Category Archives: Events

Day 103: The Big Boom!

Call it what you will — Blow-Up! Doom-Time! Holocaust Time! The Big Boom! — but it sure looks like the end of our heroes, The Project and all of Metropolis when The Four-Armed Terror, looking to munch on raw atomic energy is wrecking havoc with the facility’s atomic reactor, and Kirby builds up the anxiety as deftly as Hitchcock throughout this nail-biting issue!

It’s Mokkari and Simyan, the Apokolips agents in charge of Darkseid’s Evil Factory who first envision the Big Boom as they track the progress of the Four-Armed Terror as it closes in on The Project’s atomic power plant. After the D.N.Alien cocoons Superman, Jimmy and the kids in a giant, impenetrable shell, “Hunger has replaced fury! There is abundant food nearby! One pair of arms seeks leverage on the wall of rock — while the other arms grasp the metal leading to the food! Primitive, savage strength tears free all obstructions!! The path ahead is now clear and round and smooth! The smell of food is overpowering — the creature increases its pace!” The mutant is traveling through a tube and there is a sign reading, “CAUTION: DANGER ZONE!” with a notice to check clothing for leakage.”

Somewhere, in their hidden location, the operators of the “Evil Factory” follow the creature’s progress!

Simyan: There’s the blip! Our fledgling is in the main conduit!

Mokkari: Praise Darkseid!

Simyan: Yes, directly in his path is a giant atomic pile that supplies power to the entire underground world of The “Project!”

Mokkari: He must feed on radiation! He’ll rip that pile apart and trigger a chain reaction! 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?

Simyan: It will be beautiful, Mokkari! And with it will go the rest! Yes — and even the city of Metropolis — which lies above, within range! We’ll have carried out, to the letter, the order of our great leader, Darklseid! 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!

Mokkari: Sprung from their own seed — and nutured by radioactive vapors!

Simyan: The others are stirring! They’re breaking free of their protective shells, Mokkari!

Mokkari: It is their time, Simyan! Their birth heralds the age of holocaust! Hail Homo Usurpus! Earth lies before you for the taking!

The final countdown is on! It isn’t waiting for Jimmy Olsen, his pal Superman, or for any of us! So stay where you are — on Ground Zero — so you won’t miss the following issue — and the Big Boom!

That closes JO #137, and the next issue opens with pandemonium at The Project. The opening caption reads: “The End of the World is at hand! But who would believe us!!?? You would! — If you knew what was going on, underground, in the world of The Project! Down there, it is fifteen minutes to The Big Boom!!” A commanding officers barks orders to his soldiers, “Snap to it, men! You know what our scanners show!” One says, “Yeah! Wow!” and the other, “It’s holocaust time at the atomic power plant!” Coming right at us on this opening splash page are the Guardian and the original Newsboy Legion wielding pistols.

Tommy, Sr.: Our rival project, the Evil Factory, has turned loose a destructive D.N.Alien in our area!

Flippa-Dippa’s Dad: Superman’s trying to head him off! But he’s run into trouble!

Big-Words, Sr.: Let’s go! Jimmy Olsen and our kids are with him!

Moments later, an armed convoy of battle-trained security troops races toward the alien danger unleashed by a hidden enemy!

We see a spectacular panorama of the giant cave that encompasses the main Project complex. Unidentified voices rise from various transports.

First voice: There’s no telling what’s happened! Our instruments show they’ve made contact with the alien!

Second voice: But the alien is heading for our atomic power plant! All traces of Superman and the boys have vanished!

Third voice: Go, men! The Evil Factory has jammed all communications with our atomic power plant! We can’t warn them! All we can do now is pour on the speed!

When the convoy reaches an entrance of the fabled “Zoomway” its vehicles switch to jet speed and roar towards where the action is!!

Big-Words, Sr.: Our destination lies in the Wild Area, outside of The Project! When we get there, Don’t think! Just act! Time is running out — but fast!

Gabby, Sr.: The old Newsboy Legion — the Guardian — and danger — you know, fellas, I’m getting like a lump in the heart!!

Scrapper, Sr.: Shaddap, Gabby! If we don’t pull this one off, that lump is gonna be a hole fifty miles wide!

Thirteen minutes to destruction! The D.N.Alien, driven by primitive fury and a hunger for radiation, gets closer to his objective — the atomic power plant! He moves without resistance, for those who would stop him are imprisoned in a trap of the alien’s weaving!

While Superman, Jimmy and their young cohorts are trapped inside the egg with “a wild atomic structure” and figure out how to escape, we on the outside know there’s only eleven minutes to Doomsday!

Closer! Closer! Ahead lies the great source of food on which the Four-Armed Terror can gorge himself! His arms tear out earth, rock and the buried equipment which leads to the atomic power plant! Suddenly, his path is blocked by a thick lead wall! It resists his brute strength! The alien digs! He hammers! But the wall stands! On the other side of the wall, startled workers and security guards converge on the sounds of attack!! But the D.N.Alien is already digging beneath the wall — digging toward his goal — it is nine minutes to holocaust!

The gang finally gets out of their predicament and immediately the Man of Steel takes to the air. Jimmy cries out, “Superman! Wait for us!” and Scrapper adds, “Yeah, We wanna get dat alien too!

Superman takes no time to reply! Speed is the answer now! It is seven minutes to fiery end! Like a supersonic dart, the Man of Steel follows the trail of torn rock and metal on the heels of his quarry!

Superman thinks, “Got to stop him! Got to!” The next caption reads, “His momentum almost hurls him agains a great lead wall — built to stop radiation leaks!” Superman says aloud, “The alien was here — I can see his marks! But where is he now?”

After an interlude with Terry Dean and Perry White, we see more wide-angle shots of the Project trooper convoy traveling into the Outsiders’ realm.

It is six minutes to disaster! And the fates are gathering the principal players in their death game swiftly together!

Voice: This is it! A camouflaged Zoomway exit!

Second Voice: We’re entering the Wild Area! Alert the convoy! We’re almost at our destination!

Third voice: There’s our kids’ Whiz Wagon! Wherever Superman is, we’ll find them on his trail!

Scrapper, Sr.: There’s a tunnel ahead! It looks like the alien is digging his way to the atomic plant!

Big-Words, Sr.: Then that’s where Superman and our boys are! Let’s go!

Then Mokkari and Simyan, observing the Project forces on video screen, send their army of Four-Armed Terrors into the Dimensional Threshold! Morgan Edge, thoughtfully tipped off by Inter-Gang to get the hell out of Dodge, flies away from Metropolis before the Big Boom!

Three minutes to violent eruption! Beneath the blast area, Superman frantically scurries in the wake of the Four-Armed Terror!

“I hear sounds of shooting up ahead!” thinks Superman. “He’s broken into the atomic power plant!” Guards scream, “Stop him! Stop him!” and fire at the creature, who uses his four upper appendages to throw them aside in his ceaseless quest for satiation. Thinks the Man of Steel, That thing mustn’t reach the reactor!” Jumping from behind, Superman puts the beast in a headlock. “This is as far as you go, mister!” says our hero. “AARRUK!” says our villain. “Maddened by his hunger for radiation, the D.N.Alien increases his power! He hurls Superman from him!!” Superman says, “Wha-?” and Four-Armed Terror says, “ARUK!” Then, “the creature lunges at the reactor — tearing at the metal…” A cringing scientist helpfully explains, “Good lord! He’s pulling out the damper rods!”

That’s done it!” thinks Superman. “The damper rods regulate the flow of radiation! And he’s using them as waepons! — Against me!” Four rods flung by four arms fly with a ZZZWWOOOSH towards the last son of Krypton. “The great boron steel rods shatter like matchsticks upon impact with Superman!” (KRAKANNKKLE) Our hero thinks, “Now what? Without the rods, the radiation flow will rise to the danger level — where the reactor reaches critical mass!

The reactor begins to run wild! And the alien feeds upon the escaping energy!

Four-Armed Terror: ARUK! ARUK!

Superman: Come down from there, you animal!

It is one minute to Blow-Up! And it can’t be stopped! As if to nail down this fact to Superman, the glistening Threshold appears — and from it pours an army of D.N.Aliens! And to meet their charge at this incredible moment, The Project security forces arrive to close in for battle!!

Soldier: Open fire! Give ’em all you’ve got!

Superman: [Thinking] They’re too late! It’s just about doom-time!

Big-Words, Sr.: Superman! We found the boys! They filled us in! — They — Wha–!? The reactor’s reaching critical mass! It’ll melt — flood the area with deadly radiation!

Gabby, Sr.: No! No!

Superman: It’s worse! Those aliens could trigger an atomic blast! Are the test tunnels still here?

Big-Words, Sr.: Yes! Beyond the reactor chamber! We’ve been planning to tap the Earth’s core for power!

Superman: Fine! Now! When I give the signal — halt the firing! Break ranks and let the D.N.Aliens come through!

It is thirty seconds SECONDS to eternity! The battle rages in full fury!

Superman: Hold them back! Just for one second more!

Bracing himself against the sizzling reactor, Superman pours his might into one lifting motion…

Superman: It’s got to be now!

Then he jars the reactor from its foundation!

Superman: This is it! Stop firing! Let the aliens through! Let them through!

Lifting the great reactor, Superman runs with his burden toward the test tunnels! The security lines suddenly open! And the aliens break through! Countdown has begun! 10 — 9 — 8 — 7 — 6 — 5 —

Superman: The aliens are following the trail of radiation — as I’d hoped! I’ve got to use sonic speed now!

4 — 3 — 2 —

Superman: The deep core tunnel! And down she goes!

Like maddened lemmings, the aliens ignore Superman and hurl themselves after the plummeting reactor!!

Superman: They’re blindly following their food supply!

Then thousands of feet below, an immense, fiery blast occurs — which sends seismograph needles waving hundreds of miles away!

Phew! That was a close one! And, okay, you’re right, the Big Boom is more a non-event, huh?

Day 98: S is for Scapegoat!

This entry is a slight departure in that rather than simply replicate Jack Kirby’s captions and dialogue on a given subject, I’d like to editorialize a bit and simply expound on what an innovative and daring aspect the Glorious Godfrey affair was to mainstream culture and perhaps why it’s concepts like this which sets the Fourth World apart from super-hero comics of that era and today. You might think this better included in the “Cooke Look” issue review, but I insist this is a bona fide Kirby concept and quite worthy of its own entry. So there.

For my 12-year-old mind, reading “Life vs. Anti-Life” was a combustive experience, igniting synapses throughout a tender brain and motivating me to start thinking about mainstream comics as containing concepts deeper, more resonate, vital even than usually seen. As a youth I certainly was familiar with the underpinnings of this particularly dark aspect of the Fourth World — the persecution of innocents en masse to serve the whims of a death-worshipping tyrant — as an extrapolation of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich and its war against the Jews and other “undesirables.” That, in itself, was nothing new in comics, where Fuhrer-esque villains and Nazi-like regimes abound, the savagery of World War Two reduced to pulpish melodrama (though the harsh reality of the Holocaust was rarely even hinted at other than depictions of victms being rounded up into concentration camps). But here, with the character of slick, handsome and vainglorious Godfrey, with all his oozing charm, and promotion of an elixir that will solve all of our discontents — Anti-Life, the “Happiness Package” — and the decidedly unpretty implementation of his flowery rhetoric… here Jack was talking about much deeper stuff, things that spoke to his own heritage, his own blood and his own experience.

And today, as a 52-year-old reader, poring over the story again and again, I derive even more nuance, much of it unintentional I’m sure. I note today’s discontent in the American electorate, a good portion being swayed by promises, homilies and affirmations of being told they are “special” and “deserving” — those folks afraid of change and fearful of an unknown fate — and how this story speaks to that contingent. And then there’s the prescient use of a suicide bomber, a fanatical scourge the world now deals with on a daily basis though virtually unknown in the early 1970s…

When we first view the Justifiers descending upon city rooftops, an Aero-Van pilot explains, “This is the part of town we want! The people we’ve chosen as targets live here!” The vehicle unloads its occupants, one ordering the troopers, “Move in swiftly! Before the swine realize what’s happening!” The pilot adds, “Seize as any as you can!” Another says, “Don’t bother to discriminate! The women and children are as hated as the men!” Surging down the building stairwell, one yells, “Break in the doors!” and still another, “Waste no time on mercy! Drag them out! Treat them rough!” Dragging a hapless victim from his apartment — who pleads, “Help! Help! Stop this!” — one armed thug boasts, “Listen to their cries! I’ve been waiting to do this for years!” And his comrade adds, “Get going! We’ll show what we do with your kind!”

Who are the people “chosen as targets” and “your kind”? They all apparently live in a specific neighborhood in the city and, given the women and children comment, seem to share more an ethnic or racial rather than an ideological distinction. As the unfortunates are loaded into the Aero-Vans (with one pleading, “Help! Where are you taking us?” and a Justifier replying, “Shut up! You’re nothing but animals! Get in that van! Stop shouting and get IN!”), we see a bad guy with clipboard and list telling his comrade, “We’ve got all on this list!” What is the common connection of those being rounded up? As the Aero-Van flies off to Happyland, a Justifier says, “Anti-Life works! We’re justified in ridding the city of this human trash! The city should thank us!” Certainly this indicates that a specific minority is being persecuted.

Then there’s the book-burning incident, when a flamethrower-wielding Justifier bursts into a library to order, “Put down those decadent books! Get out of the library! The nonsense stored in this place shall never pollute another mind! You need know no more than the proper things! Who but myself is justified in burning down this library!” Now, becoming a Justifier gives one that “Cosmic Hunting License,” so maybe this ignoramus is just acting on a personal vendetta against literature, but since it’s the second in a series of Justifier acts in the city focused on by Jack, I’m sure it’s an act sanctioned by Apokolips (albeit perhaps to mollify reactionaries in the ranks, which I suspect would be most of ’em!).

Especially mind-blowing is to see Glorious Godfrey, sitting in his hairdresser’s chair, being delicately attended to as the preacher, holding a hand mirror, watches a video screen showing his Justifiers wrecking havoc on city business establishments. “My little legion is doing well, too! There’s one of them defacing a store with an ‘S’ for scapegoat!” Weirdly un-ironic choice of nomenclature, given a scapegoat is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as: “2. A person or group bearing blame for others,” and if your intent is to blame a group, you’d hardly want to advertise the persecuted are stand-ins for the real culprits and themselves not guilty. But though slightly clumsy (and everyone in earshot could possibly be Apokolips denizens who are “in” on the whole scheme, so maybe I’m wrong), we do get Jack’s point and the startling direct allusion to a notorious evening in the late 1930s.

If people had any doubt about Nazi Germany’s intentions regarding the “Jewish Question” before World War Two, when, as cited in The Holocaust Chronicle (Louis Weber, publisher; 2002 Publications International, Ltd.):

November 9-10, 1938: Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) occurs across Germany and Austria. Ninety-one Jews are killed; others are beaten. Thirty thousand male Jews are sent to concentration camps, though most will be released in a few weeks. 267 synagogues are desecrated and destroyed (almost all of the synagogues of Germany and Austria). SS Security Service chief Reinhard Heydrich instructs security agencies to burn the synagogues unless German lives or property are endangered. Jewish businesses are looted and destroyed.

Painted on Jewish businesses were the Star of David and the word “JUD,” German for Jew. One estimate had Nazis and sympathizers shattering 7,500 storefronts — hence “crystal night,” for the glass shards littering the pavement — and we, indeed see a Justifier, breaking a window with a brick. Some 2,000 synagogues were damaged, many destroyed, in the “spontaneous” persecution, and yet it was a relatively mild precursor for the horrors perpetrated against the Jews which was to come…

There’s absolutely no doubt that Jack, himself of Jewish heritage, was making a not-so oblique reference to Kristallnacht with his “‘S’ is for Scapegoat” incident, astonishing for a mainstream comic book and an inclusion that still floors me.

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 73: The Big Trap!

Yeah, I know: Previously in this debut issue of Mister Miracle, the “Big Trap” referred to is Thaddeus Brown’s act to escape the huge metal sphere barreling down to destroy the former “Great Thaddeus” bound to a tree, but nemesis Steel Hand’s idea is even a bigger threat. After the gangster renders the “Robo-Arm Wrestler” into scrap metal, Scott Free in the guise of Mister Miracle jumps through the Inter-Gang crime boss’s window and accosts Stuka, grabbing the henchman’s pistol out of his holster. Steel Hand yelps, “You! I-I don’t believe it! Y-you’re dead — dead!” Scott quips, “The Age of Miracles isn’t over yet, Steel Hand! Look again!

Thinking Scott Free is the late, great Thaddeus Brown, Steel Hand is incredulous. “But it isn’t possible! I saw you put down for the long count! I was there!” Scott, pointing Stuka’s handgun at the kingpin, replies, “I’ll bet you were!” (And clever wagering-themed retorts aside, Steel Hand was at the tragic event when the original Mister Miracle is struck down by a sniper’s bullet by direct order of the gangster!) “Get wise, Mister Miracle! Forget about our bet!” says Steel Hand, at which Scott replies, “Not a chance! It isn’t the money I want to win now — If I can get out of a trap you set, I claim your written confession to the shooting!”

(In the middle of Scott’s last statement, in a great bit, our hero cavalierly tosses Stuka’s weapon over his shoulder, which (intentional or not on Jack’s part) is a nice commentary on the super-hero’s development from presentation to actual comic book. Y’see, if you look at Jack’s concept drawing at the bottom of our “Day 70: Mister Miracle!” entry, you’ll see that the creator envisioned the character as sporting a futuristic pistol and holster, and this chucking away the handgun in issue one works for me as a “Who needs a gun when I have my wits?” type statement… Well, I dig it anyway…!)

Steel Hand summons his goons, who are astonished to see a walking, talking Mister Miracle (“The guy’s a hoodoo!!” yammers one), and they render Scott unconscious with a whack to the head with a rifle butt. “Good work!” Steel Hand tells his boys. “I’ll take over now!” Apparently anticipating the boss’s next move, a minion asks, “Why don’t you use your steel hand on him? He’ll never live through that!” The head honcho has another idea. “No! It’s time he gets what he asked for — an escape-proof trap!” (In hindsight, if only the big guy had listened to the underling, eh?)

This was the trap I was preparing before I soured on the wager…,” explains Steel Hand, who then picks up a telephone and asks (from the Inter-Gang switchboard, I reckon!), “Hello! Get me the secret Inter-Gang missile site!” Apparently the launch pad can be reserved on short notice, as within minimal time, gang members are at the controls of an imposing rocket, one thug noting that Steel Hand has ordered an immediate launch. Mister Miracle is then bound to the missile’s cone by captors who say, “Hurry, men! The rocket nose has been specially constructed with anchors for the chains!” and “Tie him tight! Make sure he can’t move! He’s coming to — Clear the launch area! Countdown has started!

Scott gains consciousness as the countdown ensues, thinking, “So! This is the ‘Big Trap!’ — clever — There’s no return from space –!” Then, somehow, seconds before liftoff, Scott is able to manipulate his still-chained hands together — which were stretched out to his left and right, respectively, when we see him chained by the baddies — and generate a crackling electrical charge by touching his index fingers together… (see, Scott Free is a man of miracles!).

The rocket takes off skyward and suddenly explodes, and Steel Hand, for the second time, is confident his enemy is finally dead… The relieved crime boss opens his office door to — urk! — find Mister Miracle sitting in Steel Hand’s chair! In a rage, the villain completely obliterates his own digs as he tries to karate-chop the dodging super escape artist. “Now, Mister Miracle,” says the bad guy, “You’ve just about ‘had it!‘ I don’t know how you got free of that missile — But –” Scott interrupts and responds, “I can show you how I might have done it, Steel Hand — I might have hidden Hyper-Sound Intensifiers in my gloves to break the metal chains,” and with a ZZAAAK he touches his fingers together and replicates the effect, only this time zapping his nemesis’s metal appendage! “See what sound waves do to your steel hand!” gloats Scott.

And, as is his wont, Mister Miracle continues to describe how he “might have” accomplished his escape from The Big Trap: “Perhaps I used miniature retro-jets to blast free of the missile!” And, yes, Scott gives an example, using the propulsion to fly across the room and, after socking Steel Hand in the jaw, continues to give away trade secrets by whipping out a small, cube-like device that is instantaneously pumping out lengths of synthetic fabric: “And a Compact Cocoon Spinner — which turns out yards of plastic material at fantastic speeds — it may have made a chute for me — but it will wrap you up in a package — for the law!

Our long-winded hero then pushes a couple of buttons on his midrift which emit air bursts, bragging, “As for beating you to your office — like a lowly squid — I might have used air jets — to shoot myself across the city –” (Well, truth be told, if the ill-appreciated aquatic cephalopod lived in the atmosphere; otherwise it uses water jets, but I’m just being a nudge, huh?) With that, Steel Hand, completely wrapped in the sheets and propelled to the door where law enforcement and Oberon are arriving, Steel Hand is finished and our story just about complete.

(There’s an endearing quality to Scott coyly revealing how he “might have” escaped the perils in a good number of issues, typically at the end of each story in the first handful of adventures. Jack was developing a nice formula to the story round-ups, for Oberon and for the readers, all dying to learn how Scott defied death yet another time. Fun stuff!)

In closing, the pair watch the cops gather up an incapacitated Steel Hand. “You’ve got a great act, Scott!” Oberon says (oblivious to revealing the masked hero’s true identity in front of the police). “I’d be proud to assist you!”

The new Mister Miracle (who is apparently not facing charges of breaking and entering) replies, “Done, Oberon! From now on, we’re both part of Mister Miracle — Super Escape Artist!

Day 25: Legionnaires At Ease!

A marvelous moment, calm and joyfilled, as the two Newsboy Legions, the old and new, greet one another with affection and delight. Even Flippa-Dippa’s father (this, as is obvious, is a meeting of fathers and sons) is there, who was not a member of the original Suicide Slum gang, but apparently pals around with the guys.

We soon learn that the fathers have been at work at The Project, on their own secret enterprise, one that involves an old ally of the grown-up Legion. We’re also informed about the adult occupations of the men in this issue:

Gabby, Sr., is now a teacher; “Big Words,” Sr. (still no first name given) is appropriately a geneticist; Scrapper, Sr., is now, natch, a social worker; and Tommy, Sr., is currently a medical doctor. Flippa’s dad? Not so sure…

Linking the Golden Age kid gang to the present was a splendid touch in not only adding some continuity and relevance to the concept, but it also gave readers a sense of Jack’s own history as a comic book creator through the decades. Always a forward-looking guy, it’s remarkable the artist/writer resurrected characters of a bygone era, so it reveals an affection he held for the boys and their erstwhile protector (whom we will soon learn much more about, Kirby fans!).

Enjoy the friendly moment, fathers and sons, ‘cuz things are about to heat up!

Day 13: The Big Jump!

Careening down the Zoomway, Jimmy, the Newsboy Legion and the biker gang called “The Outsiders” are heading for the leviathan of the Wild Area, the ominous “Mountain of Judgment.” Watch out, there’s a big gap up ahead! This is where things get lethal, Kirbyheads!

(Awright, maybe this entry is a stretch but the way Kirby builds up to crescendos with all that kinetic drama, these things are bona fide events! “Can’t make it — Aaaaaa!” Gotta love it…)