Holy smokes! What a helter-skelter ride this ish is, the second comic book in Jack’s Fourth World saga: A breakneck race down the Zoomway by the Whiz Wagon (with Jimmy and the Newsboy Legion onboard) and the Outsiders in search of the gargantuan Mountain of Judgment! The Big Jump, Flippa’s underwater demolition save, Supes’ last-second rescue of the boys, who were about to become roadkill under the wheels of The Hairies giant ride… phew! Where’s my Valium?
It’s appropriate, I think, that after Jack introduces SO much to us readers in his premiere Fourth World effort, a solid half of his second issue is devoted to a (albeit hair-raising and nonstop) road race… it eases the intellect and stimulates the id, don’tcha think?
(And we haven’t mentioned in these entries his two facing pages of photo collage work, an aspect of Jack’s art which endlessly fascinate me. Even if sometimes it’s for the fact I strain to ascertain exactly what’s in the images as comic-book printing was so ill-suited at the time to achieve his intent. With the able and appreciated assist from Jon Cooke’s Pal, John Morrow, we’ll be featuring some of the original collages (in full, glorious color!) in a bonus entry to come.)
There’s not much to talk about really, regarding the story overall, but we do feel like we’re going somewhere, on the Zoomway, towards the deeper mysteries of The Wild Area, and into the complexities of the unfolding storyline.
We see the natural, outside world of The Outsiders and then glimpse the dark interior environment of The Hairies’ high tech laboratory on wheels. And they both are appealing. Jack’s starting to get at something, a thing I’m just beginning to fathom… a statement about the hopes and dangers that encompass man’s endless quest for answers…? I dunno, but I sense we can forever dig into this material and be amazed at what we might find (or THINK we find!).
And, it goes without saying, we are introduced to the Great Villain Himself.
I guess the word is resonant.
Kirby’s Jimmy Olsen is a confident, courageous man of his own, the Newsboy Legion complement his leadership with camaraderie and bravery — with Flippa taking MVP for derring-do — and Jack’s rendition of Superman is emerging from behind the muted Colletta inks and Plastino face redraws. (I used to lament how a Kirby Superman, the one especially alluded to in Forever People #1 and in the “Supertown” story, never was really unleashed — not like Gil Kane was able to accomplish in those GREAT stories of the 1980s — but I realize now there’s enough of the King’s Man of Steel to admire and be satisfied.)
I’m not a big Superman fan, but I do think Kirby’s version stands with the Burnley “Powerstone” saga, Gil Kane’s Action Comics, and the Fleischer cartoons… and of course, the contemporaneous-of-the-Fourth-World and also-not-properly-concluded “Sandman” epic by O’Neil, Swanderson and Schwartz…
I’m ramblin’, but good ish!
Cover: (Attributed to Murray Boltinoff) B-792
Text Page: “The Whiz Wagons Are Coming!” X-116
On Sale Date: Oct. 20, 1970?