Thursday, 24 July 2014


Once again, it's time to take a look at Jack Kirby's great cosmic opera that has become known over time as The Fourth World. With this installment, we return to the centrepiece of the King's meisterwerk, "The New Gods".
This second issue begins with what is known in TV circles as a "cold open", a five page "pre-credits" sequence which starts with a splash page recapping some of what we have seen before. That after the cataclysm that destroyed the Old Gods, two worlds were born, the hell of Apokalips and the heaven of New Genesis. Then, a quick visit to Supertown where we find High-Father, leader of the New Gods (New Genesis Division), communicating once again with the mysterious source. "WAR - FOLLOW ORION" says the enigmatic flaming hand. The message is clear. Others from New Genesis must join Orion in the war on Earth. The annoyingly chirpy Lightray is the first to volunteer, but High-Father forbids hims to go. "The time is not yet!" proclaims the bearded one. "It is my command!"
Thus endeth the pre-credits sequence.
Back on Earth, Orion and the four Earth people he rescued last issue, detective Dave Lincoln, secretary Claudia Shane, typical teenager Harvey Lockman and insurance salesman Victor Lanza arrive at Lincoln's apartment only to find Darkseid waiting for them. Orion promptly accuses old stoney face of breaking the treaty by kidnapping the humans, to which Darkseid's nonchalant response is simply "I dare anything! I am Darkseid!"
Leading to an interesting exchange between the two.

ORION: "King of the damned! I can finish you now!"
DARKSEID: "Finish me --and you finish yourself! You hesitate, Orion! You can sense why--but you
don't know--do you--? But Darkseid is free of mysteries! He can act!"

At which point Orion is jumped from behind by one of his stooges called Brola, whose weapons of choice appear to be one hand that is made of stone, and a cattle-prod in the other hand. The battle is short-lived as Orion pitches Brola straight through the apartment wall. Both Darkseid and his minion promptly disappear, teleported away to one of Granite Puss' secret bases under the city.
A quick thought here. Was Lincoln able to claim on his insurance to the damage to his apartment? Or did the company refuse to pay out claiming it was an "Act Of God"? But I digress.
Desaad and his Fear Machine.
In his secret base Darkseid gives Brola a literal kick up the backside, sending him whimpering away and pops over to see #1 henchman Desaad, who we saw briefly in the Forever People last week. Now with a name like Desaad, what sort of person do you think he is? Yep, a sadistic weirdo! Not just ANY sadistic weirdo though, he's a mad scientist sadistic weirdo, coming up with all manner of bizarre machines with only one intention - to cause as much pain, mental or physical, as possible. 
The newest of these contraptions is "The Fear Machine". Hmmm! I wonder what that does? I'm sure we'll find out soon. Very soon actually as Darkseid demands a demonstration. And he doesn't want to waste time for Desaad to get his test subjects so he has it used on some his minions. Who are reduced to quivering, terrified wretches. Darkseid hopes that by reducing the whole city to such a state, he will discover the mind that holds the Anti-Life Equation. Ah, yes, the Anti-Life Equation. It's been mentioned a few times so far both here and in the Forever People, but it's here we are told by Darkseid just what it is. What the Equation actually does is remove free will, for someone who has no free will cannot truly be alive.
Back at Dave Lincoln's apartment, Orion decides to bring his disciples... er, new friends up to date with the story so far. Which is also handy for new readers. How convenient!
He produces a Mother Box which shows the foursome a "previously on Jimmy Olsen and Forever People" style update. Interestingly, as well as scenes of Mantis, The Wild Area and a Boom Tube, we also get a hint of a future storyline when we get the briefest of sights of the undersea creatures "The Deep Six".
Meanwhile Desaad has powered up his Fear Machine and set it loose on the area. Orion quickly sets out to find the source of the invisible beams causing panic in the city. Which doesn't take long as Mother Box soon tracks the origin to an advertising hoarding behind which the full scale version of Desaad's nightmare machine is hidden.
One quick burst of astro-force later, the Fear Machine is done with and Orion returns back to Lincoln's apartment where his new found friends swear their allegiance to Orion's cause.
Back at their secret base Desaad and Darkseid are studying the results of the experiment, which in the end didn't yield the hoped for results. The Anti-Life Equation still remains hidden. Desaad is quick to blame Orion, but Darkseid doesn't quite see it that way...

DESAAD: Orion has made a mockery of this test! When we capture him -- give him to me!
DARKSEID: You're a fool, Desaad! Blinded by your own mania! We could never take one such as Orion captive! His kind dies in battle! And in death would look greater than a vermin like you!
DESAAD: So! The great Darkseid rises quickly to the defense of an enemy!
DARKSEID: Orion is an enemy to be respected!
DESAAD: Yes, it is strange how very like us he is -- in his fierceness and --
DARKSEID: Silence, Desaad! Were Orion my own son -- he would mean nothing to the purpose of our mission! And in that mission we must not fail!

In the last issue High-Father admitted that Orion was not born of New Genesis, and now Darkseid is dropping some pretty heavy handed hints about his true origin. We shall, of course, learn more in due course.

Looking back at this issue, not much actually happens. Orion has a brief fight with Brola and then smashes a billboard. There's a lot of exposition, although it is fairly well done, unlike some of Kirby's early Jimmy Olsen issues where it seemed to be shoehorned in. What is apparent though is the overall vision that Kirby had for the series is mostly in place, unlike those early Jimmy Olsen's which at times seem to have been made up as he went along.
And the best is yet to come...
Join me next week for another Fourth World Thursday.
See you soon,

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