Day 18: The Hairies!

Are The Hairies, the super-secret young scientific community on wheels, Jack’s take of the hopes he instilled on the iconoclastic and questioning-of-authority hippy culture of the day? Whoever they are, whatever they represent, the roving clan of twenty-something geniuses are a remarkable inclusion into the emerging Fourth World mythos… though I’m not totally convinced Jack himself knew what they were all about.

The longhairs drive around the Zoomway, avoiding enemies and scaring Wild Area residents in the monster-like “king-size mobile home,” the Mountain of Judgment, and they use their super-intellects and abilities to develop new devices and concoctions to advance the human race.

In his essay, “The Hairies — Super-Race — Or Man’s Second Chance,” in JO #135 (which I’m including, in its entirety, below), Jack says the Hairies are “literally what I call them — DNAliens!”

But isn’t Dubbilex — or his Apokoliptian counterpart, the Four-Armed Terror — aren’t they DNAliens? Hairies are “Step-Ups,” Jack’s designation for the next evolution of man, correct?

And, if as Jack’s essay indicates, they are compassionate, giving, connected people, who “fear nothing, hate nothing, worship nothing but their own compatibility with the rest of Creation,” why the heck are they working with a U.S. government complex that’s monkeying with the very essence of life itself, doubtless for the benefit of one nation over all? Isn’t that a huge contradiction?

I quibble. The Hairies represent hope dawning for the King, optimism under a persistent threat of nuclear Armageddon. That’s enough for me!

The Hairies — Super-Race —
Or Man’s Second Chance

by Jack Kirby

I don’t believe that I shall ever get to see a Hairie. Perhaps, that’s as it should be. Perhaps, all that’s owed to a man is hope dawning instead of dreams fulfilled. Somehow, I feel that the question with its ramifications is more exciting than the answer wrapped in organized, practical, well-defined reality.

In the “Now,” in the shadow of the atomic silo, when Apokolips and New Genesis race neck and neck for the fate of man, the Hairies are being born. Of course, at this stage they merely represent what stability and rationale still drive us to survive despite the widening seams and traumatic shocks that have rattled the underpinings of the Twentieth Century.

I choose this strange hope and fashion what reality I can give it from the code of life itself. I call it File 202 — “The Breaking of the Genetic Code”! In short, the Hairies are literally what I call them — “DNAliens!”

They are born differently, raised differently and mature with their own imaginative views and directions. They don’t accept the accepted. They are their own experience, and follow it where it leads them. Their minds are fresh and new, clean slates unmarked by rigid, hardening, conflicting indoctrinations. They cannot be pigeonholed, labeled in the context of all that has gone before.

Thus, they fear nothing, hate nothing, worship nothing but their own compatibility with the rest of Creation. That is their challenge — to find a way of living with what is around them without the mindless, merciless prerogative of inflicting destruction.

Of course, this makes the Hairies perfect targets for all of us! We’ve got to kill them! Wipe them out! They are not like us. We are pridictable, they are not. We recognize our enemies, they do not. We will kill to protect ourselves, while the Hairies find other effective ways.

The Hairies do not view the mysteries and wonders about them as we do. What we conquer, we impose our will upon and violate it for our own needs. Our behavior generates the problems that arise to confront us with equal menace.

The Hairies operate with foresight and viability with a pattern without rules or dogma. They wing it with a zest to live and learn and make existence an art form instead of a mad, grim march towards death. They exert no pressures on their fellows. They strive to give each other what they can — and that can be quite a bit, in view of the fact that each Hairie considers the other a most valuable and miraculous organism.

Are the Hairies nutty, naive, little idealists? Don’t they know that even we, who are spawned, are too carnivorous to stake our lives on a world filled with other men?

Well, that’s something we don’t know! We’ve lived with ideals, but when has man, as a species, disseminated idealism without destruction? When has man tried idealism as a viable, constructive pattern of living? When has “Get yours — and the devil take the hindmost” not been the universal state of things? On a world scale, man does not believe that idealism will work, and thus each division practices its own brand — struggling with it, exporting it and killing for it to protect its individual continuity.

The Hairies, by their own nature, do not accept this. They merely live in harmony with whatever and whoever they contact. Idealism is part of their make-up and they react to its shortcomings with intelligence and sobriety. They do not panic. They do not fear death. They expect the unexpected and are ready for it when it comes upon them.

To sum it all up, the Hairies are in trouble! The world of man mistrusts and fears those who live by patterns considered foolish and unworkable and clear of conflict. It isn’t natural! It has no strength, no obvious invincibility! The Hairies are weak, treacherous, unpredictable, little bleeding hearts! Someone had better take them in tow and stop them before they become a menace! After all, they’re not like us. Why take a chance onletting them grow larger, expand to the point of colliding with our power? Get them now! Kill the Hairies and kill our fear. It would be easy to do — now!

I felt great, writing that! It made me feel that all’s right with the world, that my place in it was secure. It made me feel like a man!!!

(I assume the above is ©1970 National Periodical Publications. Boldface emphasis on Jack’s original. This appears, of course, for research purposes only and is not intended as copyright infringement. — JBC)

9 thoughts on “Day 18: The Hairies!

  1. R Drew

    One of the things that continues to fascinate me about Kirby’s Fourth World is the undeveloped nature of it all. So many tantalizing glimpses of concepts and characters that suggest a much broader unseen tapestry that must forever remain a mystery. I believe Kirby worked very intuitively, and as a result lacked a definitive understanding of some of his own concepts. This leaves them open to the interpretation of the reader, resulting in a more personal and compelling reading experience. As I re-read these stories over the years, I seem to discover something new each time, something that was always there on the page, but not yet within the scope of my life experience to understand. This is why, as much as I love his Marvel work with Lee, it is Kirby’s solo work, especially The Fourth World Saga that continues to speak to me, no matter how old or jaded I become.

  2. JonBCooke Post author

    I agree completely. In response to your reply, R.D., I was just searching for a quote I recently read about periodically re-reading The Fourth World series through life and, of course I’m paraphrasing here (because I can’t find the darned quotation!), it basically said, “When you go back you see things you haven’t before and it’s not the stories that have changed, it’s you.” Truer words…

    1. Mike Hill

      “So stop reading this pedestrian, Earthbound foreword. Go dive into the extraordinary world of Orion, Lightray, Metron, Highfather, Darkseid, and all the rest, along with Jack’s most incredible creation — himself. He’s in there as much as any of them. Just read between the panels.

      “Then do yourself this favor. Come back to this book in a few months and read it again. Then read it again a few months later and over and over, as many times as you like. I’ll bet that with every visit, you find something that wasn’t there the time before. But remember it isn’t the book that’s changing. It’s you.”

      — Mark Evanier, Introduction, Jack Kirby’s New Gods (the grey washtone edition), 1998

  3. patrick ford


    First off I would urge you to keep posting the whole of Kirby’s text pieces. Rand really ought to post them in their own “Wild Area” at the Museum site.

    It isn’t my impression Kirby (or the Hairies) are endorsing the work being done at “The Project.”

    Kirby was certainly aware of the down side of opening Pandora’s Box. The Evil Factory is clear evidence of another (4) arms race.

    In Jimmy Olsen #135, Superman compares The Project to The Manhattan Project.

    In issue #136, Jimmy Olsen comments to Superman, “Do you realize what weird, and perhaps dangerous channels are being probed here?”

    Superman’s answer confirms Olsen’s concerns: “I’m thinking of our hidden enemy. What can he be doing with the stolen human cells.”

    My understanding is Superman (like Kirby, and the Hairies) sees all the potential pit falls. Superman simply isn’t going to side against the U.S. government, the Hairies being a product of The Project are born into it. I think there are many instances in life where people become involved in situations where they might be philosophically opposed to the work being done, but will become involved in hopes of influencing the direction of the project. This was certainly part of the attitude of some of the scientists involved in the Manhattan Project.

    The Hairies certainly stand in stark contrast to the rigid military forces inside The Project. Having been created, they have the options of walking away, opposing the project with force, or sticking around in an attempt to guide the project in a benevolent direction.

  4. JonBCooke Post author

    It is funny how benevolent we generally viewed the government, during WWII and the space missions, to name two periods, but with the Pentagon Papers and Watergate, that frayed around the edges to the point where, in major motion pictures, for instance, there’s almost always a vast government conspiracy… It’s cliche now, and sad, too. Now it is a part of political discourse…

    But, loathe be I to go there right now! No “Founding Fathers” stuff here; let’s get back to the Highfather!

  5. patrick ford


    One of my frequent errors slipped past your green visor. It’s JO #136 where Jimmy expresses his concerns to Superman.

    1. JonBCooke Post author

      Yeah, I suspected the ish number was a mistaken redundancy, Pat, but didn’t have time to check. Maybe I should hold off approving ’til I fact-check…? Naaahhhh, I’m having too much fun!

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