Category Archives: New Genesis

Day 107: Sgt. Willie Walker!

Vietnam war hero and wounded paraplegic Willie Walker is chosen to become the alter ego of the messenger of death, The Black Racer. The former sergeant lives in a state of perpetual paralysis in the Metropolis ghetto apartment of his sister Verna and her husband Ray Johnson, bedridden beside a window that is adjacent to a tenement rooftop. When Sugar-Man executes Screamer in full view of Willie Walker, clad in hospital gown and neckbrace, laying still in his bed, the criminal turns his attention to the possible witness. “Oh-oh! A witness to the bang bang!” Willie has a reputation, at least in the neighborhood, as the assassin exclaims, “Hey! I know you! Sergeant Willie Walker! Big Vietnam hero! Can’t walk, talk — or even feed himself! Lotsa Medals — but one big bad wound, eh, Willie?” Sugar-Man aims his pistol at the veteran but is thwarted by The Black Racer who has been observing the thug.

Then, so too does The Black Racer turn his attention to the unfortunate invalid. “Walls are no barrier to The Black Racer! He enters the room of Sergeant Willie Walker!” The harbinger of doom says, “I hear a call! A voice invoking my name!” Standing over the bed, the armored celestial observes a wide-eyed Walker. “The voice is yours! I can hear it! This is why destiny has lead me here! I understand now! And even I must do destiny’s bidding! For one of your value, The Black Racer must bow!” The messenger of death offers his hand. “Come! Take my hand! You will not live — you will die! But you will have that what you have earnedthe freedom of a great power!” Miraculously Willie’s hand moves to reach out to The Black Racer! “Fear not! See? Your hand moves! Yea — even as it reaches out — the rest of your body stirs to follow!”

Miracle begets miracle as Sgt. Willie Walker speaks and rises in his bed! “Wha–? I can move! I-I can move! — A-and speak! I can speak — Who are you?” The Black Racer only replies as he takes the earthling’s hand, “In your despair — you summoned me!” But Willie is upset. “Why don’t you answer me? I’m scared! More scared than I ever was in combat! Good Lord! I’m standing! This can’t be happening! What am I saying! It’s happened! I’m whole! I’m strong! I’m no longer half-alive! Willie Walker no longer needs this aid!” He takes off the neck brace and suddenly notices the empty suit of armor laying on the floor at the foot of the bed. “Wha–? The armored stranger has collapsed! He lies motionless on the floor! There are so many questions I have to ask him!” Lifting up the helmet, the combat veteran turns it and out flows tiny grains. Willie exclaims, “Dust! There is nothing in this armor — but dust! He’s gone!

Then begins the transformation. A brilliant glow suddenly flows from the war hero. He understands now. “But the meaning of this, now, begins to dawn on me — I’m changing — I-I am more than Willie Walker!” He has become The Black Racer!

After completing his first mission on Earth, The Black Racer flies back to the apartment where his alter ego is bedridden, explaining, “Tonight’s mission ends! I return to the ghetto of Sergeant Willie Walker!” He floats through the atoms of the building, appearing in Willie’s room. “There are no barriers for him now! Willie Walker now has the freedom of the farthest dimensions! Willie Walker is now one of many messengers! All who make the one entity — The Black Racer! The one who transferred his power to Willie has returned to The Source! The Source is all! The Source gave me this knowledge — this power! It was The Source that chose Willie Walker for this mission! I must still do its bidding! I Return as Willie Walker! I touch my helmet and vanish as I am!”

Suddenly The Black Racer is transformed into the prostate form of the war veteran and, within a few seconds, Willie’s sister Verna and her husband Ray enter the room, fretting that they had left the invalid alone and of Sugar-Man’s rampage earlier in the evening. As one of them ponders, “Poor Willie! What must he be thinking?” a caption reads, “Willie Walker’s eyes grow wide! He is aware! He now knows his next quarry! Who is it? Him? — Her? — You?

The following issue, after The Black Racer has taken Seagrin to his Valhalla, he streaks across the Metropolis sky, glimpsed by a police officer. “Casey! Look! Up there! Did you see it?” Casey responds, “I don’t see anything but that fire! Cough! Cough!” The next captions read: “But he is there! Swift! Silent! Present at the finish of a man — or a god! Even stranger is his destination! When he makes his descent, it is in the humblest of places — the ghetto district! Ahead of him is a tenement of fading brick! Then a wall! Then — a window! Without hesitation, he enters, through material barriers that are not for him! For a moment, the room is lit by a blinding flash! Then — it’s gone! Sergeant Willie Walker has come home! Where but in the hands of a paraplegic, made helpless by war, would a wandering, god-like being have placed the most awesome power?” Just after the eternal changes back into his paralyzed alternative identity, Verna bursts into the room, which is filled with vapors. “Under the constant care of his sister and her husband, who would suspect that Sergeant Willie Walker is The Black Racer, messenger of death!?

During the climax of the regular series, we last see Willie Walker being cared for by his sister. “In a shabbier district of the city, the gathering clouds of disaster have yet to shroud the sky! Willie Walker lies still as ever! — Unable to move — for all time!” Verna administers medicine and the caption says, “Willie Walker is also forever silent! His eyes can move, but at this moment they are fixed on the distance –! — A distance far beyond his room –!” After his sister despairs that her brother “just doesn’t seem to hear or see us anymore,” husband Ray responds, “Willie’s lost in the stars, Verna! I think nothing here has any meaning for him now!” The caption to follow states ““And what does Willie think? And see? — And hear? What of the voice that calls to him — from — out there — !”

Here we witness the most explicit connection, I suspect, that Willie and his alter ego have with The Source, the closest to an omnipotent God (capital “G”) we get in this series when that disembodied voice is heard by the stricken Willie Walker. “It’s time, Willie! A messenger is needed! — A messenger, both swift and — final!” The next caption reads, “…A messenger of death — !! With powers beyond the standards known by men! Powers that can make an invalid rise and stand firm with new strength!” The voice orders him, “On your feet, Willie! You can do it! That’s it, Willie! The change is coming! Even as you stand, the change is taking place!” And then: “Where the commanding voice comes from is a mystery to Willie! He only knows that it changes him! And with that change he is given a grim mission! And a new name!” Willie Walker is no more. In his place stands: “Once again — I’m The Black Racer!

Did Willie Walker die when The Black Racer first took his hand? The celestial death-dealer seems explicit about that, given The Black Racer’s comment, “Come! Take my hand! You will not live — you will die! But you will have that what you have earned — the freedom of a great power!” Yet the figure that remains is recognized by his sister and brother-in-law as Willie Walker. It appears that many others have assumed the role of the Messenger of Death — “Willie Walker is now one of many messengers! All who make the one entity — The Black Racer! The one who transferred his power to Willie has returned to The Source!” — and begs the question, many others over time, one at a time… and/or simultaneously? Interesting to ponder…

Day 105: The Real Orion

One of the central tenets of the Fourth World saga is the fundamental dual nature of Orion, the depth of which we do not fully understand until the end of the regular series, though hints abound from the very first issue. To the point: Though raised as the charge of Highfather on New Genesis, Orion is born of Apokolips and is the son of his great nemesis Darkseid. His normal appearance is that of a beautiful, auburn-haired Adonis. We know, early on, that he is a particularly fierce warrior, more brutal than his New Genesis allies and we understand, too, that Metron is privy to Orion’s mysterious background. What we only learn as the story unfolds is the gentle visage we first encounter of Orion the Tiger is, in fact, not his real face.

This writer would be doing a great disservice to you folks if I were to short-shrift this absolutely essential entry and not dig deep into the text to real the complex and intriguing duality of Orion, so I need to beg your indulgence and allow me to catch up with subsequent entries. I will, in short order — as soon as possible, anyway — return to this subject and give it my fullest attention. My thanks and apologies…

Day 104: The Black Racer!

The Black Racer is the so-called Messenger of Death born of The Source and allied with neither New Genesis, Apokolips or Earth. His mission is merely to return his unfortunate and ill-fated quarry to The Source, commanded by a mysterious voice and suited in armor complete with a set of skis and ski-poles. When called, this god-like Dark Bringer of Death rides the spaceways, often at the speed of light to complete his grim missions. To be touch by The Black Racer is to die.

We first encounter this ominous being at the start of our current tale, as friendly Lightray is being pursued in space by the harbinger of doom. The young New God is desperate and very afraid. The caption reads: “Death is The Black Racer! Like the very source of all things, he is an ever-present fear that sweeps through the universe on swift, silent skis. The charred husks of great stars are left in his passing… and small lives vanish with their dreams at his touch! Yes, even the New Gods fear the Black Racer! For he brings –”

Lightray: Oblivion! I face oblivion! I am the quarry of a power that challenges all power!

The Black Racer: Hail, young Light-Ray! Destiny has decreed that our paths should cross! The flotsam of the universe cannot hide you! I am as swift as you are!

Lightray: But not as eager as I am to avoid your touch!

Orion’s best friend flies through a field of crystallized space rocks and suddenly stops behind one. He thinks, “I govern the power of light — and I must use it to ward off the racer! The jewel-like substance of these meteoroids may intensify this power of mine!” The Black Racer is catching up, telling the hapless New Genesis youth, “I am almost upon you, Lightray! Even one such as you must submit to me!” But our hero suddenly emits flashes of light energy from his hands, thinking, “I shall flash the brightest of beams through this prism-stone!” The next caption states, “So intensified are the light-beams passing through the massive jewel that they emerge with the power of a fiery holocaust!” Lightray explains, “Thus, as on Earth, the principle of the laser is invoked!”

As the consuming flame leaps at him, The Black Racer leaps even faster!

The Black Racer: Foolish one! Was it not told to you on New Genesis of The Black Racer’s superb agility? You cannot escape me!

Lightray: [Thinking] He is right! Though I fly at the utmost speed of light, he easily paces me! — Toys with me — but I shall not stop! I dare not stop!

The Black Racer: Your time has come, young one! I am no respecter of tender years! Prepare for my touch!

Lightray: No! No!

The scene shifts to Metropolis and a meeting of Orion and his Earth allies, with this caption: “This is the drama of desperation and death, enfolding the destinies of gods and men! Lightray, fighting madly to prolong his last, cosmic moments…” And, then, a little later…

Meanwhile, in the vast wilderness of stars, a giant, new sun flares into being!! Lightray, in a final burst of desperation, spends his remaining energies by exploding a filed of drifting matter to block his pursuer!!

Lightray: This must do it! This must halt him — and give me time to escape!

But from its flaming heart emerges death! The Black Racer is more than powerful! He is relentless… unshakable in his purpose! Lightray, mustering his failing strength, does not see the planetoid coming in his path!

Lightray: [Thinking] Can’t give up! Must escape!

He strikes its harsh surface with damaging effect!

The Black Rider: It is the end, Lightray! It could only end this way!

Then, just when we think Lightray will fade from being: “Suddenly, a rumble of sound like the crack of doom erupts about Lightray! A Boom Tube appears in mid-air and swallows The Black Racer! Then it quickly fades — revealing to an astonished Lightray the presence of his rescuer — Metron of New Genesis!

The intellectual of New Genesis appears on his Mobius Chair and tells his ally, “Fear no more, Lightray! The Racer is gone! I merely deflected his flight elsewhere! You could have done the same, Lightray! You must learn to think more coolly! However, a brush with The Black Racer is a humbling experience at best! In my Mobius Chair, I master Time! Space! Infinity! Luckily for you — I am everywhere when needed!” If Lightray is grateful, you wouldn’t know it, as the young god is more concerned about where the interdimensional bridge will reappear: “The Black Racer — Where is he now? Where had the Boom Tube taken him?

In a grandiose, full-page splash that follows the Messenger of Death bursts forth into the skies of Metropolis, exclaiming, “So, destiny has changed my course and takes me here — to Earth! The sound of deadly weapons reaches me! I sense that this area is ripe for my arrival! instinct guides me to my quarry!” Gunshots ring out! The Black Racer is gliding above the littered streets of the city’s black ghetto. “There, below — a place of black men! Those who fight to live — others who risk my presence!” We see Inter-Gang criminal Sugar-Man engaged in a rooftop gun battle with another bad guy. “I’ve got you, Screamer!” boasts Sugar-Man. “You’re running out of ammo!” The god-like being thinks, “It is true! One of them can no longer shoot! He must run!” Bullets ricochet off chimneys as the Inter-Gangster closes in for the kill. Sugar-Man taunts his prey, “You can’t get away, Screamer! It’s useless to run, baby! Your last scream won’t be to the law!” With that, Screamer falls, now eternally silent.

Sugar-Man looks about, muttering to himself, “Inter-Gang gets rid of cats they can’t trust! Especially when he can blab about the Big Caper!” Then, looking at the taller portion of the building, the criminal notes a window that has had full view of Screamer’s execution. Within, we see a still prostrate form in a neck brace lying on a bed. “Oh-oh!” exclaims Sugar-Man, “A witness to the bang bang! Hey! I know you! Sergeant Willie Walker! Big Vietnam hero! Can’t walk, talk — or even feed himself! Lotsa medals — but one big, bad wound, eh, Willie?” Targeting his intended victim at point blank range, the criminal is about to make his second elimination in as many minutes. “Well, Sugar-Man is gonna help you, Willie! Sugar-Man is gonna blot out all that misery inside you — It’ll just take — one squeeze –” Suddenly a hand appears from the ether, enveloping the pistol as Sugar-Man pulls the trigger. “The gun blasts, and backfires in Sugar-Man’s hand! Its barrel has been blocked and its torn metal flies in all directions!” The criminal’s face is recipient of the shards! He screams, “Aaaaa! My face! I’m hit! I’m hit! Gotta get outta here!”

Then, the death harbinger turns his attention to the paraplegic war hero. “Walls are no barrier to The Black Racer! He enters the room of Sergeant Willie Walker!”

The Black Racer: I hear a call! A voice invoking my name! The voice is yours! I can hear it! This is why destiny has led me here! I understand now! And even I must do destiny’s bidding! For one of your value, The Black Racer must bow! Come! Take my hand! You will not live — you will die! But you will have that what you have earnedthe freedom of a great power! Fear not! See? Your hand moves! Yea — even as it reaches out — the rest of your body stirs to follow!”

Suddenly the wounded war veteran miraculously rises from his bed! And he speaks! “Wha–? I can move! I-I can move! — A-and speak! I can speak — Who are you?”

The Black Racer: In your despair — you summoned me!

Sgt. Willie Walker: Why don’t you answer me? I’m scared! More scared than I ever was in combat! Good Lord! I’m standing! This can’t be happening! What am I saying! It’s happened! I’m whole! I’m strong! I’m no longer half-alive! Willie Walker no longer needs this aid!

A transformation is occurring before our eyes, Sgt. Willie Walker metamorphosing into this new — yet eternal — persona as the Earth warrior takes on a solemn mantle. “Wha–? The armored stranger has collapsed! He lies motionless on the floor! There are so many questions I have to ask him!” Picking up the knight-like helmet, Willie pours out granules, exclaiming, “Dust! There is nothing in this armor — but dust! He’s gone! But the meaning of this, now, begins to dawn on me — I’m changing — I-I am more than Willie Walker!” A blinding flash consumes the hospital johnny-clad war veteran and instantaneously he is adorned in the colorful armor of the messenger of death! “I am a power to make all tremble! I am The Black Racer!” He steps through the wall and onto the rooftop, where stand ready are his skis and ski poles. “My instincts have cosmic sharpness! My mission is ever clear! Destiny has opened all barriers to the most helpless of beings! Now I mount my skis — and ride the night! Beware, my quarry! You are marked for oblivion!

After Sugar-Man meets with his superior, Badger, and is assigned to carry the “wild and nasty” Apokolips-made bomb, Orion and Dave Lincoln smash into the Inter-Gang hideout. Sugar-Man then makes his escape with the explosive device, which he loads into the back of a box van. As he takes off in the truck, the caption reads, “But Sugar-Man is unaware that he’s been joined by another — one new at his mission — but old as time!”

The Black Racer: And so the chase begins! Faster, Sugar-Man! Go faster! We are linked in a moment of dying!

Sugar-Man: That reflection in my rear view mirror — I’m being followed! That clown’s not from Earth! But I’m not stopping to find out which side he’s on!

The Black Racer: You know me, Sugar-Man! You’ve sent many to The Black Racer!

Sugar-Man: I do know him! It was him — standing in the shadows on that roof — when my gun blew up in my face!

The Black Racer: Your luck has run out, Sugar-Man! Listen to the song of death!

Inside the truck, strange, electronic sounds rise to a strident pitch from the activated bomb!


Sugar-Man is in a panic behind the wheel. “The bomb!!” he screams, “I-It’s not supposed to make those sounds!” The Black Racer parallels the vehicle, both traveling at high speed, and he points a ski pole towards the truck’s cargo area. “Yes, it can, Sugar-Man — when its shell is penetrated by transmitted signals –” And then the pole pokes into the truck to make contact with the bomb inside! “They enter the truck — without resistance — as does my ski pole — Then, as signals reach the mechanized heart of the bomb — ” Amid the unnerving “RRRREEE” sound, “Suddenly, as the ski pole touches the bomb…” and Sugar-Man and the truck are space-bound, flying into the Metropolis sky! Despite Sugar-Man’s screams of “No! No! No!” The Black Racer bids his quarry adieu. “They trigger its anti-gravity circuits! Farewell, Sugar-Man!

Whether Sugar-Man is dead or not by the time Mother Box activates the bomb’s detonation is unknown, but suffice to say there is a massive explosion in the night sky over Superman’s adopted city and Sugar-Man is no more. As Dave Lincoln and Orion are roundng up the gangsters, Badger says, “Nailing our unit won’t stop Inter-Gang!” Dave retorts as he dials the phone to alert the cops, “We’ve made a good start, eh, O’Ryan? Now to call the police and drop this little package in their lap!” Standing grimly, Orion answers, “We’ll deliver them all, except the man who took the bomb! I’m afraid he’ll never be found!” And the following caption reads, “No one knows this better than The Black Racer, who has seen Sugar-Man die in space!”

The Black Racer flies back to Willie Walker’s domicile, telling us, “Tonight’s mission ends! I return to the ghetto of Sergeant Willie Walker! There are no barriers for him now! Willie Walker now has the freedom of the farthest dimensions! Willie Walker is now one of many messengers! All who make the one entity — The Black Racer! The one who transferred his power to Willie has returned to the Source! The Source is all! The Source gave me this knowledge — this power! It was the Source that chose Willie Walker for this mission! I must still do its bidding! I return as Willie Walker! I touch my helmet and vanish as I am!”

We then meet the sergeant’s caretakers, Willie’s sister Verna and her husband Ray, and after she frets for her invalid brother’s safety, her spouse ponders, “Poor Willie! What must he be thinking?” and the next caption, closing the issue, reads, “Willie Walker’s eyes grow wide! He is aware! He knows his next quarry! Who is it? Him? — Her? — You? Don’t run for the exits! You can’t escape The Black Racer!”

We next encounter the harbinger of eternity in the very next adventure, as Orion mourns the death of Seagrin, the gentle warrior new god, who has been killed by the Deep Six. A veritable viking’s funeral erupts on the dock, which bursts into flames, and as Orion and Dave Lincoln leave the tragic scene, “behind them, leaping from the heart of the flames, a dark, blood-chilling figure silently swoops into the night sky!” It is The Black Racer. A police officer points at the flying figure, exclaiming, “Casey! Look! Up there! Did you see it?” Casey responds, “I don’t see anything but that fire! Cough! Cough!

But he is there! Swift! Silent! Present at the finish of a man — or a god! Even stranger is his destination! When he makes his descent, it is in the humblest of places — the ghetto district! Ahead of him is a tenement of fading brick! Then a wall! Then — a window! Without hesitation, he enters, through material barriers that are not for him! For a moment, the room is lit by a blinding flash! Then — it’s gone! Sergeant Willie Walker has come home! Where but in the hands of a paraplegic, made helpless by war, would a wandering, god-like being have placed the most awesome power?

Verna: Willie! Willie! Are you all right? How did these fumes get in this room? I’ve taken all precaution against fire!

Under the constant care of his sister and her husband, who would suspect that Sergeant Willie Walker is The Black Racer, Messenger of Death!?

Verna: [Thinking] But how could this be?

In the final issue of The New Gods, The Black Racer appears as Orion and Kalibak are culminating their savage blood feud. We learn a little more about the character’s connection with The Source — or so we think! — when upon administering medication to her brother, Verna notices Willie Walker seems completely detached from her and reality. “Willie Walker is also forever silent! His eyes can move, but at this moment they are fixed on the distance –! — A distance far beyond his room –!”

Verna seeks the comfort of Ray’s embrace as she laments her sibling’s condition. “He just doesn’t seem to hear or see us anymore!” Ray holds her close, telling Verna, “Willie’s lost in the stars, Verna! I think nothing here has any meaning for him now!”

The caption reads, “And what does Willie think? And see? — And hear? What of the voice that calls to him — from — out there –!” And a voice comes from out of the air itself, telling the invalid, “It’s time, Willie! A messenger is needed! — A messenger, both swift and — final!

–A messenger of death –!! With powers beyond the standards known by men! Powers that can make an invalid rise and stand firm with new strength!

Voice: On your feet, Willie! You can do it! That’s it, Willie! The change is coming! Even as you stand, the change is taking place!

Where the commanding voice comes from is a mystery to Willie! He only knows that it changes him! And with that change he is given a grim mission! And a new name!

The Black Racer: Once again — I’m The Black Racer!

With the change come new and strange powers! The Black Racer walks through the wall of Willie’s building — into the night outside —

The Black Racer: My equipment lies waiting! My mission begins!! Death is on the wing this night! —Death for an angry god!

Thus, as the ferocious slugfest between half-brothers reaches a crescendo, “At that deadly moment, The Black Racer arrives!”

The Black Racer: The time is at hand!

Then, as Orion lifts Kalibak for a last crushing act of violence, he sees The Black Racer rushing toward him!

The Black Racer: Death approaches, Orion! Both of you have taken incredible punishment! But I’ve come for only one!

Orion: If it be me — then come and be swift!

There’s no stopping The Black Racer! Orion is struck by a fierce wind! And every fiber quakes and screams in the shadow of what overwhelms him!

Orion: Aaaaa!

The wind shrieks on and flings debris everywhere! The Black Racer has come and gone — and gone, too, is Kalibak!!! A heavy silence falls on the city in the wake of the sudden gust! Then, the normal sounds of the city return

Orion: [Thinking] The Black Racer spared me! It was Kalibak’s moment of dying! — not mine!

Dave Lincoln: Orion! What was all that? Where is Kalibak — and that guy on skis?

Ye ghads! What a climax and resolved on the very last page of the final issue of The New Gods, at that!

There is one other appearance for the character, during a “Young Gods of Supertown” vignette starring Fastbak entitled “Beat The Black Racer!!” Fastbak, as we previously learned, flies the skies (and apparently spaceways) courtesy of his phenomenally quick “Aero-Pads.” In this adventure, we see him in space about New Genesis as a lethal ski pole advances toward him.

The Black Racer: Greetings, Fastbak!! You face a difficult challenger this day!

Fastbak: The Dark Bringer of Death! [Thinking] Young Esak is missing –! And The Black Racer is a sorry clue to his situation!!

The Black Racer: Destiny has sent us on the same mission, Fastbak!! Life or extinction!! — It depends on which of us reaches our quarry — first!!

A race to the death! Fastbak had guessed as much from the start!

Fastbak: [Thinking] My new circuits check out! I hope they do their job well!

They do well — enabling Fastbak to elude the fatal rush of a meteor swarm! Apokolips has turned space into a great trap for New Genesis life!! It’s littered with dangers like the great Terror-Bats which pursue and kill!! Then there are the roving patrols of fierce Para-Demons!

Para-Demon: Close in on him! Don’t let him escape!!

But stopping Fastbak at his blinding speed is like trying to halt a dodging missile!!

Fastbak: Out of my way!

Fastbak whizzes on!! He know that the most sinister space-trap of all is the Magna-Target which holds its prey and pulls it toward Apokolips — where it can be shot down and destroyed!!

Fastbak: Just as I thought! The victim on that Magna-Target is young Esak!

The Black Racer: He was ever curious! As curious as Metron!

Fastbak: [Thinking] The Black Racer! I thought I’d lost him!

The Black Racer: The Black Racer catches up with everyone, Fastbak!

Fastbak: No! No!

The Black Racer: One of us must claim him! Fastbak!

Fastbak: I’ll do it! I must do it!

Esak: Help me, Fastbak!

At the last moment, Fastbak executes an unheard of burst of speed! Then —

Fastbak: The weapons of Apokolips have spoken! Their target is destroyed! But not its living prey, Esak!!

Esak: That was fantastic, Fastbak! You outdid yourself!

The Black Racer is nowhere to be seen! But he’ll return again!! He’s neither lost nor won! — But merely thwarted for a time!!

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 81: Serifan’s Cosmic Cartridges!

Okay, let’s see: Beautiful Dreamer has the power to create illusions, Big Bear can concentrate his high-density atoms to the point of being invulnerable, Vykin has Magna-Power, and Mark Moonrider boasts the “Megaton Touch.” Now, what exactly does Serifan have up his sleeve…? Oh right, the copy-cat cowboy’s secret weapon is actually in his hat… Serifan’s hat-band, that is, which has loops to hold his myriad “Cosmic Cartridges,” each one having a specific — and often fantastic — power!

We first learn about the Cosmic Cartridges while The Forever People are setting up house at Uncle Willie and Donnie’s place, #309, as Serifan is apparently shirking work as the others haul about furniture. The youngest Forever Person is fiddling with a teevee set. Mark Moonrider says, “Why, that broken, old television set — it’s a pure representation of early, post Atomic, middle class home visuals!” Adds Serifan, staring at the idiot box, “And it shows Westerns! They’re just too much!” But Donnie is puzzled. “But how can you receive a picture on that set, Serafin? [sic] It’s a mess inside!”

“Oh, I know that!” replies the blond Super-Kid. “The service parts are beyond repair! I’m using one of these things on my hat!!” (Apparently the repair job turns a black-&-white set into a color one, because, kids, no person of lesser means could afford a color teevee back in the day… I know!) Donnie observes, “They look like shiny, silver bullets! Where did you get them?” Taking what looks like a bullet from the loops in his hat band, Serifan replies, “Our point of origin — Supertown — a part of New Genesis — These are sensitizers, probes, — receivers and such — We call them Cosmic Cartridges! They’re sensitive to the universe — to its largest and smallest limits — Here — hold one!” (First one’s always free, kid… heh-heh…)

Donnie admits, “I’d rather hear more about Supertown and New Genesis! — But I’ll try this –!!” Taking a capsule in his hand, the object glows. “I-it feels warm — like it was alive! — Like it was me! — And I-I’m everywhere at once –” Suddenly the boy is having a mind-blowing experience, perceiving the infinite expanse of the universe. “I-I see — everything — and everything moves — and makes a kind of beautiful noise –” Serifan offers, “Harmony is the word, Donnie! — You’re listening to — All there is!

Now, that’s just about as close as mainstream comics ever got to depicting an LSD trip in 1971! (And a tripping pre-teen, no less!) Talk about far-out! So we got a cartridge that will make us one with all existence; how about the other Cosmic Cartridges? Let’s take a sprint through the books and see the different varieties (and note, of course, I’ve made up the names of said items):

    Stun Power Cartridge (which Serifan vainly attempts to use against Desaad’s guards in Happyland)

    Integration Substitution Cartridge (used to start the damaged Justifier Aero-Van during Serifan’s escape from Happyland — “One of my Cosmic Cartridges can do the job!!! It will attune itself to the principle that powers this vehicle! It will integrate with the damaged mechanism and substitute for its function!!”)

    Pattern Signal Cartridge (utilized to have Super-Cycle, which is in self-defense mode, recognize Serifan as a “friendly” — “I’ll have to count on my Cosmic Cartridges to spell out my individual pattern –!! Its signals will register on the cycle’s computer!!”)

    Atom-Shield Cartridge (serves to repel zealots during attack — “Even as the Justifier’s weapon fires, the Cosmic Cartridge generates a shield of atoms — strong enough to repel the shot and cause it to rebound on the attacker!”)

    Mod Couturier Cartridge (creates a hip new ensemble for Beautiful Dreamer, leather fringe and all, by “atomically” re-shifting her original pagan dress get-up!)

    Life-Force Cartridge (reanimates life of the “Monster in the Morgue,” after Doc Gideon steals it and tapes the cartridge to his dead creation’s forehead, makes Miss Trixie’s dolls dance and given to Deadman, the super-poltergeist, for “it will be the heart and motion of your new form!” — “Of course, the cartridges are mostly functional! But this little-used blue has a strange link with the infinite! It transmits something I can only term as a ‘life-force!’ See how it animates those dolls! I’ve trapped this force! But I haven’t satisfactorily traced its origin!”)

    Solid State Energy Cartridge (able to cap a leaking gas-line — “This night is a busy one for my Cosmic Cartridges!”)

    Atom-Compactor Cartridge (makes Deadman, a ghost, fully visible — “This cartridge will compact the few atoms that still cling to you! For a fleeting moment — you will feel reality! We shall see you as you are!

    Glass Cutter Cartridge (able to cut through inches-thick steel-hard glass)

    Heat Induction Cartridge (thaws out a frozen Deadman)

    Heavy Gravity Cartridge (engaged to incapacitate Devilance the Pursuer — “A surge of heavy gravity energy leaps from the cartridge and envelopes Devilance! His weight increases tenfold and he topples forward!”)

    Shock Repelli-Field Cartridge (protects Serifan from exploding Thermo-Bolt Machine (and could be the same as the aforementioned Atom-Shield Cartridge) — “Don’t be alarmed, Big Bear! I’m encased in a shock-repelli-field!! The Shield has dissolved into free atoms!! It’s returned to the object in my hand! A Cosmic Cartridge, you big humbug!”)

It’s telling, I think, that Jack depicts Serifan handling his Cosmic Cartridges as if they were pistols on the cover of FP #7, seemingly ready to fire on the Justifiers attacking him! The kid would have loved to have seen such a heroic old Western pose as Jack drew… And adding up the number of cartridges here, that makes 12, enough for two six-shooters! So, Serifan is a rootin’-tootin’ six-Cosmic Cartridge shootin’ real cowboy, hombre! Cool beans!

Day 69: Scott Free!

Scott Free, the son of Highfather and whose escape from the dominion of Darkseid was catalyst for the Super-War now raging, is arguably the focal point of the entire Fourth World saga. Born on the pastoral paradise of New Genesis and raised in the urban chamber of horrors called Apokolips, Scott has fled his adopted hellhole of a planet and assumed the identity of Mister Miracle, super escape artist, and calls Earth home. He is, it seems, a happy masochist, perpetually placing himself in exceedingly deadly situations, engaging with the most sadistic of villains and always — always — playing by the rules, whether earthly, celestial or deviant, no matter the odds stacked against him. He is indeed a man of miracles, quite possibly the ultimate savior of the two worlds of the new gods and, by saving his own skin innumerable times and defeating world-threatening foes and devices, a protector of Earth itself.

The story of Scott Free begins in the court of Darkseid, undisputed ruler of Apokolips. After years of conflict with neighboring New Genesis in the war called “The Great Clash,” the granite-face monarch needs a cease-fire to rebuild his world and set in motion a plan to not only rule Highfather’s planet, but to have dominion over all life in the universe. To that end, a bargain is struck between the two leaders — The Pact — an agreement that they would trade sons who were to live out their days in the other’s realm. If a son was to leave their new home, traveling to their native world or Earth, that would be a breach and war could likely renew. “Good!” exclaims Darkseid, looking at the rubble of his kingdom. “This exchange of heirs will seal the Pact!!” Referring to Highfather’s former name, the Master of the Holocaust continues, “Izaya wants peace! I — want — time!! — Time to re-define power!! — To make this ‘bombed-out’ waste a meaningful pursuit!!”

At that moment, Granny Goodness, one of Darkseid’s elite and head of the regime’s military academies, carries a bundle. “Hail, great Darkseid!” says Granny. “See what I hold!! See what was so gently nudged through the dimension threshold — from New Genesis!!” Wrapped in a blanket it is a young boy. “Izaya’s whelp, eh?” Darkseid observes. “This will hurt him!! He’s surrendered his prize lamb — for a tiger!!” For, in return, Highfather will become guardian to the feral, fierce son of Darkseid and Tigra, Orion, who would grow to be the greatest of all warriors on New Genesis.

(During his brief trip to Supertown, the satellite city of New Genesis, Superman unknowingly sits with Highfather and laments, “To be frank, I’m a new arrival to New Genesis! And by every rule I should belong here! — Yet, I-I’m finding it difficult to adjust.” The formerly-named Izaya the Inheritor looks over to the troubled Man of Steel and tells him, “There was a fierce young one with your problem! But we found a need for him here!! And it helped him mightily!!”)

Granny shows Darkseid the beautiful, sleeping child in her arms. “He’s been given some mild sedative, I think!!” Granny says. “There is a serene and fragile quality to his features!!”

Darkseid scoffs, “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 –”

Until — sire??” asks Granny.

Darkseid confides the plan to begin a new age, one that will suit his galactic ambition: “He may conveniently decide to escape from Apokolips, Granny! Of course, on that day — The Pact I agreed to — will be broken!!

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

We only learn of this, when young Scott Free is first handed over to Apokolips, over a year after the debut of Mister Miracle and, to boot, in another title, The New Gods. But this arrival of Izaya the Inheritor’s scion is the first of two key, pivotal moments which serve to illustrate the dual core conflicts of the entire Fourth World saga (the second being the other side of the same bargain, the transfer of Orion to New Genesis). For it is Scott Free’s destiny, by machination or fate, to physically — and psychologically — escape the torment of his upbringing and live a life of peace and contentment (albeit fearlessly facing death on a constant basis). For Orion, the son of the most malevolent power in the universe, his raison d’etre is to somehow to resolve the curse of his birthright by rejecting evil and serving good. He, too, has a date with destiny, in the streets of Armagetto, to confront his father…

In the story unfolding in the comic book series, we learn of Scott’s background somewhat obliquely, first when The Great Thaddeus chuckles at first hearing Scott’s full name. “It has a past, sir!” the young man explains. “I was raised in an orphanage, and many of the foundlings were given such names to sort of — well — make them feel as individuals!

(An aside on the name: The American Heritage Dictionary defines scot-free, adj., 1. Without having to pay; free from obligation. 2. Without incurring any penalty; unpunished. [from Middle English scot, tax. See scot and lot.])

Soon thereafter we hear from she who named him and catch another glimpse of his background. Ranting to an underling, the old battle-ax bellows (in the third person, befitting her conceit), “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’s use of the word “first” might be a hint that Jack had in mind the inclusion of Big Barda, another escapee of Happiness Home, from the very start of the series.)

Oberon, Scott’s diminutive assistant, incessantly quizzes the young man about his past, giving readers the opportunity to learn more: “You claim to come from an orphanage, Scott — but it must be an incredible place!” The super escape-artist replies, “I came here — through the Boom Tube! … It can be a way of escape! — And I took it! I had to survive as an individual — as myself!

Doctor Bedlam, another Apokolips villain (about whom Oberon coyly asks, “Another visitor from this mysterious home town of yours, Scott?”), begins to reveal the planetary vendetta against the runaway: “And now, to my task! — To subjugate and break the spirit of the young rebel who dared to reject the powers that rule his world — and the master I serve! The great Darkseid, himself!”

While preparing a Civil War cannon act in “Doctor Vundabar and His Murder Machine,” Scott and Oberon engage in an informative exchange:

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

Issues #4 through 8 of Mister Miracle had larger page counts than the rest of the run and they accommodated a particularly fine treat for avid readers who wanted to find out more about this enigmatic super-hero with a mysterious past. Short vignettes titled “Young Scott Free” gave us glimpses into the boy’s military training and how one god from New Genesis took a special interest in the future Mister Miracle.

The first four-pager shows us Scott being punished by Granny and his fellow cadets. She barks at the boy, “Report, Scott!” Standing rigid at full attention, he replies, “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 berates him as spineless and, beating him with her baton, she teaches him a lesson about whom Jack would later call “The Hunger Dogs”: “Those living specimens populate Apokolips to Breed for Darkseid — To work for Darkseid! To be killed for Darkseid!!” Still Scott speaks from his empathetic heart, “B-but they look like us! They’re weaponless!! They cry under torment!” Scott is further beaten and thrown into a “Contemplation Cell,” where “a visitor who conquers barriers” — Metron, the Seeker and Wielder of Cosmic Knowledge — introduces himself and begins to prompt Scott toward escaping his life of violence and despair…

The second installment, two pages, is of Scott joining his zombie-like fellow inmates in the dining hall and features this great opening blurb: “Mister Miracles are not made overnight!! Sometimes they are in places where they must be jolted and wrenched and brought to the crossroads of destiny!! For reasons of his own, Metron, the enigmatic knowledge-seeker, began this process — in the realm of Darkseid!! In the iron institution run by Granny Goodness!! — And in another small segment of the early life of — Young Scott Free!” In the bit, Metron urges Scott to not eat the drugged grub (“saturated with ‘brain-drain’ chemical!”) and to stay keen. “Your mind must be clear, boy!! It must be at its sharpest!! You see — it belongs to you!!” Metron (appearing only to Scott, with the others in the crowded mess completely oblivious) continues, pointing his finger at the youngster, “Scott Free owns your mind!! Who is Scott Free?? Would you die for idols before you discovered Scott Free???”

Scott’s burgeoning competence as an escape-artist is center of the last, four-page scenario, which has him training on his Aero-Discs, which comprise a pair of a metallic cylinders on which the user places his feet, giving the ability of flight (Scott would use these as Mister Miracle) and engaging in a mock battle with para-demons.

The introduction of Big Barda of the Special Powers Force (and head of the Female Fury battle unit) gave us a bit more background, right from the get-go of their fateful reunion. Here’s Scott and Barda’s first exchange in the series, when Barda responds to Scott’s remark about her full-dress battle uniform:

Barda: Yes, this is a far cry from our days as pupils of Granny Goodness!

Scott: You should have gone with me — when I escaped from her institution, Barda!

Barda: Yes — perhaps I should have — but I stayed! Stayed — to become… what I am!

A little while later, during a relaxing moment in Scott’s home:

Barda: How about your welcome for Big Barda?

Scott: Maximum is the word for you, Barda! I could never think of you without deep and genuine fondness!

Barda: I helped you in your first great escape!

Scott: Yep, Oberon! If not for Barda, I might have turned out to be a grim, tough product in the Granny Goodness tradition!

Barda: I risked severe punishment to help you bolt Granny’s institution!

From then on, the pair are inseparable, first as comrades, later in a more intimate capacity.

Early on, it’s obvious that Scott’s escape from Apokolips, though details have yet to be revealed to us, has somehow besmirched the honor of Darkseid and his elite. Granny Goodness and her pet Overlord, Doctor Bedlam and his “Paranoid Pill,” Virman Vundabar and his “Murder Machine” — all are sent to Earth in a pathological group-obsession to kill Scott Free for his audacious disobedience of the King of Evil, each setting typically complex, inescapable traps only to be foiled time and again by Mister Miracle’s tenacity, cleverness and seemingly bottomless bag of tricks. And time and again Scott Free takes on all comers. But the edges begin to fray…

By the end of the Vundabar affair, their relationship begins to grow more meaningful after Barda apologizes for having been daunted about Scott’s safety (Barda says, “Scott–!! Scott — forgive me!! I-I was afraid! — for us! I — a warrior–” And Scott replies, “You’re better than that, Barda!! You’re a woman!!” as he flies atop his Aero-Discs, carrying Barda in his arms), the couple becomes closer, more caring, and a deeper bond develops. And as their lives are an endless defense against Apokolips interlopers, Scott begins to contemplate another escape plan, this one far away from home base, apparently ground zero for Apokolips hierarchy and each one with the same beef against Scott.

Enter Funky Flashman, a con man looking for a pigeon, and the Female Furies, Barda’s former command now ordered to kill her and Scott. Funky tries to sell himself as an able business manager to Scott, who despite knowing the scoundrel is a “transparent second-rater,” see the promise of touring as a way to get away from the Apokoliptian hordes. Scott tells his assistant, “Touring means constantly on the move, Oberon!! That’s what’s important! We must become mobile!” And the onslaught of Stompa, Lashina, Mad Harriet and Bernadeth only add to the itch to hit the road.

Scott: Will the hunting dogs never stop coming!?! … Earth isn’t small! Perhaps we can lose ourselves in hamlets, cities — continents –!! Perhaps, in time — the forces of Apokolips will give up the hunt!!

Barda: It’s a delusion, Scott! Only I’ll buy it!

But the attack of the Female Furies and their defeat by Big Barda fatigue the woman warrior and Scott has a change of heart, not to flee but to confront. “This has got to stop! I won’t stand for others being harmed on my account!! It’s time I stopped running!! It’s time I stood my ground!!” And, at the finale of “Funky Flashman”:

Scott: Our battle is with the forces of Apokolips! — and with ourselves!! We had the courage to break free of them! — Do we dare to return — and face them down?!

Barda: If we dare — We die!! Well, I’m a soldier, Scott!! I’m trained to die!! But, you — you’re beautiful inside!! They never got to you!! And now they’ll do things to you —

Scott: Enough Barda! There is NO freedom in running!! I’m going BACK and win it THEIR way!! — in TRIAL BY COMBAT!!

This is a crucial moment in Mister Miracle’s development as a character and Scott Free’s ascension to maturity, as well as a delightful indication how the Fourth World was evolving beyond the usual static-world confines of American adventure comics. Scott is changing, facing his apprehensions and wanting to move on, and not succumbing to the greatest of Darkseid’s powers, fear itself. Whatever his fate on Apokolips, his decision to stop risking others’ safety and to stand his ground for his devotion to freedom and individuality proves a great victory for Scott Free — even if it is an incredible gamble. The introductory blurb in “The Apokolips Trap” nicely spells it out: “Would Scott Free be so foolhardy as to return to the nightmare world from which he escaped?? Yes, good friends! It still has roots that must be cut! Roots that reach to Earth and destroy all that Scott has learned to love — His friends! — His craft! — His new life!! — And besides — Death has the same face — wherever he strikes at Mister Miracle!

And, with that thunderous declaration by a newly invigorated hero, the constant companions prepare a return to the nightmare world of their childhood. First, in a poignant scene, Scott must say goodbye to his faithful Oberon, explaining the situation to the dwarf as would father tenderly explain the complexities of life to a son:

Scott: We must leave, Oberon!!

Oberon: 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??

Scott: No!! But strangely enough — like all organized societies, Apokolips exists by rules!! — Made by Darkseid — and kept by his subjects!! This time I must escape from Apokolips — within those rules!!

(We’ll get to our hero’s sense of honor and fair play in our next entry, part two of the life and times of Scott Free, Mister Miracle, but do take note of his preoccupation with rules.)

“The Apokolips Trap” and “The Battle of the Id,” the remarkable homecoming issues, show us just how much all-consuming fear the elite of Darkseid’s world have of this unassuming young man and to what lengths they go to in their attempts to destroy him. Only Kanto, Darkseid’s personal assassin, gives Scott proper respect. The others, Granny most of all, yearn to be first to tell Darkseid that Scott Free is dead.

After surviving a veritable gauntlet traveling through Apokolips, Scott and Barda arrive at Happiness Home, the notorious orphanage where they once lived. “Tell Granny that I’m back!!” orders Scott to one of the maven’s underlings. “Tell Granny I claim freedom — by Right of Combat!!

Now Scott is speaking the same language as his enemies! Dressed in her Victorian jammies, Granny revels in the return of the young man. “Granny’s been waiting for this day, Scott Free!!” though actually speaking this to herself. “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!!!

That trap, a psychological war, of sorts, with The Lump, is unsuccessful, though at one point Granny believes Scott has been killed. She tells the marauding Barda, who has arrived to save Mister Miracle, “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 understands the rules laid down by Granny — and died an honorable death!! As for you, traitor –” (A sliding scale of honor, Granny has!)

After the dust has settled, Scott, in a sweet moment between the increasingly intimate couple, tenderly soothes a tearfully distraught but now relieved Barda after “The Battle of the Id”… There’s a growing attachment here between these two.

Then comes the true origin tale of Young Scott Free and certainly one of the most important stories in the tapestry we call the Fourth World. Now, with “Himon,” we get the complete story of Young Scott Free’s escape from Apokolips, certainly one of the best single stories in American comics. It is everything we love about Kirby’s work: it’s kinetic, passionate, visceral and unabashedly afire with pure, primal rage… It is dark, hopeful, vicious and profoundly sweet. It is, my friend, not to be missed.

The introduction copy to “Himon” sets the stage: “Thus we are witness to a bizarre incident — the story of it is old! It reaches back to the days of the ‘Great Clash‘ between New Genesis and Apokolips! The battles were fought for total creeds, with total tools — and there were victims of it who survived with new and total arts! This is the story of Himon, the ultimate escape-artist who fostered Mister Miracle by teaching his trade to — Young Scott Free!

(An aside, if I may, on the Dickensian motifs that abound in Jack’s depiction of Apokolips, a world not dissimilar to the London slums of the early Industrial Age (if you were to combine the locale with a Fascist power structure promulgating a society completely dedicated to perpetual war!). As a matter of fact, Jack is rather explicit about the work of English novelist Charles Dickens having an influence on Darkseid’s planet! Early on, Oberon prods Scott for information about this sinister other world:

Oberon: [Speaking of Virman Vundubar] His name is even goofier than yours!! Did all you orphans get tagged that way?

Scott: I’m sure you’ve read Dickens’ ‘Oliver Twist!‘ The kids in that situation had such names — ‘Artful Dodger!‘ — Oliver himself!

Oberon: Sure! I get it! There is a similarity!! But it ends right there!! Your orphans are hardly the wide-eyed, helpless type!

Scott: True! The products of Apokolips — wield the power of Apokolips!!

And, in his descriptive captions, Jack references the British author: Prefacing the first “Young Scott Free” vignette with “In the tradition of Oliver Twist and David Copperfield” and, in another, “Given these very same circumstances, in another context, Oliver Twist may well have become — Young Scott Free!!” In the “coming next issue” blurb in Mister Miracle #9: “If you remember Fagin in Oliver Twist — you’ll never forget Himon!” Apparently it’s not unusual for the new gods to read Earth literature, as we learn in The Forever People adventure, “The Power,” both Vykin and Big Bear are familiar with George Orwell’s dystopian vision of Earth’s future, 1984.)

The Scott Free we first meet in “Himon” is rather brash and arrogant, instilled with a militarist’s sense of superiority. When he initially encounters the legendary Himon, thorn in the side of the Apokolips elite and a rebel leader (if you will), never mind all-around genius (who developed the two most significant technological advances in the history of the two worlds, Mother Box and the Boom Tube), Scott sneers, “I was a fool to seek you out! I don’t know what prompted me to come to your filthy den!” Himon replies, “To learn about this Mother Box — to discover Scott Free — to escape!!

A meeting of the two greatest minds of either world in this issue features this discussion of the future Mister Miracle’s destiny:

Metron: Scott Free will play no part in [the Orion/Darkseid showdown in Armagetto]! His destiny is to escape from Apokolips! Darkseid plans to kill him for that and begin a new war! You must help Scott escape unhurt!

Himon: You showed Scott the way to me — and I can teach him to escape Apokolips! But I can’t give him the resolve! Only Scott can renounce what he was here! But a destructive revelation is not a father! — And a slaughterhouse is not a home! — For one born on New Genesis!

Perhaps the most significant catalyst for Scott’s — and, later, Barda’s — breakout from the hellworld is the treatment young Female Fury Auralie receives at the hands of District Protector Wonderful Willik. Auralie is one of Himon’s young prodigies that Scott Free meets during his first meeting with Himon. As the great escape-artist and inventor introduces Scott to his troupe of “heroes,” the future Mister Miracle looks down his nose at a quiet young girl gazing into images of dancers within a transluscent cube. “Show me the value of this female, Himon! She does nothing but stare into that Mind-Video!” Himon gives the girl an affectionate look and retorts, “Auralie’s thoughts are beautiful! She creates beauty! Imagine — doing this on a world like Apokolips! Poor, brave Auralie! — Trying to survive with her inner beauty — in that grim house of horrors Granny calls an ‘orphanage!!’ You’re free to dance here, Auralie — Just like your images in the Mind-Video! You won’t be punished — we’d like to watch you –!”

Just as she is about to perform, Auralie is accosted by young Lieutenant Barda who is hunting with her fellow Furies for the AWOL cadet. (It is here Barda first meets Scott Free.) Later, when Scott and Barda are called before Wonderful Willik, he lectures Barda and says, “You Female Furies are quick to bare your claws! But you did have one among you — a fragile, little failure –” Barda demands, “Auralie! Where’s Auralie? S-she’s — been — missing –!” A smug smile cracking across his face, Willik opens a chamber door, revealing lifeless, thin young legs bound in a sinister, smoldering apparatus looking like mechanized footwear. “We found her!” says Willik. “Dancing like a pretty little doll! — For which we gave her a pair of high-voltage shock boots!” Auralie was tortured to death…

Then, ever closer to his resolve to escape the nightmare planet, Scott is comforted by his new mentor, revealing perhaps why the hierarchy of Apokolips is so singularly obsessed with him after his journey to Earth:

Himon: Yes, Scott! Darkseid fears you, too! Because, you, too, can dream of things beyond Darkseid! What is the dream released inside Scott Free?

Scott: I-I don’t know –! I — think — it’s serenity — embodied in the voice of a woman — I-I cannot see! Always she says — ‘You know, Izaya, — I’ve never heard you sing –‘ I cannot see the woman but I’m filled with the serenity she brings!

Himon: That dream is yours, Scott! Yours!!

Barda: To dream beyond Darkseid!! — On Apokolips, it seems unthinkable!!

Soon Scott Free makes a run for it. “Then, escape finally comes! Scott is stripped of his rank! His mechanisms taken! — All but his Aero-Discs! He bolts!” And young Lieutenant Barda helps him in the breakout.

Scott: Barda! What you’re doing is unheard of here! Why are you helping me?

Barda: Because I like to help fools! — Because I couldn’t save Auralie! I don’t know!

The only way to depict the climax of this poignant, astounding story is to simply transcribe the dialogue. It’s no better way to end an entry on the subject, too, for after jumping into the Boom Tube and traveling to Earth, Scott Free becomes something different, someone grander and more resonant — a man of miracles, escaping an inescapable world completely devoted to fear and the adoration of death. With this he is hope personified, proof as he will later say, that Darkseid’s world can fall:

Scott: I-I won’t be stopped! I-I — I’ll crawl to freedom — come — with — me —

Barda: Not — yet — Scott! I-I’m not ready — perhaps — someday — keep going!

And protected by their own mysterious powers against the forces that bind Scott, two allies await!

Scott: Himon! Metron! You’ve created a Boom-Tube! It’s denied to all but Darkseid’s hierarchy!

Himon: It’s open to you, Scott! An open door to — Earth!


Darkseid: The young fool goes on! He struggles to rise! If he leaves Darkseid, he’ll still find Death!

Himon: If he leaves Apokolips, he’ll find the universe!!!


Next entry: Life After Apokolips: The Life and Times of Mister Miracle, Super Escape-Artist!

Day 56: Metron!

The omnipresent, cold and calculating Metron is the Eve of the Eden called New Genesis, he who has bitten the forbidden fruit of knowledge and seeks answers, whatever the expense, regardless of consequence, to his all-encompassing curiosity. He, the master of time and space and infinity, rides the cosmos and timeways of existence on his Mobius Chair, a miraculous, wondrous vehicle that can materialize on Apokolips, in space, at the very edge of the universe, all in the wink of an eye at Metron’s slightest whim. “Luckily for you,” he tells Lightray, “I am everywhere when needed!”

His loyalty is not to Highfather but to the pursuit of knowledge, and Metron is willing to compromise the very survival of his home world, New Genesis, if Apokolips can help in finding the answers he desires. At worst, you could call him a traitor, a “supreme” meddler at best, but Metron sees himself in the loftiest of terms, justifying his cosmos-shaking intrigues by saying he is a seeker to questions about the ultimate power, The Source. Metron is delusional in believing himself a mere humble scientist.

We’re never quite sure of Metron’s motives as he influences events at key moments in the Fourth World saga. He appears, usually, to be an ally of Orion, Lightray and company; but when the backstory of the epic is revealed, we find the seeker maneuvering players and events that portend cataclysmic repercussions. Frankly said, Metron is a schemer who manipulates people and events to serve his desires, not so unlike his professed mortal enemy (and sometime ally), Darkseid.

Metron is the great inventor (if not the visionary) of both New Genesis and Apokolips, having first developed the “Matter Threshold,” which physically links the two worlds and was later refined as the Boom Tube. He is also incisively involved in seeing prophecy fulfilled, serving as a spirit who prods the son of Highfather at pivotal moments in the life of young Scott Free.

It is obvious that this decidedly non-physical character — his furrowed brow gets the most exercise in this saga (I mean, he sits on his skinny fanny for most of the duration!) — was an essential actor when Jack was planning the opus, given the fact Metron was one of the few characters featured in the artist/writer’s initial presentation to DC. And Mr. Kirby did use the Master of the Mobius Chair for a number of critical moments in the series:

Early in the days of the “Great Clash,” Metron tries to seize the X-Element from Darkseid’s grip and we learn of the Master of Time and Space has been less than loyal to his native world, as the stone-face villain says, “On my conditions do you obtain it, Metron!! You recall our ‘private’ meetings!?” And despite the fact Metron knows the armies of Apokolips will invade New Genesis “in the wink of an eye” if he follows Darkseid’s orders to create the “door to anywhere,” the Matter Threshold, all the seeker cares about is obtaining the “unobtainable” X-Element to build his Mobius Chair.

At this infamous occasion, Metron declares his individuality to Queen Heggra and her son Darkseid: “I have no link with the old gods — or new!! I am something — different! Something that was unforeseen!! — On New Genesis — or here!!”

And Darkseid knows what is in store for those who employ this cosmic double agent: “You’ll betray us all in time, Metron!”

Metron also takes a keen interest in seeing the son of Highfather, young Scott Free, run away from Apokolips, fulfilling Darkseid’s scheme to provide a catalyst to break the Pact and thus renew open conflict — only now a wider Super-War, this time involving Earth — with New Genesis. But while the Master of the Holocaust intends for Scott Free to be killed in the escape attempt, this Master of Elements and his oft-collaborator Himon, the Master of Theories, see that the Mister Miracle to-be flees via Boom Tube and arrive on our planet, safe and sound. (Or is Metron merely an observer… hmmmm…!)

(It’s important in noting, too, that Metron comes to young Scott Free at important intervals during the lad’s nightmarish servitude on Apokolips, appearing as a haunting apparition to prod the boy to have courage and eschew the brainwashing in Granny Goodness’s orphanage — to believe in his own individuality… To be Scott Free and find himself…)

It’s difficult, also, not to see Metron as also a supreme believer in destiny, as the character appears time and time again to help his New Genesis brethren to escape their own predicaments: Metron delays the confrontation between Orion and Kalibak the Cruel, in the half-brothers’ first meeting as adults (quite probably to keep Orion in the dark, until the opportune moment, about his own direct lineage to Darkseid). And immediately thereafter he explains the Apokoliptian threat not only to their home world, but to Earth and the entire known universe, to comrade Orion.

In a memorable exchange, Orion lays out differences between the two new gods. “I feel! I anger! I fight! — and you — You are like your cold machines!” declares Orion the Mighty. Metron cooly replies, “I serve life in my own way! What there is to know — I wish to know! My knowledge is my power! Time and space is my domain!

Metron goes on to hint at his contribution to recent events: “When the old gods died, their bridge to Earth was destroyed! It was I who found the way to create what our young ones call the Boom Tube!” By his own machinations, Metron brings the threat of Darkseid to our unsuspecting, innocent sphere, leading one to wonder just why is the seeker boasting about reuniting gods with humans…

When Lightray is threatened with the final touch of The Black Racer, the bringer of death to the new gods, Metron intercedes by deflecting the cosmic skier to Earth, thereby igniting yet another chain of events, some not so good!

A bit later on, Metron takes on the youngest new god, Esak, as student and travels the corridors of space and time to teach the boy, instilling in Esak a similiar unrelenting thirst for knowledge, one that just might have ferocious consequences at the grand finale of our epic.

We may not quite understand Metron’s motives at any given interval. His ally Orion raves, “For a scrap of knowledge you would sell the universe into slavery!” (To which, the seeker replies, “Who runs the universe matters not! What makes it run is my prime objective!”) He has a deep and abiding relationship with Himon of Apokolips, one that influences the overarching course of events. It is a collaboration we’ll discuss in detail later…

Most of all, perhaps, Metron is the embodiment of absolute conceit and self-aggrandizement, possessing a supreme lack of humility as he believes he is entitled to become privy to answers about the greatest mystery of eternity: the secret of The Source. “What wouldn’t I give to possess the knowledge of the ‘Source’!” In his Mobius Chair, he travels to the Final Barrier, confident he can accomplish what the Promethean Giants could not, and penetrate into the realm of infinity to discover the secret of life itself. In the end, Metron, “the seeker and wielder of cosmic knowledge,” may prove to have been the greatest, most ignorant fool of all.

Day 55: The Source!

The Source, as Orion the Mighty exclaims, “It is eternal!” Says Highfather, “It lived even as the old gods died!” Metron describes it as “serene — omnipotent — all-wise!” The Black Racer tells us simply, “The Source is all!”

The Source exists beyond the Final Barrier, “In one of the last frontiers, where all things begin to lose perspective and all roads to The Source come to an end.” Metron, the cold intellectual new god, as ever seeking to unravel the great questions plaguing him, visits the Final Barrier on the edge of the Promethean Galaxy. “And beyond all knowledge and sweeping concept, the mystery of The Source lies…”

The Source is connected from its unfathomable home to the Wall of the Uni-Friend, located in the Chamber of The Source in Supertown on New Genesis. “This Wall is our link with the ‘Source!‘” says Highfather. And, via the Wall, it is linked with the New Genesis leader’s “Wonder-Staff” and all the Mother Boxes on his planet and Apokolips.

The Source communicates via a moving, flaming hand called “Uni-Friend,” which spells out messages for Highfather. “The Source gives us irrevocable counsel!” Orion says. Highfather replies, “But it does not decide! The right of choice is ours! That is the Life Equation!” (Thus, the curse of humans is shared with these new gods: free will.)

“It is the Life Equation!” Orion explains. “And its power is a part of your Wonder-Staff!

Highfather thunders in reply, “Silence! The Wonder-Staff which called you is in turn summoned by The ‘Source!‘ The Wall awaits the written word!

And we see the ominous message sent to Highfather from beyond the Final Barrier: “Orion to Apokolips — Then to Earth — Then to War” and later, “War — Follow Orion.”

The Source is also directly connected to Willie Walker, The Black Racer, who tell us, “The Source gave me this knowledge — this power! It was The Source that chose Willie Walker for this mission!”

Is The Source God? Is it Heaven? It is, assuredly, proclaimed to be the place where dead gods go for final rest, as does Seagrin after his demise by the hands of the Deep Six…

The Source was first revealed to Highfather, who was still Izaya, during the “Great Clash,” when the Inheritor was going through his monumental identity crisis and is on a solemn quest through war-torn New Genesis. It is perhaps the most Biblical of Jack’s sequences, as a Moses-like Izaya struggles through what appears to be a sandstorm in a desolate desert:

“The dry wind rises and the elements disturb the sky!! Violent electrical flashes twist and stab across the darkened land!!!

‘Izayaaaa–!‘” implores the Inheritor.

“The echo becomes a roar! The roar becomes a thousand drums beating to the mad music of the wind-storm!!! — drivingdriving the questing spirit — to The Wall!!! Ageless, inscrutable!! — It stands — as if waiting — waiting in the sudden calm — for Izaya to communicate!

“‘If I am Izaya the Inheritor — What is my inheritance!?

“– And from the wall the answer comes!!!


On the Wall, a single phrase: “‘THE SOURCE

“And across the wall a hand of flame brings Izaya — the Uni-Friend!

Day 54: Highfather!

The bearded old gentleman with the “Wonder Staff” is none other than the solemn leader of New Genesis, Highfather, the true father of Scott (Mister Miracle) Free and stepparent of Orion the Wolf. He is the wise and benevolent ruler, seated in the satellite city of Supertown, who carries a great foreboding weight on his strong shoulders.

Highfather’s sister-planet counterpart would like to believe they are commensurate, as Darkseid tells The Forever People, “On Apokolips, my rank is equal to Highfather!! Minions of great might quake at incurring my disfavor!!” But the eminence of New Genesis is far from the flipside of any good/evil coin. To say the least, his backstory is complex:

As we learn in the seminal New Gods story, “The Pact,” there was once a great warrior who is a leader of New Genesis. His name is Izaya the Inheritor and he is blessed with a lovely, delicate wife, Avia. One day, when the loving couple have a romantic respite on the green planet’s bucolic surface, they share a tender exchange:

“Are we made for war, Izaya?” asks Avia. “You know, I’ve never heard you sing!! Sing, Izaya! Let me hear your voice when it’s not a battle-cry!”

“I can’t sing as yet, Avia!!” Izaya answers. “It’s your devotion that feeds my aching spirits!!”

Suddenly the pair are interrupted by an illegal hunting party encroaching from Apokolips, among them Queen Heggra’s brother, arrogant Steppenwolf, and her beloved and conniving son, Darkseid. In the ensuing tussle, Avia is killed by Steppenwof’s radion bolt and Izaya’s unmoving body lays in the grass, apparently a victim of Darkseid. But the Inheritor is not dead.

And so “The Great Clash” began and terrible and woeful violence was perpetrated against both sides, New Genesis and Apokolips, and war expanded exponentially — first air war, then ground war, then techno-cosmic war, the conflict growing until suns are destroyed and planets are hurled in the name of victory. Even the death of Avia’s killer fails to stop the conflagration. Each of the twin worlds pays a terrible price for Izaya’s vengeance and Darkseid’s ambition.

Izaya, in a moment of grim reflection, realizes war is not the answer and, walking through the desolation that was once beautiful New Genesis, he seeks a new place in his world. the Inheritor cries, “Where is Izaya??” — not the warrior! — The general!! — but, the true servant of those he leads!! Not here, in these tortured ruins of war! But Izaya is there! — Somewhere — out there!!

In his lamentful sojourn, Izaya ponders the enemy. “Darkseid’s plan!! Like foolish Steppenwolf, I’ve allowed myself to follow the mad dreams of Darkseid!! — from which no one can survive!!!” Then, raging into the rising tempest winds, the Inheritor screams, “I tear off my armor! I reject this war-staff as a weapon!!! I reject the way of war!!” And still he staggers through roaring gusts and demanding his inheritance from whatever gods there be of gods, suddenly, there is revealed, The Source.

From The Source, in messages spelled out by a mystical floating hand called the “Uni-Friend,” comes the essence of Greater Good, a new life for Izaya, now the Highfather, and his people.

To end the Great Clash, Highfather and Darkseid (now ruler of Apokolips) agree to a pact, trading their respective sons with the promise there shall be an age of peace between the worlds. When savage, feral Orion first meets the man he believes his progenitor, the boy asks, “You!You are — my father??”

Highfather replies softly, “Only if you wish me to be! I am Highfather!! And you — are Orion!! We have need of each other, Orion!! This is a place of friends!! Here is my hand –!!”

An uneasy peace reigns between the worlds for years, until young Scott Free escapes Apokolips (also prearranged by Darkseid, though the boy is not killed as intended), breaking the pact and a prelude to renewed conflict. And now, today, Darkseid is initiating a “Super-War,” one waged with the planet Earth as battleground. Highfather knows the stakes, as he explains, “The universe — slave or free — On Apokolips their ruler, Darkseid, has already made that choice!”

Yes, Highfather is wartime leader of the emerald world, but he still devotes time listening to the lyrical songs of Fastbak and other youthful choral members of Supertown. Highfather and his New Genesis honor the young as a matter of faith. “First, we bow to the young,” Highfather tells his son, “they are the carriers of life! They must remain free, Orion! Life flowers in freedom!

As leader, he is also obligated to answer the queries of The Council of the Young and he is especially attentive to the plight of The Forever People, even as the group disobeyed him by traveling to Earth. When the team is sent via Darkseid’s “Omega Effect” into past eras on our planet, Highfather intervenes by reuniting them courtesy of “Alpha-Bullets” shooting out of his fingertips.

In a poignant exchange, Highfather engages one of the smallest of the new gods, who is asking for his help to rescue the Super-Kids. “Well, Esak!! Is one of the youngest of New Genesis to add his voice against my edicts!?” asks Highfather.

Esak replies, “Not against your edicts, Highfather!! But for our friends!! Is this not a world of friends?”

“Look at me, Esak!” cries Highfather. “Am I not as cold and stern as Darkseid?”

The boy answers, “Darkseid is the fire-pit of destruction!! Highfather is the tranquil green of morning!! The time when the song of life begins!!”

“And what of power, Esak!!? Is this not the naked fist of power??

True! — But power to which the lightning dances!! — On the infinite roads of time!!”

Forsooth, it is the music and song of life for all that Highfather seeks, not only to assuage his own loss. Having never sang for sweet Avia, the former Izaya finds solace in melody. “The song ends — but the beauty of it must never fade! Or die, Orion!

“In this cause,” his faithful and tormented son replies, “I live as well!”

Day 53: New Genesis!

Home world of Orion, The Forever People, Lightray, Highfather, and many other new gods, as well as the birthplace of Scott Free, a.k.a. Mister Miracle, New Genesis counts Truth, Love and Freedom as allies in their great war against sinister Apokolips. The singular municipality, a satellite city the young people call “Supertown” (described by — who else? — Superman as, “It’s Incredible! Beautiful! Majestic! Supertown is truly a place for super-beings!!”), floats above the Eden-like planet, a lush, pristine globe of natural splendor.

“No more glorious sight has ever greeted any eyes than that of New Genesis, home of the New Gods,” trumpets The New Gods #1, “A golden island of gleaming spires that orbits a sunlit, unspoiled world of green forests, white mountains, and bright waters…”

NG #2 proclaims: “New Genesis is a world caught up in the joyful strains of life!! There are no structures on its green surface — except those which serve the cause of well-being… Destiny’s road is charted in the city, massive yet graceful — gleaming on its great platform — a skyborne satellite drawn in endless silence by its hidden mechanisms!”

In the beginning of the saga, we do see New Genesis as the perfect home, a place of love and friendship. When the young gods called The Forever People bid a young Earthling adieu, Beautiful Dreamer says, “Good-bye, Donnie! We leave you what cannot die — Love! Friendship!” And her comrade Serifan adds, “It is so in New Genesis! It can be Here!

Highfather rules New Genesis with a benevolent hand and he regularly seeks the advice of The Council of the Young. (Supertown was indeed a very hip ’n’ happening place, man!) At one point distressed about The Forever People, Highfather proclaims, “Darkseid raises his children to destroy and die!! You know that it’s our duty to provide the alternative!!

In these, the early days of the Super-War, idyllic New Genesis is still physically untouched by the conflict. But only a little while prior, Apokolips attempted a preemptive attack. In The Young Gods of Supertown segment, “Raid From Apokolips,” denizens of Darkseid attempt to use a Thermo-Bolt Machine to take down the orbital city of Supertown, only to be thwarted by Big Bear. The vignette has an ominous epilogue:

“Of course, this incident occurred in the days before Darkseid openly broke the peace and chose Earth as the battlefield!! But, even then, the energy flame-pits burned brighter on the sinister world of Apokolips — as its dark shadow began to crawl across the sun-dappled green of New Genesis!

But to call, as I have in these entries, New Genesis a “virgin” planet is wrong, for the world of gods as we know it reemerged from a terrible, cataclysmic conflict called “The Great Clash,” which started when a ruler of Apokolips, Steppenwolf and young Darkseid, his “obscure and humble” nephew (and son of ruler Queen Heggra), partake in a hunting party on New Genesis. There is an incident (planned by the future Master of the Holocaust) when Steppenwolf kills the wife of New Genesis leader Izaya the Inheritor and the poachers leave Izaya for dead. But (as was Darkseid’s intent) the Inheritor lives and commands his forces to wreck horrific vengeance on Apokolips with massive bombing forays.

A precursor to the Boom Tube, the “Matter Threshold” materializes Apokoliptian death machines (called Dragon-Tanks) onto the surface of New Genesis and repeated raids are made on Izaya’s home world. The Inheritor kills Steppenwolf, both still unaware of Darkseid’s orchestrations, and with the death of Steppenwolf, the son of Heggra has escalated the confrontation into a “Techno-Cosmic War”!

“Techno-Cosmic War produces techno-cosmic machines!! — Machines that draw the debris of space and send it crashing down upon New Genesis!!… Giant biological mutations are bred in Apokolips’ laboratories! — Turned loose to pillage and kill!! New Genesis fights back with equal innovation!!! Wherever the giants tread, the ground beneath their feet cracks wide from seismic shock and swallows them in its deep recesses!!! But the war grows ever larger!! It reaches across the universe and mammoth suns are transformed into cosmic-lasers — designed to cut New Genesis into blazing, lifeless shards!!

Larger! Larger grows the war! Larger grow the ‘God-Machines’!! An impacter, the size of a planet, is sent crashing into an enemy-captured sun!! And inside Izaya of New Genesis, something dies with each such deed!! Where will this end? How can he destroy the cosmos — and yet save New Genesis!?

“‘We are worse than the old gods!’” laments Izaya. “‘They destroyed themselves!! We destroy everything!! This is Darkseid’s way! I am infected by Darkseid!! To save New Genesis — I must find Izaya!!’”

And thus the Inheritor searches for his own identity, not that of a warrior but something… more. He wanders the “ugly landscape, empty of all that was once New Genesis!! It’s soft, green forested lands are gone!!” The former paradise is desolated, smoldering weapons of war replacing the vegetation. “A wasteland!!” grumbles Izaya, “Seared and cracked and gaping with endless pits — in which bacterial monsters fester and play!!!” And amongst such devastation Izaya finds his inheritance, The Source, and the warrior lays down his war-staff and becomes The Highfather, a lover of peace and virtue.

New Genesis, even today, is not quite as serene as initially imagined. Beneath the surface, strange beings — monsters — evolved from germ warfare used in the “Great Clash,” and then there’s the plague of “micro-life” used to infest the planet. In other words, there’s the matter of the “Bugs” and their nests under the ground of the super-world… but we’ll get to those “destructants” eventually, chums.

Let’s leave you with this homily about the “good-guy” planet: “To serve a friend is certainly to serve New Genesis!!