With the 100th Anniversary of the King himself, Jack Kirby, being this year, DC has decided, in addition to the Kamandi Project, to release one-shots of many of Kirby’s creations at the company. Among the first of these they released is, arguably, the most popular of the King’s creations at DC, The New Gods.
There are three stories in this special. The first, written and pencilled by Shane Davis, is a tale of Orion, Lightray, and the Forager. Kalibak has invaded New Genesis on Desaad’s orders, and he is building an energy pit to destroy the planet in the realm of the Bugs on the surface of the planet. It’s up to Orion, half-brother to Kalibak and first son of Darkseid, as well as Lightray and the Forager to stop the schemes of Kalibak.
The second, which is written and drawn by Walt Simonson, is a tale of young Orion and the ocean-faring New God, Seagrin, exploring the toxic Unholy See, a subterranean body of water on Apokolips full of hellish creatures.
The final story is an older short by Jack Kirby himself, which tells of Lonar and his discovery of the war horse, Thunderer.
The first tale is the bulk of the comic, and it truly feels like an old Kirby New Gods story. The setup is straightforward and leads to a classic rivalry turning into a knock-down drag-out superpowered brawl across the surface of New Genesis. Orion has to cope with how much he hates Kalibak and his disgust that he himself is a child of Darkseid. Lightray and Forager are more here for support, with Lightray dealing with Parademons and Forager showing his light-hearted adventurer side. Davis’ art is great in this section, and he uses the classic costume design for the four principal characters. The color art by Alex Sinclair is bright and shining, and the overall reading experience is great.
The second section is more of a brief episode. Young Orion and Seagrin face down a couple of massive undersea creatures in the Unholy See of Apokolips. It’s fun enough, though the real intent of the episode is never made clear. Simonson’s art is rough, but it evokes a Kirby feel. It looks decent, and the color art of Laura Martin brings the dark Apokolips aesthetic together.
The final tale is just a brief snapshot of Kirby. His character, Lonar, is shown adventuring through the ruins of the old gods on New Genesis through two issues of The Forever People. His art, of course, looks great, and the tale is made to feel all the more epic through his narration. Orion briefly shows up in this one as well, and it’s a good, if short, time.
The overall comic is a great homage to Jack “the King” Kirby. The New Gods, along with Etrigan the Demon, are my favorite creations he made at DC Comics. It’s a fun and heartfelt read. The inclusion of Kirby’s work at the back allows for a nice comparison between his comics and the new iterations of them. You can see how Davis and Simonson did their best to live up to his legendary standards, and they did a great job in doing so.
There’s also a short note about the King by Mark Evanier that may very well bring a tear to your eye in realizing this man is gone to the world forever. However, it’s also heartening in reminding you that we will always have his work, and the spirit of this incredible human being will always be with us through the characters he created, the stories he told, and the art he made.
He is partly responsible in making me into the man I am today, even if he passed from this world a year before I was even born. His work, his ideals, and his struggles had a huge effect on shaping me. I wouldn’t be trying to make a career out of writing about and, hopefully one day, making comics of my own if it wasn’t for legendary trailblazers like Jack Kirby who changed the world for the likes of us forever.
Pick this one up. It’s a great homage to a great man, and it will warm your heart.
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