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This issue may be one of Jacks most brutal battle issues. In a career of maybe thousands of fight scenes drawn by him this one stands out for me. The sheer unadulterated hatred these two have for each other just bleeds through the issue. No snappy funny one-liners or undue soap opera histrionics. Just two combatants trying to KILL EACH OTHER! On another note-- the three panels at the top still look shocking even after all this time. See how Jack has removed whats left of Kalibak's club from our line of sight suggesting his recoiling from the sight of Orion's true face. A simple choice that says more than actually seeing the confusion and fright that is surely plastered on Kalibak's mug. I've also swiped those hands in those three panels about a million times in my own work. Steal from the best!
...that's not Kalibak's club... sorry...
Thank goodness Royer was on the job for this issue. Just look at that face in panel three! I shudder to think how Colletta's inking would have stripped that picture and all the others in this book of their raw, unbridled power. While I honestly don't mind Vinnie's work on Thor, I find it completely intolerable on New Gods, and it makes me cringe to think how much of Jack's art on all those early, classic Fourth World issues was lost forever because of Colletta's inadequacies.
A-MEN to your comments, John S! One thing that kills ME is the fact that DC cancelled the New Gods so early. Can you IMAGINE if Jack had been allowed to do New Gods for another ten or twenty or thirty or... issues? What a total gold mine of new characters and situations DC would have today... to exploit! Given that Jack's creative juices were flowing so strongly and the veritable flood of wonderful characters and stories... damn. It's one of the big "if only"s of comics history for me. If only Jack's Fourth World DC books had been allowed to develop a few more years, or even a few more ISSUES...
We really missed out on a lot of potentially awesome comics, that's for sure! If there's any consolation, though, it would be in the fact that we got some great mags like The Demon and Kamandi in place of the Fourth World stuff. I've often wondered if it might have been a better idea to just combine all the features from the various titles into a single book and call it simply THE FOURTH WORLD, instead of continuing only the Mister Miracle title and severing so many of its connections to the original premises of the series, as they did. It would have been a lot of characters for Jack to juggle, but he did a fantastic job of juggling a large cast in Eternals, so I think he could have handled it quite well.
I liked The Demon and Kamanadi too. If they had only let Jack keep going with New Gods and added those other titles, that's what I meant. He could have featured the Forever People and Mister Miracle as it struck his fancy within the New Gods book and we could STIll have had the other books. Again, sigh... Dc robbed themselves of an even richer Kirby legacy by cancelling those books, I have no doubt of that. Look at characters like the Black Pharoah that Jack never even got around to. Same with the Eternals. Marvel was NUTS to let that book go.
This is the kind of page which has me picking my jaw up off the floor. In every line of dialogue, every line on paper this is as good as a comic book could ever possibly get.
That would have been an awesome concept to have gone about it that way Johnny S. An overall title combining New Gods, Forever People and Mister Miracle in one book. That would have consist of a lot of juggling and could have been interesting. I would of rather had that instead of continuing with Mister Miracle. But--correct me if I'm wrong, wasn't the label "Fourth World" well after the fact of these books?
No, I'm not sure of the exact timing, but the term "Fourth World" was definitely coined during the lifetime of those three comics (four if you count Jimmy Olsen). So it certainly could have been used for the title of a new mag at that time.
There are a lot of misconceptions about the Fourth World books and one of the biggest is the idea they were commercial failures. The books sold well according to people like Paul Levitz who gave the actual sales figures to Mark Evanier. Further evidence is Mister Miracle was not cancelled, and DC brought The New Gods back the very same month Kirby returned to Marvel. The problem was the books were not blockbusters, and DC seeing the market for super heroes was somewhat soft wanted Kirby to launch a horror and a science fiction title. Initial sales on The Demon and Kamandi were very good and DC wanted Kirby to stay on those book rather than hand them off to other creators.
There is also the known fact the sales of fan favorite titles of that time were distorted because distributors were selling 1000s of copies to comic book dealers and then reporting those copies as unsold and pulped. Aside from Kirby there was the very strange fact the sales of the O'Neil/Adams GREEN LANTERN comic book saw it's sales sinking like a stone at the exact same time it was being written about in TIME magazine and the NYT. Sales on the Joe Kubert TARZAN books were so poor DC could not justify Kubert's page rate and turned the books over to low paid artists working in the Philippines.
I know many of you will cringe and shake head in despair but I did enjoy The Demon and Kamandi much more than the New Gods or the rest of the Fourth World coined line of books.
From an artistic point of view, Kirby was certainly at the top his game, the Fourth World art looked glorious after Jack got rid of Colletta's murdering inking.
Story wise, though, it lacked focus. Sure, Kirby was ambitious and gave us many great concepts but, appart from some great scenes and nice characterizations here and there, I couldn't get involved as much as I had hoped for.
Despite Jack's obvious efforts in waving an epic tapestry, something was definitely missing that I found later on in the Eternals serie which hooked me in on the concept from the very first issue (although I have to admit, the excitment of the initial promise quickly faded out around the time editorial interferences forced Kirby to introduce Marvel's characters in his storyline).
...everyone's entitled to their opinion. Personally, I enjoyed both the Fourth World and the Eternals and I agree with Pete that the companies were crazy to let those series die. But let's face it: without Kirby at the helm, no one could really do them justice anyway; so maybe it's just as well.
I also agree with you that the Fourth World stuff was a little lacking in focus. But that's why I think it would have been a good idea to put it all together under one roof, so to speak. As you mentioned, Jack had no trouble keeping the Eternals in line until Marvel's editors began interfering with him, so I suspect the same would have been true if he had continued with a single New Gods book at DC. It would have been dynamite as long as he was able to outrun the company's editorial interference.
...I'm curious about. I know Jack started the Fourth World books in an attempt to start a sort of West Coast DC with him as Editor. He had no intention (as I understand it) to write and draw all of these books by himself but turn them over to other creative teams to carry them forward under his stewardship. That being said I wonder which book Jack himself would have written and drawn. It seems unlikely he would have stopped doing a monthly book or two just to be an editor. It may have been something we never saw, or that he hadn't even thought of himself. Ah the wonderful game of "What if..."
...but my guess is that, since Kirby was always creating new concepts, he would have started each new feature himself and continued to provide material for it until he could find suitable individuals to take over -- which might not have been as easy as he thought, considering that the talent pool on the West Coast was a bit slimmer than it was in the New York area. We know that Jack wanted to use guys like Wally Wood, Don Heck and Steve Ditko on his books, but there probably would've been some big logistical hurdles to overcome with that plan, since those guys lived on the other side of the continent from Jack at the time. In the end, he probably would have had to employ people like Alex Toth, Dan Spiegle and a lot of the other Dell/Gold Key/Western Publishing people and even some guys from the animation field. Come to think of it, that was exactly the background that Mike Royer came from, so I bet we would've seen more artists like that, with Jack himself pinch-hitting with stories and artwork whenever necessary -- the same as he did when he worked with Joe Simon and Stan Lee back in New York.
In every instance where you see a person complain about Kirby's narrative focus the fact is that person is not aware of what Kirby had to deal with as a creator working under conditions where the publisher had the final word.
Kirby's first though he would launch the Fourth World books and then hand them over to other creators under his editorial guidance. From the very start these plans went awry. The first book Kirby created for DC was The Forever People #1. This is obvious if you read the story and notice Olsen and Kent are still newspaper reporters working at the Daily Planet. Olsen is in the DC house Olsen uniform of sweater and bow-tie. DC decided they wanted Kirby on a Superman title and three issues of Jimmy Olsen were published before we ever saw Forever People #1. It's possible New Gods # and and Mister Miracle #1 were created prior to those first three Olsens as well.
Another factor was Carmine Infantino urged Kirby to introduce characters as quickly as possible, even characters not intended for The Fourth World. It was decided Kirby was going to be staying with the three Fourth World titles rather than launching them, handing them over to other creators, and moving on to launch more new titles. Infantino was aware Kirby had pitched many ideas to Marvel, but they had either been rejected or held back by Kirby subject to Marvel meeting his desire for a better contract. Infantino urged Kirby to introduce the characters in The Fourth World titles out of a concern Marvel might introduce similar characters based on what Kirby had shown them.
Speaking of Dan Spiegle, it's known that the first two issues of Kamandi and the Demon were produced before KIrby knew DC was going to cancel the Fourth World titles. Kirby had dropped the monthly Jimmy Olsen and had room on his schedule for two bimonthly titles. The original plan was for Kirby to hand over Kamandi to Dan Spiegle. Sales on Kamandi were so strong it was bumped up to a monthly very quickly, DC wanted Kirby to stay on the book, and they took The Fourth World away from him.