Monthly Archives: November 2010

Day 61: Darkseid’s Dog Calvary!

Imagine an armed force atop huge, ferocious canines pursuing you through the hellacious avenues of sinister Apokolips, snapping and snarling at your heels, threatening to rip the very flesh from your bones with razor-sharp fangs set in impossibly muscled jaws… If you can picture that, you’ve got a good idea of the Demon Dog Cavalry of mighty Darkseid.

Having battled the Para-Demon sentries in the smoke-filled skies over that dread and dismal world, and shaken off an armed horde on the ground, Orion suddenly faces Darkseid’s mounted troops riding… ummm… dogback against the arrival from New Genesis. Firing their radian blasters, the dragoons charge toward their adversary, who exclaims, “Darkseid’s Dog calvary! It is suicidal to run from them! My one chance to live — is to attack!

Orion dives to the ground, tripping dog and rider (the latter seem knocked senseless), but the mastiffs are tenacious, hungry for the blood of a new god. “These hounds of Hades are swift to regain their feet!” thinks Orion, and “Marshaling his colossal strength loosens a nearby stone pillar!” The column’s collapse spooks the mutts and they flee…

It’s apparent that the elite of Apokolips venerate canines twice the size of earthly Great Danes, as we see Granny Goodness walking her huge “darling demon-dogs” in a “Young Scott Free” vignette and there’s a trio of oversized hounds (doubtless used for hunting) among the poaching interlopers that begin “The Pact.” Mostly though, they seem, like every other life form on Apokolips, bred for war.

Baskerville Hall has nothing on these beasts when next we see them in “The Pact,” as “Raid upon raid is made everywhere on New Genesis!! From one such threshold leaps a snapping unit of dog calvary!! — Led by Steppenwolf!!” The creatures look like giant, ferocious rats in Jack’s depiction, and “When Steppenwolf leads, the carnage mounts until the battleground whines beneath the weight and agony of mass death!!! Nothing lives in his path!” One can only shudder at such butchery…

In “Himon,” the epic’s other “background story,” we see young Scott Free being chased briefly by the dog calvary but, of course, the lad escapes…

As one who was scared of big mongrels as a kid, I can attest Jack’s dog cavalry was an inspired nightmare vision, perfectly apropos to kennel in his nightmare world of Apokolips. Hounds of Hell, indeed…

Day 60: Darkseid’s Minions!

At the risk of repeating a Himon quote I’ve already used in this blog, I can’t resist the succinct and graphic definition of service on Planet Darkseid by that “lovable old rascal who taught Scott Free his trade”:

“You’re a nothing! You’re an object! Your body is a weapon! — And your mind is its trigger! You’re given a world of conflict to test and improve your ability to kill! And you kill! — For Darkseid! — It’s the driving purpose of Apokolips!!

As apt a description as any for the inhabitants of the holocaust world, especially so for the soldiers and specialists who serve as minions for the supreme ruler and his elites, those just above the slave labor “lowlies” and below the officers and “aristocracy” in the rigid caste system of Apokolips. Allow yours truly to delineate some specific groups of different corps:

Gravi-Guards: Possibly the subterranean contingent of Darkseid’s shock troops are some of the earliest Earth invaders. These magenta-colored, oversize creatures are endowed with the power to “transmit gravity waves from heavy mass galaxies,” and are able to apply crushing weight to even the mighty Superman.

Darkseid’s personal guards are audacious enough to abuse even the Tiger-Force’s elites, as a couple manhandle and berate Mantis.

Unnamed uniformed “Underlings” who attack Orion en masse when he first arrives on Apokolips during the opening volleys of the Super-War. Apparently without superior officers, they seize the initiative and rush the new god: “We have sufficient numbers to do away with you, great Orion!” Another exclaims, “We are nurtured in war — and savage in battle!” And yet another: “Come! We shall swarm over you like a roaring flood!

(I suspect the aforementioned unidentified platoon is related to an earlier encounter with Orion, when as a boy he is forced into the dimension chamber after flattening a good number of the soldiers in resistance.)

Glorious Godfrey’s Justifiers: While certainly a good number of the zealots are earth-born, others seem to be Apokolips natives, as one exclaims, “Anti-Life works! We’re justified in ridding the city of this human trash!” Godfrey’s immediate lieutenants look like Madison Avenue types, well-coiffed and one bespectacled; whether they are of Darkseid’s world is debatable.

Inter-Gang goons: While some seem to speak in an American vernacular (two of ’em tell Thaddeus Brown, the original Mister Miracle, “Yeah! We think you smell, too!” and “Your gimmicks are rusty! They drag, man!”), 1970s’ slang is not unknown on Apokolips, as indicated by the seductive talk of Section Zero’s guard post sentry who woos a Female Fury: “It’s your hands I dig, Gilotina!” I tend to think the ones appearing in trademark Kirby uniforms typically as recruits from Apokolips, though they can also be of mixed origin. These thugs include:

Steel Hand’s henchmen, one a sniper who assassinates the Great Thaddeus

Pilot/gunmen of the Inter-Gang helicopter who fire at Superman with a Sigma-Gun (though the gunner does sound like an Earthling with his Dracula banter)

Ugly Mannheim’s shock gun-wielding Assault Troops, who attack and kidnap Jimmy Olsen, the Guardian and Goody Rickels

Back to the Apokoliptian hordes, Steppenwolf’s Demon Raiders appear in the hunting party sequence where Izaya’s wife is murdered (and likely a designation that becomes become Darkseid’s Raiders later in the saga). Certainly, the Para-Demons, both present and pre-Great Clash, qualify for minion status but are unique enough, methinks, along with the Dog Calvary [coming tomorrow!], to warrant their own entry.

We also have the “Soldier Boys” of Granny Goodness (a.k.a. Granny’s Raiders), with their bug-like, pointed helmets, doubtless trained in her notorious “Finishing School.” They appear on Earth during the Overlord sequence, spouting their affection for the old battle-ax: “She’ll sing our praises and give us gifts! I can’t wait to get back!” (And the schoolmistress returns the love — “My soldier boys never fail their Granny! My solider boys are the best!” even given her tendency to open a can of whoop-ass on the grunts.)

Back on Apokolips, one of Granny’s military escorts is abused into submission by Big Barda upon her return to the barracks of the Female Fury Battalion.

Virman Vundabar’s troops appear similar in appearance to Goodness’s crew and might be from the same company/division. In their Earthly encounter with Barda bathing in a stream, we even catch a glimpse of a couple of fancily-clad superior officers, who order her to be shocked by an Energy Disperser. Vundabar’s subordinate Klepp gives us another look at an upper-level officer of Apokolips.

The Harrassers of Night-Time are “brutal, relentless, and efficient” in beating obedience into the young and fearful new recruits to Granny’s Happiness Home. We learn that Hoogin, the presiding Harrasser, had been demoted when Scott Free first escaped Apokolips.


• There’s also Doctor Bedlam’s chrome-skinned Animates, servitors of the evil possessor of the Mind-Force

Border Guards, one an “arrogant dog” who dares to fire upon Big Barda of the Special Powers Force

Kanto the Assassin’s Jet-Bow Squad, executioners attempting to pierce Mister Miracle on his return to the nightmare world

Aero-Cycle Patrol, guardians riding levitating speedsters in the neighborhood of Longshadow

Section Zero guards, including those escorting combatants of The Lump and “Non Being” prisoner guards, who openly berate the captive wife of Darkseid, Tigra, the disfavored mother of Orion

Wonderful Willik and his District Protectors, a troop which brazenly massacres Lowlies in ruthless pursuit of Himon, the man “hounded by an army of Darkseid’s murderers — He’s the only free mind on Apokolips!”

Though it’s definitely fear that keeps the subordinates of Apokolips in line, it is worth noting that in a “Young Scott Free” sequence we see the cadets dining mess and ascertain the food they eat, their “Energy Blocks,” are “saturated with ‘Brain Drain‘ chemical,” as phantom Metron informs the future Mister Miracle.

The bottom-most caste in Darkseid’s cruel, merciless society? They are the Lowlies and, in the climax of this epic adventure, we will call them the Hunger Dogs…

Day 59: Para-Demons!

Darkseid’s Para-Demons are the sentries of Apokolips, patrolling the skies over the sinister planet to secure the air from intrusion by the gods of New Genesis. As a “Young Scott Free” vignette tells us, “Bred by Darkseid to destroy all intruders in the dark spaces above Apokolips, nothing equals the para-demon for ferocity and speed!!”

There seem to be a few different varieties of the airborne sentinels, some with four-fingered hands, some five-fingers; others with three toes, a type with four digits on their feet. All are appropriately demonic in appearance, though certains ones decidedly better looking than their brethren.

Their use pre-dates the “Great Clash,” as an Apokoliptian defender screams in the opening attack by New Genesis on Darkseid’s home world of that conflict : “War! War! Apokolips is under attack!! The enemy has broken through our para-demon air defense!!”

We can see they are relatively humanoid, but are they human? We’re not privvy to their origins but their services will no longer be needed by the time of The Hunger Dogs, being replaced with high-tech planetary shielding, as Lightray will learn.

But, in their prime, para-demons were used in mock battle exercises to help train Darkseid’s military cadets, as Scott Free, during his days in the Granny Goodness warrior academy, thwarts para-demon defenses during war games: “In a world of destructive extremes, young Scott Free, training as an aero-trooper in Darkseid’s forces, learns the extent of his skill — against para-demons!!

Armed with mechanized clubs, the para-demons boast, “Batter poles up!! Pick your man — and fly in swinging!! Go, demons!!” But, though “the sky is filled with darting, savage forms,” the future Mister Miracle eludes punishment and, in “a primitive first attempt at the ‘escape art,’ strikes out a raging, murderous sentry.

Para-demons are used in one of Darkseid’s innumerable attempts to kill Himon, as Mister Miracle’s mentor is “dropped by para-demons from the sky.” Needless to add, that and other attempts are unsuccessful… for a time.

The hellish creatures seem not to possess wings in a traditional sense, but small, wing-like protrusions from their backs (possibly containing some anti-gravitational element?). Though they valiantly try, para-demons are unsuccessful in stopping Scott Free from breaking the pact by escaping to New Genesis.

Day 58: Apokolips!

“What kind of world is it,” Jack Kirby asks, “that spawns gods of evil and lesser beings with horribly hostile hang-ups!!!??” The name of that planet is Apokolips and it is home to the undisputed ruler, the great Darkseid, seeker of the Anti-Life Equation and Master of the Holocaust. As Orion notes on his foray there during this adventure, “If the other side of good is evil, then surely Apokolips is the other side! Even its giant energy pits feed on the world itself, to gain its power and light!”

The New Gods #2 opens with a vivid description of the creation of Apokolips and her sibling New Genesis :

“It came to pass — that the holocaust which destroyed the old gods and split their ancient world asunder — and created in its place two separate and distinct homes for the new forces to rise and grow and achieve powers to move the universe in new ways…

“Now there is Apokolips — forever orbiting in shadow — its surface marked by mammoth fire pits — which illuminate its stark and functional temples — in which creatures of fury worship a creed of destruction!!

“And moving with majestic serenity, in eternal partnership with this seething giant, is its sunlit sister world, New Genesis!

Apokolips is a planet perpetually preparing for war, war against itself, war against New Genesis and war against Earth. “Living beings serve their guards!! The guards serve the war machines!! And their power serves — Darkseid!!!” All must be in eternal service to the “spearhead of pure elemental force,” because “Darkseid never rests! His shadow falls everywhere!

“It is,” Orion observes, “a dismal, unclean place of great, ugly houses sheltering uglier machines… Apokolips is an armed camp where those who live with weapons rule the wretches who build them! All that New Genesis stands for is reversed on Apokolips! Life is the evil here! And death, the great goal!”

The introductory paragraph to “Himon” reveals some distinct features of the nightmare planet: “The heart of Apokolips lies beyond Greyborders — across the darkening road to Longshadow! — Through the clanking horrors of Night-Time! — and rises white hot — at the raging, hissing infernos of the planetary fire-pits! The raw and dirty edge from which great Darkseid draws mammoth power!”

The world appears to be completely urbanized, devoted to the training of warriors, the building of weapons, and the amusements of the elites. All is powered by the mammoth fire pits and the will of Darkseid. Some distinct areas, mentioned above, are laid out in the saga:

• Night-Time: Location of the notorious orphanage run by Granny Goodness, “one of many institutions where the young of Apokolips are raised and trained to develop their inherent powers!!”

• Long-Shadow: Jurisdiction of Kanto, Darkseid’s personal assassin, found “on the road to Night-Time”

• Armagetto: Next to the gigantic fire pits, the living area for the working dregs of society: “Here, in the harsh light of the giant flames that burn before endless gods, are the jammed masses of ‘lowlies‘ who labor and sweat and glory in the greatest of them all! Darkseid! Who will allow belief in nothing but himself!!” And, we will learn, Armagetto is prophesied to be the staging for the final showdown between Darkseid and Orion

A few specific structures are also featured:

• The aforementioned orphanage (and warrior school), “Happiness Home,” where young Scott Free is raised, and where “the inhuman condition is mother, father and guiding light” to its residents

• Section Zero, a “house of horrors” devoted to The Lump and prison of the “mystery prisoner,” Orion’s mother Tigra)

• Barracks of Female Fury Battalion Special Powers Force, where trained Big Barda and her Female Furies

Much of society is devoted to the training of warriors for Darkseid’s perpetual conflict, and while military service appears to be one of the few places of advancement, Himon tells Scott the reality of life as a soldier: “You’re a nothing! You’re an object! Your body is a weapon! — And your mind is its trigger! You’re given a world of conflict to test and
improve your ability to kill! And you kill! — For Darkseid! — It’s the driving purpose of Apokolips!!

Malevolent Granny Goodness on a life in the army: “You’ll become a rat! Then a wolf! And who can tell? — You may get to be one of Granny’s fine young tigers! Won’t that be a glorious day!! All praise to Darkseid!!

The skies of Apokolips are patrolled by Darkseid’s Para-Demons, devilish airborne creatures ever vigilant for interlopers from their sister world, and the surface is defended by Apokolips’s Dog Cavalary, demonically giant hellhounds ridden by the Master of the Holocaust’s well-armed elite soldier corps.

While New Genesis is generally populated by celestial beings, such as Orion, Lightray and The Forever People, Apokolips has a mixed bag of citizens: “The new gods are power beings — But on Apokolips their power is maintained by lesser entities! And from these emerge interesting personalities!!”

Included in the Apokoliptian “rogues gallery,” many of whom are now stationed on planet Earth:

Mokkari, Simyan, Kalibak, Mantis, Doctor Bedlam, Desaad, Granny Goodness, Glorious Godfrey, Virman Vundabar, The Female Furies (Mad Harriet, Stompa, Lashina, Bernadeth and Gilotina), Kanto, Hoogin, Steppenwolf, The Deep Six (Slig, Jaffar, Gole, Shaligo, Trok and Pyron), Wonderful Willik…

Indeed, Apokolips is, as advertised, “A world without mercy! A jungle of the super-strong!! The creation of evil gods whose code is shape up — or die!!!” And, in the end, it is an entire planet completely devoted to the whims of one being: “The grim and dismal world of Darkseid! — Where life is subservient to conflict and death!!”

And what is Darkseid’s will today? “My elite and I bring Apokolips to Earth…” to search for the Anti-Life Equation, presently residing in the unsuspecting brain of an Earthling or two…

Day 57: Mobius Chair!

The “miraculous” Mobius Chair (though it’s been called “devilish,” as well) is the device by which Metron of New Genesis traverses the “dimension winds” of space and time. The academic god boasts, “Walls and distance mean little to me! I can be anywhereeverywhere — when I wish it!”

“There are no barriers to the Mobius Chair of Metron, the knowledge seeker of New Genesis! No world or universe seems unreachable!” Well, truth to tell there is one boundary he has yet to cross: The Final Barrier.

“It can defy any barrier –BUT the one which guards the secret of the ‘Source’!” mulls Metron.

On the edge of the Promethean Galaxy, with the still figures of failed giants who attempted to pass through the Final Barrier and discover the secret of The Source, Metron travels on his Mobius Chair, contemplating the mysteries beyond. “I’ve leaped the stars toward the final barrier!! A lesser celestial would begin to show fear in this area.” (But, alas, before he makes an attempt, Metron is called back to New Genesis.)

On a previous occasion, Metron has taken the child god Esak across the corridors of time-space to visit a world resembling prehistoric Earth, with giant saurians and savage, primitive men waging battle with reptilian humanoids. The pair from New Genesis shirt the volcanic landscape, low to the ground, as Metron instructs his young charge on the evolution of life.

(Patrick Ford, in a reply to my “Metron” entry here, astutely tells us there’s only one instance where we see Metron not in his Mobius Chair, and that is prior to its creation, in the backstory tale “The Pact.” This begs the question: Is Metron now unable to use his legs or is he permanently attached to the vehicle for other (cyborgian?) reasons?)

In the midst of the “Great Clash,” Metron develops his Mobius Chair after bargaining with Darkseid for possession of the X-Element (discovered by Himon of Apokolips), material that is also used by Metron to develop the “Matter Threshold” and later, its successor, the Boom Tube, technological leaps that change the course of new god history.

“In my Mobius Chair,” the “icy mask” of Metron tells us, “I master Time! Space! Infinity!”

Story update: Allow me to take a minute to finally give you an idea of what is transpiring in the opening pages of The New Gods #1:

In an orgy of self-destruction the old gods perish and their world is ripped in two, and those molten spheres cool to become the sister worlds of New Genesis and Apokolips. We meet Orion, summoned home to New Genesis, to “thwart the ultimate destruction.” He is greeted by LIghtray, faithful companion, who escorts him back to the floating city of Supertown, which Orion notes “still glows with eternal splendor!” A talk with ebullient Lightray shows us Orion is plagued by a darkness not dissimilar to the one covering Darkseid’s sinister planet.

Orion meets with New Genesis leader Highfather and they visit the Chamber of The Source to receive a message. They are joined by scientific god Metron and they discuss The Source, which gives them the dispatch “ORION TO APOKOLIPS — THEN TO EARTH — THEN TO WAR.” As Orion departs to fulfill the Wall’s edict, Metron hints at the shadowy origins of “Orion the MightyOrion the Fierce — could this be one born of New Genesis?” Highfather tells him to hush up as it is not time to reveal such a dark secret to Orion.

Aboard his Astro-Harness, Orion takes a cosmic “journey which is to lead him to a strange destiny…” The warrior ponders, “Ahead lies Apokolips — in the shadow of New Genesis –! There’ll be no cheery greetings there.”

Tomorrow: Planet Darkseid!

Good and Evil

On this fascinating journey I am in the midst of, yours truly is consistently reminded that though I too often think I’m as smart as Metron in understanding Jack Kirby’s Fourth World, I’m often as dumb as Kreetin when it comes to comprehending Mr. Kirby’s vast mythology. This being Thanksgiving 2010, I’d like to extend my profound thanks to the gods, old and new and forthcoming, for this recurring ignorance and (ahem) an ability to learn from my mistakes.

Y’see, Kirbyheads, though I’ve read the opus time and time again over the last four decades, I’ve failed to comprehend the essential and true duality the former Jacob Kurtzberg has concocted for his magnum opus. Here I’ve been thinking, all these years, that the conflict was of good and evil — of good New Genesis versus evil Apokolips, of good Highfather versus evil Darkseid, of good Orion versus bad Kalibak — with us, humanity and our planet Earth, set squarely in the middle of the ultimate war.

Sure, I could make the argument a nuanced debate, seeing the tutored-in-goodness son of Apokolips, Orion, contrasted with the raised-in-hate New Genesis offspring, Scott Free, viewing them as the personified yin and yang of this Super-War… but the reality both are on the same side kinks that view up a bit, but I smugly think maybe we don’t know the true destiny of the son of Darkseid after all…

But now, as the elements [see Elements, Master of] of the Fourth World story are only just now giving me a glimmering of what this masterwork is really all about, allow be to expound on one of my theories [see Theories, Master of] regarding Jack’s symbolism.

The secret, I think, lies not in the unknowable mysteries beyond the Final Barrier, but in the two greatest comic books of Kirby’s interlocked tetralogy, tales that expound on the epic’s backstory, “The Pact” and “Himon” (along with hints sprinkled about the run, remarkably some early on). Maybe it’s a no-brainer to some of you guys — yeah, I’m talking to you, RAB and PF! 😉 — while I do see a yin-yang aspect to the core conflict, it is not about Orion and Scott Free; rather I see the opposing players as those characters who work as collaborators together: Metron of New Genesis and Himon of Apokolips.

Frankly, I’m beginning to perceive Metron as the evil, black spot in the whiteness of the New Genesis yin, and Himon as the white, good essence in the Apokolips yang field of black. It’s that handshake between the two, on page 16 of Mister Miracle #9, that clinches the bond and contrast for me.

Allow me to throw out this (hopefully tantalizing) opening volley to my emerging opinion, but Turkey Day dinner calls from out of town and the family and I must travel now. Much as I intend to detail my observations today, the WordPress time clock (notably earlier than my own East Coast timezone) might indicate tomorrow before I have a chance to post… But, please, if any of you folks can pull yourself away from the game or the game bird, chirp in when you can and let’s get a rousing debate a’ ragin’! Back as soon as am able.

Happy Thanksgiving, Kirby acolytes!

Day 56: Metron!

The omnipresent, cold and calculating Metron is the Eve of the Eden called New Genesis, he who has bitten the forbidden fruit of knowledge and seeks answers, whatever the expense, regardless of consequence, to his all-encompassing curiosity. He, the master of time and space and infinity, rides the cosmos and timeways of existence on his Mobius Chair, a miraculous, wondrous vehicle that can materialize on Apokolips, in space, at the very edge of the universe, all in the wink of an eye at Metron’s slightest whim. “Luckily for you,” he tells Lightray, “I am everywhere when needed!”

His loyalty is not to Highfather but to the pursuit of knowledge, and Metron is willing to compromise the very survival of his home world, New Genesis, if Apokolips can help in finding the answers he desires. At worst, you could call him a traitor, a “supreme” meddler at best, but Metron sees himself in the loftiest of terms, justifying his cosmos-shaking intrigues by saying he is a seeker to questions about the ultimate power, The Source. Metron is delusional in believing himself a mere humble scientist.

We’re never quite sure of Metron’s motives as he influences events at key moments in the Fourth World saga. He appears, usually, to be an ally of Orion, Lightray and company; but when the backstory of the epic is revealed, we find the seeker maneuvering players and events that portend cataclysmic repercussions. Frankly said, Metron is a schemer who manipulates people and events to serve his desires, not so unlike his professed mortal enemy (and sometime ally), Darkseid.

Metron is the great inventor (if not the visionary) of both New Genesis and Apokolips, having first developed the “Matter Threshold,” which physically links the two worlds and was later refined as the Boom Tube. He is also incisively involved in seeing prophecy fulfilled, serving as a spirit who prods the son of Highfather at pivotal moments in the life of young Scott Free.

It is obvious that this decidedly non-physical character — his furrowed brow gets the most exercise in this saga (I mean, he sits on his skinny fanny for most of the duration!) — was an essential actor when Jack was planning the opus, given the fact Metron was one of the few characters featured in the artist/writer’s initial presentation to DC. And Mr. Kirby did use the Master of the Mobius Chair for a number of critical moments in the series:

Early in the days of the “Great Clash,” Metron tries to seize the X-Element from Darkseid’s grip and we learn of the Master of Time and Space has been less than loyal to his native world, as the stone-face villain says, “On my conditions do you obtain it, Metron!! You recall our ‘private’ meetings!?” And despite the fact Metron knows the armies of Apokolips will invade New Genesis “in the wink of an eye” if he follows Darkseid’s orders to create the “door to anywhere,” the Matter Threshold, all the seeker cares about is obtaining the “unobtainable” X-Element to build his Mobius Chair.

At this infamous occasion, Metron declares his individuality to Queen Heggra and her son Darkseid: “I have no link with the old gods — or new!! I am something — different! Something that was unforeseen!! — On New Genesis — or here!!”

And Darkseid knows what is in store for those who employ this cosmic double agent: “You’ll betray us all in time, Metron!”

Metron also takes a keen interest in seeing the son of Highfather, young Scott Free, run away from Apokolips, fulfilling Darkseid’s scheme to provide a catalyst to break the Pact and thus renew open conflict — only now a wider Super-War, this time involving Earth — with New Genesis. But while the Master of the Holocaust intends for Scott Free to be killed in the escape attempt, this Master of Elements and his oft-collaborator Himon, the Master of Theories, see that the Mister Miracle to-be flees via Boom Tube and arrive on our planet, safe and sound. (Or is Metron merely an observer… hmmmm…!)

(It’s important in noting, too, that Metron comes to young Scott Free at important intervals during the lad’s nightmarish servitude on Apokolips, appearing as a haunting apparition to prod the boy to have courage and eschew the brainwashing in Granny Goodness’s orphanage — to believe in his own individuality… To be Scott Free and find himself…)

It’s difficult, also, not to see Metron as also a supreme believer in destiny, as the character appears time and time again to help his New Genesis brethren to escape their own predicaments: Metron delays the confrontation between Orion and Kalibak the Cruel, in the half-brothers’ first meeting as adults (quite probably to keep Orion in the dark, until the opportune moment, about his own direct lineage to Darkseid). And immediately thereafter he explains the Apokoliptian threat not only to their home world, but to Earth and the entire known universe, to comrade Orion.

In a memorable exchange, Orion lays out differences between the two new gods. “I feel! I anger! I fight! — and you — You are like your cold machines!” declares Orion the Mighty. Metron cooly replies, “I serve life in my own way! What there is to know — I wish to know! My knowledge is my power! Time and space is my domain!

Metron goes on to hint at his contribution to recent events: “When the old gods died, their bridge to Earth was destroyed! It was I who found the way to create what our young ones call the Boom Tube!” By his own machinations, Metron brings the threat of Darkseid to our unsuspecting, innocent sphere, leading one to wonder just why is the seeker boasting about reuniting gods with humans…

When Lightray is threatened with the final touch of The Black Racer, the bringer of death to the new gods, Metron intercedes by deflecting the cosmic skier to Earth, thereby igniting yet another chain of events, some not so good!

A bit later on, Metron takes on the youngest new god, Esak, as student and travels the corridors of space and time to teach the boy, instilling in Esak a similiar unrelenting thirst for knowledge, one that just might have ferocious consequences at the grand finale of our epic.

We may not quite understand Metron’s motives at any given interval. His ally Orion raves, “For a scrap of knowledge you would sell the universe into slavery!” (To which, the seeker replies, “Who runs the universe matters not! What makes it run is my prime objective!”) He has a deep and abiding relationship with Himon of Apokolips, one that influences the overarching course of events. It is a collaboration we’ll discuss in detail later…

Most of all, perhaps, Metron is the embodiment of absolute conceit and self-aggrandizement, possessing a supreme lack of humility as he believes he is entitled to become privy to answers about the greatest mystery of eternity: the secret of The Source. “What wouldn’t I give to possess the knowledge of the ‘Source’!” In his Mobius Chair, he travels to the Final Barrier, confident he can accomplish what the Promethean Giants could not, and penetrate into the realm of infinity to discover the secret of life itself. In the end, Metron, “the seeker and wielder of cosmic knowledge,” may prove to have been the greatest, most ignorant fool of all.

Day 55: The Source!

The Source, as Orion the Mighty exclaims, “It is eternal!” Says Highfather, “It lived even as the old gods died!” Metron describes it as “serene — omnipotent — all-wise!” The Black Racer tells us simply, “The Source is all!”

The Source exists beyond the Final Barrier, “In one of the last frontiers, where all things begin to lose perspective and all roads to The Source come to an end.” Metron, the cold intellectual new god, as ever seeking to unravel the great questions plaguing him, visits the Final Barrier on the edge of the Promethean Galaxy. “And beyond all knowledge and sweeping concept, the mystery of The Source lies…”

The Source is connected from its unfathomable home to the Wall of the Uni-Friend, located in the Chamber of The Source in Supertown on New Genesis. “This Wall is our link with the ‘Source!‘” says Highfather. And, via the Wall, it is linked with the New Genesis leader’s “Wonder-Staff” and all the Mother Boxes on his planet and Apokolips.

The Source communicates via a moving, flaming hand called “Uni-Friend,” which spells out messages for Highfather. “The Source gives us irrevocable counsel!” Orion says. Highfather replies, “But it does not decide! The right of choice is ours! That is the Life Equation!” (Thus, the curse of humans is shared with these new gods: free will.)

“It is the Life Equation!” Orion explains. “And its power is a part of your Wonder-Staff!

Highfather thunders in reply, “Silence! The Wonder-Staff which called you is in turn summoned by The ‘Source!‘ The Wall awaits the written word!

And we see the ominous message sent to Highfather from beyond the Final Barrier: “Orion to Apokolips — Then to Earth — Then to War” and later, “War — Follow Orion.”

The Source is also directly connected to Willie Walker, The Black Racer, who tell us, “The Source gave me this knowledge — this power! It was The Source that chose Willie Walker for this mission!”

Is The Source God? Is it Heaven? It is, assuredly, proclaimed to be the place where dead gods go for final rest, as does Seagrin after his demise by the hands of the Deep Six…

The Source was first revealed to Highfather, who was still Izaya, during the “Great Clash,” when the Inheritor was going through his monumental identity crisis and is on a solemn quest through war-torn New Genesis. It is perhaps the most Biblical of Jack’s sequences, as a Moses-like Izaya struggles through what appears to be a sandstorm in a desolate desert:

“The dry wind rises and the elements disturb the sky!! Violent electrical flashes twist and stab across the darkened land!!!

‘Izayaaaa–!‘” implores the Inheritor.

“The echo becomes a roar! The roar becomes a thousand drums beating to the mad music of the wind-storm!!! — drivingdriving the questing spirit — to The Wall!!! Ageless, inscrutable!! — It stands — as if waiting — waiting in the sudden calm — for Izaya to communicate!

“‘If I am Izaya the Inheritor — What is my inheritance!?

“– And from the wall the answer comes!!!


On the Wall, a single phrase: “‘THE SOURCE

“And across the wall a hand of flame brings Izaya — the Uni-Friend!

Day 54: Highfather!

The bearded old gentleman with the “Wonder Staff” is none other than the solemn leader of New Genesis, Highfather, the true father of Scott (Mister Miracle) Free and stepparent of Orion the Wolf. He is the wise and benevolent ruler, seated in the satellite city of Supertown, who carries a great foreboding weight on his strong shoulders.

Highfather’s sister-planet counterpart would like to believe they are commensurate, as Darkseid tells The Forever People, “On Apokolips, my rank is equal to Highfather!! Minions of great might quake at incurring my disfavor!!” But the eminence of New Genesis is far from the flipside of any good/evil coin. To say the least, his backstory is complex:

As we learn in the seminal New Gods story, “The Pact,” there was once a great warrior who is a leader of New Genesis. His name is Izaya the Inheritor and he is blessed with a lovely, delicate wife, Avia. One day, when the loving couple have a romantic respite on the green planet’s bucolic surface, they share a tender exchange:

“Are we made for war, Izaya?” asks Avia. “You know, I’ve never heard you sing!! Sing, Izaya! Let me hear your voice when it’s not a battle-cry!”

“I can’t sing as yet, Avia!!” Izaya answers. “It’s your devotion that feeds my aching spirits!!”

Suddenly the pair are interrupted by an illegal hunting party encroaching from Apokolips, among them Queen Heggra’s brother, arrogant Steppenwolf, and her beloved and conniving son, Darkseid. In the ensuing tussle, Avia is killed by Steppenwof’s radion bolt and Izaya’s unmoving body lays in the grass, apparently a victim of Darkseid. But the Inheritor is not dead.

And so “The Great Clash” began and terrible and woeful violence was perpetrated against both sides, New Genesis and Apokolips, and war expanded exponentially — first air war, then ground war, then techno-cosmic war, the conflict growing until suns are destroyed and planets are hurled in the name of victory. Even the death of Avia’s killer fails to stop the conflagration. Each of the twin worlds pays a terrible price for Izaya’s vengeance and Darkseid’s ambition.

Izaya, in a moment of grim reflection, realizes war is not the answer and, walking through the desolation that was once beautiful New Genesis, he seeks a new place in his world. the Inheritor cries, “Where is Izaya??” — not the warrior! — The general!! — but, the true servant of those he leads!! Not here, in these tortured ruins of war! But Izaya is there! — Somewhere — out there!!

In his lamentful sojourn, Izaya ponders the enemy. “Darkseid’s plan!! Like foolish Steppenwolf, I’ve allowed myself to follow the mad dreams of Darkseid!! — from which no one can survive!!!” Then, raging into the rising tempest winds, the Inheritor screams, “I tear off my armor! I reject this war-staff as a weapon!!! I reject the way of war!!” And still he staggers through roaring gusts and demanding his inheritance from whatever gods there be of gods, suddenly, there is revealed, The Source.

From The Source, in messages spelled out by a mystical floating hand called the “Uni-Friend,” comes the essence of Greater Good, a new life for Izaya, now the Highfather, and his people.

To end the Great Clash, Highfather and Darkseid (now ruler of Apokolips) agree to a pact, trading their respective sons with the promise there shall be an age of peace between the worlds. When savage, feral Orion first meets the man he believes his progenitor, the boy asks, “You!You are — my father??”

Highfather replies softly, “Only if you wish me to be! I am Highfather!! And you — are Orion!! We have need of each other, Orion!! This is a place of friends!! Here is my hand –!!”

An uneasy peace reigns between the worlds for years, until young Scott Free escapes Apokolips (also prearranged by Darkseid, though the boy is not killed as intended), breaking the pact and a prelude to renewed conflict. And now, today, Darkseid is initiating a “Super-War,” one waged with the planet Earth as battleground. Highfather knows the stakes, as he explains, “The universe — slave or free — On Apokolips their ruler, Darkseid, has already made that choice!”

Yes, Highfather is wartime leader of the emerald world, but he still devotes time listening to the lyrical songs of Fastbak and other youthful choral members of Supertown. Highfather and his New Genesis honor the young as a matter of faith. “First, we bow to the young,” Highfather tells his son, “they are the carriers of life! They must remain free, Orion! Life flowers in freedom!

As leader, he is also obligated to answer the queries of The Council of the Young and he is especially attentive to the plight of The Forever People, even as the group disobeyed him by traveling to Earth. When the team is sent via Darkseid’s “Omega Effect” into past eras on our planet, Highfather intervenes by reuniting them courtesy of “Alpha-Bullets” shooting out of his fingertips.

In a poignant exchange, Highfather engages one of the smallest of the new gods, who is asking for his help to rescue the Super-Kids. “Well, Esak!! Is one of the youngest of New Genesis to add his voice against my edicts!?” asks Highfather.

Esak replies, “Not against your edicts, Highfather!! But for our friends!! Is this not a world of friends?”

“Look at me, Esak!” cries Highfather. “Am I not as cold and stern as Darkseid?”

The boy answers, “Darkseid is the fire-pit of destruction!! Highfather is the tranquil green of morning!! The time when the song of life begins!!”

“And what of power, Esak!!? Is this not the naked fist of power??

True! — But power to which the lightning dances!! — On the infinite roads of time!!”

Forsooth, it is the music and song of life for all that Highfather seeks, not only to assuage his own loss. Having never sang for sweet Avia, the former Izaya finds solace in melody. “The song ends — but the beauty of it must never fade! Or die, Orion!

“In this cause,” his faithful and tormented son replies, “I live as well!”

Day 53: New Genesis!

Home world of Orion, The Forever People, Lightray, Highfather, and many other new gods, as well as the birthplace of Scott Free, a.k.a. Mister Miracle, New Genesis counts Truth, Love and Freedom as allies in their great war against sinister Apokolips. The singular municipality, a satellite city the young people call “Supertown” (described by — who else? — Superman as, “It’s Incredible! Beautiful! Majestic! Supertown is truly a place for super-beings!!”), floats above the Eden-like planet, a lush, pristine globe of natural splendor.

“No more glorious sight has ever greeted any eyes than that of New Genesis, home of the New Gods,” trumpets The New Gods #1, “A golden island of gleaming spires that orbits a sunlit, unspoiled world of green forests, white mountains, and bright waters…”

NG #2 proclaims: “New Genesis is a world caught up in the joyful strains of life!! There are no structures on its green surface — except those which serve the cause of well-being… Destiny’s road is charted in the city, massive yet graceful — gleaming on its great platform — a skyborne satellite drawn in endless silence by its hidden mechanisms!”

In the beginning of the saga, we do see New Genesis as the perfect home, a place of love and friendship. When the young gods called The Forever People bid a young Earthling adieu, Beautiful Dreamer says, “Good-bye, Donnie! We leave you what cannot die — Love! Friendship!” And her comrade Serifan adds, “It is so in New Genesis! It can be Here!

Highfather rules New Genesis with a benevolent hand and he regularly seeks the advice of The Council of the Young. (Supertown was indeed a very hip ’n’ happening place, man!) At one point distressed about The Forever People, Highfather proclaims, “Darkseid raises his children to destroy and die!! You know that it’s our duty to provide the alternative!!

In these, the early days of the Super-War, idyllic New Genesis is still physically untouched by the conflict. But only a little while prior, Apokolips attempted a preemptive attack. In The Young Gods of Supertown segment, “Raid From Apokolips,” denizens of Darkseid attempt to use a Thermo-Bolt Machine to take down the orbital city of Supertown, only to be thwarted by Big Bear. The vignette has an ominous epilogue:

“Of course, this incident occurred in the days before Darkseid openly broke the peace and chose Earth as the battlefield!! But, even then, the energy flame-pits burned brighter on the sinister world of Apokolips — as its dark shadow began to crawl across the sun-dappled green of New Genesis!

But to call, as I have in these entries, New Genesis a “virgin” planet is wrong, for the world of gods as we know it reemerged from a terrible, cataclysmic conflict called “The Great Clash,” which started when a ruler of Apokolips, Steppenwolf and young Darkseid, his “obscure and humble” nephew (and son of ruler Queen Heggra), partake in a hunting party on New Genesis. There is an incident (planned by the future Master of the Holocaust) when Steppenwolf kills the wife of New Genesis leader Izaya the Inheritor and the poachers leave Izaya for dead. But (as was Darkseid’s intent) the Inheritor lives and commands his forces to wreck horrific vengeance on Apokolips with massive bombing forays.

A precursor to the Boom Tube, the “Matter Threshold” materializes Apokoliptian death machines (called Dragon-Tanks) onto the surface of New Genesis and repeated raids are made on Izaya’s home world. The Inheritor kills Steppenwolf, both still unaware of Darkseid’s orchestrations, and with the death of Steppenwolf, the son of Heggra has escalated the confrontation into a “Techno-Cosmic War”!

“Techno-Cosmic War produces techno-cosmic machines!! — Machines that draw the debris of space and send it crashing down upon New Genesis!!… Giant biological mutations are bred in Apokolips’ laboratories! — Turned loose to pillage and kill!! New Genesis fights back with equal innovation!!! Wherever the giants tread, the ground beneath their feet cracks wide from seismic shock and swallows them in its deep recesses!!! But the war grows ever larger!! It reaches across the universe and mammoth suns are transformed into cosmic-lasers — designed to cut New Genesis into blazing, lifeless shards!!

Larger! Larger grows the war! Larger grow the ‘God-Machines’!! An impacter, the size of a planet, is sent crashing into an enemy-captured sun!! And inside Izaya of New Genesis, something dies with each such deed!! Where will this end? How can he destroy the cosmos — and yet save New Genesis!?

“‘We are worse than the old gods!’” laments Izaya. “‘They destroyed themselves!! We destroy everything!! This is Darkseid’s way! I am infected by Darkseid!! To save New Genesis — I must find Izaya!!’”

And thus the Inheritor searches for his own identity, not that of a warrior but something… more. He wanders the “ugly landscape, empty of all that was once New Genesis!! It’s soft, green forested lands are gone!!” The former paradise is desolated, smoldering weapons of war replacing the vegetation. “A wasteland!!” grumbles Izaya, “Seared and cracked and gaping with endless pits — in which bacterial monsters fester and play!!!” And amongst such devastation Izaya finds his inheritance, The Source, and the warrior lays down his war-staff and becomes The Highfather, a lover of peace and virtue.

New Genesis, even today, is not quite as serene as initially imagined. Beneath the surface, strange beings — monsters — evolved from germ warfare used in the “Great Clash,” and then there’s the plague of “micro-life” used to infest the planet. In other words, there’s the matter of the “Bugs” and their nests under the ground of the super-world… but we’ll get to those “destructants” eventually, chums.

Let’s leave you with this homily about the “good-guy” planet: “To serve a friend is certainly to serve New Genesis!!