Category Archives: Apokolips

Day 95: Glorious Godfrey!

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!!!

Day 94: The X-Pit!

The ill-fated Overlord created the X-Pit, a trap to ensnare and punish Scott Free, at the behest of Granny Goodness. “[Overlord] needs no discipline like my pouting, jealous soldier boys! Overlord is also creative! He makes things for Granny Goodness! That’s why Granny asked him to build the X-Pit! 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!”

Granny threatens her underlings: retrieve Mister Miracle or else… “But we know where he is now, don’t we?” screams the old battle-ax. “Get him! Get Scott Free! Bring him to Granny! — Or take his place in the X-Pit!” The minions kidnap Oberon and what they think is Scott Free (it’s just a Follower) and deliver to Granny, and when the real Mister Miracle comes by to rescue his assistant, Granny springs the trap. “I’m here, Granny! But I can’t stay long! Just to pick up a friend!” Granny demurs, “You’ll stay! You’ll stay for eternity! Open the X-Pit, Overlord!” She then pushes a button and Scott and Oberon plunge into the X-Pit!

There is an ominous humming sound! — An eerie flash — as invisible forces rush from a widening gap in the floor!!

Granny: Ha ha ha ha ha –! I’ve got you, Mister Miracle!

Scott Free: My Aero-Discs have been neutralized! I’m falling!

It is a long fall, because the pit is deep! But the mad downward flight of its trapped victims is slowed as they near the bottom!

Scott Free: Don’t panic, Oberon! We won’t be crushed! The hidden force-poles are reversing from attraction to repelling!

At the bottom of the X-Pit is a transparent cage of unknown substance! Its doors close on its hapless prey as they drift within its confines!!!

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!

The pair then brainstorm and Scott ponders what he knows about Granny Goodness and concludes, “She’ll sacrifice anyone and anything — for gifts — rewards! On that premise — and with these studs — we must stake our lives!”

There appear to be 15 tiny buttons — five rows of three — in the transparent container and Scott pushes one.

Oberon: You pressed one of those buttons — and, now, we’re frying!

Scott Free:
Hang on, Oberon! I know this for what it is — a Torment-Circuit! Made by the creator of this pit for Granny’s pleasure! [Pushes another button] Steel yourself, Oberon! This is the Electro-Shock Cycle!

Oberon: I feel like I’ve swallowed a thousand hot needles!

Pressing yet another stud, Scott and Oberon are suddenly engulfed in muck.

Scott Free: I must continue the cycle! I must press another of the studs!

Oberon: Do it! No matter what happens next — It’ll be better than this! Whew! This is a welcome break! But I don’t suppose Granny rigged this to last too long!

Scott Free: No! Look about you, Oberon! Look at the quickly-rising mud!

Oberon: Scott! Do something! Before this mud covers us!

Scott Free: It will smother you first! This way, friend!

Using his right hand, Scott lifts Oberon above his head, keeping him out of the rising mud.

It won’t help, Scott! Try to press the next cycle!

Scott Free: Can’t — The mud is hardening! Tough to move —

At this point, like Granny, readers think Mister Miracle and his assistant are doomed… but, taa-dah! The Super Escape Artist reappears to explain to Granny how the two got out of the X-Pit! After Granny threatens to kill Scott with her bare hands, she demands, “How did you do this? How?

Scott Free:
Fair enough! Once I knew the Overlord created the X-Pit, I knew the make-up of its structure! Every atom of the X-Pit was linked to Overlord himself! Even the studs of the Torment-Circuit! I activated each terrible cycle —

We see Scott pushing a new stud, telling us, “The mud is hardening fastholding my arm — but my finger is free — touching the next stud –”

Scott Free: Then the mud was gone — as if it had never been there — because Overlord was transforming its atoms into another form of torment!

Oberon struggles to his feet and asks, “W-what next, Scott? What next?” Scott opens his shoulder access to Mother Box, replying, “Mother Box signals — radiation!” Then, jamming his shoulder into the studs, he declares, “And that makes her strong! Strong! Strike at the enemy, Mother Box!”

Scott Free: I jammed Mother Box into the Torment-Circuits — felt her power race with vengeance toward their insidious source! Somewhere, I could feel the power strike Overlord! Somewhere, I could hear his silent scream — somewhere, I felt him — die!

Granny: You killed Overlord! You had him killed by a damnable Mother Box!

Scott Free: I earned many things when I left your institution — like these Aero-Discs — on which Oberon and I rose from that now useless pit!

And so the demise of Overlord’s malevolent trap, the ex-X-Pit!

Day 92: Granny Goodness!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Granny: All my new boys have that status!! But with time and patience, Hoogin will help to raise you a few notches!! You’ll become a rat! Then a wolf! And who can tell? — You may get to be one of Granny’s fine young tigers! Won’t that be a glorious day!! All praise to Darkseid!! Boot him on his way, Hoogin!!!

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

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

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

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

Hoogin: I can’t wait — Granny!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kanto: I heard about your unfortunate encounter, Virman!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Granny: Urrrghh–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Granny: Until — sire??

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

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

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

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

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

Minions: Let us handle him, Granny!

Suddenly a gravitation pull is overwhelming our hero.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Granny: [to Virman] Shut up!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Minion: Stop him! He attacks without mercy!

Granny: Who dares spoil this moment of triumph!?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 91: Overlord!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 88: The Four-Armed Terror!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To which I can only heartily add, “AARUK!

Day 87: The Fear Generator!

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

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

Day 86: Super War!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 85: Desaad’s Fear Machine!

When the glorious introduction of Darkseid’s chief inquisitor, Desaad, is made to us in The Forever People #2, the malevolent lover of pain (other people’s pain, I mean!) is grasping a device that appears to be a super-high-tech stethoscope apparently connected to a larger machine. Later, we learn it’s called a “Fear-Siphon,” and what we would call the ear-tubes actually seem to be placed on the user’s neck, around the vicinity of the lymph nodes. In Desaad’s debut appearance his master Darkseid is reviewing the progress of Mantis and that villain’s siege of Metropolis, from an “unseen vantage point” where the the King of the Damned “watches — and broods — and coolly waits…”

For earlier, Darkseid has ordered the bug god to wreck havoc in the city to stir up fear — “Unleash the terrors of the night! Make man cringe! Make him tremble — make him fear!” — in the hopes Desaad and his device will detect the unknown earthling who possesses the secret of the Anti-Life Equation in his or her mind. “Mantis does well, indeed! But he fights for tawdry goals! While I would be the master of all that exists!” Turning to his strange friend, Darkseid asks, “What is the fear quotient, now, Desaad!” The hooded villain, sporting a particularly maniacal look, is gripping the aforementioned Fear-Siphon and replies, “Spiralling [sic] to a lovely high pitch, O Darkseid! I can feel them — like crashing surf — wonderful waves of raw fear!

Gazing the skyline of the city ablaze, Darkseid observes, “Mantis in inspiring great results! He’ll shake every mind in that city to its very root! Especially the mind we seek to contact — the one that must be made to yield its secret — The Anti-Life Equation!” But the rampage of Mantis fails to uncover the unknown human and Desaad sets about to create a mechanism to artificially induce fear in the masses of Earth.

The result of Darkseid’s top lieutenant’s tinkering appears quickly and is quite an impressive sight: The Fear Machine, cited on this issue’s cover as being “from the blueprint of the weird”! When Darkseid and his humiliated Brola appear in the secret location where Desaad has been toiling, the ruler of Apokolips inquires of its maker what progress to report. “The battle is far from over — there is still the Fear Machine! How does it stand, Desaad?” Wearing a full mask (with ominous non-transparent eye protection), Desaad replies, “It waits only for your judgment, master! I hasten to begin its initial test!”

Darkseid orders the evil inventor to go ahead and not worry for his master’s safety, telling him, “The Sonic-Stimuli cannot affect one such as myself!” Despite their protests, Desaad’s workers are selected as Guinea Pigs and they endure the first testing of the Fear Machine: “The pleas go unheeded, as invisible beams lash out and wring terror from their screaming targets!!” The trial is successful, reducing the wretches to simpering cowards, and plans go ahead to use the device on the populace of Metropolis!

(It’s interesting, the big reveal of Desaad when he removes his mask, showing us that all-too familiar face we now love to hate, in that I wonder if it’s in this issue Jack intended to first present us with the villain. Yeah, I know, the “X numbers,” those digits applied to each of Jack’s work used to invoice production by the home office, tell us The Forever People‘s “Super War” is assigned to X-115 and this, “O’ Deadly Darkseid” of The New Gods is X-117, but the sequence has a dramatic panache about it that leads me to ponder…)

Back in Dave Lincoln’s wrecked apartment, Orion, with the aid of his Mother Box, shows his Earth allies what is at stake in the emerging Super War. But as the audio-visual presentation (actually more like a virtual reality show!) is coming to a close, the sentient computer starts pinging wildly. “But wait!” Orion tells his newfound friends, “Mother Box detects an invisible beam sweeping this very city — the panic of fleeing hundreds!”

Yep, the citizens of Metropolis are in a crazed, irrational panic. Screams one, “I-I’ve got to run — hide!” and another, “Something’s happening! Something terrible! Help!” The fierce tiger of New Genesis immediately recognizes the culprit: “Of course, Darkseid’s second in command plays with his toys!” Noticing Harvey, Claudia, Dave and Victor are shivering in a corner, Orion asks, “What’s wrong, my friends? Why do you cower and cringe — as if to escape some nameless fear? The beam penetrates these walls! You have become its victims!”

Why doesn’t the Fear Machine afflict the stepson of Highfather? “I am trained to resist all degrees of fear! I shall carry the fight!” With that, Orion grabs his now readily available equipment (again, sports fans, if it wasn’t in the flat during the Brola brawl a few moments prior, how did it suddenly appear? Oh, I do quibble…) and goes on to destroy the “field model” that Desaad has “placed in a strategic point of the city.”

But even with the field model’s destruction, the raison d’etre of the Fear Machine — locating the human with the Anti-Life Equation — is unsuccessful. While Desaad tries to focus on the threat of Orion, Darkseid is disappointed with his underling’s work. Poring over a tape read-out, Darkseid expresses his unhappiness. “Forget Orion! It is your Fear Machine that yields nothing! Not the slightest trace of the thought waves we seek!”

Still, the Fear Machine is good at instilling fear. After the adventure Orion returns to Dave’s place and the earthlings are still feeling the after-effects of the invisible beams. “I’m still shaken!” Victor Lanza admits. “I’ve never known such fear!” But the four former kidnap victims, perhaps the only humans to have stepped foot on Apokolips, unite to join Orion’s fight against Darkseid. After each pledges allegiance to this new cause, Orion gratefully responds, “We shall work together, then! Somehow we shall find the means to rally wherever Darkseid shows his hand!”

Looking at his fists, Orion adds, “And I shall strike with these! Though I be of peaceful New Genesis, I shall strike with more ferocity than can be mustered in all Apokolips! And in the end, O Earth — which of the two shall win your domain?”


Day 84: The Tele-Ray!

Now, I’m not sure the precise details regarding how the gods of New Genesis and Apokolips call forth the Boom Tube, the mode of transportation, a temporary interdimensional bridge, linking the two worlds together and each to Earth. Orion simply says, “It stems from the waves of the mind!” Going between the planets in instantaneous fashion, there’s also the pre-Boom Tube “Matter Threshold” and “Dimension Threshold,” and Big Barda’s “Mega-Rod” (“It’s the latest from ordnance!! Better than the Boom Tube!“).

But it seems those X-Element fueled modes of instantaneous transport aren’t used to get from one place to another on our home planet. But Star Trek-like teleportation on Earth can be achieved via phasing circuits sewn into clothing (as so with the Female Furies in “Funky Flashman”) or phasing with The Forever People’s Super-Cycle or when the Super-Kids use Mother Box, as they did in the last issue of their title. There’s also the little-used method of the Tele-Ray, a mode only seen in this second issue of The New Gods, I believe.

After Darkseid and Brola break into Dave Lincoln’s apartment and their unsuccessful confrontation with Orion, the two Apokolips denizens suddenly vanish, Brola in mid-air over a Metropolis street! Surveying the avenue below through a huge gaping hole now aerating the Lincoln abode, Orion says, “Darkseid moves as no one on Earth does! His machines are legion and infinitely precise! It is evident that Brola never completed that fall — that Darkseid snatched him by Tele-Ray!”

And the second — and final — reference to the Tele-Ray in the series is when, with a ZZZTTT, Darkseid and his “fighting arm,” Brola, appear by Tele-Ray in “one of the secret bases established beneath the city.”

Day 83: Brola and His Hand of Stone!

The second issue of The New Gods opens with a spectacular description and image of the opposing worlds of Apokolips and Highfather’s home, then a double-truck view of Supertown taken from the surface of New Genesis, where futuristic children are at play on fantastic devices. Next Highfather is taking heed of The Source’s latest message — “WAR — FOLLOW ORION” and young Lightray pleads with the wise leader to join Orion on Earth in the great fight, but Highfather refuses the new god’s request. Then we travel to the third locale in the epic at hand, humble Earth.

On Earth, the home of mortal man, Orion the Hunter moves among strange allies and fearful enemies! Man is only dimly aware of the forces maneuvering, lunging for alignment on his world — for somewhere in man himself is the key to victory for the warring factions of… The New Gods!

Orion is the first to enter his ally Dave Lincoln’s apartment, the four recently freed Apokolips hostages behind him. Calmly, patiently sitting on a simple padded chair is the most malevolent power in the universe, O’ Deadly Darkseid! “Hold, friends!” orders the New Genesis warrior, “Do not enter this room! It is accursed!” Darkseid conveys his greetings, bidding his nemesis, “Welcome to Earth, Orion! It is known to me that you raided Apokolips before arriving here!”

What Orion does not see is the figure, back rigid against the wall, standing behind the door. Our hero, hands up and ready to throttle the King of the Damned, delays his attack on Darkseid. “You hesitate, Orion! You can sense why — but you don’t know — do you? But Darkseid is free of mysteries! He can act!

Or, more correctly, can get his surrogates to act, as the form behind the door lunges and zaps Orion with a wand-like weapon, telling the ruler of Apokolips, “Your fighting arm strikes, master!” Darkseid gloats, “Loyal Brola has been at the ready! His is the power of the Shock-Prod — and the Hand of Stone!” The next caption states, “The Shock-Prod hisses and stuns and lashes at Orion, who finds no escape from it!” But Orion is without his Astro-Force equipment — where did he leave it… in the street? — and must endure the violent charges without the aid of a weapon. “I’ll have to risk the shocks and turn on my adversary!”

Brola is stunned by Orion’s stupendous stamina. “Incredible! He lives through this! He advances — even as I unleash maximum power!” Orion grabs the attacker’s arm wielding the Shock-Prod. “Aaaaaaa! He’s done the impossible!” Brola cries. “In the cause of New Genesis,” Orion growls, “I can do no less, Brola!” But his enemy grabs an opportunity by slamming Highfather’s stepson with his free appendage. WHOK! “You seized the wrong arm, Orion! You forget my Hand of Stone!

Then we get a closeup of the villain’s mitt, looking like a hand melded to a brick, as Orion strains to keep it from bashing his face. “You’re done, Orion!” predicts Brola. “This lethal blow shall never fall! I-I must summon my last spark of strength!” says Orion, and throwing off his adversary, “–and end your vicious career!” Smashing through Dave Lincoln’s apartment wall, Darkseid’s agent is incredulous. “No living thing could have survived my attack! I have been fighting a mad, cosmic animal!” About to plummet to the street far below, Brola implores, “Darkseid! Master! I call on you to save one of your own!

Then — POOF! — the wielder of the Hand of Stone vanishes in the night sky and, as Harvey Lockman observes, “Old Granite Puss is gone too!”

Darkseid and his chagrined fighter have escaped via Tele-Ray and appear in “one of the secret bases established in the city.” An underling cries in joy at their arrival. “The master has met Orion and brings news of a victory!” The Master of the Holocaust is disgusted with his “fighting arm.” “Look at whipped Brola and think again! No, there was no victory!” Bowed, nearly on his knees, Brola implores, “There is a madness in Orion, master! He fights with the fury of one born of Apokolips!” Now Darkseid is furious, kicking Brola with contempt. “Enough, dog! Find your kennel and nurse your well-deserved wounds!” Brola simpers, crashing to the floor, “I go, master, I go!

And, verily, Orion’s hope to end Brola’s “vicious career” comes true, as this is the last we get of this relatively nondescript bad guy in the Fourth World opus. I mean, we only get to see the villain in an even dozen panels in the story and hardly once to we catch a decent view of the poor bastard. Well, maybe that’s enough and we’ll leave Darkseid’s onetime “fighting arm” in his dog house, licking his aging scars and whimpering into the water bowl.