Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Andy Bentley on The New Gods 12: The Forever People 3

[Andy Bentley continues his issue by issue look at Jack Kirby's New Gods]

“Life vs. Anti Life”

The allusions towards the 3rd Reich in Darkseid’s regime become more overt in Forever People #3. Darkseid’s followers ransack homes, kidnap men, women and children, and even go so far as an old fashioned book burning. Kirby also tackles suicide bombing, evangelism and just about every other evil thing humanity has done to force their viewpoint upon the masses. The resistance is led by the Forever People or more specifically fought by the ideals of love and friendship, two things that Beautiful Dreamer states “can NEVER die!”

The issue opens with Kirby’s parody of TV evangelists in Glorious Godfrey, another Apokoliptian who shares an alliteration with Granny Goodness. The splash page that introduces Godfrey and his troupe is a wild work of art with distorted organ pipes, brainwashing platitudes, and a podium symbol that resembles the wings of the eagle in the American Presidential podium. Godfrey is selling Anti-life, and the masses are buying. Godfrey’s version of Anti-life is produced through a justifier helmet that makes the wearer content, but without what Kirby defines as life, free will. Once again, a part of Final Crisis is cleared up for me by reading The Fourth World. I’ve gone on record in the comments section of the blog that Final Crisis was mislabeled as a DC Crisis event when it was truthfully Morrison’s riff on Kirby’s work at DC.

The story makes a jump cut to the new home of the FP (Forever People) where a Justifier of Godfrey’s is assaulting Donnie,the Tiny Tim-ish human mascot of the FP. With a little help from mother box and Beautiful Dreamer, the FP rescue Donnie and head for the hills as the Justifier has rigged himself to explode. However the bomb isn’t shown visually, it’s merely proclaimed by Big Bear that there must be one. In fact all of the FP are just shouting things they believe to be true as they run from the bomb’s explosion. They make it out safely and deduce that Godfrey is on earth and intends to hunt down any opposition from New Genesis. They rig their super cycle to follow strong emotions (which inexplicably will lead them to Godfrey) and jump to warp speed (even a little Trek in our Kirby comics).

Next we see the justifier troop terrorizing humans in a myriad of ways. These soldiers have a medieval religious look to them which might imply that the crusades also factor into Kirby’s motivations. The FP arrive at Godfrey’s home base and anticipate trouble so they combine to call upon their other dimensional alter ego, the Infinity Man. Infinity man has an infinite number of super powers which make his infiltration of Godfrey’s sermon anticlimactic. However I continue to enjoy his zen like platitudes such as “I master the expansion of atoms! They part, and allow me passage!” Infinity man gets the jump on Godfrey and destroys his organ used to sell the Anti-life message to the masses. But Darkseid and Desaad interrupt and break the Infinity Man down to the Forever People and then incapacitate them with a nerve beam. The Justifiers haul their lifeless bodies to the concentration camp - I mean camp of the damned, so sorry - in hope to find the elusive Anti-life equation in the noggin of Beautiful Dreamer.

The final two pages offer up an interesting theological debate between Godfrey and Darkseid. Godfrey becomes the first follower of Darkseid to question his lord and master. Godfrey, in a poetic twist, doesn’t have the faith that the Anti-Life equation exists and believes it can only be manufactured and sold to the masses. Darkseid is amused by Godfrey, but makes sure Godfrey knows his place. “I am the revelation!” Darkseid proclaims, “The tiger-force at the core of all things!”. The conversation devolves into Godfrey and Desaad bickering about who licks Darkseid’s boots better and we’re left with a cliffhanger and a fantastic pin up of Beautiful Dreamer and Darkseid.

Final musings:

If the secret to the Anti-Life equation does reside in Beautiful Dreamer’s brain, why her?
What’s the significance of Darkseid having pupils during his conversation with Godfrey?
Godfrey’s getup is very Doctor Strange-ish
I’d love to be the tiger force of anything!

[This anti-life stuff is all over the Slaves of Mickey Eye Seaguy series as well -- which I am starting to think is maybe a different version of his Final Crisis story and thus also a child of Kirby's New Gods]


Christian said...

There's an ongoing thread in Kirby's 4th World stuff that the only people who truly possess the Anti-Life Equation, the power to eliminate Free Will, are the people who would never use it, ie. Beautiful Dreamer, the manifestation of hope, and Mr. Miracle, the manifestation of freedom.

Mikey said...

When he appears in a bit Sonny Sumo's immune to the anti-life equation as well, right? I don't remember why (or if it's ever explained). But Sonny Sumo is cool.