with evil threats from Apokolips - so imagine my surprise when I opened this issue and found a completely different story.

This issue, titled "The Pact," gave us what we had been missing - an origin story!

I'm a big fan of origin stories, myself (with rare exceptions) - they're the foundation for all future stories involving the characters.

We didn't really have one for the New Gods, other than the basic setup of two worlds inhabited by powerful beings - one good and one evil.

But here we meet Highfather when he was a warrior named Izaya, and we get more insight into Darkseid (nothing less than the greatest villain in DC history), his rise to power and the clever plans he sets in motion for his own purposes.

It's a tale that is very personal, as Izaya suffers a terrible loss, seeks redemption, and we learn about the fate of two young boys and how they brought an end to a destructive war.

It's also a story that works on a cosmic scale, as an incredible battle rages between two god-like races, with the only limits being that of Kirby's imagination (in other words, there are no limits).

Kirby's art features a raw power that had never really been seen before, as he used Mike Royer to faithfully ink his pencils, staying as close as possible to his original art.

It's an amazing, staggering bit of work - all the more impressive for being contained in a single, 24-page story.

But this is the story that made clear the epic nature of the story Kirby was telling - a story that spilled across four comics - New Gods, Mr. Miracle, The Forever People and (believe it or not) Jimmy Olsen.

Oh, some issues didn't live up to this one, but with the origin told, Kirby's saga took off - and I was hooked but good.

Sadly, within the next year DC would pull the plug on the New Gods series, and Kirby would move on to other creations. But he could point to this issue as the high water mark in the series.

The sudden cancellation was almost as shocking as Kirby's move to DC, and left comics fans everyone wondering that ever-painful question: what might have been?

Grade: A+



-> Ray said...

Darkseid is certainly one of my favorite DC villains -- along with Ras al Ghul -- but I think the Joker must be crowned as the "greatest villain in DC history," with Lex Luther coming in second place.

Chuck said...

I'll agree that the Joker is the best known, with Lex Luthor close behind - and both (when written properly) are great villains. But throw them both in a room with Darkseid, and I know who my money's on.

It's all part of my theory that no one did better villains than Kirby. He had a hand in creating the greatest villains at both DC (Darkseid) and Marvel (Dr. Doom).