On the last installment of Journey with Jack, we watched Jack Kirby pair up with Stan Lee for a classic issue of Thor. Now, Thor is potentially my favorite superhero of all time, so while we might have trouble topping my enthusiasm for watching the King take on the Thunder God, we’re at least sticking with the deity motif this time. That’s right, folks… we’re cruising through space and time (1972, to be exact!) with the New Gods.
Now, like I said at the start of this series, I’m not entirely well-versed in the history of Jack Kirby’s creations, which means that the New Gods are pretty… well, new to me. I always trust Blastoff’s Scott Tipton for the recommendations, and this time, he’s starting me off with an issue of Kirby’s opus that the cover describes as “The greatest battle ever fought by the New Gods!” And hey – if you’re gonna start on something, why not start with the greatest, right? This is New Gods #7… let’s dig in.
Here’s what I didn’t expect: New Gods is a war comic. It’s sci-fi and it’s fantasy and it’s superhero, yes, but even more than that, it’s a story about warring factions, weapons of mass destruction, revenge, and combat tactics that spans the cosmic DC Universe. My thing over here at Blastoff is to approach classic and new comics alike through a modernist lens, so here’s my pitch to new comics readers who haven’t dipped into Kirby’s history yet: New Gods is like Game of Thones in space but 100,000 times weirder than you think. Kirby fully embraces the weird here, creating characters that bend the mind interacting with each other intricately detailed panels dense with story and character development. This is not a comic that can be read in the time it takes to read your everyday superhero story from this era. It’s Kirby’s most novelistic work in its density, and also his most cinematic in its visual scope.
I mean… just look at this:
And when I say cinematic, I really mean more than Kirby is using wide panels for a dazzling and immersive experience. The truth is, these types of visuals haven’t been matched by movies and I’m not convinced that they can. This is comics, baby!
Storywise, there’s a lot going on here and it is very much one piece of a larger puzzle. The main focus is on Darkseid and his family made up of Queen Heggra – his mother, who thinks Darkseid is the shit – and his uncle, Steppenwolf… who thinks that Darkseid is a piece of shit. It’s an interesting and layered dynamic that adds a human element to these otherworldly mass murderers, but the character that brings the soul to this book is Izaya the Inheritor, who is seemingly killed along with his wife in the opening scene of the book. Things aren’t always as they seem in the world of Jack Kirby, though, and New Gods is no exception.
Beyond just being an incredible work unto itself, readers will find ties to Kirby’s other titles. Scott Free, who we met in the first installment of Journey with Jack when we covered Mister Miracle #1, makes a little appearance here. Though I’m just reading both Mister Miracle and New Gods for the first time here, I get the sense that Jack Kirby is building an complex and interconnected tapestry of stories with his DC work. We might be nearing the end of Jack Kirby month, but if any of you readers out there are like me and are reading these stories for the first time… I’m thinking I might stay in the world of New Gods a little longer than initially planned. How about you?
NEXT TIME: Back to Marvel, with Fantastic Four #51!