Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Andy Bentley on Jack Kirby's New Gods: New Gods 4

[Andy Bentley continues his issue by issue look at Jack Kirby's New Gods. For more in this series see the toolbar on the right or the labels below.]

“The O’Ryan Gang and the Deep Six!”

The roulette wheel has spun back around to the main New Gods title and Kirby continues the precedent he’s set for the plotting: prologue in or around New Genesis that that sets up Orion’s adventures on Earth. This prologue includes Metron giving a young scholar a real life history lesson by way of his mobius chair. Mysterious in nature, Metron shows up briefly, says little and then does something cool. You might consider him the Boba Fett of the New Gods. Metron is showing a young boy from New Genesis life on a primitive planet where cave men and lizard men battle with primitive weapons. The contrast between this savage land and New Genesis illustrates the evolutionary potential for man as a species. The boy’s questions on time and mortality leads them back to High-father who confirms that even New Gods can die on this plane of existence.

High-Father’s answer seamlessly leads to the actions on Earth where a New God, Seagrin, has in fact left this mortal coil. Orion and his detective buddy Lincoln have arrived on the dock where Seagrin’s lifeless body lies. Orion makes no effort to mask his or Seagrin’s origins as he shouts to the heavens about Seagrin’s valor, curses his enemies and speaks of mother box. The police have no time to question these strange proclamations as the dock bursts into flames, giving Seagrin a version of a Viking funeral. In a nice tie to the past issue, the new Black racer soars above the flames to help guide Seagrin’s spirit towards the source, the New Gods version of heaven. As the Racer reverts to his human host, Darkseid watches from a secluded alley. This full page panel of Darkseid is only there for a key plot element: Darkseid has a device that’s blocking all mother boxes from Apokolyptian activity on Earth.

Back at Lincoln’s apartment, Orion’s followers have once again gathered and are again proclaiming their names and personalities. I understand the need to acquaint the reader with these characters, but Kirby doesn’t even attempt to mask it. The scene lead to my first laugh out loud moment in this series when I read “and me, young but cool, Havey Lockman!”. Orion enters the room and explains that his mother box has been crippled and deduces that Intergang must be behind it. The plan is for Orion and his people to pose as a rival gang looking to move in on Intergang’s territory. The plan moves smoothly with Orion and Lincoln putting a scare into Intergang member Snaky, and then tailing him to the hideout. There, Claudia acts as a damsel in distress in order to douse the guards with sleeping gas. This sequence of events feels more at home in a 50’s crime novel especially considering the suits and hats Intergang wears. Mr. Lanza finds their leader, County Boy, about to punish Snaky for his ineptitude. Country boy is just a non powered mob guy with a themed oufit, similar to the Spider-man thugs, The Enforcers. Lanza belittles the operation in order for Country Boy to show his hand and reveal the device jamming mother box. This is the signal for Orion and his astro force to roar in and destroy the device while his crew to takes out the remaining Intergang members. With the device out of commission, mother box picks up on one of the Deep Six, a marine themed group of Apokolyptians who were referenced several issues prior. Orion is determined as ever and races out towards the ocean to find Slig, the leader of the group who has the power over Aquatic life some what similar to Aquaman. Orion disposes of the animals Slig sends but then gazes out of the panel in horror at the threat which the Deep Six have kept secret. The reader is left with one word, Spawn.

Final Musings

The reveal that New Gods can die is a bit spoiled by the recent Countdown-Death of New Gods-Final Crisis debacle. Surprised Morrison didn’t lift the flames at death as he is often a stickler for details

- Mother Box almost sat out almost the entire issue which helped the plot.

- Last post, I wrote of my reinvestment in the Kirby material and my vow to keep these comics in context. Shortly after writing this, I had an interesting encounter with a coworker who discovered my blog. He said he read these comics as they were released and confirmed the intense level of anticipation for Kirby’s work at DC. He then informed me that even to readers in that time period, Kirby’s dialog and characters were a bit hokey and dated. This was something I was unaware of. It leads me to believe that my perspective on his work is not as warped by time as I originally expected.

-Harvey Lockman, saying you’re cool doesn’t make it so


Anonymous said...

Can't wait for the look at the issue that recounts the rise of Darkseid and The Pact. New Genesis's flying warriors (their own para-demons?) are called Monitors (!!).

Matthew J. Brady said...

Was this the issue where Orion got all savage and beat one of the bad guys (Slig?) to death while cackling madly? That's a great moment. Maybe it's in the next issue.

Also, I love the opening bits where Metron checks out crazy shit around the universe. The bit in an upcoming issue where a bunch of giant guys and chained to asteroids in cruciform poses is amazing. God, I love Kirby.

James said...

"He then informed me that even to readers in that time period, Kirby’s dialog and characters were a bit hokey and dated."

My sense of history is terrible, so I didn't know this either, but felt like maybe it was true as I read the first 4th World Omnibus. It's early 70s, right? But the voice is very much in that Stan Lee (i.e. early 60s) mode.

Andy said...

Matthew, that's the issue I'm writing up right now so it will be up in a few weeks