Friday, February 15, 2008

"The Waves of the Mind"

Orion of the New Gods stares into the face of a "Boom Tube," the interdimensional portal that the denizens of "New Genesis" and "Apokolips" used to travel between their realms and their realms and Earth. The source of this particular Stargate? According to Kirby, it seems to be telekinesis or perhaps some form of astral projection- some force of the mind. Blob fans will notice the presence of KalibaK there.

One day, someone will write a book about what Jack Kirby was really trying to say with these stories. Or better yet, create a blog. Maybe that someone will be me. The man was so far immersed into the deepest frontiers of human consciousness, it's no wonder he couldn't drive a car.

Yours truly takes a stab at Orion in this 2003 color sketch.


  1. I'm very curious what you'll do with the Prometheus series and the Invisbles.

  2. CK,

    It would be awesome for you to do this, especially since DC's big 2008 event "Final Crisis" seems centered on the New Gods. I'm not sure anyone has really gotten the 4th World right since Kirby, but if anyone can, it's Final Crisis scribe Grant Morrison. It's like Kirby created this amazing and intricate dollhouse and set of dolls, and then everyone else after him just came in and pulled the heads off and trashed the furniture. I collected all the Kirby 4th World series back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and while I have remained familiar with the characters, I haven't really read those stories for a decade or more (the comics are fragile). On the one hand, the stories seemed Kirby's most wide-ranging, cohesive vision. On the other hand, each story was wild and often wacky world of its own.

  3. Yes! You must do this! Do it now, before you get distracted by something else! I can't wait!

  4. "It's like Kirby created this amazing and intricate dollhouse and set of dolls, and then everyone else after him just came in and pulled the heads off and trashed the furniture."

    That's a great metaphor! I'll try to refrain from stealing it!

    The only problem with doing so is that so few people really understand Kirby and the comics cognoscenti showed almost zero interest in my book. I'm very gunshy about doing anymore comics stuff since it seems to fall in the cracks of the sidewalk of my work.

  5. Let me rephrase that- the comics establishment showed no interest in my book. Very cool people have, and I appreciate that. But whether it's worth keeping me away from all my other interests is tough to say right now.

    But I do have one Invisibles issues that I'll be looking at in the future, Gas.

  6. By chanced I happened to catch an episode of the Bruce Timm Superman cartoon just yesterday, on one of the Disney channels, that featured a fight between Superman and Kalibak. They did a great job with Kalibak, who usually is one of those characters that only work right when Kirby did them. The episode was written by Steve Gerber.

    I get the doll analogy. Of course no one does Kirby like Kirby. But there are a few things done with the Fourth World by other hands that have been enjoyable. I really like Starlin and Mignola's "Cosmic Odyssey", though I think the Anti-Life Equation is better as an equation rather then as an entity. The "X-Men/Teen Titans" cross-over is noteworthy, with beautiful artwork by Walter Simonson, just as a couple of examples.

    Nice drawing Chris!

  7. CK, who are the comics cognoscenti, anyway? Have you done what every other author does, personally send them copies with obsequious, ingratiating pleas for attention.)? BTW, sort of apropos, have you read Junot Diaz's "Oscar Wao"? Talk about comics cognoscenti! Man, comparing a Caribbean dicator to Darkseid in the first 3 pages, in a book printed by a mainstream publisher! We've come a long way, baby...

    Adam, I agree that a few others have gotten The New Gods over the years -- certainly Bruce Timm and his creative team did. My main complaint is that Kirby's stories SEEMED to have a destination that he really never had a chance to reach (maybe because even Kirby couldn't quite see the way), and everyone since, even the most adept at tapping this vein, really haven't seemed to happen on the path that seems exactly "right" for the original material.

    The Claremont/Simonson X-Titans was one of the comics highlights of my childhood. Was that the first time we saw the now-overexposed idea of the "Source Wall" with the Promethean Giants embedded in it (as opposed to orbiting in a Galaxy, as Kirby had done)? I can't remember which came first, X/Titans or the Levitz/Giffen Great Darkness in Legion of Super-Heroes, but those 2 books really "got" Darkseid for me.

    This post is getting too long, but I would just mention that my 5-year old son, who is already a huge fan of both the Beatles and ancient Egyptian mythology (he'll likely be a practicing Mithraist by the time he hits adolescence), has been reading the D'Aulaires' Norse Myths book with me. It's so clear, with the Norse Myths as the reference, that Kirby was trying to create a contemporary mythology with the New Gods, even going so far as showing that the New Gods sprang from the aftermath of the Norse Ragnarok. I'd love to see some analysis and explication of how Kirby's contemporary myths did or didn't hit the mark, both for their time (the early 1970s) and today, especially since DC is just about done killing all of them off.

  8. Gotta love The Great Darkness Saga, Michaelangelo panel and all, brilliant stuff. Both came out in 1982. It's the short sightedness of DC at the time I suppose, I think Carmine Infantino was in charge at the time, canceling the titles that went on to become such an important skeleton for the DC Universe (though I must confess I only know what's up right now from what I read in the Wikipedia). I love the Kirby Jimmy Olsen issues, and I love Curt Swan, but there's something awful about seeing Swan faces pasted onto Kirby figures. DC was afraid of Kirby's power, but they desperately needed it.

    Great non-Kirby Fourth World moments, the treatment of the New Gods in Kingdom Come, especially the extra pages in the tpb, Mr. Miracle with a Motherbox that looks like the Hellraiser puzzle box, just freaking cool. I also liked Another Nail's New Gods/Green Lantern Corp. interaction, and Big Barda as a Green Lantern (with Tomar Re's ring no less). And I have a soft spot for Legends, though I feel shame for that, because Byrne is a sociopath.

    I read maybe just one issue of Morrison's Mr.Miracle from Seven Soldiers, and it was interesting enough I suppose. Morrison's got a certain inconsistency for me, I suppose that's the Chaos aspect. I read through his Klarion issues, and they were cool, but not nearly as fundamentally creepy as Kirby's.

    Correcting Kirby to me is criminally insane (i.e. the Ultimate line, the Fantastic Four movies).

    I want a D'Aulires Norse Book. I love their Greek volume.

  9. Well, I feel that Kirby never was able to develop the New Gods. The fact is that he didn't want to write and draw the books, he wanted to create the characters and edit the books. He had artists like Dan Spiegle and Wally Wood lined up to do the titles. DC management pulled a fast one on him, signing him thinking he could shepherd a line of books and then he found himself writing and drawing 60 pags a month.

    So we don't really know what the New Gods could have been. Kirby was a much more coherent plotter than you would think from the Fourth World books, even if his dialog gets a bad rap. By 66 or 67 Lee was just writing in the word balloons on complete Kirby stories that came in as is.

    I'm looking forward to Morrison's New Gods revise, though all of the previous NG revivals have left a ton to be desired. After reading All Star Superman I am finally fully confident in Morrison's storytelling magic, though I admit I didn't read his MM.

    My main concern is that the art capture the spirit of Kirby, in the same way Marvel had Romita handle the Eternals.

    I also hope to see some of Kirby's design flair in the new books, something that other artists have totally missed.