Good and Evil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving, Kirby acolytes!

4 thoughts on “Good and Evil

  1. Richard Bensam

    I see what you mean, but… I don’t agree at all with this negative view of Metron, and I don’t think Kirby intended Metron and Himon to be opposites. For me, part of what makes that one scene with the two of them so effective is the surprise that, for all that we’ve been told Metron is cold and aloof and conceited, here’s someone he looks up to and admires… and that guy is the most compassionate and self-sacrificing one of all!

    I think it’s more a case of them representing two different personality types — or aspects of humanity — and the idea that when the two collaborate they can accomplish what neither can alone.

    Also, bear in mind that Metron — despite accepting everyone’s view of him — consistently inserts himself in conflicts to help the good guys and is never seen deliberately helping Darkseid’s crew. (Doing something in his own interest that had the incidental side effect of helping Darkseid, as with the X-Element, was another matter.) And what exactly did Himon do to “foster” Darkseid’s power? I have a couple of guesses… but what we’re shown is that he feels guilty and responsible enough that his whole existence is focused on making up for whatever it was. Both Himon and Metron share a sense of responsibility for things they now regret, and each of them is seen to be making amends in his own respective way.

    Hope this doesn’t make you regret your endorsement of me and Pat, JBC!

    (On a side note: having just cooked a holiday meal for my family, I’d like to add that I trace my decades-long interest in cooking not to the Food Network but to the first appearance of Big Barda, and the scene where Scott prepares dinner for her and her unforgettable arrival at the table. As a boy, that page taught me “Now that’s what a real man does to impress a woman like that…”)

    1. JonBCooke Post author

      I need to refine and complete my argument here, RAB, but am appreciative for your insight. I will likely be yanking this posting down in the near future as it was premature for me to put up a partial commentary… I mean, I really must mull over my conjectures sufficiently… but I do want your comments to get adequate exposure first.

      I trust your Thanksgiving Day dinner was Big Barda-worthy!

  2. Matthew Skinner-Thebo

    Mr. Cooke,

    This is a fantastic blog! I just found it today and I won’t have time to go back and read each entry for a great while, but I will certainly follow it each day moving forward. I find Kirby’s Fourth World to be the most satisfying mythos in all of comics — Mister Miracle and Big Barda are my favorites, but I enjoy it all. Keep up the excellent work!

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