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Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus Vol. 1 Paperback – December 6, 2011
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In 1970, DC lured Kirby, cocreator of the Fantastic Four and X-Men, from rival Marvel Comics by promising free rein on his imagination. The monumental Fourth World emerged from that promise. Depicting a cosmic struggle between the godlike denizens of the planets New Genesis and Apokolips, it unfurled in four separate serials: the flagship, New Gods; The Forever People, focused on a hippielike band of young godlings; Mister Miracle, featuring the super escape artist of that name; and Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, in which Kirby linked Fourth World to the preexisting DC Universe. The ambitious project was soon derailed by disappointing sales, though many characters Kirby created for it appear in various DC titles to this day. The first of four volumes collecting the whole megillah presents Kirby at his least distilled and most unfettered, generating outlandishly inventive concepts and larger-than-life characters to suit his dynamic drawing and feverishly overwrought dialogue. His vast mythmaking at last receives respectful, hardcover treatment, something unimaginable when it first appeared in the days when comics were considered disposable pulp. Flagg, Gordon --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Kirby brings back to life old material: his Newsboys Legion and its Guardian; and makes up new characters and new worlds. The Forever People and their Infinity Man; Scott Free, alias Miracle Man; and the Gods from New Genesis, Orion, Lightray, Metron, and the Black Racer; and more importantly, the super villain and God from Apokalops, Darkseid. His new heroes and villains have powers never heard of before, and the characterizations of Scott Free and Orion have the complexity that we rarely see in many comics characters. The new worlds are New Genesis and Apokalips, at war with each other; and there is also The Wild Area, where subcultures, such as the Outsiders with their motorcycles and the Hairies live. Each comics is also imbued with techno-gadgetry such as the Forever People's Super Cycle and Mother Box, the Newsboys Legion's Whiz Wagon, and Mr. Miracle's own smaller version of Mother Box as well as other gadgets he uses to escape traps set out by his enemies.
I really enjoyed reading each one of these stories. It was a visual and literary experience. Although it is said above that you get to read this saga in chronological order, that is not necessary. In the forward you will find out that Forever People 1, The New Gods 1, and Mr. Miracle 1 were written before the first three Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen issues. I did read them in the same order offered by the volume, but I reread them again by titles. I thought it was awkward to leave each title with those enticing cliffhangers just to start on a whole different title.
In sum, reading this was a positive experience for someone who enjoys comics, or enjoys reading, period.
You'll see for the first time Darkseid; a major DC nemesis that is still utilized today in countless sagas. It's ironic DC wouldn't let Kirby finish his story and declared it a "failure". It's everything but...it's Kirby's most profoundly and personal story told with a heart.
Jack Kirby, already a very established writer/artist in comics, managed to create an ongoing epic series that took place within the DC universe but the DCU was just the backdrop. At the forefront, is a grand tale of how the gods of old destroyed themselves and then created two opposite forces in their wake: The New Gods (very original, I know haha) of New Genesis and Apokolips. New Genesis is filled with peace and knowledge seeking beings that wish to spread the word about life. Apokolips is a fire pit hell, bent to the will of the deadly Darkseid who searches the universe for anti-life, a way to recreate the universe in his image.
This saga features gods among people waging secret wars, blind zealotism, peace vs. war, cloning (pretty ahead for the early 70's), machines with consciences that respond to thought and emotion and far out characters that excite and entertain. The saga folds out across four titles; "Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen", the DCU connection; "New Gods", where Orion the great warrior of New Genesis arrives on earth to aid against Darkseid and his forces; "The Forever People", five peace loving youths from New Genesis come to earth to disrupt Darksied's search for the anti-life equation while promoting the life equation; and "Mister Miracle", an outsider from New Genesis wants to make a life on earth being the world's greatest escape artist, all the while fighting Apokolips' hordes.
Kirby's writing, cheesy at times, is more often than not very engaging and very creative. His artwork wows, as he was probably the best cartoonists to every pencil. Just seeing his two page spreads of the whiz wagon, Glorious Godfrey's sermon, and the youths of New Genesis playing were amazing. A great introduction by the great Grant Morrison and his love for Kirby as well as a very informative afterword by long time Kirby collaborator, Mark Evanier. The only complaint I have which lies more as a formatting than anything else is in the back description it calls the book a hardcover deluxe! That's lazy on the publishers part and this edition costs ten dollars more than the next two volumes. Don't know why as the page count amazon lists the are about the same. But minor things when it comes to the Kings masterpiece.
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I'm more than a little pissed at DC for taking these out of print so quickly, though.Read more