Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Goodbye and Good Riddance to the New Gods


From Newsarama, DC will be publishing Death of the New Gods by Jim Starlin later this year. Apparently, the series will close the book on Jack Kirby's New Gods, clearing the decks for whatever DC plans to do with the concept next, and really, this is long overdue. I'm not a big New Gods fan, I have no great affection for the characters, and I really can't think of any standout New Gods stories that weren't created by Jack Kirby. The original story is rightfully hailed and fondly remembered, but continuances have ranged from abysmal to "eh".


Among the better attempts, Mark Evanier and Rick Hoberg made a game try at continuing the mythos in the late '80s, then John Byrne and Walt Simonson tried another revival in the mid-90s, but New Gods have long been a very hard sell in comics fandom. This is another of those groups of characters that are so strongly identified with their creator that they usually suffer in others' hands, and for that matter, I can't imagine that innovator Jack Kirby would have wanted his creations kept on life support, as they have been for decades.


I'm quite sure that when its all said and done, the DCU will contain characters called "New Gods", named Orion, Black Racer, Mister Miracle et al, but there's no telling what they'll look like, or what their status in the DCU will be. It makes me wonder if the urban "street" versions of the New Gods that appeared in Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle a couple of years back will ever be referred to again, or if that whole plot line is going to be swept under the rug. Whatever the case, this should provide a clear dividing line between "Kirby's vision" New Gods and the New Gods that are DC's intellectual property to be exploited in perpetuity. Let's let Kirby's Fourth World rest in peace and reprints.

9 comments:

coco67 said...

yaaaayyyyyy!!!!!! Except for the fact that there will still be New Gods of some sort...

LurkerWithout said...

Awesome New Gods stories?

Hmmm. Well there was pretty much ALL of Morrison's JLA run. Pretty much any appearance by Darkseid or the New Gods on the animated Superman, JL and JLU...

The occasional New Gods character that popped up in Robinson's Starman was pretty damn sweet. Ditto on their use in the current Blue Beetle...

Theres the Darkseid vs. the LSH by Giffen I think it was. Really I enjoy Giffen's use of the New Gods all around...

Theres probably more...

Brian Hughes said...

Coco: Somehow, I knew you'd be the first to comment.

This fella here? He hates him some New Gods. I've been hearing about it for, like, twenty years...

Lurker: I'm with you on some, not as much on others. I'd say any guest character came out good in Starman.

Siskoid said...

You know what they should do? Send the New Gods to Vertigo. I'm not kidding either.

Mark Engblom said...

I've never been particularly fond of Kirby's New Gods. I appreciated the scale of what he might have been trying to do, but the execution just never came through for me. It was hard to get past the camp elements (like Darkseid's "cabaret" of buffoonish henchmen), and the various revivals and pastiches in the years since haven't done anything to change my mind. There have been a few outstanding uses of Darkseid over the years (chief among them Levitz and Giffen's "Great Darkness Saga" in Legion), but beyond that, I won't be shedding any tears for the New Gods supposed "death" (I'll believe it when I see it, actually...and maybe not even then).

Brian Hughes said...

Its been so long since I read the originals, I'd have to re-read them to judge them fairly. I remember being put off as a teen by the likes of Vermin Vundabar and Goody Rickles, but as an adult, I'm probably more inclined to follow Kirby's plea to "Don't ask---just buy it!"

...But I'm not payin' fifty clams to do it!

Siskoid said...

To be fair, the New Gods do work in their own world, especially when drawn as extremes. That's what Kirby was good at there. Like OMAC, or Captain Galaxy, or Devil Dinosaur, or any of his post-70s work. It's high concept, it's totally ridiculous, it's pure COMICS.

The New Gods are what Thor would be if all his stories took place in Asgard. It's mythology in comic book, as opposed to religious, terms. Comics as CULTURE, spitting out epic themes in its own language.

What doesn't really work is when the New Gods visit Earth. Suddenly you're wondering why there's a Forever Person dressed as a cowboy, why Virmin Vunderbarr is straight out of Prussia, or Kanto the Renaissance. As comics concepts, they actually do work, but they can't be juxtaposed with the real world and survive unless the story is so well done, you're more than happy to suspend disbelief. I believe the stories listed here work because of that.

Brian Hughes said...

I don't know about them not fitting in with "the real world" so much as the DC Universe. A lot of the original series dealt with the interactions of the New Gods with ordinary humans, like Turpin or those people on the raft. The New Gods would probably work better -on Earth or New Genesis- if they weren't constantly being shoehorned in with the JLA and that lot. Your idea of farming them out to Vertigo would make for an interesting experiment.

Siskoid said...

The Gods visit the Earth all the time, it's part of the Godmyth, I agree. The Earth in the original series had its own cast and didn't feel mixed in with the rest of the superhero stuff.

After all, if the New Gods are just another bunch of superheroes, why isn't Superman, Wonder Woman, et al. considered gods.