Thursday, November 22, 2018

Throwback Thursday: New Gods Special #1 Review (2017)


The Exciting World of Fictional Politics

“Orion of New Genesis” 
Writer/Penciller: Shane Davis 
Inker: Michelle Delecki 
Colorist: Alex Sinclair 
Letterers: A Larger World’s Dave & Troy 
“Teeth of the See” 
Writing and Drawing: Walter Simonson 
Coloring: Laura Martin 
Lettering: John Workman 
Reprinted New Gods Material By: Jack Kirby 
Cover: Davis, Delecki & Sinclair 
Cover Price: $4.99 
On Sale Date: August 2, 2017


It’s the 100th Birthday of Jack “King” Kirby, and DC is cranking out a bunch of Kirby-related one-shots during the month of August to celebrate the occasion. Though it comprises some of the DC Universe’s bedrock, his Bronze Age work for the company isn’t as well-known or –regarded as his work at Marvel…where they are celebrating the King by not even publishing the flagship title he co-created with Stan Lee. Well! We can’t worry about the missteps and rudeness of others, can we? No, we can worry only about our own house, so let’s see what’s what in my review of New Gods Special #1, right here!

Explain It!

So, full disclosure: Jack Kirby’s Fourth World stuff is not my favorite. I know that is akin to pissing in the Holy Water at church, but it’s the truth. I love lots of Jack Kirby comics, and there are parts of the eternal struggle between Highfather and Darkseid that I do like, but as you get into the nitty-gritty of that detailed world, the more it starts to feel like a six year-old child’s fever dream. This comic is really an anthology, with one feature-length story by Shane Davis, then a shorter one by Walt Simonson, then some Jack Kirby reprints. I’m going to do my best to encapsulate each one.
The first story is about Orion, the son of Darkseid traded for Scott Free (aka Mr. Miracle) in order to secure a truce between New Genesis and Apokolips. Bug the Forager tells Highfather and Lightray, who in turn inform Orion that Darkseid’s son Kalibak is on New Genesis, firing up an energy pit that will turn the planet into an annex of Apokolips. He’s enslaving the bug people to do this, but Orion is barely interested in that point, more annoyed that Kalibak is trying to screw the deal and appeal to their daddy behind everyone’s back. Orion goes berserk and even turns Apokoliptan ugly while chasing down Kalibak, but eventually catches up to him and snaps his arm sickeningly! Kalibak entices Orion to kill him and claim his Darkseidian birthright, but Orion chills out and uses a Mother Box to turn himself handsome again, before Boom Tubing Kalibak back to Apokolips for his punishment. In the end, Orion’s glad to be a fella from New Genesis, where, you know, lava isn’t spewing from pits and you don’t hear the wails of the tortured at all hours of the day and night.
Our second story is…also about Orion. In his younger days, when he was hanging out with New God Seagrin, who is sort of like New Genesis’ Aquaman. It’s actually Orion’s first mission for Highfather, to examine an evil presence he sensed coming from the waters of Apokolips. So they’re swimming around, and it turns out the evil presence is gigantic piranha monsters that they run away from through a Boom Tube? And that’s it. There’s a lot of dialogue referencing stuff from Kirby’s Fourth World, but on the face of it, this seems like a randomly-recorded event in the life of Orion. Walt Simonson’s art looks pretty terrific, for sure.
The rest of the book is a couple of back-ups from issues of Forever People, featuring Lonar, a character that looks to be a proto-Orion that never took off on his own. Most interesting part, to me, was when Lonar is sifting through a ruined city and discovers what looks like Thor’s helmet. This connects Kirby’s Fourth World to his Third World, which would have been all the Asgard stuff at Marvel. Otherwise, first Lonar unearths some kind of immortal devil horse, and in another story he rides it near Orion and the horse recoils from his touch. I mean, seriously, that’s it. There’s an awesome Kalibak pin-up, and a pretty great essay by one-time Jack Kirby assistant and comics historian Mark Evanier. I think I enjoyed that most of all.
Otherwise, this was a pretty crummy issue for five bucks. Both of the new stories were more fawning reminiscences of previously-released comics, and the back-ups were more confusing than interesting. This comic is nothing to hate, it’s just not particularly memorable nor does it make me wish we could get more. I mean, to continue the second story, just read Jack Kirby’s New Gods, I guess? If you can get your hands on those reprints, that is. They go for a mint. Better that you read them on digital, which would be a better use of your time and money.

Bits and Pieces:

If you love Jack Kirby's Fourth World so much that you can brook endless reminiscences of those comics without anything new being added, then you have found your comic. If you're anything less than an expert on the subject, however, you should probably steer clear. The art is all of good quality but the stories are boring and confusing. And no amount of frantic wikipedia-searching makes them interesting.


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