Who but Jack Kirby would begin the masterwork of his life with an epilogue, and one that (metaphorically, at least) eliminates his prior legendary characters in a conflagration of death and inferno, closing the book on the myths he created for a certain House of Ideas. Look closely at the hammer-wielding warrior about halfway down and to the left on this page-one splash page of his New Gods #1 and you tell me that doesn’t resemble a God of Thunder. (You want more evidence? Check out the artifacts Lonar discovers, particularly the winged-helmet, in “The Young Gods of Supertown” back-up vignette in The Forever People #5, when he chances upon a city of the old gods.)
Yes, here we finally witness the End of It All: Ragnarok! Warring gods battling for pride and possession and resulting only in their mutual destruction! “An ancient era was passing in fiery holocaust!”
(Allow me a quick aside regarding Jack’s frequent use of the word “holocaust”: It needs to be understood that the term, as we know it today, pretty much singularly refers to Germany’s war against the Jews (and other folk despised by the Nazis). The U.S. Holocaust Museum, for instance, is devoted to the genocidal events on the 1930s and ’40s in Europe. Though frequently a term used to describe the attempted extermination, the connection between the word and the event wasn’t etched in stone until, of all things, the broadcast of a U.S. television mini-series, Holocaust, in 1978. (The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word as “Great or total destruction by fire.”) So please note, the former Jacob Kurtzberg, acutely aware of the Nazi atrocities against his people, the Shoah — as you will see in the allegories to follow — was not using the term lightly.)
Besides the ruins of an old city chanced upon by Lonar and The Source, all that survives the great destruction are the “living atoms of Balduur” and the evil “which was once a sorceress” (Karnilla, Balder’s lover in The Mighty Thor?), which respectively settle upon the two worlds of New Genesis and Apokolips, planets sprung from the split sphere of the dead celestials.
As in the real world, life follows death and the eternal cycle begins again, and so it is from the ashes of the Old Gods rise the New.