Time to pull out a particular favourite. “Himon” is the companion piece to “The Pact” (NEW GODS #7) and is probably what I’d most often cite as my favourite single Kirby comic. Certainly always in the top five. Thankfully at this point DC briefly gave Kirby a full 26 pages an issue and Mike Royer was the inker, so the story had room to breathe and looks as close to how Kirby imagined it as it could.
The background to the story was laid out in the previous issues, in particular three short “Young Scott Free” stories in MM #5 – #7. It opens with three big pages showing the heart of Apokolips, Armagetto, by the fire-pits. There the local “protector”, Wonderful Willik hopes to trap the rebel Himon, killing the other “lowlies” to flush him out. Himon is able to use his devices to escape, and meets up with Scott Free. We find out that Scott has been meeting Himon in secret, along with other students, working on making their own versions of Mother Box. Among them are Kreetin, who can’t get his to work, and Auralie, another charge of Granny Goodness’ “orphanage”.
Barda and her Furies break in and take Auralie, and we witness the first meeting of Scott and Barda. After she leaves, the crowd of “lowlies” break in, and most of the students escape, except for Kreetin, who still can’t use his Mother Box. Himon offers himself for Kreetin’s freedom, an offer Kreetin leaps at, after which Metron appears to try to understand him, and realizes what it is about his nature that prevents his Mother Box from ever working.
Meanwhile, Himon manages to repeatedly escape from a variety of traps and tortures. And we see one of his meetings with Metron as they discuss how and why they conspire to Willik finally captures and kills most of his students. He brings in Scott and Barda to witness what he’s done, but they’re led away by Himon as he delivers a finishing bomb to Willik. We then find out about Himon pioneering the research into the Boom-Tube, which is why he feels guilty for enabling Darkseid’s rise, plus his work in developing the Mother Box and its link to the Source. Finally Scott mentions his memory of his mother in a reference to “The Pact”
Finally, the great escape, Scott Free pursued by Para-Demons on his Aero-Discs, rescued by Barda and her Furies and in the end one of the best scenes Kirby ever wrote.
Himon and Metron present a Boom-Tube to Earth on one side, while Darkseid finally makes his presence felt on the other. Promises of power versus freedom. Risk and reward. And above all identity. “Let me be Scott Free — and find myself” and a final leap into the future, followed by a prophecy of the end, Darkseid’s final confrontation with Orion in Armagetto. Man, I love this comic more every time I read it.
(interestingly, the photocopies of the pencilled pages have slightly different dialogue for the last page. You can see a copy of the original in JACK KIRBY QUARTERLY #9, but it’s much more powerful in the published version)