Monthly Archives: December 2010

Day 92: Granny Goodness!

The first glimpse we get of the powerful Apokolips personality Granny Goodness is when she is sitting before a vidi-screen console communicating with her beloved Overlord, which is reporting its failed assassination of Scott Free, a.k.a. Mister Miracle. After beating her “pouting, jealous soldier boys,” we learn Overlord has created the X-Pit to eliminate Mister Miracle for his matron. Speaking in the third person, Granny explains to her guards, “She has lost her patience with rebellious boys! Granny Goodness wants to kill Scott Free! He was the first to run away from her institution!” She orders that he be captured and brought before her. Her peons seize a Follower, thinking it is the actual escape artist, along with the “sawed-off” assistant, and the real Scott Free suits up and puts on his Aero-Discs to rescue Oberon.

Granny greets the kidnappers, telling them, “My soldier boys never fail their Granny! My soldier boys are the best!” Denying her sycophantic servants the right to watch her punish Scott and, in response to a bowed soldier telling her, “We love you, Granny! We serve you!” she indicates a bust of the Master of the Holocaust and orders, “Love him! Serve great Darkseid! Wear your pointed helmets proudly where he leads! die for him — and reward Granny!” But the gray-haired villain recognizes the prize is a phony and suddenly the real thing flies in to rescue an acquaintance. “I’m here, Granny! But I can’t stay long! Just to pick up a friend!” But Granny retorts, as she pushes buttons on the Overlord control panel, “You’ll stay! You’ll stay for eternity!” and she traps Mister Miracle and Oberon in the X-Pit.

We’ll discuss this particular death machination in an entry to follow, but it’s important to note that Scott Free figured out the trap by focusing on Granny herself. As the plummet to the bottom of the X-Pit, Mister Miracle and his diminutive pal discuss the predicament:

Scott Free: We’re still alive, Oberon! But prisoners of Granny! And, believe me — this is no ordinary prison!

That shouldn’t stop you, Scott! Not you — Mister Miracle!

Scott Free: I’ve got to think! I’ve got to remember all I know about Granny Goodness!

Oberon: Under other conditions, I’d be glad to forget about her!

Scott Free: Beneath her iron facade lies a hidden fear! I’ve seen it!

Oberon: She’s no youngster! Perhaps it’s just the simple fear of old age — and its insecurities!

Scott Free: Yes! She’ll sacrifice anyone and anything — for gifts — rewards!

And, put a plan into action “on that premise” Mister Miracle tackles the lethal puzzle before him and his friend. Meanwhile, on her rocking chair and sniffling into her hanky, Granny is weeping crocodile tears. “Poor Scott Free! How he must be suffering! It’s too bad he couldn’tlearn to see things Granny’s way!” Her attendant tells her, “don’t weep over that coward, Granny! You must need comfort…” Caressing the cheek of the servant, Granny says, “My soldier boys are so understanding! That’s why Granny trains soldier boys!” Her boy responds with a grin, “Granny helped me earn my pointed helmet!” Turning to the Overlord container delivered before her, she says, “Granny has earned her rewards too! She’s worked hard! Done all the right things! That’s why great Darkseid gave her this wonderful gift!” A present which promptly explodes before her. “My guards — struck down! Attacked –!! No! No!” Standing before her is Scott Free and Oberon.

Granny Goodness: Scott Free! Only a miracle could have gotten you out of the X-Pit!

Scott Free: Not a miracle, Granny! — A memory!! The memory of a gift you once received! A gift for your old age — A gift named Overlord! — the gift that creates and destroys!

Scott explains how he and Oberon escaped the X-Pit and Granny laments the destruction of her beloved Overlord. “Granny is hurt! Granny is ruined! Overlord is gone –” and while she claws her fingers near his face, Granny threatens, “You — you’ll pay dearly for this!” Replies Scott, “And that brings me to my parting words!!! Dry up and blow away, Granny Goodness!” Later, as he and his small friend fly off, Scott confesses, “Oberon — it took a lot of nerve to say that to a terror like Granny!” The assistant replies, “Fly faster, Scott! I’ve got an eerie feeling that she’s warming up for the second round!”

The next we hear of the gray-haired harpy, it’s when Big Barda visits Earth for the first time. After Oberon asks her why the denizens of Apokolips are so mean, she replies “Fool! We serve only Darkseid! — And Darkseid serves conflict! Aaaghh!! You’re making me repeat the phrases taught by Granny Goodness!” The dwarft responds, “Oh, I met that old horror!”

Later in that same adventure, when Barda and Scott meet again and admire one another, she remarks, “Yes, this is a far cry from our days as pupils of Granny Goodness!” Scott replies, “You should have gone with me — when I escaped from her institution, Barda!” Barda agrees, “Yes — Perhaps I should have… But I stayed! Stayed — to become… what I am!

During “Doctor Vundadar and His “Murder Machine,'” the little fake Prussian speaks to the ether, “Forgive the flaws in the things that serve me, Granny Goodness! They may fail you, but never your very own Virman Vundabar! My master machine is ready and waiting to carry out your dearest wish! Mister Miracle shall die!” While preparing for the Civil War cannon trick, Oberon and Scott discuss the escape artist’s background:

Oberon: What is it like — where you come from, Scott–? You said it was a sort of orphanage — run by this old harpy — Granny Goodness!!

Scott Free: You saw her, Oberon… I’m certain you found her quite impressive! Well, she’s in charge of one of many institutions where the young of Apokolips are raised and trained to develop their inherent powers!!

Oberon: I’ve seen some of those powers, too! It can shake a man to his bones!!

Scott Free: You’d find the orphanage a nightmarish place!! Barda and I were raised there! When I’d had enough, it was she who helped me escape! I suppose that’s what I’ve been doing ever since!!

After the rehearsal and Scott says he and Oberon have created a sensational act, he adds, “That’s unless Granny Goodness decides to pursue her traditional taste for vengeance!” Oberon asks, “You mean she might come back and dismantle us — or something–?” Scott answers, “–Or send someone! Perhaps an orphanage alumnus like capable Virman Vundabar!” A little bit later, Scott thinks, “If I remember correctly, Vundabar loves military precision and efficiency! In fact, he patterned his lifestyle along old Earth-Prussian lines!!! When Granny Goodness gave him his name, the fool took it seriously! He literally acts out the fantasies he built up around it!!”

Virman screams at his captive, Barda: “You traitress!!! Granny Goodness will deal with you!!” And, in a classic moment, when Klepp, Virman and a minion, all sporting wide-mouthed grins, believe Scott Free is dead when our hero is, in fact, standing behind the trio, also smiling from ear to ear, the minion says, “How Granny Goodness will beam when we return!!!”

Just before the attack of the Female Furies, Barda muses, “Apokolips always reclaims its own!! And the arm of ruling Darkseid is long! So far his hunters have been kept at bay!! Granny Goodness! — Virman Vundabar!! — I wonder who’s crawling out of the woodwork now!?”

During the opening of “The Apokolips Trap,” one of the transport attendants tells the Harassers, “Lick your chops, you land-rats! These new orphans for the Granny Goodness Finishing School are a shaking mass of gooseflesh. As the handlers beat the tar out of the young and fearful new arrivals, Granny shows up with her huge mastiffs and beckons to Hoogin, one of the “brutal, relentless, and efficient” Harassers. “I have a rough one here, Granny Goodness!!” says Hoogin. “He shows signs of becoming a trouble maker!!” Granny interrupts, “– Or a warrior!! Discipline will do the job!!! Lots of Granny’s discipline” Granny has a few words for the young “worm” who gave lip to Hoogin.

Granny: You must learn to understand and love Hoogin, young one! He’s teaching you how to treat the lowest form of life!

Hoogin: And that’s what you are!!! — worm!!

Granny: All my new boys have that status!! But with time and patience, Hoogin will help to raise you a few notches!! 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!! Boot him on his way, Hoogin!!!

Hoogin: You heard Granny, worm!! Follow your friends — and don’t stop!!!

Granny: Good work, Hoogin!! You’re like a big, firm brother to my little charges! Of course, this isn’t the job you once enjoyed!! But I had to break you in rank when Scott Free made his escape to Earth!!

Hoogin: I was the officer in charge of his unit! — I accepted the responsibility for his escape!!

Granny: For reasons of my own, I’ve been trying to recapture him, Hoogin! And I’ve got a hunch that Scott will volunteer — to come back!!

Hoogin: I can’t wait — Granny!

When Scott and Barda prepare their return to Apokolips, Oberon pleads, “Why must you leave!? Why!? You escaped from Apokolips once! Do you think that Granny Goodness and her creepy pets will let you do an encore??” After Oberon departs the room, Scott tells Barda to stay on Earth. “I still insist that you remain here, Barda!! I’m the dish that Granny hungers for!!” But Barda is firm, telling her friend, “No deal, Mister Miracle! We’ll go down that old shark’s mouth together!! — Then I’ll beat her to death from the inside!!

In Jack’s vivid description of Apokolips, he writes, “The new gods are power beings — But on Apokolips their power is maintained by lesser entities! And from these emerge interesting personalities!! Like Granny Goodness, Virman Vundabar, Doctor Bedlam!!” After their encounter Kanto the Assassin bid Scott Free adieu handing our hero a Mega-Rod, saying, “Use this on yourself and the female — now!! Death at Kanto’s hand may be cleaner than death fashioned by Granny Goodness!!

A little later, Scott knocks Hoogin on his butt and orders, “Tell Granny that I’m back!! Tell Granny I claim freedom — by right of combat!!” Hoogin fiddles with his wrist communicator and retorts, “You’ll get combat, all right!! But freedom never!! Hoogin to Granny! Answer — please!!” Granny’s face appears on the tiny video screen. “Make it short, Hoogin! Poor Granny is ailing — and taking her medicine!!” Hoogin says, “Set your trap, Granny! Scott Free is back — with Barda!!”

Next we are witness to a precious scene with Granny reclining with a libation, decked in Victorian sleeping garments (though underneath still wearing her steel and mail uniform!). “See that they’re not harmed!! Barda is to be returned to the female barracks! Scott Free goes to Section Zero!!” Hoogin answers, “Section Zero, eh? I suppose that’s the last I’ll see of him!! Signing off, Granny!!” Granny then speaks to herself, “Hmmff! Those who enter Section Zero — never do come out!! At any rate — who would recognize them — if they did!!!? No — they stay in that house of horrors!! They choose to!!! Granny’s been waiting for this day, Scott Free!! — The day you would march back here and flaunt your impudence!! Well, you forget, sir!! — A trap made by Granny — is a trap of the gods!!!

An introductory caption in “The Battle of the Id” reads:

Section Zero!! In the grim world of the Granny Goodness orphanage, these words alone conjure up the deep, underlying fear and secrecy that shroud a function of Granny’s operation which is never talked about! Those who vanish into Section Zero are never seen again!! But their cries are heard! — And what is done to their bodies — is hidden by seething gases!! — Unidentified vapor rising from deep pits — crossing spiny catwalks — assaulting the senses of Scott Free — Mister Miracle!

Dragging a tranquilized Mister Miracle to the “Psycho-Merge” table, one of the attendants orders, “This way! Quickly! Quickly! Granny Goodness is growing impatient! She is anxious to see this show!” The combatants strapped to the table, Granny, decked out in fancy, ceremonial regalia, bangs her scepter on the window of the viewing room. “You, in there!! Get on with it! My guests and I can’t spend eternity waiting for Scott Free to get his ‘lumps!’ Hahah!!” Turning to her guests, Virman and Kanto, she says with a flourish, “Our little psycho-drama’s only moments away, good friends! Section Zero never fails to provide us with an endless variety of entertainment!!” Virman replies, “One cannot help but envy the facilities at your beck and call, Granny!”

Granny: Clever mechanisms are scarcely adequate against clever enemies, dear boy! — As you must have learned from Scott Free!

Kanto: I heard about your unfortunate encounter, Virman!

Virman: I was dropped into a deep pit!! But Virman Vundabar, with proper tools, was out of there in record time, Granny!

Granny: Marvelous! Aren’t my boys marvelous! — And you, Kanto! — Are you too left undaunted by humiliation? Scott Free was at your mercy — yet, you too failed to kill him!

Kanto: I never fail, Granny! In his case — I merely decided not to succeed! I knew Scott was headed here! — To this!!

Granny: Bully for you! All right, you technical wonders in that room! Get this show on the road!!!

After the “Non-Being” guest (Tigra, mother of Orion and husband of Darkseid) is seated, the caption reads: “Ignoring her notorious prisoner, Granny Goodness champs at the bit!!”

Kanto: Your technicians seem ready, Granny! Whatever they’ve been doing appears to have been completed!

Granny: Fumble-fingered sloths! Deadheads! Lower the energy screen!!

During the action between The Lump and Mister Miracle: “Meantime, the watchers in Granny’s mini-theatre are involved in the scene!”

Kanto: Of course! If Mister Miracle can function in that strange realm — so can his antigrav gimmicks!

Granny: Do I detect a note of professional admiration, Kanto?

Kanto: Perhaps, madam! We are — what we are

Granny: You’re an assassin, Kanto! You kill on order! For reward!

Kanto: — For Darkseid, dear lady! Because I’m very good at my trade!

Granny: I dare say! If the fates decree it, I suppose your talents could be utilized against poor Granny herself!

Kanto takes Granny’s hand to his lips and, bowing, he says:

Kanto: It would fill me with infinite sadness, sweet Granny!! — Still, I should be discreetly silent, — respectful — thorough!

Granny: You charming swine!! On such a day, beware! The pupil shall face — his teacher!!

Later, when all looks lost for Scott Free in the hands of The Lump, Granny rises to leave her mini-theatre, telling her guests, “That’s enough! The show’s over! It always ends this way — on a happy note for Granny!” But the Female Furies break in and Barda confronts her old instructor. “And now for you, you grungy old harridan! Hand over Scott!” Granny retorts, “I should’ve known you’d break the rules again! — For him! Well — you’re too late this time, Barda! Scott Free is dead! Unlike yourself, he understood the rules laid down by Granny — and died an honorable death!! As for you, traitor –” Barda is livid and lunges at Granny, screaming, “Traitor? You dare call me a traitor? Why, I’m the purest, most superior product you ever turned out!” Holding Granny in her clenched fist, Barda promises, “When they find Scott [dead] — I’m going to kill you — Granny!”

Granny: Y-you’re – mad! Defy me — and – you – defy — Darkseid!

Barda: I’m doing it! With Scott dead — I’m going to destroy everything that killed him!!

Granny: Urrrghh–

Barda: Hag!! You taught me how to hate! But you couldn’t teach me whom to hate!!

In the nick of time, Granny is spared with the live appearance of Scott Free.

In the flashback story “Himon!” though the spirit of mean ol’ Granny permeates the tale, she makes no actual appearance. But she is mentioned a couple of times, First, when Himon caresses sweet Auralie: “Poor, brave Auralie! — Trying to survive with her inner beauty — in that grim house of horrors Granny Goodness calls an ‘orphanage!!'” Later, when Scott Free grows some hair, Barda is startled and remarks, “Wha-! Hair! You broke one of Granny’s rules for male troopers!”

Granny also appears in the flashback vignettes titled “Young Scott Free.” In the first, escorted by her two giant mastiffs, she walks in on an orphanage ritual: Young Scott Free is standing, rigid at attention, on the Punishment Block. Cadets greet her with cries of “Heads up to Darkseid!!” and “Hearts out to Granny Goodness!

Granny: What else, boys!? Tell Granny the rest!!

First cadet: The Punishment Block is the throne of truth!

Second cadet: Scott Free must be freed of lies!!

Third cadet: I’LL take your darling demon-dogs, Granny!

Granny: Be careful, dear boy! Their teeth have been newly filed!! Report, Scott!

Scott Free: I was derelict in duty and a traitor to the tradition! When I was given living specimens for my lesson in prisoner interrogation, I allowed them to overcome me and escape!!

Granny: Lies! Lies! The truth is — that you’re jelly-bellied, weak-kneed!! Spineless! Gutless — and generally soft! Those living specimens populate Apokolips to breed for Darkseid! [takes out her baton] To work for Darkseid! [strikes Scott in the belly] — To be killed for Darkseid!! [strikes Scott in the chest]

Scott Free: B-but they look like us! They’re weaponless!! They cry under torment!

Granny: And that’s the truth of it!! All of my words on this Chest Recorder have gone unabsorbed! Unabsorbed!!

Scott Free: No, Granny! Don’t take my Recorder! I love your voice!! It gives me comfort!!

Granny: [ripping the Chest Recorder off of Scott] You’ve denied me! You’ve rejected Granny!!

The next caption reads, “On Apokolips — to disobey a master indoctrinator is close to a capital crime!! But Granny chooses to be merciful!!” The future escape artist is marched away as Granny orders, “Run him through the gantlet three times!” And, after that severe beating, guards throw him in a cell, as a guard barks, “You’re in here until Granny says you’re out!!”

In the next vignette, set in “the iron institution run by Granny Goodness!!,” Granny appears on a video screen in the mess hall where Scott Free and his peers are about to eat. She says, “And now, by the numbers, Granny’s deadly little darlings will eat their ‘Energy-Blocks!!’ — Or I’ll ram it down your darling throats!!”

Granny Goodness only appears once outside of Mister Miracle in the initial Fourth World run, but it’s a vital role in The New Gods #7, “The Pact.” Granny presents the Master of the Holocaust with a bundle, Izaya’s part of the bargain:

Granny: Hail, great Darkseid! See what I hold!! See what so gently nudged through the dimension threshold — from New Genesis!!

Darkseid: Izaya’s whelp, eh? This will hurt him!! He’s surrendered his prize lamb — for a tiger!!

A young, sleeping boy is in Granny’s arms.

Granny: He’s been given some mild sedative, I think!! There is a serene and fragile quality to his features!!

Darkseid: We’ll stamp that out, won’t we, Granny!!? We’ll jam him into that clanking mechanism you call an orphanage!! All the rigors and trials heaped upon the training warrior shall be doubled for him!! His spirit will flag and his bones will ache!! — Until —

Granny: Until — sire??

Darkseid: He may conveniently decide to escape from Apokolips, Granny! Of course, on that day — the Pact I agreed to — will be broken!!

Granny: That fine day will be dear to your heart, sire! Therefore, in its honor, I shall name the lad — Scott Free!!! Ha ha hah –“

Interestingly, this is the only time we see Granny in the presence of Darkseid. And after Mister Miracle effectively becomes a non-Fourth World title for a spell, Granny makes a return in “Wild Wild Wedding Guests,” the last issue of Jack’s run. When Scott Free bests Virman Vundabar, he boasts, “You forget, Virman! I’m still the fastest moving target there is!” The a familiar voice interrupts. “– And you forget that you have more than one enemy on Apokolips!”

Scott Free: Granny Goodness!! You armored old war-wagon!

Granny: You’ll regret those unkind words. Granny will punish you for that!

Minions: Let us handle him, Granny!

Suddenly a gravitation pull is overwhelming our hero.

Scott Free: W-what’s happening? I’m growing heavy — heavy!

Granny: Stand back, my soldier boys. An invisible mass gravity beam has locked onto him! Granny has arranged a proper reception for her defiant enemy! You should’ve been more polite to Granny!

Scott Free: Blast you, you mean old hag! Why don’t you kill me and get this over with?

Granny: You shall die, dear boy — but only when Granny decides to give the order!

But Kanto intervenes and cuts off the gravity beam. “So — you’re turning into a chicken, are you?!” sneers Granny. “I agreed to help you trap him, Granny,” says Kanto. “But I didn’t promise to take part in torture!” Scott exclaims, “Kanto! — The master assassin!” Granny scoffs, “Kanto, the lily-livered, is more like it! Bah!

Kanto: Rewards will buy my loyalty, Granny — but my code of conduct is my own!

Granny: Blast your assassin’s code of honor, Kanto! Just remember that this prize belongs to Granny! [To Scott] Does that please you, dear boy?

Scott Free: It’s as pleasing as falling in a snake pit!

Virman Vundabar: Insolent swine! Let me finish him, Granny! Your own Virman shall still his tongue!

Granny: [to Virman] Shut up!

Virman: [wielding a pistol] No! No! This pig has escaped me once too often!

Granny: Put that thing down! Pompous little egotist! Granny give the orders here! You’ll do as I say!

Virman: Y-yes, Granny! Your authority remains unchallenged!

Kanto: Hah! I’m paid to obey that old monster, Virman — but you shake whenever she barks!

Virman: For all your boasting, Kanto — I’ve yet to see you defy her!

Granny: Silence, buffoons! We’ll dispose of the prisoner as I planned! He must join his friends on the “Bomb-Clock!

Scott Free is placed on the Magna-Wall with his comrades Barda, Shilo Norman and Oberon, and bidding the quartet off, Granny says, “Farewell, Scott Free! Your friends die with you! Hahahahahah! We’ve done it at last! Scott Free is finished!

Suddenly, chaos breaks loose among the evil-doers!!

Minion: Stop him! He attacks without mercy!

Granny: Who dares spoil this moment of triumph!?

A rampaging interloper attacks Granny’s beloved henchmen. Kanto observes, “Your soldier boys are going down like ten-pins, Granny!” Virman exclaims, “Their weapons are useless!” And Granny hollers, “Incredible! Such ferocity has no equal! — Even on Apokolips! There is only one who is driven by such violence! — Orion of New Genesis!

Orion: Stay where you are! — Or feel the wrath of Orion!

Doctor Bedlam: If you came to save Scott Free and his friends — you’re too late!

Virman: Think well before you attack us! — We represent the hierarchy of Apokolips!

Granny: Injure us — and draw the wrath of all Apokolips!

We then learn Granny and her cohorts were tricked into believing Scott and his friends were killed, that a wedding is to take place, and after Orion tells the villains that Darkseid will appear, Granny shakes her fist, berating Orion, “Fool! Lamebrain! We shall all suffer! Darkseid will punish us for failing — and you for succeeding!” Orion replies, “Maggots! You cringe at your master’s name!” Granny is near hysterics. “We are not your match! As you are total destruction — Darkseid is total power –! He can strike us down or toy with us at will! We cannot change his moods –!”

Granny is seen briefly in “Even Gods Must Die!” where she is reduced to a role as manager of the Female Furies, who themselves are subversive machine operators in the Apokolips of Darkseid’s new policy of universal automation. When a monitor device is destroyed by Stompa, Granny appears to lament its demise. “Poor, poor little monitor… Did big bad Stompa mistreat you? I — I can’t believe it! A monitor is a valuable little toy! He tells us all about those zany ones who fritter away their efficiency when Darkseid has need of it.” Stompa retorts, “Don’t call me ‘zany,’ Granny Goodness,.. or I’ll stomp your guts to bits! Until you look like cute little ‘monitor’ there!” The Furies are in all-out rebellion and Granny retreats, calling for guards. A brouhaha ensues and controllers press the discipline button, which zaps the Furies and Granny, as well. One controller says, “Too bad we’ve got to jolt that old warhorse Granny Goodness! Her military school made tigers out of babbling infants!” Another controller replies, “Well, she’s a lousy ‘Compu-Team Supervisor’! She’ll take her jolts with the rest!”

And this is the last we hear of the legendary Granny Goodness…

Day 91: Overlord!

Like a high-tech ticker-tape we see Overlord’s communication with its mistress when the “X-Pit” adventure begins. “–I–AM– OVERLORD — I–CREATE–I DESTROY — NOW — I — DESTROY–! — SCOTT–FREE–DIES! OVERLORD–IN–READINESS–TO KILL! CLOSING-ON-VICTIM — ADJUSTING–SIGHTS RANGE–OF–FIRE–UNLIMITED — OVERLORD AWAITS COMMAND!!! –” Overlord looks mighty big on page four of Mister Miracle #2 after tracking Scott Free as the super escape artist assembles a follower with assistant Oberon. Thank Highfather the bizarre robot-looking device mistakenly targets the Follower in place of the real Mister Miracle (after receiving orders to “Strike, Overlord! Obey!”) and that “stand-in” takes the brunt of a destructive ray shooting from Overlord’s forehead. Scott and Oberon survive the “Explosion! Shock! Flame!” and his Mother Box takes a beating in the attack, prompting Scott to pour out his love and belief to revive the beloved protective device.

We see that at the control of Overlord is a new Fourth World villain, Granny “to know her is to hate her” Goodness, who purrs sweet compliments to her underlings while meting out discipline on their pointed helmets with her truncheon. “Granny communicates with Overlord, boys! Granny must read his words.” Overlord appears on a vidi-screen before her and the read-out reports: “RESULT: NEGATIVE! — VICTIM – LIVES —” One of her boys eagerly asks, “Overlord couldn’t kill Scott Free, Granny! Will you punish Overlord?” Standing up, she begins to unbutton her housecoat. “No! Because Overlord has made up for his failure! He has special gifts.” One of her henchmen notes, “Overlord is Granny’s pet! She keeps him in a warm, safe vault!” Granny throws off her robe to reveal her steel and mail uniform, complete with baton weapon, barking, “Yes, and we talk by vidi-screen! He’s too precious to be exposed to the world!” Whacking the Darkseid out of her boys, she continues to praise Overlord, “He needs no discipline, like my pouting, jealous soldier boys! Overlord is also creative! He makes things for Granny Goodness!”

Granny then tells us about Overlord’s creation of the X-Pit trap and her hatred of Scott Free, ordering her soldiers to kidnap the Happiness Home escapee. Her boys snatch Oberon and the Mister Miracle-adorned Follower, and arriving to rescue his assistant, Scott and Oberon plunge into the X-Pit, where Granny believes the two are destroyed. Granny orders a small box delivered from the vault and it appears to be connected to Overlord, who can grant her wishes. “Granny has earned her rewards too! She’s worked hard! Done all the right things! That’s why great Darkseid gave her this wonderful gift! It reacts to Granny’s every wish!” Suddenly a gemstone suddenly appears from the ether. “I ask it to create a valuable jewel — and behold!” Suddenly the box explodes and before her appear Mister Miracle and his erstwhile companion. Scott reminds her of a gift she once received, “a gift for your old age — A gift named Overlord! — The gift that creates and destroys!

In alternating moods of despair and rage, Granny is beside herself. “You vicious, young savage!” she screams at Scott. “Look! See what you’ve done! Oh — my heart — I’ll kill you with my bare hands! How did you do this? How?” As is his habit, Scott then explains, “Once I knew that Overlord created the X-Pit, I knew the make-up of its structure! Every atom of the X-Pit was linked to Overlord himself!” and, after torturing the pair with one trap, the device would transform “its atoms into another form of torment!” In the flashback episode we see an exhausted Oberon imploring, “W-what next, Scott? What next?” Revealing his shoulder-holstered Mother Box, Scott exclaims, “Mother Box signals — radiation! And that makes her strong! Strong!” Then, jamming his shoulder into the X-Pit control studs, our hero orders, “Strike at the enemy, Mother Box!” Continuing his explanation before Granny, Scott relates, “I jammed Mother Box into the torment-circuits — felt he power race with vengeance toward their insidious source!” The visual becomes a screaming, agonized Overlord. “Somewhere, I could feel the power strike Overlord! Somewhere, I could hear his silent scream — somewhere, I felt him — die!

Distraught, Granny tells Scott, “You killed Overlord! You had him killed by a damnable Mother Box!” As Scott opens a smoking box on Granny’s table, she continues, “Granny is hurt! Granny is ruined! Overlord is gone –” Mister Miracle scoffs, “He was an evil fraud! — like you, Granny Goodness!” And, in a startling moment, we see the contents of the smoldering box: a teeny, tiny ashen shell of Overlord. “Little worms can look like sea serpents when cast on a vidi-screen!” Scott says, “This is Overlord! — shorn of power and life!”

It’s interesting to view the life and death of Overlord as a deadly competition with Mother Box — “her power race with vengeance” — revenge for being almost fried at the beginning of this story. Curious, too, how Overlord resembles an infant robot — giant head and all… this is Granny’s baby? Or is Overlord to grow…? A particularly creepy and effective villain, I say!

Day 90: Follower!

The Follower is an artificial humanoid used to mimic the precise movements of whoever is (apparently) in its proximity. In the beginning of Mister Miracle #2, when Scott Free and his assistant, Oberon, are being observed by Overlord, they are taking inside packages, containing Follower components, for Scott to assemble. Oberon notes that the “factory people came through on time!” indicating, I would assume, it was manufactured to Scott’s specifications. Dressed in a Mister Miracle costume, it looks to be made of metal and, if I interpret Scott’s statement correctly, is of Apokolips design: “My people refer to this kind of unit as a ‘Follower!‘ — a sort of test-figure!” As Scott finishes the assembly, Oberon responds, “Your people, whoever they are, play with strange toys!” Demonstrating the Follower — Scott swings his arm and the Follower copies him exactly — Mister Miracle tells his small friend, “A ‘Follower’ is not a toy! He is in truth — an extension of yourself! Like a mirror-image — he does exactly what you do! I need the ‘Follower’ in this experiment! We’re working with a volatile explosive!”

Scott jumps on a platform and the Follower does the same, and then they are both suited up in straitjackets. “By duplicating my movements, the follower will tell me how well I’m doing!” Oberon gingerly brings over the explosive just as the Overlord strikes! Luckily, the Follower, mistaken for the real Scott Free, takes the brunt of the attack and the super escape artist says over its broken figure, “The Follower seems beyond hope.”

But later, as Oberon is sweeping up the debris, the Follower suddenly rises. “Yipe! Preserve me! It’s that weird, crawly ‘Follower’ thing! I-it’s come to life — trying to rise –” And, yet again, Apokolips agents believe the Follower to be the real Scott Free and they seize it and Oberon to deliver to the matron of Happiness Home of lovely Apokolips, Granny Goodness herself. But the witch immediately recognizes the fakery. “What!” the harpy screams. “You mindless fools! What have you returned with!!?? Didn’t you notice the dead eyes? This is a ‘Follower!’ not Scott Free!” The last we see of this particular model, it is being thrown across the room by mean ol’ Granny.

But the another version of a Follower arises in the penultimate ish of The Forever People, in “The Scavengers,” when Mark Moonrider and Serifan create a model for the spectral form of Boston “Deadman” Brand to inhabit. The Director of an international heist group (that’s his name: the Director) called The Scavengers is watching a surveillance film secretly shot while the Super-Kids are inspecting their Follower, the spitting image of Deadman. Mark says, “The ‘Follower’ is almost ready, Serifan! It will make a fine vehicle for our friend!” The copy-cat cowboy concurs. As he demonstrates the Follower’s ability to copy movements, he tells Mark, “The ‘Follower’ works smoothly, indeed, Moonrider! He has strength and a good response! Using the body of the ‘Follower,’ our friend will be able to pursue his destined purpose on a physical plane!”

The Director henchmen named Operator Twenty-Four tells his boss: “This ‘Follower’ thing should be studied! These Wonder-Kids blabbed that it can be grown from anything organic! — And re-shaped atomically!” (Interesting shift here though maybe the New Genesis model is organically grown; the Apokolips version manufactured as machine.) The Director, who may or may not have been involved in Boston’s assassination, croaks, “Boston Brand is a ‘Deadman!’ Now — this ‘Follower’ is built — ‘to house a friend!’ Your next job is to steal that ‘Follower!’”

Deadman is grateful for Mark and Serifan’s efforts and looks forward to “possessing” the replica. “And in the body of the ‘Follower,'” Boston vows, “I’ll track [my killer] down! — And bring him to justice!” But, wouldn’tja know it, one of The Scavengers has broken into Trixie Magruder’s basement — in the house where the Forever People are staying — and has run off with the Follower (by having the artificial person copy his every move, so there must be a delay option on the mimicry, huh?) The silent, masked intruder notes, “There’s the ‘Follower’ — unguarded — and ripe for the taking! Uncanny! It’s like a zombie — with reflexes!!”

(Interesting that Jack describes the Follower at this point to be “cooperative and meek,” and on the next page, to quote Mark Moonrider, “The ‘Follower’ is active and strong!”)

The Follower is taken for inspection in the Scavengers’ hidden lair, where a brute wearing a steel glove attempts to “test his hide,” but when the thug throws a punch at the thing, the Follower hits him square in the jaw, knocking him cold. The Director’s henchmen then orders the faux Deadman to stop and says to his boss, “He reacts like a mirror-image! Only — with the power to floor an elephant!” The Director is paranoid about the Follower being made in the late Boston Brand’s image. “– I get the feeling that this thing is a — shell! — A shell — waiting for — ‘something’ to possess it!” And, on cue, the restless spirit of the former circus aerialist takes possession of the Follower and a donnybrook ensues. Deadman — or the Follower he inhabits, to be exact — is struck frozen by a “Frost Beam” while The Forever People deal with the Scavengers attack. After being defrosted by one of Serifan’s Cosmic Cartridges, Boston exclaims, “I-I feel nothing! I’m not the Follower! — Just its tenant! Fantastic! I’m a Deadman — moving an organic machine that looks like — myself!” Boston then swings into action — “This sure beats operating in spirit form!” — and uses his acrobatic skills to get the better of the remaining gang, only after being taking six bullets at point blank range. Seizing the gun from the culprit, Deadman is triumphant before the incredulous assailant: “Don’t look surprised, you rat! You can’t kill a Deadman! The Follower’s body has the self-sealing faculty to absorb and close these nasty bullet-holes!”

The adventure concluded, the resurrected hero turns to the team and says, “I want to thank you for this physical body! — With which I can get the job done!” Serifan then retrieves a capsule from his hat belt and hands it to Deadman, telling him, “And this will help you remain in it! — The Blue Cartridge! It’ll link your spirit atoms permanently with the Follower’s form!”

Thus a dead super-hero is given new life, now inhabiting a Follower, one created by the Super-Kids of New Genesis… Leave it to Kirby!

Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #137

Cooke Look: “The Four-Armed Terror”

This issue, and the conclusion that follows, are two of my favorite issues in the Jimmy Olsen run, probably because the menacing monster, the Four-Armed Terror, still gives me a fright, especially when we turn to the last page in #137 to see dozens, maybe hundreds of Homo Usurpians bursting out of their egg-sacs! Their mindless “AARUKs” and seriously bad skin condition remain effectively chilling and, yeah, I’ll admit it: scary! And, natch, it’s all leading to a tremendously impressive climax — the “Big Boom!” — the highpoint of the entire run! Boy, oh boy, don’t I just love this stuff!

I also dig the Solar-Phone “dance party” sequence, a psychedelic moment that fits with the Hairies’ hippyesque scene, man! Like I said in the previous entry: Sheer wonder.

The boys are trapped in the Four-Armed Terror’s woven egg sac and said monster is about to provoke an atomic reactor chain reaction that just might destroy the city of Metropolis as well as the Wild Area, plus an entire army of yellow beasties are bursting through their shells ready to join their brethren… Jack’s closing caption: “The final countdown is on! It isn’t waiting for Jimmy Olsen, his pal Superman, or for any of us! So stay where you are — on Ground Zero — so you won’t miss the following issue — and the Big Boom!

The cover blurb ain’t lying (too much) as it screams: “KIRBY brings them all together!! — On the last day of the world!!”

Day 89: Solar-Phone!

Ahhh, everything starts out nice and trippy for the gang — Jimmy O., Superman and “that resurrected rat-pack of rollicking rowdies,” the Newsboy Legion — when they attend the Hairies’ Friday night “sing in” at The Project! Unbeknownst to our heroes, Homo Usurpus, the Four-Armed Terror, is about to make a rampaging entry into the vast underground government complex! But, let’s enjoy the Solar-Phone party while things are temporarily nice ’n’ friendly!

The mind-bending episode begins with typical Kirby hyperbole, with the caption reading: “Wild Area! Zoomway! Habitat! Outsiders! Strange names in a strange world which has evolved in a great natural cavern beneath modern America! This is the world of The ‘Project’ — where the secret of the century has been kept! The harnessing of the DNA molecule!!!! The breaking of the genetic code!! Man experimenting with life!! Jimmy Olsen is there! And so is his pal Superman. They’re alive and well among the wondrous DNA denizens! But who can say for how long? — For a mighty, living juggernaut is fast approaching!”

Jimmy is seated and at the controls of a strange device, part keyboard, part image transmitter — and all-Kirby in design! — and he’s sporting a wide grin. “Wow! When the Hairies invited us to their dance, I never imagined they’d let me officiate like this, Superman!” The Man of Steel, standing behind the young reporter, is wearing what appears to be oversize earphones with a type of visual attachment. “The Solar-Phone is their latest invention, Jimmy!”

The there’s this caption: “Among the variety of living species produced in The ‘Project,’ the ‘Hairies’ are amazingly productive! They are mechanical geniuses! — And the Solar-Phone is new evidence of their strange life-style! It gathers the radio-signals from the stars and converts them into mental musical images!” Sitting on the floor before Jimmy and Superman is a horde of hippy-like Hairies, the Newsboy Legion among them, each wearing the same head device as the Last Son of Krypton, most holding hands and eyes closed, ready to embark on a journey into the mindscape! One girl says, “Our minds receive! The ‘dance‘ begins!” A hirsute fellow adds, “We are all together — we hear as one! We see as one! We soar as one!” Then the scuba-crazed Legionnaire chimes in: “Man! This is cool! It’s like a movie musical — and everybody’s in it! Includin’ me, Flippa-Dippa!” Superman tells his friend, “Keep playing, Jimmy!” You can’t do anything wrong! The Solar-Phone arranges all incoming signals into patterns of harmony!”

And then, in three full pages of krazy Kirby kollages, we understand what all the excitement is about! “What the dancers see is a new and wondrous universe of shifting, kaleidoscopic geometric forms!” The group seem to be experiencing what most of us would call a mass hallucinogenic acid trip, perceiving themselves as floating past fantastic images. Gabby is ecstatic, sharing with his fellow travelers, “Wow! This is great! It’s like we’re floatin’ free in Wonderland!” Scrapper is similarly delighted: “It’s a nutty Hollywood set wit’ symphony music all around us!” But Big Words hears something different, telling his pals, “That’s not the music I hear!” Explains an opulently tressed young lady, “Each of us hears the music in the way it pleases him most!” Jimmy puts it best, gushing, “Groovy! This is a real gas!” The Superman looks ahead and observes, “The scene is changing! What lies ahead?”

The panorama switches to an even more fantastical sight — “Soon, the dancers are whirling and soaring past strangely bizarre and beautiful worlds…” Giant flowers, massive planets, Buddhaheads, stone carvings abound. Notes Scrapper, “Dese flowers smell for real — like dey wuz from Kelly’s Funeral Parlor!” Even Superman is impressed, exclaiming, “Fantastic! The Solar-Phone communicates all this!

Then — BWOM! POW! — “Suddenly, the enchanting dance is brought to a jarring halt!” The walls are quaking. “The shocks that bring the dancers back to harsh reality continue with fearful intensity!” Yup, the Four-Armed Terror is knockin’ on the front door! But that’s another episode…

No doubt about it, the always prescient Jack Kirby envisions virtual reality here, right down to the headphones and goggles, mixed with the Merry Pranksters’ Kool-Aid Acid Test to keep it contemporary. Sure, it’s a diversionary moment, maybe even throw-away, but wondrous awe works superbly well with the pacing and the caption stating the Solar-Phone “gathers in the radio-signals from the stars” certainly opens the doors for some story possibilities down the road.

I love this kind of stuff from Jack because it represents the joyful side of imagination when contemplating future technology. Sheer wonder!

Day 88: The Four-Armed Terror!

Mokkari and Simyan, the odd couple of Apokolips, have been sent to Earth to replicate the success of The Project (by rifling DNA samples from the government facility) and, as the yellow-faced taller one relates, “It is what we came here to do! To replace the Earthmen’s Project with ours!” And, apparently, the best way to accomplish that Darkseid directive is to destroy the “vast American underground preserve!” But the “Giant Green Jimmy” failed to muss The Project’s hair and, after facing a dressing down by the Master of the Holocaust himself, the duo muse over what to do.

“The Earthmen experiment for progress,” Mokkari says. “But we work for Darkseid, ruler of Apokolips!” Simyan adds, “Our offspring shall bring Apokolips to Earth! Chaos in place of order! And from that chaos will arise the new masters of Earth — with the great Darkseid as their exalted leader!” Okay, well put, shorter hairier one, but what’s the plan?

Hand holding jaw in contemplation, Mokkari determines, “We shall do it with the proper creations of life we have bred here!” Simyan is puzzled, “But what have we produced that could do so thorough a job?” Looking over their human slaves carrying gargantuan machinery, Mokkari says, “True! Except for the giant Jimmy Olsen, we have grown nothing but mere beasts of burden!” Simyan has a flash: “Wait! You forget!” Entering an enclosure titled “Lower Level Control Bubble,” Simyan tells his partner, “There are cell tissues which we developed in an atmosphere of Beta Gas!” Mokkari retorts, “But they are ‘unknowns!’ Even as they grew — they hid from us! Human cells — which have grown their own Impenetrable cover!” Simyan says, as he takes charge of a control panel, “And beneath their cover — could be our answer!” The Control Bubble has windows looking over a field of what appear to be a chamber filled with super-sized eggs, a noxious mist wafting above them. “What kind of humans will emerge from these egg-sacs, Mokkari,” asks Simyan. His partner replies, “We must be prepared for any contingency, Simyan! Keep vlose watch!”

Later, the vapor stimulation “doing its work,” one of the egg-sacs hatch, with four-arms thrusting out! In the beginning of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #137, we see The Four-Armed Terror is in full, pale-yellow, red-eyed glory, and man! What a horrifying sight we see rampaging through the Wild Area! “This is a being with no name! It is in the shape of a man — but it is not man! Yet, it lives and breathes and hungers! It wants food! — The kind of food the forest doesn’t grow! But the food is there! It’s there!” Poor Yango and Gandy, motorcyclist Outsiders, see their hogs smashed by the monsters and barely escape with their skins. The creature makes it to The Project and shocks reverberate about the complex. “He has found the buried steel cables that are the stalks which lead to his food! Nuclear radiation! He doesn’t know it by word, but he feels it as an emptiness inside himself — that must be filled!”

(Here, the Four-Armed Terror makes his trademark sound — “ARRUK-ARRUK-AAAK!” — kinda cute, innit it?)

“Then he finds it! — In a booster unit, which carries power to The ‘Project’ from a central atomic pile!” Suddenly shock waves are sent out and blasts occur throughout the region — collapsing Habitat, cracking the Zoomway, and threatening the entire Project. Superman flies into action and, getting a good look at the yellow monster, the Man of Steel ponders, “Our rivals at the Evil Factory have produced another ‘first!’ That thing is absorbing and feeding on radioactive energy!” And that thing proceeds to pound the Krypton out of our hero! “And above Superman is a face produced by the most extreme experimentation with the human cell! At The ‘Project,’ its counterpart would be known as a D.N.Alien!” (ARRUK!)

(Am I wrong to understand that distinctions of what is and what isn’t a D.N.Alien of those produced by either The Project or the Evil Factory got a little fuzzy and more generalized as the saga continued?)

Finally able to throw off the beastie, Superman gives us a bit more information. “The Evil Factory has bred a terrifying product!! Among the living human cells they stole from The ‘Project’ was a special batch which had been treated in a manner to simulate Atomic War conditions! He could be bred for surviving Atomic War!” Jimmy and the Legionnaires try to help but suddenly all of ’em, Supes included, are encased in a “crackling web of energy” emanating from the freak’s four hands which create an impenetrable shell encasing our comrades! The creature moves on, “Hunger has replaced fury! There is abundant food nearby!” Then, courtesy of Mokkari and Simyan’s delightful exposition, we learn the threat is not only confined to The Project and environs, but to the home city of Superman himself!

“Yes,” says one of the two, “directly in his path is the giant atomic pile that supplies power to the entire underground world of The ‘Project!'” The other adding, “He must feed on radiation! He’ll rip that pile apart and trigger a chain reaction!” Mokkari glories in the holocaust to come. “Then a great white flash! A fire storm of indescribable heat! Shock upon shock as a mushroom cloud rises where once The Project stood! A job well done, eh, Simyan?” Answers his longtime companion, “It will be beautiful, Mokkari! And with it will go all the rest! Yea — and even the city of Metropolis — which lies above, within range!”

Our story here comes full circle. Simyan boasts, as they return to the Control Bubble, “We’ll have carried out, to the letter, the order of our great leader, Darkseid! Surely this is a triumph for the forces of our world — Apokolips! The pattern is set! We have bred the perfect instrument to challenge humanity!” Again looking out at the multitude of egg-sacs, Mokkari gloats, “Sprung from their own seed — and nurtured by radioactive vapors!” Simyan notices movement. “The others are stirring! They’re breaking free of their protective shells, Mokkari!”

And, indeed, it appears dozens and dozens of Four-Armed Terrors are coming new into our world. “It is their time, Simyan!” rants Mokkari. “Their birth heralds the age of holocaust! Hail, Homo Usurpus! Earth lies before you for the taking!”

To which I can only heartily add, “AARUK!

The New Gods #2

Cooke Look: “O’ Deadly Darkseid”

With this issue we get a long, hard look at the Great Villain of Jack Kirby’s opus and, as a kicker, a splendidly vile portrayal of his number two man, the sinister Desaad. Especially resonate too is the overview of this Super War slowly engulfing Earth, as Orion shares with his newfound Earth friends nightmare visions of servitors and monsters roaming our unsuspecting planet. (The creatures of panels two and three on page 14, never seen again in the Fourth World, while relatively generic in Kirby terms, are especially enticing and one can only dream what Jack intended to show of their dastardly affairs!)

The creator is still setting the scene initiated in the debut number and, again, it’s a spectacular vision — the opposing worlds of the new gods on page one (note the para-demons flying above Apokolips!), the idyllic paradise of New Genesis on the double-page spread that followed, the Moses-like majesty of Highfather conferring with Lightray (sporting a one-time only metallic mask that is especially groovy), and Darkseid himself aloof in a chair with an Earthling’s humble apartment before disappearing (Orion says to his allies, staring intently on that piece of Dave Lincoln’s furniture: “As for the arch-enemy of all life — you have seen him –! That empty chair still reeks of his presence!” Will Murphy’s Oil Soap take care of that stench, ya think?)… Too much!

Brola and His Hand of Stone…? Well, not much to brag about but the Fear Machine is impressive! Most of all though, Darkseid is (umm) set in stone as a character here and the hints of Orion’s origin, mayhap as one born on Apokolips, adds a fine texture. Two thumbs of stone up!

Day 87: The Fear Generator!

While finishing the Mother Box-assisted presentation to his allies of the threat posed by Darkseid and his minions from Apokolips to our home planet, the show is interrupted when the sentient computer starts pinging wildly. “But wait!” Orion says, “Mother Box detects an invisible beam sweeping this very city — the panic of fleeing hundreds!” The fiwerce new god immediately recognizes Desaad’s hand: “Of course! Darkseid’s second in command plays with his toys!” But his allies are suffering the same fright as others in Metropolis and Orion mounts his Astro-Harness to seek out the malevolent device. “The city is loud with the sounds of hysteria! I must be swift!” Mother Box traces the paranoia-inducing beam to…

“So that’s it!” says Orion. “A Fear Generator disguised as a great billboard! Clever, Desaad! The Astro-Force shall cleanse this foul spot!” The caption then reads, “But the sign is protected! Light bulbs erupt in a deadly fusillade of Cosmi-Force!” Orion is knocked back and starts to fall, but is able to destroy the Fear Generator with his Astro-Force weapon, which also slows his descent for him to recover. “So the battle is renewed!” Orion muses. “The enemy will use new weapons — but I shall find them and destroy them as well!”

Day 86: Super War!

In contrast to the “Great Clash” of an era past, the ongoing conflict between the two worlds of New Genesis and Apokolips is now an inter-dimensional struggle as it involves our very planet. First dubbed a Super War by Earth’s guardian, Superman, when he harbors doubts while traveling through the Boom Tube on his aborted trip to Supertown. Mused the Man of Steel, “Is Earth the battleground for some strange Super-War?” The introductory caption to The Forever People #2 states, “Although their background is shrouded in mystery, they are already embattled on Earth against emerging forces of awesome and terrifying nature! And are we in this, too? We may be friend or foe of the Forever People! — Bystanders or participants in an ominous and perhaps final Super War!

Certainly this setting of a war as backdrop for Jack Kirby’s Fourth World opus is what sets it apart from other interconnected super-hero titles. Marvel’s common connection is the tales are primarily based in New York City — or on Earth — and the characters have some interaction with one another, sometimes joining up as teams, usually to thwart an enemy, who would change from issue to issue. But generally no matter the threat to our planet, conflicts are resolved and everything goes back to normal, all nicely wrapped-up, by the story’s end.

Jack’s vision was decidedly different and innovative. The Fourth World has as backdrop a huge, multifaceted fight of intergalactic proportions, with dozens of characters — those of the “good” worlds of New Genesis and Earth — in battle with a single enemy, Darkseid, and his minions of the “bad” world of Apokolips. And though we’re all aware the overall series was aborted very early in its intended run, readers all knew everything was careening to an ultimate climax — an ending — something quite unheard of in comic book “universes.”

And the enemy and his goal was also startlingly inventive and resonate. Unlike the usual funnybook bad guys who simply want money or power or revenge, Darkseid, the all-powerful and unquestioned ruler of Apokolips, seeks the Anti-Life Equation which would give him the ability to snuff out all life in the entire universe with a single word! This takes villainy to an entirely new level! Why he wants this ultimate lethal force, we’re never made privy, but it’s likely something simple that motivates this malevolent creature… the sin of pride. (And to think Darkseid’s search is no secret to his servitors! They hardily and enthusiastically strive to do his bidding, which is to exterminate all life everywhere! These are some very not-nice people!)

We see in the superb “flashback” story, “The Pact,” how the “Great Conflict” — that previous war between the two planets — completely engulfed New Genesis and Apokolips to horrific degrees, rendering both worlds to ruins in a general, all-out war. But the Super War, using Earth as the battleground, is so far a less conventional process, as Darkseid and his agents have established underground network of tunnels, covertly working in shadows, under our radar so to speak.

Thus, to convince his Earth allies — Victor Lanza, Claudia Shane, Harvey Lockman and Dave Lincoln — of the threat posed by sinister Apokolips, Orion employs the assist of his special device, upon which they all lay a hand. “Mother Box will help you see through my eyes — to see the images my words evoke!” Suddenly horrendous visions are transmitted. First a hunched-over, cloaked figure stands in a city park as a Boom Tube appears. “Now,” Orion says, “see for yourselves the invasion of Earth by the fierce creatures of Apokolips! That circle of flaming energy signals the coming of — The Boom Tube — the dimensional bridge from which Darkseid’s subjects pour!” We hear the hooded welcomer bark to strange creatures emerging from the portal, “Hurry! You have your appointed tasks!” And then the foursome listens to Orion as they view some very scary characters, “Now they roam Earth to fulfill Darkseid’s objective! Some are servitors — others are beings of frightful power!” The scene shifts to underwater monsters, humanoid but scaled and ferocious. “They thrive in every element — witness the new arrivals to Earth’s waters — those known on Apokolips as — The Deep Six!

The visual, in a nod to ongoing events in The Forever People, changes to Mantis, the “awesome digger,” who rants, “I shall take my share of booty here! Let mankind serve the victor!” And, the virtual reality tour winding down, there’s a glimpse of the goings-on over in the Jimmy Olsen book, with a full-page scene of Outsiders dancing in a procession through Habitat: “These monsters prowl and seek in Darkseid’s cause, not only in the known domains — but also in stranger places — like the Wild Area — where a bizarre dropout society may hold the secret which Darkseid yearns to possess!”

(One captivating aspect that endeared many a reader to the Marvel Comics Group was the use of captions to reference past issues and current titles (and it was smart marketing, to boot!), and it’s something I fear Jack didn’t use enough of in his interlocking titles, though he obviously did in this case. Mark Evanier and Steve Sherman, in the “To and From the Source” essay in this same issue of The New Gods strongly urged readers to keep an eye on all of the titles — “Other new characters have yet to be introduced — which is why we stress the importance of following the entire continuity of the series. Important elements appear in all of the books and with The New Gods, The Forever People and Mr. [sic] Miracle scheduled to be released three weeks apart; it’s almost like having one long novel, with one-and-a-half chapters per month on the average.” — and the addition of “The Fourth World of…” onto the fourth issue covers of his titles (and Jimmy O #139) helped clue readers in that a larger tapestry was being woven here…)