A Sibling Smack Down Dominates the New God Special: A Review
Art and Stories by Shane Davis, Walt Simonson, and Jack Kirby
Published by DC Comics
DC’s latest offering in their year-long bicentennial celebration of Jack Kirby’s birth is all about the New Gods. Kalibak has plans to turn New Genesis into Apokolips 2.0. Once he unleashes the fires of the planet’s core, the son of Darkseid plans on establishing himself as ruler. Thankfully, there’s another of Darkseid’s offspring to defend New Genesis from Kalibak’s secret assault- Orion!
Axcend’s Shane Davis pits brother against brother in this thrilling opener of the New Gods Special. There’s tons of guest stars here such as Lightray, Forager, and Highfather. But the one character oddly missing is Darkseid! But don’t worry, he’s gonna rear his ugly head in his own one-shot special later this summer.
Davis’ story was very intriguing hinting upon the nature vs. nurture dynamic that Kirby sprinkled into the New Gods. Being born on Apokolips, Orion is at heart one wicked dude. But because of his childhood spent on New Genesis as the adopted son of Highfather, Orion has learned to control his rage.
One thing Orion cannot control is how he looks. Genetics has him naturally look twisted and cruel. If not for a Mother Box, Orion would annually win the Ugliest Person Award on New Genesis. So when Orion finally gives into his Apokoliptian heritage during his climatic battle with Kalibak, his Mother Box can no longer mask his true face.
This is the only moment in the story that I really was unhappy with Shane Davis’ art. When Kirby would draw Orion’s true self, he looked hideous. Davis changes Orion’s face. But he doesn’t do enough to really make you think that the Orion is evil at heart. Forager is frightened by this version of Orion. I didn’t feel as shocked.
The New Gods Special includes a several shorts. The first is a tale of Orion as a youth. With art and story by Walt Simonson, this exciting story teams Orion with ocean-farer Seagrin on one of his first missions: an underwater quest in the briny depths of Apokolips. Simonson is one of those few artists whose work has actually gotten better over the years. I didn’t want this fun shark tale to end.
It wouldn’t be a Jack Kirby tribute without something from the King himself. Rounding out this special are two short stories reprinted from the Forever People #5 and 7. Both tales focus on a little-known character called Lonar. As explained in former Kirby assistant Mark Evanier’s afterword, Lonar was supposed to be spun-off onto his own series. But the cancellation of all of Kirby’s Fourth World titles ended that plan.
I am really excited that DC decided to reprint some of Kirby’s harder to find Fourth World stuff. When I saw that the publisher was putting stuff from the Forever People in this special, I actually hesitated on buying this. I already have Kirby’s Forever People omnibus. But that volume doesn’t include any of the King’s grabbers- Kirby’s term for second feature fillers.
The New Gods Special was an exciting trip back to Kirby’s Fourth World. Filled with works inspired by the King, they in no way copy him. It’s really hard to imitate greatness. Especially when the benchmark established is Jack Kirby. But for a tribute creative to honor one of comic’s all-time greats, this is a fantastic homage of one of the King’s most enduring DC Universe creations.
Cover: 4 out of 5 stars.
Art: 4 out of 5 stars.
Stories: 5 out of 5 stars.
Overall: 4.67 out of 5 stars.