There is a reason that Jack Kirby is known as the King of Comics. He has had an undeniable impact on the genre. Every recognizable comic character today owes some level of debt to Jack Kirby. But his real master piece, the Fourth World series, is composed of some lesser known characters. And though many of those characters may be showing up shortly in the DCEU, they remain largely unknown. So we wanted to celebrate Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday by highlighting our favorite covers from the collection of comics that constituted the Fourth World series.
The Forever People
The Forever People were a group of New Gods from New Genesis who came to Earth to fight Darkseid. On Earth, they disguised themselves as typical 1960’s hippies to blend in with the world around them. Armed with their Super Cycle and the Mother Box, a signature of any Kirby Fourth World story, The Forever People fought Darkseid’s forces on Earth. The series was the source of some of Kirby’s finest work.
The Forever People #1
In the first issue of The Forever People, Mark Moonrider, Big Bear, Vykin the Black, and Serifan ride to Earth through a Boom Tube in search of their teammate, Beautiful Dreamer. Beautiful Dreamer is Darkseid’s hostage, and the team assembles on Earth to get her back. Superman joins them after he meets up with the team and joins them in their battle against Darkseid. The character design of The Forever People is beautiful, and their equipment is hauntingly familiar and alien all at once.
The Forever People #2
In the second issue of The Forever People, Darkseid sends the scowling Mantis after the young champions of Super Town. The team must use their powers and their Mother Box to summon the mighty Infinity Man to aid them in battle. The design of Mantis and Infinity Man are both incredible, and watching them battle is something uniquely Kirby.
The Forever People #4
In issue number four of The Forever People, the team comes up against Darkseid’s head Lieutenant, Desaad. In his first appearance, Desaad quickly took to his signature move of torturing heroes in elaborate traps. Darkseid also establishes his trademark style in a search for the Anti-Life Equation. The designs of Darkseid and Desaad are incredible, and the story builds some of the most well-known characters in the DC Universe.
The Forever People #10
In issue number 10 of The Forever People, a group of criminals called The Scavengers claim responsibility for the death of Boston Brand, aka Deadman. The follow up that heinous confession by attempting to steal the Follower, an android body The Forever People made for Deadman’s ghost to live inside.
Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen
Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen was a series that focused on Daily Planet photographer, Jimmy Olsen, in his somewhat chaotic day-to-day life. The series was often comedic and focused on the challenges of being an average kid in the company of Superman. Kirby’s time on the series, however, would grapple with some much heavier material.
Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #138
Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #138 is the conclusion of an arc in which Superman had been fighting the Four-Armed Terror and his army of clones. Realizing that the creatures crave energy, Superman flies to the center of a nuclear reactor an uses the power as a lure for the beasts. Not only is the story incredible, but the art is so unlike what we typically expect from Kirby, that it is next level amazing.
Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #143
As a part of a less severe story arc, Jimmy and Superman fight against a legion of monsters from the small world of Transilvane. While they fight against Dragorin the vampire and a hoard of other creatures, The Newsboy Legion track down Jim Harper’s killer. Kirby’s art here is incredible. His work on the monsters, in particular, is beautiful and haunting.
Mister Miracle, aka Scott Free, is the son of Highfather. Highfather rules New Genesis, one of the two planets where the New Gods live. As a part of a peace deal with Darkseid, the ruler of Apokolips, the two leaders agreed to exchange heirs. That way, each would be discouraged from attacking the other. Mister Miracle went to live on Apokolips with Darkseid. Meanwhile, Darkseid’s second son, Orion, grew up on New Genesis with Highfather.
Mister Miracle #1
In the first issue of Mister Miracle, Scott Free meets Thaddeus Brown, an escape artist who calls himself Mr. Miracle. When they are attacked by a gang, Brown dies, and Scott must become the new Mr. Miracle. With the use of his New Genesis gadgets, Scott becomes the most incredible escape artist of all time.
Mister Miracle #2
In issue #2, Granny Goodness, one of Darkseid’s top henchmen catches up to Scott Free. She was once in charge of the torture pits where Scott was a hostage. But his ability to escape any trap had helped him get out of the pits and comes in handy once again when Granny Goodness ensnares him in a new trap on Earth.
Mister Miracle #7
In this issue, Scott and Big Barda return to Apokolips to confront the forces that once oppressed them. Upon their arrival, Miracle is captured by the villainous Kanto and taken off to Granny Goodness’ lair. There, he faces against a new foe: The Lump.
Mister Miracle #11
In this issue, entitled The Greatest Show Off Earth, Miracle is trapped on board a spacecraft headed toward the moon. Held hostage by Dr. Bedlam, Miracle must use his incredible powers of escape to free himself once again.
The New Gods
The New Gods marks the introduction of the characters that become the primary structure of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World mega-series. This series introduces Orion, Highfather, and Metron and sets the stage for the drama between New Genesis and Apokolips which is the central conflict for most of the cosmic DC Universe.
The New Gods #1
In the premiere issue of The New Gods, the central book of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World megaseries, Orion returns to Apokolips. He navigates the hellscape of fire pits and parademons to confront his father, Darkseid.
The New Gods #7
New Gods #7, entitled ‘The Pact’ is the most significant New Gods story. It tells the tale of how Apokolips and New Genesis arrived at their fragile peace. All of the most influential and well known New Gods appear in this issue: Steppenwolf, Metron, Darkseid’s mother, Heggra. A terrible war is waged between the two planets which only relents when Darkseid and Highfather agree to exchange heirs. With Scott Free, aka Mister Miracle, going to Apokolips where he will be tortured forever by Granny Goodness, and Orion giving up his violent ways to live with Highfather on New Genesis, this issues sets the stage for all of the Fourth World stories.
The New Gods #10
While Kirby’s incredible story telling was always on display in The New Gods, he was also always an artist first. The mythos he produced to create The Fourth World is second to none in comics, but he also showed it off. The New Gods #10 is mostly just a brawler comic with Mantis and The Colony on one side and Orion, Forager, and Lightray on the other. But when that plot is drawn out by a master of his craft, the result is something beautiful to behold.
The New Gods, Volume 2
The New Gods Volume 2, #1
The story in this one is the same as in The New Gods #1. It is just a reprint of that earlier book. But the cover is so evocative that it bears mentioning. Darkseid is the most powerful villain in the DC Universe. He is a constant threat with no reasonable solution. Every sensible DC Fan knows to tremble with equal measures of terror and excitement when they hear the phrase “Darkseid is.” And who is on the cover of Jack Kirby’s reprint of his most famous comic ever? Darkseid is.
The New Gods Volume 2, #5
This issue is a reprint of The New Gods Volume 1, #9. The book sets up the fight between Mantis, Orion, and Lightray which takes place in The New Gods #10. This cover is beautiful in how it shows each character in action. Without knowing anything about these characters, any reader could tell you exactly what their next moves would be. Jack Kirby is the King of comics for many reasons. He draws motion into everything he does, and it never fails to be beautiful.
Those are our 15 favorite covers from Jack Kirby’s Fourth World megaseries. We hope you enjoyed our small celebration of the King of Comics on his 100th birthday. What are your favorite Kirby works? Let us know in the comments or drop us a line on Twitter or Facebook. And be sure to keep up with the news we have coming out soon. We plan to celebrate Jack Kirby throughout the rest of the year, and you won’t want to miss what we have coming.