[Andy Bentley continues his issue by issue look at Jack Kirby's New Gods.]
Deadman overstays his welcome in this second issue of his team up with the Forever People. Kirby’s apathy towards the character shows in the story’s flaws in continuity and resolution. DC editorial foisted this team up upon Kirby and it proves editorial must respect the boundaries of creative.
We open on a quasi-futuristic carjacking complete with magnetic boots and ejector seats. The criminals are a group known as The Scavengers and they have a Diabolik-type feel with mysterious code names and wild technology. They’re run by the director who bears more than a passing resemblance to the Batman villain, Humpty dumpty. He also has a hook for a right hand, implying he is the true killer Deadman is seeking out. The Scavengers have been scouting The Forever People for their super powers which in turn reveals Deadman’s resurrection to the Director.
The Forever People have been split into two camps. Beautiful Dreamer and Big Bear have gotten jobs to pay rent to their new friend/landlord Mrs Magruder while the rest are hard at work creating a body for Deadman. The same Deadman who was already made corporeal through a combination of Serafin’s cartridges at the end of the last issue. I can only assume that this is a more permanent solution for Mr. Boston Brand. The “follower” body is left downstairs where a Scavenger agent quickly snaps it up. Mother Box alerts the Forever People to this act of thievery (she’s like a cosmic LoJack!) and they’re off to retrieve it. The story moves to The Scavenger’s lair where they’re testing the limits to the follower body. Wanting to avoid a haunting by the real Deadman, the Director orders the body destroyed. But before they can do so, Deadman leaps into the follower body and the battle is on. How did he and the Forever People track down the Scavengers? Well, that was mother box again however Kirby seemingly forgot to address this until B. Dreamer offhandedly mentions it in the last panel of the comic!
The colorful battle between The Scavengers advanced weapons and the Forever People and Deadman skills lasts several panels until both the Director and his manager are both captured. Deadman seemingly has accomplished his goal of finding his true killer, however DC comics wants Deadman to last beyond this team up. The Director explains that The Scavengers have several satellite units with men who have a hook for their right hand (that must be a difficult position to fill). Our heroes accept this on face value and Deadman is setup once again for a myriad of future appearances in the DC universe. Well not just yet. Serafin gives Deadman the blue cartridge in order to make the bond between his spirit and follower body permanent. Why they couldn’t have kept him corporeal with the red and blue cartridges from the last issue is beyond me. We might have to take that conundrum to The Source Wall.
-One way to improve this issue would have been to have the weapons The Scavengers use be supplied or originate from Apokolips. It would provide a personal connection to the Forever People rather than have them basically be sidekicks in a Deadman story.
-The last page has an add for “A NEW KIRBY BLOCKBUSTER”, The Demon! Translation: The Fourth World titles aren’t gonna be around that much longer
-I still get a kick out of Big Bear. Especially seeing him in a chauffeur outfit