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Jack Kirby's Fourth World

"The Fourth World" is the popular name given to a metaseries of interconnecting comic book titles written and drawn by Jack Kirby and published by DC Comics from 1970 to 1973. The characters and concepts were later integrated into the DC Universe.
Published as the newsstand distribution system for comics began to break down, Kirby foresaw a day when comics would need to find alternate, more legitimate venues for sale. Toward this end, Kirby envisioned a finite series that would be serialized and collected in one tome after the series had concluded.

The three original titles comprising the "Fourth World" were The Forever People, Mister Miracle and New Gods. The pre-existing title Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen was used by Kirby to introduce the Fourth World concept and characters.



Unhappy with Marvel Comics at the time, as he had created or co-created a plethora of characters without having copyright or creative custody of them, he turned to rival publisher DC Comics, with his sketches and designs for a new group of heroes and villains. As author Ronin Ro described: "The idea of the New Gods had come to Jack years earlier, when he was plotting 90 percent of the "Tales of Asgard" stories in Thor. He wanted to have two planets at war and end with Ragnarok, the battle that would kill Thor's lucrative pantheon. Instead, he tried the idea in his Inhumans stories. Now he was presenting it in its original context. Though he wouldn't ever say it publicly, the New Gods books started right after the gods in Thor killed one another. The first page of Orion of the New Gods showed the same scenes from Thor - a planet torn in half and armored gods holding swords and dying on a fiery battleground.

"The Fourth World" dealt with the battle between good and evil as represented by the worlds of New Genesis and Apokolips. Darkseid, the evil lord of Apokolips, seeks the Anti-Life Equation which will allow him to control the thoughts of all living beings. Opposing him is Orion, his son raised by Highfather and his enemies on New Genesis. Other characters caught in the deadly battle included the Forever People, an extension of the kid gang concept from the 1940s with a group of adolescents adventuring without an adult supervisor; Mister Miracle, a native of New Genesis raised on Apokolips who triumphed over a torturous childhood to become the world's greatest escape artist; and Lightray, the heroic warrior of New Genesis. Their adventures would take them to Earth where the war continued.

Kirby was writer and editor on each of the series. After learning that the books were going to be cancelled, Kirby attempted to tie up the storylines in the final issues of each series.

The Fourth World characters reappeared in various titles and were fully integrated into the DC Universe. The 1982 "The Great Darkness Saga" storyline in Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 2 is an early example of the characters being used in other DC titles.


Beginning here, Jack Kirby established the groundwork for all future New Gods (and related) series'. New Gods #1 would mark the first appearance of Orion, Highfather, and Metron, among others, and further issues into the series would mark the first appearance of many other Fourth World characters, as well as explaining key concepts about the New Gods. Of note was issue #7, "The Pact", which sought to explain the backstory of the New Gods. Eleven issues were published before cancellation by the publisher. Simultaneously published during this time were the Forever People and Mister Miracle series, also written and drawn by Kirby. All three series saw reprint in black and white form by DC Comics in 1998. In 2007 and 2008, Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus reprinted the series, along with Kirby's other Fourth World stories, in color and in published chronological order.


The New Gods are natives of the twin planets of New Genesis and Apokolips. New Genesis is an idyllic planet filled with unspoiled forests, mountains, and rivers and is ruled by the benevolent Highfather, while Apokolips is a nightmarish, ruined dystopia filled with machinery and fire pits and is ruled by the tyrant Darkseid. The two planets were once part of the same world, a planet called Urgrund,[2] but it was split apart millennia ago after the death of the Old Gods during Ragnarok.[3] The characters associated with the New Gods are often collectively referred to as "Jack Kirby's Fourth World". The New Gods first appeared in New Gods #1 and Mister Miracle #1 (both titles were published concurrently). The other two "Fourth World" titles were Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen and The Forever People. Various New Gods, notably Darkseid, went on to interact with other denizens of the DC Universe.


The opening sequence of New Gods #1 references the "Old Gods" and the "New Gods" (e.g., "There came a time when the Old Gods died..."). In a "Young Gods of Supertown" back-up story in Forever People #5, the explorer Lonar retrieves a helmet from the rubble of what represents the last battle of the Old Gods. The helmet closely resembles that worn by the Marvel Comics' character Thor, a character whom Kirby drew for several years.


The beings of New Genesis and Apokolips call themselves gods and live outside of normal time and space in a realm called the Fourth World. These New Gods have evolved due to their close proximity to the Source, a primeval energy, believed to be one of the ultimate foundations of the Universal Expression of Energy, along with their superior technology, into beings of genetic stability and evolutionary perfection. The denizens of New Genesis and Apokolips are immortal, stronger, faster, and smarter than Homo sapiens, despite their resemblance.


The New Gods are vulnerable to a substance called Radion. Its source is unknown and its effects are toxic only in sustained amounts or after explosive exposure. The average New God can be slain by an application of Radion from a Radion blaster or bomb.


Writer Peter David introduced the idea that the New Gods were giants and that the Boom Tube would shrink them as they traveled to normal time and space or enlarge beings who traveled to the Fourth World realm.[volume & issue needed] For example, if Superman were to travel to Apokolips under his own power, he would be miniature in comparison to the New Gods.




Metron is a character created by Jack Kirby for his Fourth World series in DC Comics. He was "based on Leonard Nimoy as Spock," and designed as a character who "would frequently change sides [between New Genesis and Apokolips]."[1] He first appeared in New Gods #1 (February-March 1971)

Although he possesses the powers of a demigod (at least), Metron is typically depicted as a passive observer in the DC Universe rather than an active participant, somewhat akin to Marvel Comics Watchers. He wanders in search of greater knowledge beyond his own, riding on his Mobius Chair, which can traverse time and space instantaneously. Metron is of neither New Genesis nor Apokolips, and usually avoids the struggle between the two worlds almost entirely. As he states in New Gods #7, "The Pact,": "I have no link with the Old Gods -- or New!! I am something different! Something that was unforeseen!! -- On New Genesis -- or here!!"





Metron has invented the 'Boom Tube' technology used by the New Gods to teleport vast distances. [2]

In 1989's Legend mini-series, Metron confides in Darkseid about the Anti-Life Equation. Apparently, Metron holds the key to the Anti-Life Equation, however he is a seeker of knowledge and so will tell no one of his knowledge. In a 1983 DC/Marvel crossover, X-Men / Teen Titans, Metron tells Darkseid that Dark Phoenix is a part of the Anti-Life Equation. Recently in the "Death of the New Gods" miniseries the Source explains the origin of the Anti-Life Equation to Metron.

Metron helped contact most of Earth's superheroes in order to gather them during the Zero Hour crisis. During Extant's return, he fought alongside the Justice Society of America in defeating Extant after he gained control of the omnipotent Worlogog.

He observed the events of Kurt Busiek's JLA/Avengers comic, giving Iron Man a Mother Box to balance the power given to the Justice League by Grandmaster. His main role during the miniseries was to observe and investigate Krona's actions, refusing to deviate from his non-involvement at the end when Krona demanded his aid. At the end, Metron kept guard over the newly formed Cosmic egg.

In the 2005 Mister Miracle miniseries, Metron contacts Shilo Norman (the current Mister Miracle) during a stunt gone wrong, making him aware of the Fourth World. In his first appearance in the book, he looks like he has before, but later he disguises himself as an epileptic man in a wheelchair.

During the events of Death of the New Gods, where the mysterious deaths of the entire Fourth World accelerated, Metron tracked and discovered the mastermind: the Source itself, which has in truth been lurking in the backgrounds for millennia trying to reacquire its original powers and reunite with its other half: the Anti-Life Entity. In true form, Metron sought not to stop the Source, but rather to stand by the Source's side and watch & learn as the Fourth World of the New Gods came to an end.

Eventually, after the death of Mister Miracle at the hands of the Source, Metron grows disgusted, and demands his own death. The Source complies, and kills Metron before going to confront Darkseid.




On the first page of Final Crisis #1, an all silver being appears to Anthro the First Boy and proclaims, "I am Metron." Later in the issue, Doctor Light and Mirror Master are sent by Libra to recover a device that resembles Metron's chair. Other characters come to believe that Metron gave the invention of fire to mankind through Anthro.

Later, the Mister Miracle version of the character restores Nix Uotan the fallen Monitor to his god-like status, triggering the conclusion of the Final Crisis of Humanity [3].

The Moebius Chair is later harvested by Superman to gain the precious Element X needed to power up the Miracle Machine enough to restore the Multiverse and undo all damages brought by the dark god Darkseid: in the new universe is revealed that every other denizen of Apokolips and New Genesis, except for Darkseid, is fated to be reborn, including Metron. [4]
[edit] Powers and abilities

As a "New God", Metron has demonstrated numerous god-like abilities somewhat inconsistently throughout his history. However, he is most well known for the use of his Mobius Chair. Powered by the "X Element", which at times he has bartered with Darkseid for[5], the chair enables him to traverse time and space in his endless pursuit of knowledge. Metron is also a super-genius who has explored the universe and gained a vast amount of knowledge. He is also immortal as all New Gods are.

Mister Miracle was one of four series in Kirby's ambitious but short-lived Fourth World saga. The character was inspired by the early illusionist career of comic book artist Jim Steranko, while the character's relationship with Big Barda is based on Kirby's relationship with his own wife.







Thaddeus Brown was a circus escape artist whose stage name was Mister Miracle. As the first escape artist to use the name Mister Miracle, Brown mentored both Scott Free and Shilo Norman. After Brown's murder, Scott Free took up the Mister Miracle name, adopted Thaddeus' young ward Shilo Norman, and hired his assistant Oberon.







Scott Free is the son of Izaya (Highfather), the ruler of New Genesis, and his wife named Avia. However, as part of a diplomatic move to stop a destructive war against the planet Apokolips, Highfather agreed to an exchange of heirs with the galactic tyrant Darkseid; the exchange of heirs guaranteed that neither side would attack the other. Scott traded places with Darkseid's second born son Orion.









 Scott grew up in one of Granny Goodness' "Terror Orphanages" with no knowledge of his own heritage. As he matured, Scott rebelled against the totalitarian ideology of Apokolips. Hating himself for being unable to fit in, he was influenced by Metron to see a future beyond Darkseid. Scott became part of a small band of pupils who were tutored in secret by the rebel Himon, a New Genesian living as a "Hunger Dog" on Apokolips. It was at these meetings that he met fellow pupil Big Barda, who would later become his wife.







Eventually, Scott Free escaped and fled to Earth. His escape, long anticipated and planned for by Darkseid, nullified the pact between Darkseid and Highfather and gave Darkseid the excuse he needed to revive the war with New Genesis. Once on Earth, he became the protégé of a circus escape artist, Thaddeus Brown, whose stage name was Mister Miracle. Brown was impressed with Scott's skills (especially as supplemented with various advanced devices he had taken from his previous home). Scott also befriended Brown's assistant, a dwarf named Oberon. When Thaddeus Brown was murdered, Scott Free assumed the identity of Mister Miracle. Barda later followed Scott to Earth, and the two used their powers, equipment, and skills in the war against Darkseid, who was still interested in recapturing both of them. Eventually, tired of being chased on Earth by Darkseid's servants, Scott returned to Apokolips and won his freedom by legal means, through trial by combat.







Scott Free later became a member of the Keith Giffen-era JLA (as did Barda and Oberon), which recast him and Big Barda as semi-retired super-heroes that sought to live quiet lives in the suburbs when they were not involved in Justice League-related adventures. In particular, Scott Free was recast as a hen-pecked husband, who often found himself on the receiving end of his wife's temper, over her desire to live a quiet life on Earth.







During his time in the League, Scott developed an intense rivalry with League villain Manga Khan. The villainous intergalactic trader and black marketer repeatedly kidnapped Scott, ultimately convincing Scott's conniving former manager Funky Flashman into forging documents forcing Scott to work for Manga as his personal entertainer. To force him to go along willingly, Khan replaced Scott with a life-like robot who was ultimately murdered by Despero during his first mission with the Justice League. Scott ultimately escaped from Manga Khan's clutches and reunited with his wife and friends, though the shock was enough to cause Scott to ultimately quit the League and to take on a protege in the form of Shiloh Norman.







In the conclusion of Final Crisis, many of the New Gods are all seemingly reborn. Among their numbers are the apparently resurrected Mister Miracle, along with Barda.




Young Shilo Norman was the informal ward of escapologist Thaddeus Brown (Mister Miracle I), and he also served as an occasional stand-in. When Brown was murdered by a mobster named Steel Hand, Scott avenged his new friend's death by taking on the identity of Mister Miracle and brought Steel Hand to justice. After Brown's death, Shilo worked with Scott Free (the new Mister Miracle) and Scott's wife Barda.




A master escape artist himself, the now-adult Shilo was appointed security chief of the Slabside Island Maximum Security prison for Metahumans also known as the Slab. He held his own during the Joker's "Last Laugh" riot and was promoted to Warden of the Slab, which had by then been relocated to Antarctica. A somewhat re-conceived Shilo Norman appears in Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers crossover. In Final Crisis #2, Shilo tells Sonny Sumo,"There was a cosmic war and the powers of evil won", prompting him to form a team to fight the evil gods.






Darkseid (pronounced Dark-side) is a fictional character that appears in comic books published by DC Comics. The character first appeared in Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #134 (November 1970) and was created by writer-artist Jack Kirby.

Darkseid is one of the most powerful characters in the DC Universe. Debuting in the Bronze Age of Comic Books, he has appeared in four decades of DC Comics publications, featuring prominently in the New Gods titles and limited series as the recurring nemesis of the New Gods and Superman. The character has also appeared in associated DC Comics merchandise including animated television series, toys, trading cards, and video games.



Biography

The son of Yuga Khan and Queen Heggra, Prince Uxas, second in line to the throne of Apokolips, plotted to seize power over the planet. When his brother, Drax, attempted to claim the fabled Omega Force, Uxas murdered him and took the power for himself; transforming him into a rock-like creature, and taking a new name: Darkseid. At some point, he fell in love with an Apokoliptian scientist named Suli, with whom he had a son, Kalibak; however, Suli was poisoned by Desaad on Heggra's behalf, who believed that Suli was corrupting her son. Following Suli's death, Darkseid's heart grew even colder, and he had Desaad poison Heggra, finally becoming the supreme monarch of Apokolips. Darkseid had briefly been forced by his mother to marry Tigra, with whom he also had a son. After murdering his mother, Darkseid had both Tigra and their son, Orion, banished from Apokolips.

The destructive war with the rival planet, New Genesis, was stopped only with a diplomatic exchange of the sons of Highfather and Darkseid. Darkseid's second born son was surrendered to Highfather, while Darkseid received Scott Free, who later became the master escape artist Mister Miracle. This eventually turned out to be a setback for Darkseid, with his biological son growing up to value and defend the ideals of New Genesis in opposition to his father; the prophecy foretold that Darkseid would meet his final defeat at the hands of his son in a cataclysmic battle in the fiery Armaghetto of Apokolips.

Seeing other gods as a threat, Darkseid invaded the island of Themyscira in order to discover the secret location of the Olympian Gods, planning to overthrow the Olympians and steal their power. Refusing to aid Darkseid in his mad quest, the Amazons battled his parademon troops, causing half of the Amazon population's death. Wonder Woman was able to gain her revenge against Darkseid for killing so many of her sisters by placing a portion of her own soul into Darkseid. This supposedly weakened the god's power as he lost a portion of his dark edge.

Darkseid's goal was to eliminate all free will from the universe and reshape it into his own image. To this end, he sought to unravel the mysterious Anti-Life Equation, which gives its user complete control over the thoughts and emotions of all living beings in the universe. Darkseid had tried on several other occasions to achieve dominance of the universe through other methods, most notably through his minion Glorious Godfrey, who could control people's minds with his voice. He had a special interest in Earth, as he believed humans possess collectively within their minds most, if not all, fragments of the Anti-Life Equation. Darkseid intended to probe the minds of every human in order to piece together the Equation. This has caused him to clash with many superheroes of the DC Universe, notably, the Kryptonian Superman. Darkseid worked behind-the-scenes, using superpowered minions in his schemes to overthrow Earth, including working through Intergang, a crime syndicate which employs Apokoliptian technology and later morphed into a religious cult that worships Darkseid as the God of Evil.



Daily Comics Fix
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DCF
1/27/2011
Daily Comics Fix

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8 Comments

Jack Kirby, more than ANY other person, was the most prolific, original and creative creator in comics. He is responsible, more than ANY other person, for creating the Marvel Universe AND a significant portion of the DC Universe. No other person in comics (now and ever) can make such a claim.

Jack Kirby is also responsible (through his Fourth World stories) for creating the epic story arc that is told in multiple comic titles (New Gods, Mister Miracle, Forever People, Jimmy Olsen's Pal..). This type of story telling had never been attempted back then. It has since become a comics story telling standard.

Jack Kirby IS comics!

Stan Lee is #2.
DCF - 1/28/2011, 6:03 AM
This was a great look at the Fourth World. I hope people get into it, because it's certainly an area worth exploring. For instance, I'm personally fascinated by the whole struggle between Superman and Darkseid. Still hoping Darkseid shows up as a movie villain.
EdGross - 1/28/2011, 7:56 AM
I hope people do get into it too! His story is just so grand in scope. I can visualize a cinematic treatment of Kirby's Fourth World as being in the same vein as Lord of the Rings in scope and execution. A massive Shakespearean space opera!

What's so awesome about Darkseid (apart from the obvious) is that he makes Superman a more entertaining character. Darkseid is one of the VERY VERY few that can go toe to toe with Superman in a good ol' fashioned slugfest. He can take Superman's physical punishment and dish out his own. Superman was so powerful, almost godlike, that no one really ever physically posed a threat to him until Darkseid.

There was an episode of Justice League Unlimited where Superman and Darkseid went at it and it was awesome!
DCF - 1/28/2011, 12:22 PM
And Superman gave that awesome line, "I live in a world of cardboard.I always have to be aware of everything I do and touch. But not with you. You can take it, can't you big guy? What this is, is a rare opportunity for me to cut loose."

And he does!

Sheer awesomeness. No other word to describe it.
EdGross - 1/28/2011, 2:21 PM
LOL!! AWESOME!! Exactly Ed!! There's a part in that tussle with Darkseid where Superman connects with a "hay-maker" in slow motion and a shock wave eminates from that punch that send Darkseid through several buildings.... sheer awesomeness indeed!!!!


DCF - 1/28/2011, 4:34 PM
Jack kirby's Fourth World are my absolute favorite comics ever!!

I can't believe that a live action or animated movie dedicated to these characters hasn't been made?

I know animator Bruce Timm is a huge Kirby fan and he has included several Fourth World characters in various cartoon episodes, but he or someone should really go for it and make a movie totally dedicated to these Kirby characters!

Kamandi
The Demon
The Eternals

Are also just screaming for the big screen treatment!

DCF, you seem to be a Kirby expert, so let me ask you this.

Do you know of anyplace to get Kirby's unpublished Vol #2 of In The Days Of The Mob? I think those books are also some of Kirby's best work. He was the absolute perfect guy to illustrate the mobsters of the 20's and 30's?

Something I personally wish someone had done was commissioned Kirby to draw the Bible! Imagine the story of Samson done by Jack Kirby!
Kirbyfan - 1/29/2011, 7:56 AM
I am in complete agreement with you Kirbyfan! An epic animated version of Kirby's Fourth World would incredible to see. Bruce Timm is the guy to do it too!! All of Kirby's creations require a big screen treatment or at the very least an animated DVD treatment. People need to be aware of his genius!

I have not been able to find Kirby's In The Days Of The Mob Vol. 2 but I am always looking. When I do come across it I will be sure to let you know. He was absolutely the perfect guy to illustrate the mobsters of that era. There was a possibility that Jack may have become one of them when he was growing up. As I'm sure you know he grew up right in the middle of all that.

I'm considering starting a site here on Earths Mightiest called "Kirby's Corner" or "Kirby's World" dedicated to all things Jack!! What do you think of that idea?
DCF - 1/29/2011, 9:13 AM
Absolutely! Go for it, a place where kirbyfans can come together sounds great!

You could start a petition for someone to make a live action and animated movie dedicated to Kirby characters.
Kirbyfan - 1/29/2011, 11:33 AM

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