Monday, July 06, 2009

Andy Bentley on The New Gods: The Forever People #5

[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.]

“Sonny Sumo”

Sonny Sumo indeed.

This was one of the most satisfying issues I’ve read in a awhile. Lets break it down.

Sonny Sumo: Sonny Sumo is a gladiator, one that would be worshipped in times past but now is merely a combatant for people’s amusement. He takes on a robot twice his size and defeats him with his quick reflexes and superior strength. This win is not without consequence, as the robot’s torch scorches his exposed skin. However Sonny is also an eastern philosophy type zen master, and is able to concentrate and heal his wounds. This is only a temporary effect and the wounds return when he reaches his locker room. There is real consequence to Sumo’s battles which makes him a far more interesting character than a New God who just magically wishes his troubles away. Sumo desires more in life than uninspired battle and the mother box is his call to adventure. Ther box does permanently heal his wounds but there’s something more satisfying to the way Sumo uses the all in one gadget. You get the sense that the power is coming from Sumo’s and is then amplified by mother box. That detail has been missing from Orion and Mr. Miracle.

Desaad: Desaad is the primary villain for this issue and his defeat is deserved and satisfying. He’s held our heroes, The Forever People, captive for 2 1/2 issues now and has tortured them relentlessly in order to syphon the energy their fear generates with his Apokoliptian device. He takes great pride and delight over hurting others so when he finally gets knocked on his ass, it is an earned triumph. Other one-and-done foes like Mantis lack this emotional punch.

The Forever People: Our heroes are mostly the damsels in distress for Sony and mother box to rescue. Again mother box does the heavy lifting, but does so under the guidance of the serene mind of Sumo.

The Anti-Life Equation: Revealed! As a horde of Desaad’s troops hold the Forever People and Sonny Sumo at gunpoint, the lights dim, a sound arises and Sonny shouts out the word “SLEEP!” as mother box turns purple and crackles with the energy of Kirby. The light rise and the army has all dropped to the floor in slumber. The Forever People decree that the anti-life equation resides in the smooth noggin of one Sonny Sumo. Sonny is cautious, but confident that he will learn to live with this newfound ability.

This was quite a shock, despite the fact that the cover proclaims that the reader will see the anti-life equation in action (we’ve all been duped by a comic book cover one time or another). Equally as shocking was the fact that the equation was used to pacify, not murder or enslave.

Darkseid: He had quite a subdued reaction to watching the anti life equation in action. Isn’t this the only thing that motivates him? Instead of an emotional outburst, we’re treated to a melancholy line or two which boils down to “hey, I’m inherently evil, I’m gonna have to kill Sony Sumo like it or not”. Odd

The Omega Effect: The stinger for next issue. I’m aware of the Omega Effect. It delivered one of the strongest emotional punches I’ve ever seen in a cartoon. I also saw the world’s greatest detective be the first being to dodge it. I’m very excited to see it in action in the original creator’s hands.

Bonus! LONAR: A nice little four page backup introducing a Lonar, a New God who is taking a lone (get it?) journey through the ruins of the old gods. These ruins have potential and Lonar’s introspective qualities are a welcome contrast to the loud and brash New Gods we’ve scene before. Giving him a resurrected War Horse from old fits perfectly. I look forward to his further adventures.


Dougie said...

Amongst the relics of the Old Gods, Lonar finds Thor's winged helmet!

Christian said...

I think the Anti-Life Equation is so satisfying to me is because it equates Life, real life, with Freedom and Personality and less with Death. It's the same reason I thought the "death" of Fred in Angel was so great. It's far more creative and destructive than the common occurance of death in TV and comics, because it can't be effected by ressurections and the usual comic book gimmicks. There's a sense of existentialistically horrifying finality that is just lacking in most of the fiction I've been exposed to.

It's much the same as Morrison's "Darkseid IS" rhetoric, which has been so eloquently discussed here before.