We don’t see much of the Inter-Gang crime boss Badger but we see enough to determine he’s a vile sort! After Sugar-Man executes Screamer, who is suspected of the intent to blab about the “Big Caper,” and returns to the hideaway, wounded by The Black Racer, to report to Badger, the kingpin tells the pimped-out criminal, “You did your job, Sugar-Man! Sure there was a witness — but what can Willie Walker say? The kid’s a living clam! They’ll get nothing outta him! Not in time to stop what we gotta do! Sorry about the accident!” We see Badger is a slit-eyed, bald-headed, rat-faced goon (okay, badger-faced, then!), sporting a bow tie and fat cigar. After listening to his minion fret about The Black Racer, Badger dismisses him with, “Yaaa — Shut up! Inter-Gang must carry out what it’s paid to do! bring in the bomb!” Upon being asked what does the device do exactly, he responds, “The Apokolips people didn’t say! But I’ll bet it’s something wild and nasty!” He then places a key into the bomb, telling his henchmen, “There! I turn this key — and now the bomb is activated! And ready to plant!”
Just then, Orion (with Dave Lincoln in tow) exploded into the room, and Badger orders, “We’ve been warned about him! Get those special guns!” Orion sees they have Apokolips weapons, as Badger turns his trigger-man, telling him, “Stash that pea-shooter, Sugar-Man! Take the bomb! Plant it where the Apokolips crowd designated! Take off, Sugar-Man! We’ll get these birds!” As the bad guy and the bomb leave by the back way, Orion’s Mother Box jams the Apokolips-designed weapons and Badger’s gang is subdued. Badger clucks, “You cats cooled us, but not our bomb! By now, it’s being clamped on the communications building across town!!” But Mother Box intercedes again and the Inter-Gang plot is thwarted. But Badger still smirks, telling Orion and Dave Lincoln, “Nailing our unit won’t stop Inter-Gang!”
But it sure stopped Badger, dinnit?
Vietnam war hero and wounded paraplegic Willie Walker is chosen to become the alter ego of the messenger of death, The Black Racer. The former sergeant lives in a state of perpetual paralysis in the Metropolis ghetto apartment of his sister Verna and her husband Ray Johnson, bedridden beside a window that is adjacent to a tenement rooftop. When Sugar-Man executes Screamer in full view of Willie Walker, clad in hospital gown and neckbrace, laying still in his bed, the criminal turns his attention to the possible witness. “Oh-oh! A witness to the bang bang!” Willie has a reputation, at least in the neighborhood, as the assassin exclaims, “Hey! I know you! Sergeant Willie Walker! Big Vietnam hero! Can’t walk, talk — or even feed himself! Lotsa Medals — but one big bad wound, eh, Willie?” Sugar-Man aims his pistol at the veteran but is thwarted by The Black Racer who has been observing the thug.
Then, so too does The Black Racer turn his attention to the unfortunate invalid. “Walls are no barrier to The Black Racer! He enters the room of Sergeant Willie Walker!” The harbinger of doom says, “I hear a call! A voice invoking my name!” Standing over the bed, the armored celestial observes a wide-eyed Walker. “The voice is yours! I can hear it! This is why destiny has lead me here! I understand now! And even I must do destiny’s bidding! For one of your value, The Black Racer must bow!” The messenger of death offers his hand. “Come! Take my hand! You will not live — you will die! But you will have that what you have earned — the freedom of a great power!” Miraculously Willie’s hand moves to reach out to The Black Racer! “Fear not! See? Your hand moves! Yea — even as it reaches out — the rest of your body stirs to follow!”
Miracle begets miracle as Sgt. Willie Walker speaks and rises in his bed! “Wha–? I can move! I-I can move! — A-and speak! I can speak — Who are you?” The Black Racer only replies as he takes the earthling’s hand, “In your despair — you summoned me!” But Willie is upset. “Why don’t you answer me? I’m scared! More scared than I ever was in combat! Good Lord! I’m standing! This can’t be happening! What am I saying! It’s happened! I’m whole! I’m strong! I’m no longer half-alive! Willie Walker no longer needs this aid!” He takes off the neck brace and suddenly notices the empty suit of armor laying on the floor at the foot of the bed. “Wha–? The armored stranger has collapsed! He lies motionless on the floor! There are so many questions I have to ask him!” Lifting up the helmet, the combat veteran turns it and out flows tiny grains. Willie exclaims, “Dust! There is nothing in this armor — but dust! He’s gone!”
Then begins the transformation. A brilliant glow suddenly flows from the war hero. He understands now. “But the meaning of this, now, begins to dawn on me — I’m changing — I-I am more than Willie Walker!” He has become The Black Racer!
After completing his first mission on Earth, The Black Racer flies back to the apartment where his alter ego is bedridden, explaining, “Tonight’s mission ends! I return to the ghetto of Sergeant Willie Walker!” He floats through the atoms of the building, appearing in Willie’s room. “There are no barriers for him now! Willie Walker now has the freedom of the farthest dimensions! Willie Walker is now one of many messengers! All who make the one entity — The Black Racer! The one who transferred his power to Willie has returned to The Source! The Source is all! The Source gave me this knowledge — this power! It was The Source that chose Willie Walker for this mission! I must still do its bidding! I Return as Willie Walker! I touch my helmet and vanish as I am!”
Suddenly The Black Racer is transformed into the prostate form of the war veteran and, within a few seconds, Willie’s sister Verna and her husband Ray enter the room, fretting that they had left the invalid alone and of Sugar-Man’s rampage earlier in the evening. As one of them ponders, “Poor Willie! What must he be thinking?” a caption reads, “Willie Walker’s eyes grow wide! He is aware! He now knows his next quarry! Who is it? Him? — Her? — You?”
The following issue, after The Black Racer has taken Seagrin to his Valhalla, he streaks across the Metropolis sky, glimpsed by a police officer. “Casey! Look! Up there! Did you see it?” Casey responds, “I don’t see anything but that fire! Cough! Cough!” The next captions read: “But he is there! Swift! Silent! Present at the finish of a man — or a god! Even stranger is his destination! When he makes his descent, it is in the humblest of places — the ghetto district! Ahead of him is a tenement of fading brick! Then a wall! Then — a window! Without hesitation, he enters, through material barriers that are not for him! For a moment, the room is lit by a blinding flash! Then — it’s gone! Sergeant Willie Walker has come home! Where but in the hands of a paraplegic, made helpless by war, would a wandering, god-like being have placed the most awesome power?” Just after the eternal changes back into his paralyzed alternative identity, Verna bursts into the room, which is filled with vapors. “Under the constant care of his sister and her husband, who would suspect that Sergeant Willie Walker is The Black Racer, messenger of death!?”
During the climax of the regular series, we last see Willie Walker being cared for by his sister. “In a shabbier district of the city, the gathering clouds of disaster have yet to shroud the sky! Willie Walker lies still as ever! — Unable to move — for all time!” Verna administers medicine and the caption says, “Willie Walker is also forever silent! His eyes can move, but at this moment they are fixed on the distance –! — A distance far beyond his room –!” After his sister despairs that her brother “just doesn’t seem to hear or see us anymore,” husband Ray responds, “Willie’s lost in the stars, Verna! I think nothing here has any meaning for him now!” The caption to follow states ““And what does Willie think? And see? — And hear? What of the voice that calls to him — from — out there — !”
Here we witness the most explicit connection, I suspect, that Willie and his alter ego have with The Source, the closest to an omnipotent God (capital “G”) we get in this series when that disembodied voice is heard by the stricken Willie Walker. “It’s time, Willie! A messenger is needed! — A messenger, both swift and — final!” The next caption reads, “…A messenger of death — !! With powers beyond the standards known by men! Powers that can make an invalid rise and stand firm with new strength!” The voice orders him, “On your feet, Willie! You can do it! That’s it, Willie! The change is coming! Even as you stand, the change is taking place!” And then: “Where the commanding voice comes from is a mystery to Willie! He only knows that it changes him! And with that change he is given a grim mission! And a new name!” Willie Walker is no more. In his place stands: “Once again — I’m The Black Racer!”
Did Willie Walker die when The Black Racer first took his hand? The celestial death-dealer seems explicit about that, given The Black Racer’s comment, “Come! Take my hand! You will not live — you will die! But you will have that what you have earned — the freedom of a great power!” Yet the figure that remains is recognized by his sister and brother-in-law as Willie Walker. It appears that many others have assumed the role of the Messenger of Death — “Willie Walker is now one of many messengers! All who make the one entity — The Black Racer! The one who transferred his power to Willie has returned to The Source!” — and begs the question, many others over time, one at a time… and/or simultaneously? Interesting to ponder…
Sugar-Man is the African-American gunman who becomes the first quarry on planet Earth for The Black Racer. When the Messenger of Death arrives via Boom Tube in the skies above the Metropolis ghetto, he first spies the Inter Gang criminal called Sugar-Man stalking another bad-guy, this one with a similarly odd nickname. The Black Racer first takes note, saying, “There, below — a place of black men! Those who fight to live — others who risk my presence!” BAM! BAM! “I’ve got you, Screamer!” Sugar-Man barks, as clad in a beret, neck scarf and sunglasses, engages in a gun battle. “You’re running out of ammo!”
Chasing his prey from rooftop to rooftop, Sugar-Man continues the fusillade as Screamer flees. “You can’t get away Screamer! It’s useless to run, baby.” Then making a bead on his target, the hunter makes the fatal shot with a taunt. “Your last scream won’t be to the law!” His job complete, the gangster says to no one in particular, “Inter-Gang gets rid of cats they can’t trust! Especially when he can blab about the Big Caper.” Sugar-Man then takes a look around and notices a figure laying still in a bed. “Oh-oh! A witness to the bang bang!” We get a closer look at the prone figure, one the criminal recognizes. “Hey! I know you! Sergeant Willie Walker! Big Vietnam hero! Can’t walk, talk — or even feed himself! Lotsa medals — But one big, bad wound, eh, Willie?” Despite the invalid’s obvious paralysis, the thug raise his pistol and takes aim. “Well, Sugar-Man is gonna help you, Willie! Sugar-Man is gonna blot out all the misery inside you — It’ll just take — one squeeze –”
Then the hand of The Black Racer suddenly encompasses the handgun which explodes with Sugar-Man taking the full force of the backfire. “My face!” he screams while running away. “I’m hit! I’m hit! Gotta get outta here!” The murderer runs to the lair of his Inter-Gang boss, Badger, who says upon Sugar-Man’s arrival, “You did your job, Sugar-Man! Sure, there was a witness — but what can Willie Walker say? The kid’s a living clam! They’ll get nothing outta him! Not in time to stop what we gotta do! Sorry about the accident!”
His noggin getting bandaged (even around his eyes!), Sugar-Man is angry. “Accident, hell! I saw a hand, I tell you! It was like the hand of death closing over the barrel of my gun! Then — BOOM! There was someone there, standing in the darkness! I couldn’t see him — but I’ll know when I find him again!” Badger replies, “Yaaa — Shut up! Inter-Gang must carry out what it’s paid to do! Bring in the bomb!”
We learn that the “Apokolips people” made the device, which will melt all “every bit communication metal within a radius of thousands of miles,” as Orion will subsequently inform us, and when the fierce new god and his friend Dave Lincoln smash into the Inter-Gang hideout and Sugar-Man, once again donning sunglasses, fires at them. “Stash that pea-shooter, Sugar-Man!” orders Badger. “Take the bomb! Plant it where the Apokolips crowd designated!” Sugar-Man responds, “Okay, Badger! But hold this cat while I get away!” As the wounded desperado slinks out a back entrance, his boss yells, “Take off, Sugar-Man! We’ll get these birds!” And the departing gangster replies, “Sure, Badger! I’ll do as you say, but –”
Sugar-Man, running through an enclosed alleyway with the activated bomb in his grip, realizes the identity of one of the assailants laying seige on Badger’s crib. “A cat from New Genesis! We were warned that they might raid us! But they won’t stop Inter-Gang from doing what it’s paid to do!” He runs up to a waiting truck and loads his lethal possession in back. “In you go, bomb! Sugar-Man is gonna make sure you blow!” The truck takes off and the oblivious driver doesn’t know this will be his last delivery.
The next caption reads, “But Sugar-Man is unaware that he’s been joined by another — one new at his mission — but old as time!” The Black Racer follows closely behind, telling us, “And so the chase begins! Faster, Sugar-Man! Go faster! We are linked in a moment of dying!” Sugar-Man looks in the side-view to see the harbinger of death coming on fast. He thinks, “That reflection in my rear view mirror — I’m being followed! That clown’s not from Earth! But I’m not stopping to find out which side he’s on!” The celestial being taunts his quarry. “You know me, Sugar-Man! You’ve sent many to The Black Racer!”
Sugar-Man is freaking out, driving the truck at top speed, and he recognizes his pursuer. “I do know him! It was him — standing in the shadows on that roof — when my gun blew up in my face!” The Black Racer is ever closer, announcing to his prey, “Your luck has run out, Sugar-Man! Listen to the song of death!” The bomb starts making a disconcerting noise that adds to the driver’s hysteria. “The bomb!!” Sugar-Man hollers, “I-It’s not supposed to make those sounds!” The Black Racer uses his ski pole to penetrate the truck and make contact with the device. “Yes, it can, Sugar-Man — when its shell is penetrated by transmitted signals — They enter the truck — without resistance — as does my ski pole — Then, as signals reach the mechanized heart of the bomb — ” Then the pole does its business and the truck starts to fly skyward! The Black Racer solemnly says, “They trigger its anti-gravity circuits! Farewell, Sugar-Man!”
The criminal pleads, “No! No! No!” as he flies into outer space, Orion’s Mother Box activates the explosive and that’s the last we see of Sugar-Man. As Badger is subdued, he says to Orion and Lincoln, “You cats cooled us, but not our bomb! By now, it’s being clamped on the communications building across town!!” Dave replies, “We were too late to stop your man from escaping with the bomb — but perhaps –” But Orion reassures his Earth ally. “Don’t worry, Lincoln! Mother Box has intercepted the bomb in transit! And has sent it toward space! Now, the vehicle carrying the bomb is high enough to destruct there! Mother Box sends out her death signal!”
As Dave Lincoln calls the cops to take away the Inter-Gangsters, he tells his friend, “Now to call the police and drop this little package in their lap!” Orion replies, “We’ll deliver all, except the man who took the bomb! I’m afraid he’ll never be found!”
And, apparently, we’ll never learn how this rotten bad guy ever got such a sweet nickname. Just desserts indeed!
The Black Racer is the so-called Messenger of Death born of The Source and allied with neither New Genesis, Apokolips or Earth. His mission is merely to return his unfortunate and ill-fated quarry to The Source, commanded by a mysterious voice and suited in armor complete with a set of skis and ski-poles. When called, this god-like Dark Bringer of Death rides the spaceways, often at the speed of light to complete his grim missions. To be touch by The Black Racer is to die.
We first encounter this ominous being at the start of our current tale, as friendly Lightray is being pursued in space by the harbinger of doom. The young New God is desperate and very afraid. The caption reads: “Death is The Black Racer! Like the very source of all things, he is an ever-present fear that sweeps through the universe on swift, silent skis. The charred husks of great stars are left in his passing… and small lives vanish with their dreams at his touch! Yes, even the New Gods fear the Black Racer! For he brings –”
Lightray: Oblivion! I face oblivion! I am the quarry of a power that challenges all power!
The Black Racer: Hail, young Light-Ray! Destiny has decreed that our paths should cross! The flotsam of the universe cannot hide you! I am as swift as you are!
Lightray: But not as eager as I am to avoid your touch!
Orion’s best friend flies through a field of crystallized space rocks and suddenly stops behind one. He thinks, “I govern the power of light — and I must use it to ward off the racer! The jewel-like substance of these meteoroids may intensify this power of mine!” The Black Racer is catching up, telling the hapless New Genesis youth, “I am almost upon you, Lightray! Even one such as you must submit to me!” But our hero suddenly emits flashes of light energy from his hands, thinking, “I shall flash the brightest of beams through this prism-stone!” The next caption states, “So intensified are the light-beams passing through the massive jewel that they emerge with the power of a fiery holocaust!” Lightray explains, “Thus, as on Earth, the principle of the laser is invoked!”
As the consuming flame leaps at him, The Black Racer leaps even faster!
The Black Racer: Foolish one! Was it not told to you on New Genesis of The Black Racer’s superb agility? You cannot escape me!
Lightray: [Thinking] He is right! Though I fly at the utmost speed of light, he easily paces me! — Toys with me — but I shall not stop! I dare not stop!
The Black Racer: Your time has come, young one! I am no respecter of tender years! Prepare for my touch!
Lightray: No! No!
The scene shifts to Metropolis and a meeting of Orion and his Earth allies, with this caption: “This is the drama of desperation and death, enfolding the destinies of gods and men! Lightray, fighting madly to prolong his last, cosmic moments…” And, then, a little later…
Meanwhile, in the vast wilderness of stars, a giant, new sun flares into being!! Lightray, in a final burst of desperation, spends his remaining energies by exploding a filed of drifting matter to block his pursuer!!
Lightray: This must do it! This must halt him — and give me time to escape!
But from its flaming heart emerges death! The Black Racer is more than powerful! He is relentless… unshakable in his purpose! Lightray, mustering his failing strength, does not see the planetoid coming in his path!
Lightray: [Thinking] Can’t give up! Must escape!
He strikes its harsh surface with damaging effect!
The Black Rider: It is the end, Lightray! It could only end this way!
Then, just when we think Lightray will fade from being: “Suddenly, a rumble of sound like the crack of doom erupts about Lightray! A Boom Tube appears in mid-air and swallows The Black Racer! Then it quickly fades — revealing to an astonished Lightray the presence of his rescuer — Metron of New Genesis!”
The intellectual of New Genesis appears on his Mobius Chair and tells his ally, “Fear no more, Lightray! The Racer is gone! I merely deflected his flight elsewhere! You could have done the same, Lightray! You must learn to think more coolly! However, a brush with The Black Racer is a humbling experience at best! In my Mobius Chair, I master Time! Space! Infinity! Luckily for you — I am everywhere when needed!” If Lightray is grateful, you wouldn’t know it, as the young god is more concerned about where the interdimensional bridge will reappear: “The Black Racer — Where is he now? Where had the Boom Tube taken him?”
In a grandiose, full-page splash that follows the Messenger of Death bursts forth into the skies of Metropolis, exclaiming, “So, destiny has changed my course and takes me here — to Earth! The sound of deadly weapons reaches me! I sense that this area is ripe for my arrival! instinct guides me to my quarry!” Gunshots ring out! The Black Racer is gliding above the littered streets of the city’s black ghetto. “There, below — a place of black men! Those who fight to live — others who risk my presence!” We see Inter-Gang criminal Sugar-Man engaged in a rooftop gun battle with another bad guy. “I’ve got you, Screamer!” boasts Sugar-Man. “You’re running out of ammo!” The god-like being thinks, “It is true! One of them can no longer shoot! He must run!” Bullets ricochet off chimneys as the Inter-Gangster closes in for the kill. Sugar-Man taunts his prey, “You can’t get away, Screamer! It’s useless to run, baby! Your last scream won’t be to the law!” With that, Screamer falls, now eternally silent.
Sugar-Man looks about, muttering to himself, “Inter-Gang gets rid of cats they can’t trust! Especially when he can blab about the Big Caper!” Then, looking at the taller portion of the building, the criminal notes a window that has had full view of Screamer’s execution. Within, we see a still prostrate form in a neck brace lying on a bed. “Oh-oh!” exclaims Sugar-Man, “A witness to the bang bang! Hey! I know you! Sergeant Willie Walker! Big Vietnam hero! Can’t walk, talk — or even feed himself! Lotsa medals — but one big, bad wound, eh, Willie?” Targeting his intended victim at point blank range, the criminal is about to make his second elimination in as many minutes. “Well, Sugar-Man is gonna help you, Willie! Sugar-Man is gonna blot out all that misery inside you — It’ll just take — one squeeze –” Suddenly a hand appears from the ether, enveloping the pistol as Sugar-Man pulls the trigger. “The gun blasts, and backfires in Sugar-Man’s hand! Its barrel has been blocked and its torn metal flies in all directions!” The criminal’s face is recipient of the shards! He screams, “Aaaaa! My face! I’m hit! I’m hit! Gotta get outta here!”
Then, the death harbinger turns his attention to the paraplegic war hero. “Walls are no barrier to The Black Racer! He enters the room of Sergeant Willie Walker!”
The Black Racer: I hear a call! A voice invoking my name! The voice is yours! I can hear it! This is why destiny has led me here! I understand now! And even I must do destiny’s bidding! For one of your value, The Black Racer must bow! Come! Take my hand! You will not live — you will die! But you will have that what you have earned — the freedom of a great power! Fear not! See? Your hand moves! Yea — even as it reaches out — the rest of your body stirs to follow!”
Suddenly the wounded war veteran miraculously rises from his bed! And he speaks! “Wha–? I can move! I-I can move! — A-and speak! I can speak — Who are you?”
The Black Racer: In your despair — you summoned me!
Sgt. Willie Walker: Why don’t you answer me? I’m scared! More scared than I ever was in combat! Good Lord! I’m standing! This can’t be happening! What am I saying! It’s happened! I’m whole! I’m strong! I’m no longer half-alive! Willie Walker no longer needs this aid!
A transformation is occurring before our eyes, Sgt. Willie Walker metamorphosing into this new — yet eternal — persona as the Earth warrior takes on a solemn mantle. “Wha–? The armored stranger has collapsed! He lies motionless on the floor! There are so many questions I have to ask him!” Picking up the knight-like helmet, Willie pours out granules, exclaiming, “Dust! There is nothing in this armor — but dust! He’s gone! But the meaning of this, now, begins to dawn on me — I’m changing — I-I am more than Willie Walker!” A blinding flash consumes the hospital johnny-clad war veteran and instantaneously he is adorned in the colorful armor of the messenger of death! “I am a power to make all tremble! I am The Black Racer!” He steps through the wall and onto the rooftop, where stand ready are his skis and ski poles. “My instincts have cosmic sharpness! My mission is ever clear! Destiny has opened all barriers to the most helpless of beings! Now I mount my skis — and ride the night! Beware, my quarry! You are marked for oblivion!”
After Sugar-Man meets with his superior, Badger, and is assigned to carry the “wild and nasty” Apokolips-made bomb, Orion and Dave Lincoln smash into the Inter-Gang hideout. Sugar-Man then makes his escape with the explosive device, which he loads into the back of a box van. As he takes off in the truck, the caption reads, “But Sugar-Man is unaware that he’s been joined by another — one new at his mission — but old as time!”
The Black Racer: And so the chase begins! Faster, Sugar-Man! Go faster! We are linked in a moment of dying!
Sugar-Man: That reflection in my rear view mirror — I’m being followed! That clown’s not from Earth! But I’m not stopping to find out which side he’s on!
The Black Racer: You know me, Sugar-Man! You’ve sent many to The Black Racer!
Sugar-Man: I do know him! It was him — standing in the shadows on that roof — when my gun blew up in my face!
The Black Racer: Your luck has run out, Sugar-Man! Listen to the song of death!
Inside the truck, strange, electronic sounds rise to a strident pitch from the activated bomb!
Sugar-Man is in a panic behind the wheel. “The bomb!!” he screams, “I-It’s not supposed to make those sounds!” The Black Racer parallels the vehicle, both traveling at high speed, and he points a ski pole towards the truck’s cargo area. “Yes, it can, Sugar-Man — when its shell is penetrated by transmitted signals –” And then the pole pokes into the truck to make contact with the bomb inside! “They enter the truck — without resistance — as does my ski pole — Then, as signals reach the mechanized heart of the bomb — ” Amid the unnerving “RRRREEE” sound, “Suddenly, as the ski pole touches the bomb…” and Sugar-Man and the truck are space-bound, flying into the Metropolis sky! Despite Sugar-Man’s screams of “No! No! No!” The Black Racer bids his quarry adieu. “They trigger its anti-gravity circuits! Farewell, Sugar-Man!”
Whether Sugar-Man is dead or not by the time Mother Box activates the bomb’s detonation is unknown, but suffice to say there is a massive explosion in the night sky over Superman’s adopted city and Sugar-Man is no more. As Dave Lincoln and Orion are roundng up the gangsters, Badger says, “Nailing our unit won’t stop Inter-Gang!” Dave retorts as he dials the phone to alert the cops, “We’ve made a good start, eh, O’Ryan? Now to call the police and drop this little package in their lap!” Standing grimly, Orion answers, “We’ll deliver them all, except the man who took the bomb! I’m afraid he’ll never be found!” And the following caption reads, “No one knows this better than The Black Racer, who has seen Sugar-Man die in space!”
The Black Racer flies back to Willie Walker’s domicile, telling us, “Tonight’s mission ends! I return to the ghetto of Sergeant Willie Walker! There are no barriers for him now! Willie Walker now has the freedom of the farthest dimensions! Willie Walker is now one of many messengers! All who make the one entity — The Black Racer! The one who transferred his power to Willie has returned to the Source! The Source is all! The Source gave me this knowledge — this power! It was the Source that chose Willie Walker for this mission! I must still do its bidding! I return as Willie Walker! I touch my helmet and vanish as I am!”
We then meet the sergeant’s caretakers, Willie’s sister Verna and her husband Ray, and after she frets for her invalid brother’s safety, her spouse ponders, “Poor Willie! What must he be thinking?” and the next caption, closing the issue, reads, “Willie Walker’s eyes grow wide! He is aware! He knows his next quarry! Who is it? Him? — Her? — You? Don’t run for the exits! You can’t escape The Black Racer!”
We next encounter the harbinger of eternity in the very next adventure, as Orion mourns the death of Seagrin, the gentle warrior new god, who has been killed by the Deep Six. A veritable viking’s funeral erupts on the dock, which bursts into flames, and as Orion and Dave Lincoln leave the tragic scene, “behind them, leaping from the heart of the flames, a dark, blood-chilling figure silently swoops into the night sky!” It is The Black Racer. A police officer points at the flying figure, exclaiming, “Casey! Look! Up there! Did you see it?” Casey responds, “I don’t see anything but that fire! Cough! Cough!”
But he is there! Swift! Silent! Present at the finish of a man — or a god! Even stranger is his destination! When he makes his descent, it is in the humblest of places — the ghetto district! Ahead of him is a tenement of fading brick! Then a wall! Then — a window! Without hesitation, he enters, through material barriers that are not for him! For a moment, the room is lit by a blinding flash! Then — it’s gone! Sergeant Willie Walker has come home! Where but in the hands of a paraplegic, made helpless by war, would a wandering, god-like being have placed the most awesome power?
Verna: Willie! Willie! Are you all right? How did these fumes get in this room? I’ve taken all precaution against fire!
Under the constant care of his sister and her husband, who would suspect that Sergeant Willie Walker is The Black Racer, Messenger of Death!?
Verna: [Thinking] But how could this be?
In the final issue of The New Gods, The Black Racer appears as Orion and Kalibak are culminating their savage blood feud. We learn a little more about the character’s connection with The Source — or so we think! — when upon administering medication to her brother, Verna notices Willie Walker seems completely detached from her and reality. “Willie Walker is also forever silent! His eyes can move, but at this moment they are fixed on the distance –! — A distance far beyond his room –!”
Verna seeks the comfort of Ray’s embrace as she laments her sibling’s condition. “He just doesn’t seem to hear or see us anymore!” Ray holds her close, telling Verna, “Willie’s lost in the stars, Verna! I think nothing here has any meaning for him now!”
The caption reads, “And what does Willie think? And see? — And hear? What of the voice that calls to him — from — out there –!” And a voice comes from out of the air itself, telling the invalid, “It’s time, Willie! A messenger is needed! — A messenger, both swift and — final!”
–A messenger of death –!! With powers beyond the standards known by men! Powers that can make an invalid rise and stand firm with new strength!
Voice: On your feet, Willie! You can do it! That’s it, Willie! The change is coming! Even as you stand, the change is taking place!
Where the commanding voice comes from is a mystery to Willie! He only knows that it changes him! And with that change he is given a grim mission! And a new name!
The Black Racer: Once again — I’m The Black Racer!
With the change come new and strange powers! The Black Racer walks through the wall of Willie’s building — into the night outside –
The Black Racer: My equipment lies waiting! My mission begins!! Death is on the wing this night! –Death for an angry god!
Thus, as the ferocious slugfest between half-brothers reaches a crescendo, “At that deadly moment, The Black Racer arrives!”
The Black Racer: The time is at hand!
Then, as Orion lifts Kalibak for a last crushing act of violence, he sees The Black Racer rushing toward him!
The Black Racer: Death approaches, Orion! Both of you have taken incredible punishment! But I’ve come for only one!
Orion: If it be me — then come and be swift!
There’s no stopping The Black Racer! Orion is struck by a fierce wind! And every fiber quakes and screams in the shadow of what overwhelms him!
The wind shrieks on and flings debris everywhere! The Black Racer has come and gone — and gone, too, is Kalibak!!! A heavy silence falls on the city in the wake of the sudden gust! Then, the normal sounds of the city return –
Orion: [Thinking] The Black Racer spared me! It was Kalibak’s moment of dying! — not mine!
Dave Lincoln: Orion! What was all that? Where is Kalibak — and that guy on skis?
Ye ghads! What a climax and resolved on the very last page of the final issue of The New Gods, at that!
There is one other appearance for the character, during a “Young Gods of Supertown” vignette starring Fastbak entitled “Beat The Black Racer!!” Fastbak, as we previously learned, flies the skies (and apparently spaceways) courtesy of his phenomenally quick “Aero-Pads.” In this adventure, we see him in space about New Genesis as a lethal ski pole advances toward him.
The Black Racer: Greetings, Fastbak!! You face a difficult challenger this day!
Fastbak: The Dark Bringer of Death! [Thinking] Young Esak is missing –! And The Black Racer is a sorry clue to his situation!!
The Black Racer: Destiny has sent us on the same mission, Fastbak!! Life or extinction!! — It depends on which of us reaches our quarry — first!!
A race to the death! Fastbak had guessed as much from the start!
Fastbak: [Thinking] My new circuits check out! I hope they do their job well!
They do well — enabling Fastbak to elude the fatal rush of a meteor swarm! Apokolips has turned space into a great trap for New Genesis life!! It’s littered with dangers like the great Terror-Bats which pursue and kill!! Then there are the roving patrols of fierce Para-Demons!
Para-Demon: Close in on him! Don’t let him escape!!
But stopping Fastbak at his blinding speed is like trying to halt a dodging missile!!
Fastbak: Out of my way!
Fastbak whizzes on!! He know that the most sinister space-trap of all is the Magna-Target which holds its prey and pulls it toward Apokolips — where it can be shot down and destroyed!!
Fastbak: Just as I thought! The victim on that Magna-Target is young Esak!
The Black Racer: He was ever curious! As curious as Metron!
Fastbak: [Thinking] The Black Racer! I thought I’d lost him!
The Black Racer: The Black Racer catches up with everyone, Fastbak!
Fastbak: No! No!
The Black Racer: One of us must claim him! Fastbak!
Fastbak: I’ll do it! I must do it!
Esak: Help me, Fastbak!
At the last moment, Fastbak executes an unheard of burst of speed! Then –
Fastbak: The weapons of Apokolips have spoken! Their target is destroyed! But not its living prey, Esak!!
Esak: That was fantastic, Fastbak! You outdid yourself!
The Black Racer is nowhere to be seen! But he’ll return again!! He’s neither lost nor won! — But merely thwarted for a time!!
This entry is a slight departure in that rather than simply replicate Jack Kirby’s captions and dialogue on a given subject, I’d like to editorialize a bit and simply expound on what an innovative and daring aspect the Glorious Godfrey affair was to mainstream culture and perhaps why it’s concepts like this which sets the Fourth World apart from super-hero comics of that era and today. You might think this better included in the “Cooke Look” issue review, but I insist this is a bona fide Kirby concept and quite worthy of its own entry. So there.
For my 12-year-old mind, reading “Life vs. Anti-Life” was a combustive experience, igniting synapses throughout a tender brain and motivating me to start thinking about mainstream comics as containing concepts deeper, more resonate, vital even than usually seen. As a youth I certainly was familiar with the underpinnings of this particularly dark aspect of the Fourth World — the persecution of innocents en masse to serve the whims of a death-worshipping tyrant — as an extrapolation of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich and its war against the Jews and other “undesirables.” That, in itself, was nothing new in comics, where Fuhrer-esque villains and Nazi-like regimes abound, the savagery of World War Two reduced to pulpish melodrama (though the harsh reality of the Holocaust was rarely even hinted at other than depictions of victms being rounded up into concentration camps). But here, with the character of slick, handsome and vainglorious Godfrey, with all his oozing charm, and promotion of an elixir that will solve all of our discontents — Anti-Life, the “Happiness Package” — and the decidedly unpretty implementation of his flowery rhetoric… here Jack was talking about much deeper stuff, things that spoke to his own heritage, his own blood and his own experience.
And today, as a 52-year-old reader, poring over the story again and again, I derive even more nuance, much of it unintentional I’m sure. I note today’s discontent in the American electorate, a good portion being swayed by promises, homilies and affirmations of being told they are “special” and “deserving” — those folks afraid of change and fearful of an unknown fate — and how this story speaks to that contingent. And then there’s the prescient use of a suicide bomber, a fanatical scourge the world now deals with on a daily basis though virtually unknown in the early 1970s…
When we first view the Justifiers descending upon city rooftops, an Aero-Van pilot explains, “This is the part of town we want! The people we’ve chosen as targets live here!” The vehicle unloads its occupants, one ordering the troopers, “Move in swiftly! Before the swine realize what’s happening!” The pilot adds, “Seize as any as you can!” Another says, “Don’t bother to discriminate! The women and children are as hated as the men!” Surging down the building stairwell, one yells, “Break in the doors!” and still another, “Waste no time on mercy! Drag them out! Treat them rough!” Dragging a hapless victim from his apartment — who pleads, “Help! Help! Stop this!” — one armed thug boasts, “Listen to their cries! I’ve been waiting to do this for years!” And his comrade adds, “Get going! We’ll show what we do with your kind!”
Who are the people “chosen as targets” and “your kind”? They all apparently live in a specific neighborhood in the city and, given the women and children comment, seem to share more an ethnic or racial rather than an ideological distinction. As the unfortunates are loaded into the Aero-Vans (with one pleading, “Help! Where are you taking us?” and a Justifier replying, “Shut up! You’re nothing but animals! Get in that van! Stop shouting and get IN!”), we see a bad guy with clipboard and list telling his comrade, “We’ve got all on this list!” What is the common connection of those being rounded up? As the Aero-Van flies off to Happyland, a Justifier says, “Anti-Life works! We’re justified in ridding the city of this human trash! The city should thank us!” Certainly this indicates that a specific minority is being persecuted.
Then there’s the book-burning incident, when a flamethrower-wielding Justifier bursts into a library to order, “Put down those decadent books! Get out of the library! The nonsense stored in this place shall never pollute another mind! You need know no more than the proper things! Who but myself is justified in burning down this library!” Now, becoming a Justifier gives one that “Cosmic Hunting License,” so maybe this ignoramus is just acting on a personal vendetta against literature, but since it’s the second in a series of Justifier acts in the city focused on by Jack, I’m sure it’s an act sanctioned by Apokolips (albeit perhaps to mollify reactionaries in the ranks, which I suspect would be most of ’em!).
Especially mind-blowing is to see Glorious Godfrey, sitting in his hairdresser’s chair, being delicately attended to as the preacher, holding a hand mirror, watches a video screen showing his Justifiers wrecking havoc on city business establishments. “My little legion is doing well, too! There’s one of them defacing a store with an ‘S’ for scapegoat!” Weirdly un-ironic choice of nomenclature, given a scapegoat is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as: “2. A person or group bearing blame for others,” and if your intent is to blame a group, you’d hardly want to advertise the persecuted are stand-ins for the real culprits and themselves not guilty. But though slightly clumsy (and everyone in earshot could possibly be Apokolips denizens who are “in” on the whole scheme, so maybe I’m wrong), we do get Jack’s point and the startling direct allusion to a notorious evening in the late 1930s.
If people had any doubt about Nazi Germany’s intentions regarding the “Jewish Question” before World War Two, when, as cited in The Holocaust Chronicle (Louis Weber, publisher; 2002 Publications International, Ltd.):
November 9-10, 1938: Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) occurs across Germany and Austria. Ninety-one Jews are killed; others are beaten. Thirty thousand male Jews are sent to concentration camps, though most will be released in a few weeks. 267 synagogues are desecrated and destroyed (almost all of the synagogues of Germany and Austria). SS Security Service chief Reinhard Heydrich instructs security agencies to burn the synagogues unless German lives or property are endangered. Jewish businesses are looted and destroyed.
Painted on Jewish businesses were the Star of David and the word “JUD,” German for Jew. One estimate had Nazis and sympathizers shattering 7,500 storefronts — hence “crystal night,” for the glass shards littering the pavement — and we, indeed see a Justifier, breaking a window with a brick. Some 2,000 synagogues were damaged, many destroyed, in the “spontaneous” persecution, and yet it was a relatively mild precursor for the horrors perpetrated against the Jews which was to come…
There’s absolutely no doubt that Jack, himself of Jewish heritage, was making a not-so oblique reference to Kristallnacht with his “‘S’ is for Scapegoat” incident, astonishing for a mainstream comic book and an inclusion that still floors me.
The Justifiers are the zealots commanded by Glorious Godfrey and his lieutenants, crusading on our planet to do the ultimate bidding of Darkseid. They are recruited on Earth through Godfrey’s big tent revival meetings, mesmerized by the preacher’s rhetoric and hypnotized by the “Demon’s Organ,” the musical instrument which has some power over human minds. We first encounter Godfrey’s soldiers as attendants during a sermon — some holding up placards, others singing in the chorus, one playing the sinister organ, and another displaying the Justifier masks, telling the captivated audience, “Wield death! Wield oain! You can be justified — if you wear one of these!” The masks and accompanying Justifier costume have a medieval vibe to the fashion — think Boris Karloff’s Mord in Tower of London, only with revved-up Kirby panache — and they’re quite effective in conveying their fanaticism and executioner ambiance.
The recruits appear to be generally bitter, disaffected people who see themselves as victims and that others as taking what said “victims” deserve. Big Bear calls them discontents. Godfrey appeals to those who feel threatened by change and “outsiders.” Audience members appeal to the preacher: “Tell it, Godfrey! Tell us how our pride is being attacked and dragged in the dust!” And another: “It’s the others, Godfrey! Those who don’t think right!” And a third: “This is our world! Our world! They have no right to meddle with it!”
Who “they” are is not immediately recognizable, but Godfrey promises the sun and the moon to his converts — the right to kill any perceived enemy! “Yes, friends! Though Life is ever filled with those who threaten us, it is Anti-Life which gives us the power to eliminte them! The holocaust is coming! The day of Apokolips on Earth! The Day of Darkseid, who brings this power for only us to use! Yes, it is his gift to us, friends! The Cosmic Hunting LIcense! The right to point the finger or the gun!” Godfrey holds forth a Justifier accoutrement. “When we wear this helmet, we feel unified! Glorified! Justified! Step up, friends! Take your helmet! Be superior! Be fierce! Be a justifier!”
One wonders if the helmet contains a device that keeps a Justifier on-mission as immediately after the sermon we are witness to the hell one of these zealots can unleash on any of us. In the middle of Uncle Willie and Donnie’s apartment stands a thuggish Justifier, his hands grabbing hold of the young cripple’s shirt.”Where are your friends, boy? Tell me, you little garbage! — Or I’ll kill you!” Holding the kid up in the air, the zealot demands, “Where are the Forever People, little swine? Tell me! Tell me!” Beautiful Dreamer creates the illusion all of her teammates are on Glorious Godfrey’s side. “Wha-? Who are you? Where did you get those Justifier helmets?” Suddenly the Super-Kids grab Donnie and bolt out of the apartment, with Big Bear explaining their panic: “If that Justifier was sent here to destroy us — there is only one way he can get us all in one stroke! He’s wired to explode! The Justifier is a human bomb!” Adds Serifan as they all run in the street, “Yes! He must die — in order to destroy all of us!” Beautiful Dream says, “There is no stopping a Justifier! He can justify his own death!” Mark Moonrider carries Donnie and says, “The Anti-Life principle is now part of him!”
Coming outside, through the apartment window, is the zealot. “You tricky, young dogs! You won’t get far! When I jerk this igniter you die! The bomb I carry was not made on Earth! What is conceived on Apokolips can eliminate those from New Genesis! Die!” With that, the Justifier pulls his ignitor chord and sacrifices his life for Glorious Godfrey’s nefarious plan… The kids survive and Mark comments, “The Justifier died willingly — but in vain!” Vykin recognizes the touch of one of Darkseid’s elite: “And the one who sent the Justifier to kill us — can only be — Glorious Godfrey!” The Forever People prepare to engage Godfrey with their sentient computer as navigator: “Wherever Glorious Godfrey and his Justifiers are — Mother Box will reach out and find them!” says Beautiful Dreamer.
As the team travels the Electron Road, Aero-Vans descend on the city rooftops. “This is the part of town we want! The people we’ve chosen as targets live here!” says the pilot. Landing on an apartment roof, the back door of the transport opens to reveal armed Justifiers. Barks a leader, “Move in swiftly! Before the swine realize what’s happening!” The pilot instructs, “Seize as many as you can!” Another Justifier adds, “Don’t bother to discriminate! The women and children are as hated as the men!” The Justifiers flood down the stairwell, smashing into apartments. “Break in the doors!” scream one. Another, “Waste no time on mercy! Drag them out! Treat them rough!” Dragging occupants out of their homes, one Justifier gloats, “Listen to their cries! I’ve been waiting to do this for years!” As a victim pleads, “Help! Help! Stop this!” his capture yells, “Get going! We’ll show what we do with your kind!”
The unfortunate souls are being herded into the Justifier Aero-Van. Screams a woman, “Help! Where are you taking us?” A Justifier responds, “Shut up! You’re nothing but animals! Get in that van! Stop shouting and get in!” A Justifier with a clipboard confers with a comrade, saying, “”We’ve got all on this list! Now, take off, before the police interfere!” The Aero-Van takes to the skies and we hear an interesting comment: “Anti-Life works! We’re jsutified in ridding the city of this human trash! The city should thank us!” Up to now we are lead to believe Justifiers are humans doing tasks for Darkseid, but this comment may indicate that at least some are originally from non-human Apokolips.
Then a Justifier, wielding a weapon, enters a library. “Put down those decadent books! Get out of this library! The nonsense stored in this place shall never pollute another mind!” Suddenly we realize his device is a flamethrower, which the zealot ignites and fires into the stacks. “You need know no more than the proper things! Who but myself is justified in burning down this library?” A bystander exclaims, “Call the police! This guy is a dangerous nut!”
Glorious Godfrey, receiving a trimming, is viewing the goings-on via video screen. “My little legion is doing well, too! There’s one of them defacing a store with an ‘S’ for scapegoat!” One of his underlings says, “Anti-Life is a heady, exhilarating experience, Godfrey! They’re in ecstasy.” Glorious Godfrey replies, “Yes, they no longer think! They revel in emotion! They will do anything I say — in order to feed their emotion! They are now no more than zombies in my control!” Godfrey then learns the suicide bomber has failed to eliminate The Forever People, who swap places with The Infinity Man and advance into Godfrey’s revival meeting. (The caption reads: “The grim, silent crowd, ever seeking the answers to its discontent, enters the giant tent of Glorious Godfrey! — And so does The Infinity Man!” But after the defeat of The Infinity Man and the Super-Kids, Justifiers load the unconscious new-agers onto an Aero-Van. “Open those doors!” says one. “Load these enemies of Apokolips aboard one of our departing Aero-Vans! No need to treat them gently!” Another explains, “We’re taking them where we took the others! To the Camp of the Damned!” The pilot says, “It is not the first of its kind seen on Earth! But Desaad is the master of this one! Even as Justifiers make a mockery of life — Desaad plays with death as if it were a fine art!” The Justifier carrying Mark Moonrider (one-handed!) says, “I wonder what sort of masterpieces he’ll make of these brats!”
Next comes the Justifiers tussle with the Super-Cycle. At the onset of “The Omega Effect,” a Justifier security patrol, flying courtesy of their “Flight-Shoes,” happens upon the parked Forever People transport. “It’s the vehicle left behind by those New Genesis brats we captured!” Orders another, “Destroy it! Where they are — they won’t need it anymore!!” The hapless Justifier assigned to attend to the Super-Cycle whines, “Huh! I get all the ridiculous chores!!” while the others fly down to Godfrey’s encampment. “Turn down the noise on your ‘Flight-Shoes!‘ Glorious Godfrey is still receiving recruits in his great tent!” The lone sentry wields a threatening device, telling us, “This Apokolips weapon should do a thorough wrecking job on that thing!!!” But the Super-Cycle start to make unusual noises. “Strange! The darn thing is makin’ sounds — like it was alive!! Wha-?! It’s moving!! — Changing!! — The handle-bars – The cabs — The wheels –!” And then the Super-Cycles fires upon the Justifier, paralyzing him! The security patrol returns to investigate. “That spooky vehicle — it’s turned into some kind of weapon!!” Another says, “Careful! It’s already scored!”
The caption reads: “Then — more shots — more stiffened, falling figures!!! All in full view of Glorious Godfrey down below!!!” Godfrey orders his Justifiers to “Destroy that abomination!!” and a crew of newbies steps forward. “We’ll volunteer for the job, Glorious Godfrey!! Give us the chance to serve you!!” Godfrey asks his first lieutenant, “These are new recruits!! Can they do it??” The officer is enthusiastic, “Zealots will do anything!! Just point them in the proper direction, Godfrey!” The leader turns and raises his arms above the fresh soldiers as if in benediction. “You Earthmen are the shining embodiment of ‘Anti-Life!’ You leap at the throat of death — because you’re transformed!!” Volunteers one, “Belief in Anti-Life makes all Justifiable! Belief in you, Glorious Godfrey, makes us — ‘Justifiers!’” A jubilant Godfrey sends them off. “Then, ‘To arms!!’ Get to your weapons and instructions!! — And finish that job!!!” The Justifiers are ecstatic, one yapping, “Yahooo! We’ll blast that thing into twisted junk!!!” Godfrey’s number one gushes, “They’re really eager to destroy! What’s the secret, Godfrey? The helmet? The uniform? The creed?”” Godfrey beams and answers, “Earthmen are given all those things at birth!! I merely justify their readiness to use them!! That’s why they love me!!!”
Next we see a zillion — or thereabouts — Justifiers swarming up the incline to lay final siege on Serifan and the Super-Cycle. Godfrey says, “My followers are ready! My Justifiers champ at the bit!! — In one moment they’ll surge over that hill! — Weapons blazing!! — Shouting with the joy that comes in the release of destruction!! Kill, men, kill!! Darkseid absolves you of all guilt!!” But the Super-Cycle riddles the Justifiers with its paralyzer gun, yet the fanatics keep up the onslaught despite their losses. “They’re still coming!” Serifan thinks, “Like all zealots, Justifiers never give up! The Super-Cycle is defending itself magnificently!! But some attackers are bound to break through!!” Choosing a capsule from his headwear, the cowboy muses, “It’s best that I choose the correct Cosmic Cartridge from my hat-band — and hold it in readiness for instant activation!!” A Justifier rushes the youngest Forever Person, screaming, “Die!! — You New Genesis whelp!!” and fires his weapon. The following caption reads: “Even as the Justifier’s weapon fires, the Cosmic Cartridge generates a shield of atoms — strong enough to repel the shot and cause it to rebound on the attacker!” Serifan is determined to hold out until death takes him. Godfrey is happy to comply and says to a minion, “I’ve wasted enough zealots!! Use the Induction Rifle!!” Its wielder says, “It’ll pressurize the ground above the brat — and bring the cliff down on him!” Is this the end of Serifan and the Super-Cycle? We’ll see, but we do know this is the finale of the Justifiers, who depart after this scene!
An audience filled with zombified-faces, pupil-less eyes, gaping mouths. The caption, a quote by Adolf Hitler — “That is the great thing about our movement — that these members are uniform not only in ideas, but, even, the facial expression is almost the same!” — Voices speak out:
Yessir! It’s the truth! Glorious Godfrey is speaking the truth!
He’s voicing what’s in our hearts!
Tell it, Godfrey! Tell us how our pride is being attacked and dragged in the dust!
It’s the others, Godfrey! Those who don’t think right!
This is our world! Our world! They have no right to meddle with it!
The one who seeks believers must be a believer himself! And such a striking and vigorous dynamo of belief is Glorious Godfrey! In a troubled, fearful world he faces his audience with his truth and fire! — Which is magnified by an awe-inspiring setting!
Yes, this is the arena of the vainglorious Godfrey, agent of Apokolips and auburn-haired Adonis who is on Earth to recruit an army of Earthlings in service to the great Darkseid’s cause. In the tradition of television evangelists, his sermons are at once honey-sweet and silky smooth and then sizzling with hellfire and brimstone, always asking his captivated audience to contribute. But this master of the Justifiers, this preacher of eternal death, isn’t asking for mere money from his flock; Glorious Godfrey wants his “friends” to give up their lives for the Master of the Holocaust!
A smile of benevolence spread across his handsome, almost beautiful face, Godfrey’s arms are stretched open in welcome to the congregation. The setting is a tent revival meeting, with hundreds in attendance, spotlights shining on the audience. A super-scientific organ is being played behind Godfrey and innumerable servants — a chorus, believers holding placards (reading LIFE HAS ITS PRATFALLS! ANTI-LIFE IS PROTECTION; LIFE WILL MAKE YOU DOUBT! ANTI-LIFE WILL MAKE YOU RIGHT!; YOU CAN JUSTIFY ANYTHING WITH ANTI-LIFE!; and JUDGE OTHERS! ENSLAVE OTHERS! KILL OTHERS! ANTI-LIFE WILL GIVE YOU THE RIGHT!) — and a beady-eyed fellow wielding Justifier helmets. Godfrey, decked out in a white, Romanesque tunic, begins his oration:
I hear you, right thinkers! You’re shouting Anti-Life — the positive belief! Listen, as the great organ catches your words and finds the wonderful music in them! And what am I, Glorious Godfrey, but another poor instrument that vibrates to your message? And I say, come to me! And I shall give you the power to wield death!
The minion holding Justifier helmets, says, “Wield death! Wield pain! You can be justified — if you wear one of these!” A giant image of Darkseid is transmitted on a video screen behind Godfrey as he continues:
Yes, friends! Though Life is ever filled with those who threaten us, it is Anti-Life which gives us the power to eliminate them! The holocaust is coming! The day of Apokolips on Earth! The Day of Darkseid, who brings this power for only us to use! Yes, it is his gift to us, friends! The Cosmic Hunting License! The right to point the finger or the gun! Who can stand against us, friends? Certainly not the others! They can be recognized for what they are! But not us, friends, Not us! When we wear this helmet, we feel unified! Glorified! Justified! Step up, friends! Take your helmet! Be superior! Be fierce! Be a Justifier! It’s Darkseid’s gift of Anti-Life — It’s the “Happiness Package!”
The scene cuts to Uncle Willie and young Donnie’s apartment, where a gargantuan Justifier has the invalid child in his grip. The opening caption reads:
Thus, Apokolips makes contact with Earth! Thus, the harbingers of holocaust link up with the human minds and hearts that wait to act in chaos! Like the ancient witchdoctors of old, Glorious Godfrey sounds the clarion call and begins the dance of death in modern times! The message of Anti-Life is powerful! — And its disciples must strike first at the Forever People
After that Justifier — in actuality, a suicide bomber — almost obliterates Donnie and the Super-Kids, Mark Moonrider contemplates the fanatic. “The Justifier died willingly — but in vain! But his death tells us many things! All from New Genesis, who have come to Earth — are being sought out — for death!” Vykin the Black observes, “And the one who sent the Justifier to kill us — can only be — Glorious Godfrey!” The team springs into action, bids Donnie farewell and jump aboard the Super-Cycle. Beautiful Dreamer notes, “Wherever Glorious Godfrey and his Justifiers are — Mother Box will reach out and find them!” The beloved Forever People device is pinging excitedly as Vykin adds, “It’s coming! Revelationists like Godfrey have strong emotion flows! Mother Box is picking his up!”
Then we see what Glorious Godfrey has wrought on our planet as Justifiers swarm over the city performing a litany of horrors: rounding up innocent citizens to serve as tormented playthings of the malevolent Desaad; entering libraries and while decrying the “decadent” books, using a flamethrower to destroy the contents; and targeting specific merchants by painting giant “S’s” on their storefronts.
This new Apokolips villain is next seen getting his splendid head of hair attended to as his lieutenants report and technicians work the video-screen controls, which depicts Justifiers smashing store windows and painting “S’s.” The caption states: “From his headquarters, Glorious Godfrey watches his Justifiers in action as he prepares for a new audience!” And then his hairdresser gushes to the preacher, “You look wonderful, Godfrey! You’ll sweep your new audience off its feet!” Gazing at his face in a hand mirror, Godfrey agrees, “My little legion is doing well, too! There’s one of them defacing a store with an ‘S’ for scapegoat!”
Lieutenant: Anti-Life is a heady, exhilarating experience, Godfrey! They’re in ecstasy!
Godfrey: Yes, they no longer think! They revel in violent emotion! They will do anything I say — in order to feed their emotion! They are now no more than zombies in my control!
Video-screen Technician: Godfrey! The screen image is gone –! It now registers a moving blip!
Godfrey: It can only be a phasing vehicle! We’ve got visitors not native to Earth! It seems that one of our Justifiers has failed in his mission to kill some of our opposition! I suppose they’re welcome to die here, if they wish! Our Justifiers will see to that — won’t they?
Second lieutenant: As long as I command them, the Justifiers will do their duty, Godfrey!
Placing an assuring hand on the second lieutenant’s shoulder, Godfrey says will a broad smile, “I knew I picked the right man for the job! You were a nobody before Anti-Life gave you power!” The underling replies, “No harm shall come to you, Godfrey! I am tireless in your service!”
The Super-Cycle phases in near the Godfrey encampment — “There it is,” says Serifan, “A giant tent — the traditional setting for Glorious Godfrey’s revelations!” Adds Big Bear, “And there below are the busloads of discontents arriving to hear those revelations!” Beautiful Dreamer and Mother Box sense the tent is heavily guarded, so the group combines to become The Infinity Man, who travels through the ground itself to confront Godfrey and his Justifiers. As our amalgamated hero lifts from the very stage itself, a Justifier blurts, “Wha–! A ghost — rising from the ground!” Godfrey, in the middle of another sermon, says “Hold, friends! One moment!”
Justifiers, flanking Godfrey (looking terrified with arms stretched high), fire into the form of The Infinity Man. Says one, “The intruder grows solid! Omega shots can get him now!” The evangelist screams, “Blast him! Blast him! Protect Glorious Godfrey!” After IM turns back the bullets on the perpetrators, Godfrey rants, “You fool! Do you think your spectacular gimmickry can stop this operation? The forces of Apokolips are many! — And mighty!”
The Infinity Man takes notice of the giant, high-tech organ and retorts to the villain, “Your secret is wind, Godfrey! An evil wind that rushes from your throat — and this demon’s organ! Which must be destroyed!” And, despite Godfrey’s plea — “No! No! You can’t!” — blast rays from The Infinity Man’s hand destroys the musical instrument. “Its sonic chords will no longer stimulate the brute instincts that drive men into your service!” Still, Godfrey in undaunted, telling his attacker, “You control the natural forces as one would instruments! But you still cannot stop me!” Then, turning as if to initiate a final confrontation — “We shall find out, Godfrey — right now!” — a cold hand drops on the space warrior’s shoulder. It is Darkseid, who tells the hero, “This is not Godfrey you face, but great, consummate power — so devastating — that it rocks even one such as yourself!” The Infinity Man is zapped into oblivion (or at least into its vicinity) and The Forever People return, only to be rendered unconscious for the pleasure of Desaad. As the new-agers are being loaded into an Aero-Van, Godfrey senses his influence rapidly eroding with the Master of the Holocaust. As Darkseid and Desaad discuss the purpose of the “Camp of the Damned” — extracting the Anti-Life Equation — Godfrey’s instinct for self-preservation come into play. “But surely you can’t mean — Surely not even the great Darkseid believes in the existence of the Anti-Life Equation! Why, if one could master such an equation — he could control the minds of all living things in the universe — with a mere word! I-I believe in Anti-Life, great Darkseid — but it can only be induced in others by the means of inventive selling!”
Darkseid nods to his resident preacher and proceeds to rebuke him. “I like you, Glorious Godfrey! You’re a shallow, precious child — the Revelationist — happy with the sweeping sound of words! But I am the Revelation! The Tiger-Force at the core of all things! When you cry out in your dreams — it is Darkseid that you see! The Anti-Life Equation exists! Locked in the mind of someone here on Earth! — And only I dare reach for it! I shall create chaos here! Shake up the planet! — Shake up that mind! I have many servitors to help me do that! Each with his own methods, eh, Desaad?’ Godfrey objects as would a petulant sibling, “You favor him always, great Darkseid! Think of what my Justifiers do in your cause!”
Desaad bows to leave but not without throwing a slight to the humiliated preacher. “I beg to depart from this petty situation, sire!” Turning to Godfrey, the tormentor smiles wickedly and says, “You’re a loud, petulant bumpkin, Godfrey! Like all Revelationists, you’ve got imagination, but not finesse! But I, Good Godfrey, have both! I leave now for my ‘camp,’ which Darkseid knows is terror, refined to perfection!”
We don’t see Glorious Godfrey until the tail-end of the “Happyland” saga. “The Omega Effect” opens as Justifiers, aloft on their nifty Flight Shoes buzz by the stationary Super-Cycle and one of them orders the Forever People mode of transportation destroyed. “Turn down the noise on your ‘Flight Shoes!’ Glorious Godfrey is still receiving recruits in his great tent!” The battle of the Super-Cycle begins and, standing regally before his tent, a Justifier on one knee with head down below the preacher’s patting hand, Godfrey is concerned with the altercation. “What’s going on up there!!!” A Justifier reports, “That infernal ‘New Genesis’ gadget parked on that hill — it just picked off our security patrol!!”
Godfrey: Well, we can’t have that sort of thing going on!! Destroy that abomination!!
Justifier: We’ll volunteer for the job, Glorious Godfrey!! Give us the chance to serve you!!
Godfrey: These are new recruits!! Can they do it??
Justifier: Zealots will do anything!! Just point them in the proper direction, Godfrey!
Godfrey: You Earthmen are the shining embodiment of “Anti-Life!” You leap at the throat of death — because you’re transformed!!
Justifier: Belief in Anti-Life makes all justifiable! Belief in you, Glorious Godfrey, makes us “Justifiers!”
Godfrey: Then, “To arms!!” Get your weapons and instructions!! — And finish that job!!!
Justifier: Yahooo!! We’ll blast that thing into twisted junk!!!
Lieutenant: They’re really eager to destroy! What’s the secret, Godfrey? The helmet? The uniform? The creed??
Godfrey: Earthmen are given all these things at birth!! I merely justify their readiness to use them!! That’s why they love me!!!
We last see Godfrey in the series at the conclusion of the Battle for the Super-Cycle. As a scene of the big Roman “pull-out” from ancient Britain shifts to a majestic-looking Godfrey, the caption reads:
Strength is also the creed of Glorious Godfrey, who preaches Darkseid’s Revelation of Conflict!! Godfrey is neither lost in time nor space!! He is where he must be!! — At the point of conflict!!
Godfrey: My followers are ready!! My Justifiers champ at the bit!! — In one moment they’ll surge over that hill! — Weapons blazing!! — Shouting with the joy that comes in the release of destruction!! Kill, men, kill!! Darkseid absolves you of all guilt!!”
Serifan and the Super-Cycle hold their own and Godfrey becomes impatient, ordering his men, “I’ve wasted enough zealots!! Use the Induction Rifle!!” The device seems to destroy the cycle and copy-cat cowboy. A Justifier revels, “It’s done with, Glorious Godfrey!! But just before the stone struck — I thought I saw — some strange phenomenon!” Godfrey says, “I saw it, too! A thin flash of light!! It was probably friction caused by colliding rock!! And, so, we shall leave that mound as it is!! A monument to Darkseid’s power!! Break tents!! It’s time we moved elsewhere!”
Godfrey is a captivating and particularly vile bad guy in the Fourth World and we certainly see quite a few humans of his type here on real Earth. Self-important, grandiose, vain to a fault, and believing he has so many virtues he does not, in fact, possess — humility, compassion, empathy — Glorious Godfrey has no true convictions other than in himself and his ability as a salesman, seeing the quest for the Anti-Life Equation — Darkseid’s search to control all life in the universe — as merely a marketing challenge… I’m just flabbergasted and suspect strongly there’s never been a comic book villain quite like him. All hail Godfrey!!!
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!
Oberon: 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!!
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…