Category Archives: Weapons & Devices

Day 57: Mobius Chair!

The “miraculous” Mobius Chair (though it’s been called “devilish,” as well) is the device by which Metron of New Genesis traverses the “dimension winds” of space and time. The academic god boasts, “Walls and distance mean little to me! I can be anywhereeverywhere — when I wish it!”

“There are no barriers to the Mobius Chair of Metron, the knowledge seeker of New Genesis! No world or universe seems unreachable!” Well, truth to tell there is one boundary he has yet to cross: The Final Barrier.

“It can defy any barrier –BUT the one which guards the secret of the ‘Source’!” mulls Metron.

On the edge of the Promethean Galaxy, with the still figures of failed giants who attempted to pass through the Final Barrier and discover the secret of The Source, Metron travels on his Mobius Chair, contemplating the mysteries beyond. “I’ve leaped the stars toward the final barrier!! A lesser celestial would begin to show fear in this area.” (But, alas, before he makes an attempt, Metron is called back to New Genesis.)

On a previous occasion, Metron has taken the child god Esak across the corridors of time-space to visit a world resembling prehistoric Earth, with giant saurians and savage, primitive men waging battle with reptilian humanoids. The pair from New Genesis shirt the volcanic landscape, low to the ground, as Metron instructs his young charge on the evolution of life.

(Patrick Ford, in a reply to my “Metron” entry here, astutely tells us there’s only one instance where we see Metron not in his Mobius Chair, and that is prior to its creation, in the backstory tale “The Pact.” This begs the question: Is Metron now unable to use his legs or is he permanently attached to the vehicle for other (cyborgian?) reasons?)

In the midst of the “Great Clash,” Metron develops his Mobius Chair after bargaining with Darkseid for possession of the X-Element (discovered by Himon of Apokolips), material that is also used by Metron to develop the “Matter Threshold” and later, its successor, the Boom Tube, technological leaps that change the course of new god history.

“In my Mobius Chair,” the “icy mask” of Metron tells us, “I master Time! Space! Infinity!”

Story update: Allow me to take a minute to finally give you an idea of what is transpiring in the opening pages of The New Gods #1:

In an orgy of self-destruction the old gods perish and their world is ripped in two, and those molten spheres cool to become the sister worlds of New Genesis and Apokolips. We meet Orion, summoned home to New Genesis, to “thwart the ultimate destruction.” He is greeted by LIghtray, faithful companion, who escorts him back to the floating city of Supertown, which Orion notes “still glows with eternal splendor!” A talk with ebullient Lightray shows us Orion is plagued by a darkness not dissimilar to the one covering Darkseid’s sinister planet.

Orion meets with New Genesis leader Highfather and they visit the Chamber of The Source to receive a message. They are joined by scientific god Metron and they discuss The Source, which gives them the dispatch “ORION TO APOKOLIPS — THEN TO EARTH — THEN TO WAR.” As Orion departs to fulfill the Wall’s edict, Metron hints at the shadowy origins of “Orion the MightyOrion the Fierce — could this be one born of New Genesis?” Highfather tells him to hush up as it is not time to reveal such a dark secret to Orion.

Aboard his Astro-Harness, Orion takes a cosmic “journey which is to lead him to a strange destiny…” The warrior ponders, “Ahead lies Apokolips — in the shadow of New Genesis –! There’ll be no cheery greetings there.”

Tomorrow: Planet Darkseid!

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 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 47: Radion Bombs!

And we thought Darkseid was giving up when he released Beautiful Dreamer to Supes and the Infinity Man! The Duplicitous One has placed explosives of his own making, radion bombs, underneath the woman’s platform, set to explode and destroy our heroes!

Well, that’s all that needs to be said about those weapons, folks! Now, let’s get caught up on our story thus far:

The Gravi-Guards attack Superman and are about to tackle The Forever People when the boys levitate Mother Box and transform into The Infinity Man. IM saves Supes from a Darkseid minion and the pair meet up with the Master of the Holocaust himself, who tells them he cannot get the secret of the Anti-Life Equation from Beautiful Dreamer’s unique mind. He rises forth, from underground, a platform with the sleeping figure of the telepathic beauty, under which are strapped what looks like four radion bombs.

Superman, using light-speed flight, saves Beautiful Dreamer and Infinity Man, and IM changes back into the boys who ecstatically greet the revived girl. Supes queries the kids on how to reach Supertown, though they caution him that he’ll be needed on his adopted planet for the coming conflict with Darkseid. But Superman is insistent and flies into the dimensional bridge appearing before him. Yet in flight he begins doubting the timing of his cross-dimensional sojourn. “Am I going the wrong way?” the Man of Steel ponders. “Is Earth the battleground for some strange Super-War? It could be as real as the Boom Tube! — And I may be deserting mankind when it needs me most!” So, while he catches a “glimpse of distant, gleaming towers,” he abandons his trip and, forlornly sitting about a boulder, contemplates, “Perhaps, someday, I’ll try again…”

Coming next: The Forever People #1 wrap-up and then on to The New Gods debut issue!


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 41: Sigma-Gun!

No, I’m really not going to wax on poetic about a nondescript weapon, such as Inter-Gang’s Sigma Blasters, except to say these are legitimate creations of Jack Kirby, however detailed or not. I mean, the light sabers conceived of by George Lucas: You tell me what their value is today…

Instead allow me to take this space to yet again marvel over Jack’s depiction of the Man of Steel, who in only a couple issues of Jimmy Olsen and (especially) this debut appearance of The Forever People thus far, the artist/writer imbued the super-hero with a new personality trait (quirk?), one of dissatisfaction and yearning. Superman on Earth was now, suddenly, disaffected, a Stranger in a Strange Land, and with the creation of New Genesis he was blessed with instant aspiration. Supertown was a potential home, populated with folks as incredibly-powered as himself, and the growing conflict, with good and evil so clearly delineated, was certainly a fight worthy of the Last Son of Krypton. Jack’s set-up was beautiful.

Superman’s discontent was perfectly matched for the era, when youth and middle-aged alike — think Easy Rider and Save the Tiger — began to question who they were and where they were going on this earthly plane. And what if you were a miracle man who could fly, was invulnerable and was hero to an entire planet? If you didn’t have the inclination to subjugate said world and just wanted someone, anyone, to relate to, wouldn’t you just want to get away and find solace among your own “kind”?

About the design aspect of Jack’s Supes: I’ll not go down the obvious critical road of commenting on the pasted-on drawings of Jimmy Olsen and Superman by Al Plastino and, later, by Murphy Anderson. Frankly they are as offensive as Vince Colletta’s inks on a good half of the books… they are what they are, we’re stuck with them, so why complain?

Anyhoo, I’ve spent my life arguing who is the best Kirby inker and the meaning of Jack’s peculiar art motifs and just getting excited all over again about the visual bombast of his stuff; but, now, I’m becoming more and more engrossed about Jack the writer and, my friend, there is so much to discover!

Day 31: The Boom Tube!

Here, on the first comic book story page Jack wrote and drew for his legendary ’70s stint at DC Comics (first, according to the job number assigned to it, X-100), on page one of The Forever People #1 [Feb.-Mar. 1971], is the transportation device he created to get his Fourth World characters from New Genesis and Apokolips to Earth and back again. A kind of hipster “rainbow bridge” [see Thor, The Mighty], the Boom Tube was used by both the children of Highfather and denizens of Darkseid in the Super-War that was only just now beginning between the new generation of cosmic gods, using our small green globe as battlefield.

The Boom Tube (a name coined, I reckon, because it sounds like the contemporaneous derogatory term Americans often used to describe their televisions, “The Boob Tube”) is an inter-dimensional tunnel that appears out of thin air — with a sonic boom heralding the arrival — in our world’s environs and, with its travelers safe on earthly soil, just as suddenly disappears with a thunderclap. It is also used between the two worlds of the new gods.

The question begs an answer: Just where do New Genesis and Apokolips exist in relation to Earth? Is it, indeed, in a parallel dimension or in or around the Promethean Galaxy, which we see Metron (the developer of The Boom Tube, by the by) teleporting to its edge in the opening of New Gods #5? It’s probably a silly question — where does Asgard or Valhalla or Heaven or Hell reside, for that matter? — but the deeper and deeper we read into the Fourth World saga, the more the connections between the three worlds matter…

Oh, never mind. I need to relax and enjoy the new story that’s only just beginning: Who or what is traveling through this Boom Tube and what adventures are in store? Find out tomorrow…

Day 29: The Project’s Life Chamber!

Just what have the former members of the original Newsboy Legion been up to at The Project? What could possibly bring a teacher, geneticist, social worker and medical doctor together at the U.S. super-secret scientific facility? (Mr. Dippa? Apparently he’s a babysitter!) The mystery begins to be answered as the men entrust Jimmy by revealing a personal project of their own:

In the giant petri dish called a Life Chamber by Jack, their experiment speaks, is agitated, demands freedom! And who can this replica be? The humanoid tells the doctor it is prepared to be released from the growing booth: “Yes, I am strong! Strong! Let me out! My mission is to defend — to protect! You face disaster! Let me out!

Are you folks ready for one of the biggest debuts in the Fourth World run? Well, watch out! He’s almost here!! Hang tight, Kirby fans!!! A Golden-Age “newbie” is coming rightatcha!!!

Day 27: The Penetrator Beam!

Have ya wondered how Simyan and Mokkari are able to steal through the super-tight security of The Project to swipe cloning technology and DNA samples? Ponder no more as the caveman-looking Apokoliptian agent whips out the handy Penetrator Beam ray cannon, which Simyan uses to zap the berserker, a not-so Jolly Green Giant rampaging through the Evil Factory, out of their hair and into The Project to kill… (gulp!) The Man of Steel!

(To catch up with our tale: While Superman continues his tour of The Project with Jimmy, The Evil Factory’s keepers are applying a finishing touch to the oversize being they’ve grown from pilfered genes, spraying the caged humanoid with synthesized Kryptonite, which now gives the guy the ability to conquer the Last Son of Krypton (and just happens to turn his epidermis green). Mokkari and Simyan report by television to Darkseid, who berates the pair with a lecture on duality: “…Who can deny the power of the other side? Death can eclipse life! A great lie can smash truth! And the answer to a finely disciplined Superman is what you have created — a chaotic fury of a thing…” But, alas, the monster decimates his confinement cell and attacks the pair, and Simyan realizes he can save his partner with the right Kirby kontraption!)