Category Archives: New Genesis

Day 52: Lightray!

Lightray is, according to Jack’s pin-up of the character, “[l]ighthearted and brimming with personable qualities, [and] he is the friendliest of the New Gods! But when battle comes, he is a formidable foe! In the clash between New Genesis and dread Apokolips, Lightray turns the power of light into a weapon of astounding magnitude! Follow his exploits! As goes Orion, so goes Lightray — into domains where even gods are subject to the whims of grim destiny!”

Orion and Lightray are the best of companions, though as contrasting as night and day… or, more aptly said, darkness and light. Orion says, “We are different, you and I… and yet — good friends!” They are compatriots, many times at one another’s side in these opening days of the Super-War.

“I am Lightray of New Genesis, lady!” he tells Eve Donner, “A child of light! — Plunged into war! However, unlike poor Orion — My scars are yet to come!”

Lightray is almost always joyful, telling his friend, “To laugh is to feel the beat of life! Live, Orion! Live!” The young new god is also exceptionally well-mannered, graciously kind to strangers, and a courteous guest, though Lightray is not afraid to berate Orion to mind his manners!

As you can read in the pin-up, Lightray controls the power of light, plus he can fly at (you guessed it!) light speed. “I govern the power of light,” says he. During a fight with Kalibak the Cruel, Lightray emits powerful rays from his hands, called “Solar Thermo-Beams” and “Nova Bursts.”

Even as the New Genesis leader tells our subject, “You are the youngest of those assembled, Lightray! Your time to clash with monsters is not yet here!” Lightray disobeys Highfather and joins Orion’s fight against the Deep Six on our planet, only to be momentarily vanquished, left to die on the Earth ocean, floating on the Deep Six Control Ship, wrapped like a mummy in mutated light-absorbing, steel-fibered kelp.

During that “Glory Boat” adventure, Orion rescues Lightray and lambasts his friend. “Well — well — well –!! So the smiling lamb decided to try his hand among the wolves, after all! Yours is a sorry welcome to Earth, Lightray!! I see your first brush with war — and The Deep Six — has been little short of disastrous!!” The fierce son of Darkseid comments moments later, “It saddens me to see you here, Lightray! Your kind brings an undeserved honor to war!!”

It is during this sea battle when we see a more complex side to Lightray, one that might be allegorical when it comes to civilians waging war instead of generals. On the Deep Six’s Control Ship, in lieu of joining Orion in decimating the mutated “organic director” — a “Sender” — he tells his friend, “It shouldn’t be destroyed!! It should be changed!!” And the young god uses his powers to transform the misshapen creature: “Light! Light! — Not to glisten on swordblades! — But light at play with atoms — to make them sing in other ways!!”

It is reduced to a “white-hot compact core,” a brilliantly glowing cube. “It’s now a living basic life form!! — Stripped of the taint of Apokolips,” says Lightray. Adds Orion, “It will grow again — in the image of New Genesis!” Using his Mother Box housed on the forehead of his facial harness makes the new critter a “Caller,” which will eventually bring the enemy to them.

When next we see the “Caller,” it has morphed from a “Life Cube” into an organic, evolving machine… It has become “Techno-Active.” Then, in perhaps the most climactic — and dramatic — moment in all of Jack Kirby’s enormous body of work, the “Caller” is now the ultimate weapon of New Genesis, “singing and shining and sleek and deadly!!! What Lightray has ‘imprinted‘ on the ‘Life Cube‘ is now fully ‘grown!‘ And it carries on its glistening warhead the living — the dead — and the fiery trumpets of the Source!!!” Like Berzerkers rushing wildly into battle without care for life or limb, the “Glory Boat” careens head-on towards the Deep-Six and their monster Leviathan! “The trumpets blast on impact with the enemy! Thunderous notes! — White-hot, elemental and all-consuming!! A Wagnerian offering to the Source!!

But the complexity of Lightray’s machinations is found in Orion’s distress before the final showdown. “You fight battles like a planner,” Orion screams, “instead of a warrior!! The enemymyself — this dead boy — and his father — We’re all your pawns!!” It’s a curious moment and worth pondering. The look and effect of this, the “Glory Boat,” sure appears thermonuclear, and why can’t I shake the vision of Robert McNamara and his fellow “Best and the Brightest” out of my head? The most noble of intentions…

Nearing the end of the saga as published, after Orion has survived another titanic battle, Lightray beckons the dawning sun to bathe his wounded comrade: “Then, let the coming light be bright and strong — let it play upon those wounds — let it bring things that wash — the pain — with — pleasantries — Then let me aid the light! Let me give my added power where it can hasten all the good things this day may hold for brave Orion!”

There’s a notable moment in The New Gods #3, when The Black Racer is chasing down Lightray. The harbinger of death exclaims: “Destiny has decreed that our paths should cross!” And yet, with the assist of Metron, Lightray dodges that fatal bullet. But it led me to wonder if Lightray, bright, cheerful, full of hope and happiness Lightray, was predestined for an “untimely” demise…

Because, y’see, though I know he appears later in “Wild, Wild Wedding Guests” (Mister Miracle #18), in the final issue of The New Gods, Lightray seizes the initiative of the “Combat Code” to take on Kalibak and embrace, in his words, “the rare shock of battle,” and the half-brother of Orion slams the young god (apparently) to a bloody pulp. But with the Black Racer coming for either Orion or Kalibak, Jack forgets to tell us the fate of Lightray (or did I miss something?). Was Lightray to have been beaten to death by Kalibak the Cruel?

Is Lightray doomed from the start? Is dear, sweet, beautiful Lightray one of the gods “subject to the whims of grim destiny”?

Day 51: Astro-Harness & Astro-Force!

When we first meet Orion the Fierce, he is traveling the spaceways upon his Astro-Harness, a sort of cosmic glider. Fellow new god Metron calls the device Power Rods and it is named the Astro-Glider by The New Gods #4 and Astro-Harness in #6. (Since Astro-Harness is used more than once, we’ll stick with that nomenclature.)

More important than a mode of transport, the Astro-Harness houses the awesome power possessed only by Orion, the Astro-Force. “I wield the mighty power of the Astro-Force!” the New Genesis warrior exclaims. “It is a grim and fearful responsibility!” (And apparently a danger also to the wielder, as at one point Orion warns himself, “The Astro-Force — I must use it — though I myself may be caught in its unleashed power!”)

But the most vital aspect is that the harness itself houses Orion’s Mother Box because she protects him on the outside from becoming the raging monster within.

Orion tells Slig before the “Glory Boat” epic, “Yes, you croaking frog! [The rumors are] true!! Orion is flawed!!” because his true Apokoliptian face is revealed, and the Deep Sixer responds, “More than that! You’re a mad, tormented animal, Orion!!

“I would be, Slig!! I would be! — If it were not for the Mother Box!! Mother Box protects me! She calms and restructures and keeps me part of New Genesis!!” (Apparently not very soothing, as he proceeds to brutally kill Slig and, in an especially chilling scene, delight in destroying Slig’s Mother Box, all because the Deep Sixer was witness to Orion’s true face.)

An interesting sequence with his unique mode of transport takes place when Orion goes into a closet while describing Inter-Gang to his Earth allies, he starts putting together the Astro-Harness and disengaging his Mother Box from the thingamagig.

A few other Astro-Harness and Astro-Force factoids:

• Orion can summon Astro-Force through his wrist circuits

• “On Orion’s harness, a small but powerful ‘element-transmitter‘ emits a strong magna-beam, which locks on the raft below!!” (in “The Glory Boat,” NG #6)

• A unit on the Astro-Harness houses the dreaded Astro-Force (or did I say that already?)

• The Astro-Harness creates “a shield of air molecules around him” for Orion to travel underwater

• The emissions from the Astro-Force weapon are called both “Astro-Blasts” and “Cosmi-Force”

• It can be programmed for others to use, as Lynn Sheridan is flown to safety onshore in the “Glory Boat” story

Besides his rage, Orion’s Astro-Force is his greatest weapon: Amongst the wreckage of its wielding: Used against Kalibak; destroys Darkseid’s Fear Generator; utilized to slow a rapid descent; shatters the Inter-Gang “Mother Box Jammer”; antagonizes a giant clam mutated by Slig of the Deep Six; zaps said Slig; unravels a “mummified” Lightray; and, “like lethal lightning,” completely destroys Jaffar, Slig’s brethren.

Me, I say, the Astro-Harness is the absolute coolest super-hero accoutrement ever! I mean, look at this, the Orion concept drawing by Jack!


Day 50: Orion!

The titanic warrior of New Genesis, son of Tigra and Darkseid of Apokolips, wielder of the Astro-Force and all-around eternal with the most rage issues, folks, let me introduce Orion, greatest of the New Gods.

Honestly, it’s not easy to conjure up the adequate words for this superb Kirby character, a complex, brooding, angry and (quite literally) two-faced hero of Jack’s Fourth World masterpiece especially because he plays such an integral role in the epic. And Orion’s destiny, to bring an end to the Super-War between New Genesis and Apokolips, is hinted at early on in this chronicle of his cosmic adventures.

“Of all the celestials,” his companion (and opposite) Lightray says, “you are the one most plagued by shadows!” Orion concurs, telling his friend, “I am two worlds — like New Genesis , and that demon’s pit — Apokolips! — One drifting forever in the shadow of the other–”

Highfather explains to Lightray, “He, alone, has been fighting his monsters from birth!” For Orion is “savage offspring” of Tigra and Darkseid, the fruit of a prearranged marriage, and as a boy, the fierce “murderous little monster” is used as barter in the Pact between the Master of the Holocaust and Highfather. Orion is traded for Scott Free, the man-child of Highfather himself. “Our son was raised without knowing his father!!” cries Orion’s mother, and Darkseid replies, “But I know him, Tigra!! He’s like you! — A fighting, snarling killer-cat!!

Orion is raised in New Genesis, and though he doesn’t know of his sinister lineage, he suffers depression and seeks solace on the pristine planet. All we see of his time before the Super-War is an encounter with Lonar and the battle-horse Thunderer, when Orion spooks the living artifact of last monumental holocaust, striking alarm in the steed, which doubtless senses the warrior’s Apokoliptian heritage. Orion laments, “Fear! Fear at the touch of Orion!! Is it not always so?!”

Orion is forever conflicted by his bloodline. His Mother Box gives the illusion that he has a handsome, flawless face, but when Orion is in brutal combat that deception evaporates and we see the true snarling, ugly visage of a merciless warrior. Orion knows that he, at his core, is deeply defective though he has yet to discover the truth. When Orion delays an attack on Darkseid, the demon despot observes “Finish me — and you finish yourself!You hesitate, Orion! You can sense why — but you don’t know — do you?”

We will learn the prophecy that the ultimate battle in this Super-War will be waged in Armagetto, a sector of Apokolips, where father and son will face off in the “Last Battle of the New Gods!” Playwright Eve Donner, Deep Six Slig, half-brother Kalibak, they all sense that Orion will not survive the war because of the conflict raging inside his own soul.

Orion is singular possessor of the dreaded Astro-Force, a powerful, destructive beams which is emitted from his transport device, the Astro-Sled (which also houses his Mother Box). He is also mighty effective with his fists and, of course, is a born combatant. His nicknames include Orion the Hunter and Orion the Fierce. “A free and angry Orion is more than a menace! — He is the ultimate in mayhem!”

In a rare moment of slight levity, Orion takes on a disguise as a Metropolis gangster, cleverly named O’Ryan, with his earthling compatriots, who join in the subterfuge as (what else?) O’Ryan’s Mob.

Nearing the end of the initial run, when Orion and Lightray find some peace on the terrace of Eve Donner, aforementioned playwright, her hand reaching to the brutalized face of sleeping Orion, and she muses, “There is something in that fierce and mangled face beyond anything I’ve ever written about! The sleeping monster — the raging heart — a vessel of fire — which consumes — even love.”

The red-headed warrior awakes and replies, “As for love, madam — I find love in battle hotly fought! — In vengeance fulfilled!!

Before the new gods depart, Eve shares with Orion her fear that “You’ll never survive your war! You’re big –! But not bigger than what’s eating you! Your enemy, Darkseid, will use it against you!”

He joyfully lifts her off the ground and says cryptically, “And, though I pay for victory with death — I shall seek you out in that final moment!”

In the end, with darkness descending, will Orion finally find what he needs most of all, the soothing caress of a loved one…?

Day 49: The Birth of the New Gods!

Their world torn apart in an orgy of self-destruction, the old celestials pass onto Valhalla and make way for the new eternals, as the globe’s violent rendering form two spinning, molten spheres, worlds that will cool to become planets named New Genesis and Apokolips, one a Eden-like paradise, the other consumed with fire and brimstone.

And so Jack Kirby sets the good-and-evil duality of his saga, as these worlds are the respective homes of Darkseid and Highfather, worlds about to be engulfed in a Super-War.

These planets are the homes of the New Gods, and they are the stage where we will learn of the many fascinating and engrossing characters that will be cast in the Fourth World epic. We will meet Orion, son of Darkseid and hero supreme of New Genesis; Scott Free, the soon-to-be Mister Miracle; Kalibak the Cruel, Orion’s half-brother; Metron; Himon; Desaad; the Female Furies; Esak; Granny Goodness; Fastbak; Steppenwolf… Oh, you get the idea! We are in for a fantastic journey, a multi-layered saga of Shakespearean proportions, chock full of Dickensian touches, Faustian lessons and Faulkneresque family drama.

We, my friends, are about to go cosmic…

Day 48: The Death of the Old Gods!

Who but Jack Kirby would begin the masterwork of his life with an epilogue, and one that (metaphorically, at least) eliminates his prior legendary characters in a conflagration of death and inferno, closing the book on the myths he created for a certain House of Ideas. Look closely at the hammer-wielding warrior about halfway down and to the left on this page-one splash page of his New Gods #1 and you tell me that doesn’t resemble a God of Thunder. (You want more evidence? Check out the artifacts Lonar discovers, particularly the winged-helmet, in “The Young Gods of Supertown” back-up vignette in The Forever People #5, when he chances upon a city of the old gods.)

Yes, here we finally witness the End of It All: Ragnarok! Warring gods battling for pride and possession and resulting only in their mutual destruction! “An ancient era was passing in fiery holocaust!”

(Allow me a quick aside regarding Jack’s frequent use of the word “holocaust”: It needs to be understood that the term, as we know it today, pretty much singularly refers to Germany’s war against the Jews (and other folk despised by the Nazis). The U.S. Holocaust Museum, for instance, is devoted to the genocidal events on the 1930s and ’40s in Europe. Though frequently a term used to describe the attempted extermination, the connection between the word and the event wasn’t etched in stone until, of all things, the broadcast of a U.S. television mini-series, Holocaust, in 1978. (The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word as “Great or total destruction by fire.”) So please note, the former Jacob Kurtzberg, acutely aware of the Nazi atrocities against his people, the Shoah — as you will see in the allegories to follow — was not using the term lightly.)

Besides the ruins of an old city chanced upon by Lonar and The Source, all that survives the great destruction are the “living atoms of Balduur” and the evil “which was once a sorceress” (Karnilla, Balder’s lover in The Mighty Thor?), which respectively settle upon the two worlds of New Genesis and Apokolips, planets sprung from the split sphere of the dead celestials.

As in the real world, life follows death and the eternal cycle begins again, and so it is from the ashes of the Old Gods rise the New.

Day 46: Beautiful Dreamer!

Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me,
Starlight and dewdrops are waiting for thee;
Sounds of the rude world, heard in the day,
Lull’d by the moonlight have all pass’d away!
Stephen Foster

Though she appears to be the weakest and (aside from physical attractiveness) least envisaged character of The Forever People, Beautiful Dreamer is likely the most potentially powerful player in their battle against Darkseid. Jack immediately sets a stark and intriguing contrast when we first see them together. She, with her beguiling, prostrate form and alluring, serene face, compared to the cut of the Master of the Holocaust’s arrogant stance and butt-ugly countenance. And the pin-up in FP #4, too, hints at her importance with its stunning artistry and caption that reads, “Beautiful Dreamer versus Darkseid! Both hold the key to victory in the strangest war ever fought in comicdom’s history!”

One marvelous aspect of Jack Kirby is his obvious liking of the female gender, a contrast itself with the overall outlook of too many comics creators of his and later generations. Perhaps it stems partly from the necessity to focus almost exclusively on the feminine point of view during Jack’s considerable — and outstanding — work in romance comics (a genre he co-created with Joe Simon), and I also suspect his respect and affection for his devoted spouse, the indomitable Rosaline Kirby, and the fact he had two daughters, are parts of that equation. (I’ll betcha dollars to doughnuts, Jacob Kurtzberg was also a mama’s boy, to boot!)

If you combine, in his Fourth World mythos, Jack’s conceptualization of brutish and bodacious Big Barda, the Female Fury of Mister Miracle, one of the most vivacious and self-assured (hence, downright sexy) characters in the history of the form, with the latent cosmic war-ending power of girlish, apparently meek, most definitely lovely Beautiful Dreamer, there’s a delightful complexity here putting women front and center in this otherwise hyper-testosteronated masculine super-conflict. If you ask me, I reckon Jack Kirby was a feminist!

When first we meet Beautiful Dreamer, we find her unique consciousness (“one of the few whose mind can fathom the Anti-Life Equation! The ultimate weapon!” The Infinity Man tells Superman) is impervious to Darkseid’s probing, and the evil ruler surrenders her to her friends. We learn that Beautiful Dreamer’s power is to create telepathic connections with others to generate illusions, whether making a hallucination that they’re a harmless bunch of earth kids for old Uncle Willie, deceiving a Justifier into believing the gang is one of his kind, or appearing as a haggardly old dwarf to cut short a fashion shoot with Breckenridge the photographer.

(There’s a breathtaking juxtaposition of beauty and beast in Jack’s full-page depiction of a remarkably rendered Desaad, tenderly brushing her comatose figure with a riding crop, appreciating Beautiful Dreamer. “Ahhhh — My vision of beauty! — and a beauty of visions, too, I might add! A mind so sensitive that it makes illusion seem like reality! What my scrambling machine must huff and puff to produce — Beautiful Dreamer can do by a mere thought!” KAH-reepy!)

Despite the fact her physical attributes — buxom and curvaceous — are considerable, Beautiful Dreamer knows that the secret of being human isn’t just in the corporal world, as she explains, “After all, the body is merely a three-dimensional identification vehicle! It’s our ‘total’ selves that beautify us!” (Still, she’s not above having her zoftig form being objectified, whether as a swimsuit model or when Serifan, via a cosmic cartridge, atomically re-shifts an old-fashioned gown the girl is wearing into a oh-so-mod go-go, short-short mini-skirt — replacing the ragged dress she wore for eight issues prior.)

Beautiful Dreamer defines the team for Donnie the invalid in #2: “Of course we’re real! truth is real! Truth lives foreverWe’re the Forever People!” Which remains perhaps the best description for this most original group, said in the simplest and sweetest of terms.

I’ll admit, as a kid, I pretty much dismissed Beautiful Dreamer, thinking her more a burden to the group rather than an equal asset. But I now get a glimmering of Kirby’s intent with the character, something that is now obvious at the very start of The Forever People. That whatever the apparent triteness of her powers of deception, her abeyant abilities loom large in the saga: this woman is headed for some serious business which will take her to her place in the heart of the raging storm between New Genesis and Apokolips.

Day 45: The Infinity Man!

“There is an awesome, indescribable crash of cosmic thunder! Then –”
“Those who summon the Infinity Man — summon justice!

When Mother Box levitates, and the young members of The Forever People place their hands on her and recite the mantra, “TAARU!” they disappear and in their place materializes The Infinity Man.

The conceptualization of The Forever People, that of being a basically non-violent group of young people, however fantastical, might have proven a slight quandary for Jack Kirby, the king of violent, bombastic comics, and it could be The Infinity Man was his clever solution. The character, who bides his time in another dimension until called forth by the super-kids, is obviously a warrior for justice. Sure, you could say, the FP/IM connection has an antecedent with the Captain Marvel/Billy Batson switcheroo, right down to the magic word (Shazam!). But so what? It’s a device that works.

Somewhat unfortunately, I think, The Infinity Man wasn’t used enough — or explained with much depth — as he had but few appearances in the mere 11 issues of The Forever People. A gorgeous pin-up page in #4 is captioned, “From the far reaches beyond space and time, where real and unreal have no meaning, emerges a champion whose powers are not governed by the laws of our universe!” He is a joy to behold, with golden skin (could he be “Him”?) and wonderfully Total Kirby Costume.

Still, why exactly do the kids have this changing-places “arrangement” with The Infinity Man, using a word Big Bear says in #1? Certainly, though they profess peaceful interaction, the group is plenty powerful given Big Bear’s ability to concentrate his atomic structure into almost invulnerable strength, Mark Moonrider’s “Megaton Touch,” Vykin the Black’s “Magna-Power,” and Serafin’s multi-purpose “Cosmic Cartridges.” (Beautiful Dreamer? Well, she can convey scary images…).

Anyway, for whatever reason, Jack omits The Infinity Man from the action in the majority of issues, #4-10, but his reappearance in the final issue (which sports a nifty “Infinity Man Returns!” blurb on the cover) contains a great, old-fashioned slugfest and, let’s just say, IM goes out in style…

His powers? Well, he gained them from “distant regions — where natural laws do not apply,” and they include: He can fly in our atmosphere and survive in space without mechanical assistance; pass through solid objects (a very cool moment in #3 has the character gliding through rock, telling us, “Earth and stone become as fluid as sea waters — and I move through them as does a swimmer in the blue deeps!” I mean, just imagine that ability!); cancel out detection beams; possesses super-strength; has powerful “Infini-Beams” emit from his hands; manipulates the atoms of objects to restructure them… yikes, what can’t this guy do?


Whatever the spelling, with one magic word…

The incantation, exclaimed by The Forever People while they lay hands on Mother Box, that brings forth, in their place, The Infinity Man!

“They may be ready for us! But not for the Infinity Man!

“Mother Box reads you! She rises in readiness for the ‘ritual‘!”

“It is the ritual through which the Infinity Man can come here!

“Mother Box sends out the signal to the farthest reaches of infinity! Mother Box links us with him!

“We’re one with the Infinity Man! As one we say the word of exchange!”

Rise, Mother Box! Send out your signal to the farthest reaches — where even all natural law thins and fades!

“Yet, life exists!”

“Make us one with that life! Let him displace us — let him enter on the power of the word–”

“–Even as we vanish when the word is said–”

Say the word! Say it! — And send it across the vast infinite!”


Day 43: The Mother Box!

It’s difficult to find the proper words to express my enduring admiration for this wonderfully resonant Kirby koncept, the Mother Box. She — never, never “it”! — is a living mechanism, a sentient computer, a machine with a soul who performs many, many tasks for her possessor, among them the abilities to sense danger, relieve torment, create protective barriers, sooth pain, transport her charges to another dimension, make friendships, scold sonically, navigate the cosmos, and being alive, she can be hurt, tortured and killed. But most of all she is capable of love, the power Darkseid fears the most.

In our story at hand, Mother Box is guardian of The Forever People; “The Mother Box protects us all,” are her protector Vykin the Black’s first words in the saga. In this incarnation she is a red rectangular cube, maybe 18-inches high, 10- or 12-inches wide per side, with a lens (or is it a screen?), a carrying handle and she emits sounds, “pings” in various tones, depending on her comfort or distress. (Apparently she can even apologize, or so says interpreter Vykin.)

Her main role in this premiere Forever People chapter is for Vykin to release her to levitation mode, as the Gravi-Guards are closing in, and for the boys to lay their hands on her for what Kirby might have called “The Great Interdimensional Swap!!!” (Oh, fear not, effendi! All will be revealed in the days to come!)

Back to the overarching Fourth World concept of Mother Box. She exists on both New Genesis and Apokolips, most prominently assisting these super-kids, Mister Miracle and Orion, the latter two who possess smaller “shoulder harness” versions, no less powerful or affectionate. (As I recall, I don’t think any version appears in the earthbound tales of Jimmy Olsen.)

Mother Box, we will discover, is the invention of Himon, scourge of Darkseid, roamer of the universe and mentor of Young Scott Free who created the device in the slums of Armagetto on Apokolips (and also, by the way, pioneered The Boom Tube). In the “Great Scott Free ‘Bust-Out'” issue of Mister Miracle, #9, the portly savior explains, in one of the most powerful single pages in the entire opus, that Mother Box is linked to The Source (a Great Good where resides the Meaning of It All). Simply put, Mother Box channels the good that is The Source into her user.

Himon says, “The Source! It lives! It burns! When we reach out and touch it — the core of us is magnified! And we tower as tall as Darkseid!” Scott Free, just beginning to see the supreme power that is love and now understanding his destiny, responds, “Then Darkseid fears us all! He fears what he can’t control!

There is nothing I can add to this magnificent and portentous moment in Jack Kirby’s chef d’oeuvre. The deeper and deeper one delves into The Fourth World, greater and greater rewards are unearthed. We can argue all day about whether his work is genius, perhaps, but we can’t deny he was a Good Soul, Jack was.

Day 40: Supertown!

What else does one call the residence of the gods of Highfather’s world, domicile of those fantastically-powered humanoids who go about their daily routine doing fantastical things? Word is that Jack originally intended to call the megalopolis floating high above the pristine and virginal planet, Supercity, but the New York office nixed it for the more humble appellation. And that works better, I think, bestowing it a more ironic, playful name that also gives it a more homey, welcome designation, where friends and family reside.

Supertown is the wildly futuristic capital of New Genesis, homestead of the New Gods (the good ones, anyway), including The Forever People. And its discovery by Superman, using his microscopic vision to deeply “enhance” Bobby’s photo of a fading Boom Tube (now that’s some high-definition camera!), gives the Man of Steel pause to consider there just might be a sanctuary of equals for him to feel at home.

Supes sees evidence of a towering golden metropolis and, having just pondered his intense loneliness as a minority of one on earth, he yearns to find out if it really exists. The marvelous conurbation, he will later learn while visiting in a forthcoming issue of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen, is very real indeed, graced with massive memorial statues of departed gods (commemorating the fallen of the first New Genesis-Apokolips war), sprawling council halls, magnificent fountains, rich and fragrant gardens, and spires that reach for the heavens.

Perhaps Supertown represents young Jacob Kurtzberg’s view of the midtown Manhattan of the 1920s and ’30s, Gershwin’s sparkling, glowing urban center, with the majestic, newly constructed Rockefeller Center (with its massive, gloriously gold statute of a Titan), the grandiose heights of the just-built Empire State Building, the Great White Way’s promise of love and riches and happy endings, and the “young gods” toiling in the resplendent edifices rising from littered avenues to better their lives and improve the world in spite of the Great Depression crushing down on the nation.

As the Fourth World unfolds, we’ll be spending more time in the awe-inspiring principality of Izaya the Inheritor, but it’s fun to note our first viewing is a mere glimpse from a microdot in a photograph, a tease and promise of a place where dreams and miracles are made real.