Friday, June 27, 2008

The New Gods #10--"Earth--The Doomed Dominion"


So. Last issue dealt with the “Bugs”, the subterranean dudes in costumes insectile life forms who mutated from biological weapons loosed upon New Genesis in the great war. We learned that one of them, Forager, was an adoptee, probably a New God himself, and that he was loyal to “Prime One”, the brains of the colony who ended up being sacrificed to the new order when Mantis, stooge of Darkseid, took over. Barely escaping with his life, Forager hightailed it to Earth to warn Orion of the coming invasion.

We open on Mantis charging up in his power coffin as he did the first time we saw him. Rising from the coffin, Mantis gives a less-than-effective rallying speech:

MANTIS: We go to Earth! And there Mantis will make you the Masters!! There you shall rule instead of run!!
BUGS: We hear you, O Mantis!!
MANTIS: Hear further! Hear how this war between Apokolips and New Genesis will end with victory—for us!!
BUGS: We know, Mantis!

Not exactly the St. Crispin’s day speech. “Yeah, yeah, shut up already, great Mantis.” But they go along with Mantis’s poorly-explained invasion plans anyway, almost like they have no individual wills of their own. Like they’re some kind of…hive creatures or something.

Oddly, Mantis promises them powers such as his own ability to charge and drain energy, and that each other them will rule a part of Earth once its conquered. Since there appear to be roughly fifteen sqadrillion bugs, I’m wondering just how tiny the patches of land each bug is going to be allowed to rule over will be. “Hey, you! This is my clodpile! Stay within your boundary marker!” But then, these guys don’t have a lot of experience with individual will-to-power, being bugs and all.

Meanwhile, on Earth, Forager has stopped to do what he does best—steal food—and is being pursued for his troubles by a pair of comical stereotype chefs with poofy toques and everything. He proceeds to hop all over main street, frightening and unnerving pedestrians, and eventually runs straight up a building thanks to his “foot adheso-grips”…almost like a certain well-known wall-crawler belonging to a certain company Kirby had recently vacated.

Kirby’s role in creating Spider-man has always been a little cloudy—the character, obviously, is usually accredited to Steve Ditko and Stan Lee, the latter of whom claims he was inspired by a childhood radio program called “The Spider!” But Kirby had, unquestionably, pitched a few variations on a character known as “The Human Spider” or “Spider-man” to various comic companies (including MLJ, forerunner of Archie) throughout the 50s, so he probably got the ball rolling at least. I wonder if Forager is meant to be another twist on this character Kirby never got to realize his own way at Marvel. Certainly there’s a vague resemblance:

Also like Spider-Man, Forager finds himself relentlessly pursued by the cops, who eventually pick him up in a net while he’s trying to enjoy the loaf of bread he swiped. They carry him off to the station, where his path is fated to cross with Orion’s. As you might recall, the cops had busted into Orion’s apartment last issue and arrested him, assisted by the extremely reluctant Dave Lincoln. As Lincoln is quick to point out to DA Mason Hartwell, they’re not really equipped to contain Orion and Lightray and are, as a random cop admits, only holding them “because they’re cooperating”. “…And that’s true!” adds Dave, redundantly. In response, Hartwell blusters that “Taking ‘guff’ is not my prime attribute!” He then adds that he has a +2 Sword and over a thousand hitpoints, and is ranked as Lawful Good.

He proceeds to get into a dick-waving contest with Orion, insisting that he needs to get Darkseid’s, um, side of the story before he can exonerate Orion for the damage he caused battling Kalibak. (Of course, they do have Kalibak in captivity, but apparently he doesn’t get to give a statement.) At that moment, the cops drag Forager in, and sighting Orion, he starts pleading with him for help. “You called me by name!” marvels Orion. “You!” adds Lightray, “A lowly New Genesis ’bug’!” Forager manages to get their attention, though, by snatching off his helmet and revealing the godlike face within, and alerts them that Mantis is coming.

Elsewhere in “the city” (this is all still happening in Metropolis, right? Man, Kirby really didn’t like being forced to tie this into the DC Universe) Mantis is emerging with his army within sight of a couple of comical hobos making a two-panel cameo. The bugs, riled up by their leader’s crotch,

storm forwards into the city. On spotting this advancing horde of monsters armed with heavy weaponry, the people scream and run, including one understated gentleman who bellows, “Someone get the police! They look dangerous!” (Just once I’d like to see that in a horror movie. The monster comes looming into view, and the doomed redshirt yells, “That thing looks dangerous!” before being eaten.)

Orion and Lightray prepare to smash some bug carapaces, but Hartwell still isn’t letting them leave. “If you gimmicky goblins take one more step—I’m ordering my men to shoot!” You can practically hear Orion’s eyes rolling as the three Eternals teleport themselves away, and Dave Lincoln drily notes that Lighray moves at the speed of light to the bemused cops, now standing in an empty cell.

What happens next is pretty straightforward; Orion, Lightray, and Forager intercept Mantis and his crew and start with the punching. It’s not really made clear whether Orion and Mantis are evenly matched; remember, Mantis took on Infinity Man and, at least briefly, fought him to a standstill. If Orion can beat Mantis, that suggests that he’s the equal of Infy. But then, all we get to see is Orion holding him off for a while, so maybe he couldn’t actually beat Mantis if it came to that. That may explain why Lightray zips off to attempt a new strategy. He finds it in the form of a very convenient “sonic research” lab, one with an elaborate transmittal device Lightray plans to use to broadcast sound waves (generated by himself) and foil the bugs. The startled scientists are understandably dodgy about this, but Lightray takes an uncharacteristically harsh line, and besides, a moment later the scientists spot the bugs swarming across the city. “Start the sonic transmitter!!” sputters one. “…and hope that we’re on the right side!” responds the other. (Hmmm…there’s a whole theme here about the various New Gods not being immediately recognizable as “good” or “evil” to the average citizen, isn’t there?)

Forager leaps into the fray, trying to hold back his former colleagues:

FORAGER: There’s no victory in this for you! Mantis is using you as tools!
BUG: You lie, traitor!
FORAGER: Then I’ll fight you to the death!

Boy, that didn’t take much.

Orion and Mantis are pretty much deadlocked in combat, until Lightray’s sound beam hits, causing the bugs to clutch painfully at their ears. Rather anticlimactically, they create a boom tube and run off, seemingly never to return.

There’s a pretty big problem with this issue: the New Genesisians are supposed to be noble and enlightened heroes of virtue and equality, but again we see that they treat bugs like dirt, despite the fact that they’re clearly sentient beings. Now, I could buy that Kirby was trying to show us that the New Gods aren’t perfect, that they need to learn a lesson about treating supposed “lesser beings” with respect. That certainly seems to be the intent. But he kind of throws a monkey wrench in this by having Forager be one of Orion’s kind, and further by showing him to legitimately be superior to the Bugs. He can make decisions on his own, he has human emotional attachments, and he’s just generally the saviour of his adopted species…with said species being shown, otherwise, to be mindless, violent cannon fodder, apparently completely deserving of being gassed, shocked, and starved by the New Gods. I’m sure Kirby didn’t intend things this way, but the subtext here certainly comes off as arrogant and chauvinistic.

But hey, bug warriors invading Earth. That’s cool.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Please Stand By

For only the second time since I started this project, I'm going to have to miss this week's Fourth World Fridays installment. I've got a nightmarishly busy weekend crammed with work, plus a few family obligations.

Back on the 27th! By the way, I believe FWF will actually be coming to an end sometime in September, at which point I'm going to attempt some new material.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Forever People #10--"The Scavengers!"


“Among their strange experiences on the planet Earth, four young adventurers from New Genesis have stumbled into the most bizarre involvement yet! Fate has put a restless Deadman in their path!!” Um, four young adventurers? Is Beautiful Dreamer ever going to be taken seriously? Anyway, we’re on the second-last issue of The Forever People, and sad to say, Kirby’s still sidetracked with reinventing Deadman. The wheels were beginning to come off the whole enterprise at this point, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still enjoyment to be had.

We open on a really bizarre (and typically Kirby-ish) robbery as a daredevil hanging from a trapeze suspended from a supersonic plane drops onto a high-tech “pollution-free engine”. He activates the drivers’ ejection seat by remote control, takes over the steering by himself, and drives the car away to be stripped. And that, children, is why we’re still driving gas-guzzling, carbon-emitting vehicles almost 40 years later. You can blame…The Scavengers.

Yes, The Scavengers, a high-tech operation that steals things for top buyers. As the toad-like director explains, “This is a super-age--of super-tools--used to serve the super-seller! And “The Scavengers” are a super-firm, geared to peddle super-merchandise!” Well, that makes super-sense! Thanks, super-ugly-face!

This continues the tradition of the characters in the Fourth World often reacting quite cavalierly to the New Gods. It does make a certain amount of sense—this is the DC Universe, after all, and these folks regularly see Superman and Wonder Woman zipping past—but it doesn’t explain why they’re not consistant about it, with characters occasionally going “Oh my god! You’re stronger than ten men! It’s not possible!” and so on. Either be blasé towards superhumans, or don’t be, average bystanders! Pick a reaction!

Anyway, continuing in their M.O., Toad-face is giving a guy in a fez an assignment to steal the “pyramid of Gazi”, by which I assume he means “Giza”. Apparently they have a super-rich backer who wants an authentic pyramid on his estate.

Yes. That’s right. He wants the scavengers to swipe one of the Great Pyramids and put it on his own land. Because, after one of the world’s most recognizable landmarks vanishes, no one will ever suspect the guy who suddenly has a pyramid in his backyard. It’s probably a good thing for all concerned that this plan appears to come to nothing and isn’t mentioned again.

Meanwhile, the logical gaffes keep on coming, as the Scavengers have been observing the Forever People, and now have footage of their latest exploits. Shot from “in hiding” in their basement. Yes, supposedly there was a villain crouching in their small basement, with a camera, able to get a perfect view of their activities, and none of the FPs noticed. Yeesh.

And what were they up to? Using New Genesisian technology to make a new body for Deadman. Remember the “Follower” Mr. Miracle employed way back when? That’s what the gang have dredged up, a Follower in the shape of Deadman’s traditional acrobat getup. (By the way, if I was a spirit forced to wander the world, and I had a chance to get my body back, I’m pretty sure I would ask for a version without creepy makeup and a flamboyant leotard, especially if I’d been forced to wear it throughout eternity up until then anyway.) We also learn that the Followers are actually biological instead of technological, and can be grown from “anything organic”. The toad-faced guy shows a particular interest in the Follower’s form, as he appears to recognize Boston Brand, and in the final panel of this sequence we see that he has a hook for a hand. Uh-oh.

Remember how Serifan was all being a sexist jerk in the last issue? And how Beautiful Dreamer seemed to be slowly increasing in height and musculature? Both of those things reach absurd proportions on this splash page:

OK, to be fair, she’s revealed to be standing on a box in the next panel, but she still looks as though she could crush Big Barda between her thighs. Despite this, she remains completely passive towards Serifan’s condescending dickishness, and his demand that she to drop what she’s doing and meet up with the other FPs. The person she does stand up to is the photographer, who’s, y’know, paying her to be there, and thus isn’t crazy about her leaving. She foils him by assuming the appearance of a hideous hag, causing him to fear for his sanity and bolt from the room. Ha ha! Take that, photographer! That’ll teach you to expect me to work in exchange for money!

A moment later, we learn that Beauty isn’t the only FP to have joined the ranks of the gainfully employed:

So awesome. And since the other three make no mention of getting a job, you just know Beauty and Big Bear were going to be carrying the rent. But then, that’s a pretty un-hippie thing to be doing, isn’t it? I wonder if Kirby was starting to realize that he’d missed the counterculture boat here and was attempting to get with the times (“the times” being the materialistic 70s). Again, this being the second-last issue, it’s hard to say if this was supposed to represent a new direction for the series or if it was just a pit stop into satire, but I’ll have more to say about this in the final issue.

Anyway, despite the apparent excitement caused by the Forever People getting together to give Deadman a new body (which Beauty describes as “like a big birthday party!” The hell?) Mark, accompanied by the ghostly Deadman, has decided to go upstairs and have a snack, courtesy of Trixie Magruder, their new (temporary?) landlady. This leaves the Follower unguarded, allowing a Scavenger operative to sneak in and steal it (it helpfully starts to follow his every move without any further prompting besides the guy standing near him). Oooookay…I’m not seeing why Deadman isn’t *already* in this body—I mean, it’s nice to wait for everyone and all, but I don’t think Boston really needs the company of a gang of kids he just met last issue before gaining the thing he’s been wanting for so long. Why would he leave it unattended?

Oh, right. Narrative convenience.

Of course, Mother Box quickly sounds the alarm—just a little too late—and Deadman is immediately chastising himself while running down the stairs (couldn’t he just pass through the floor?) but the Scavenger is gone. In fact, with typical Kirbian transition speed, the Follower is already back at the base, and being tested. This is how the Scavengers test it: by setting a beefy guy in boxing trunks to give it a punch. The Follower, of course, reflects his actions and punches him back, knocking the guy out. Wow, the Scavengers use their time wisely.

Toad-face, meanwhile, is haunted by the fact that the Follower looks like Boston Brand—with whom he clearly has some kind of history, wink wink nudge nudge—and has come close to sussing out exactly what the Follower is meant for. Fortunately, just as he makes up his mind to destroy it, Boston shows up, enters the body of the Follower, and violence ensues. Especially once Boston spots the Director’s hook-hand. The FPs show up and join the melee, smashing through a wall of steel-hard glass just in time for Deadman to be hit by a “frost beam” that freezes him solid. “See the look on that face!” Declares the ever-douchely Serifan. “Deadman’s very atoms have been locked to that body, so he can’t leave it!” So maybe you could, I don’t know, HELP HIM, you moron.

Meanwhile, the Director is unleashing another of the Scavengers’ ill-gotten weapons: an army of “Mechan-apes” from a “fully automated robot circus”. Oh, of course, that makes total sense. Not only that something like that would exist, but that an international criminal organization would want to steal it. If the mechan-apes don’t work, no doubt they’ll unleash some of the other terrifying weapons they’ve stolen: a length of string, a shiny button, and a quarter.

Of course, the mechan-apes make for a rousing fight scene. “Whoever built these things should have foreseen their being used with evil intent!” declares Big Bear as he demolishes them. Yes, of course. How could someone build robo-apes and NOT foresee that they might be misused by the hook-handed master of a gang of petty thieves? It’s just common sense, really.

The Director makes his getaway in a classic Blofeld-esque go-cart on a track, but is stopped by Beautiful Dreamer projecting a horrible monster up ahead. He bails out and surrenders, but the FP’s troubles aren’t over; his underling, referred to only as Manager, has stayed behind to unleash more exhibits from the Robot Circus on them, including a knife-throwing machine. Fortunately, Vykin uses his technical savvy to disable it, as Serifan thaws out Deadman. Grabbing hold of a trapeze, the undead avenger swings up to the Manager’s glass viewing box, smashes his way in, and knocks him unconscious.

So there you go—both the Scavenger operation and Deadman’s killer, brought to justice in one fell swoop, right? Well, not really. The Director reveals that his is just one of many Scavenger depots…and each one is headed by a guy with a hook for a hand. D’oh! Sounds like Deadman has his work cut out for him. To that end, Serifan gifts him with the blue cartridge from his hat, which will keep him bound to the body he now occupies, so he can continue in his quest to track down his killer. On that note, the FPs bid him farewell.

I have no idea what happened to Deadman in the immediate aftermath of this story. It seems like the suits weren’t too crazy with Kirby’s reinvention of the character, because every time Deadman’s shown up since—chronologically, the next time I’ve seen him is in Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing in the early 80s—there’s been no talk of robot bodies, blue cartridges or Scavenger depots. It’s not really that surprising to me, either; I mean, Kirby’s new paradigm for Deadman pretty much robs him of his distinctive power—the ability to posess people—and turns him into just a schmuck with a robot body (a super-strong, bulletproof robot body, of course, but still.) Further reinventions were probably inevitable, and it’s probably appropriate that Deadman, the ghostly superhero, is never able to rest in peace, constantly resurrected by fan writers, while never quite returning to life either.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Mister Miracle #9--"Himon!"


When I began this project, I’d read pretty much all of The New Gods and a healthy chunk of Kirby’s Jimmy Olsen. I knew of Mister Miracle from a handful of other sources, and The Forever People were mostly a blank to me. As a result, I started mentally filling in the blanks on both of these two characters before I actually got around to reading up to the end of their respective series. The FPs are and were pretty straightforward (though it’s a bit of a shame that we never get a direct recounting of how they ran off to Earth from New Genesis), but my take on Mister Miracle’s backstory ended up being quite off-base; I’d assumed the guy ran off from Granny’s orphanage, which no doubt resembled a high-tech prison/brainwashing centre, when he was quite young, and spent years kicking around Earth before meeting up with Thaddeus Brown.

This issue proves me quite wrong. I’d already gotten a pretty fair inkling, over the course of the first two omnibi, that Apokolips was quite different from how I’d assumed it to be thanks to the brief glimpse in the first issue of The New Gods. Thanks partly to Kirby’s constant evocation of 1984 and Adolf Hitler, combined with the degree to which the Fourth World inspired George Lucas, I’d been picturing a regimented hellscape of constant military discipline and repressive authority figures, under the unforgiving boot of the ultimate totalitarian, Darkseid. And while this is partly correct—it’s a hellscape alright, and Darkseid loves both his militarism and his authority—Apokolips turned out to be something a lot weirder. As I’ve noted before, there’s a surprising amount of personal liberty of Apokolips, extending even to the military recruits. This makes it far more interesting than a lot of “evil empires” we’ve seen in comics, yet it still enforces Kirby’s ideas of control and freedom in surprising ways. The Apokaliptians are brainwashed in early life, and then turned free more or less to do as they please—as long as what they please is basically in line with Darkseid’s plan. Otherwise, they seem to be free to fight with each other or develop their own “personalities”—most of which seem to be Granny’s mockery of the very idea of individualism rather than a true expression of self-worth.

For now, though, let’s dive into this issue that recounts Mister Miracle’s past, and reveals that the inspiration for Apokalips owes more to Dickens than to Orwell.

We open with a gang of Darkseid’s thugs landing in “Armagetto”, one of the slum-like mining stations on the edge of those blazing, continent-sized fire pits scattered across the face of the planet. A lavish double-page spread (which I’m not going to scan in because it’s too awkward) gives a terrific sense of proportion, showing the Cyclopean architecture towering over the tiny residents, and in turn, the gigantic hellfires blazing away behind them, filling the horizon. Quite an awesome shot here.

This is where the “Lowlies” toil in the service of Darkseid, mining and refining the raw materials to build the weapons and tools Darkseid requires. The goon squad, looking more Lucasian than ever, pours forth at the behest of their superior, “district protector” Wonderful Willik (in classic Kirby fashion, as noted in the last entry, the henchmen are basically interchangeable, but Willik gets a distinctive uniform.)

Willik’s come to track down a known dissident and troublemaker known as Himon, who they believe they’ve managed to trap in this section. The mewling hordes are indoctrinated in the creed of Apokolips—“Die for Darkseid!”—and thus grovel willingly, begging to be able to finish Himon themselves, but Willik’s more of a “Kill everyone and let Darkseid sort ‘em out” kinda guy…and that’s just what he does, ordering his men to take flamthrowers to the mob. As the flames roar up (despite the lack of bodies, this is a pretty brutal scene for a Comics Code approved entertainment!) a single, blurry figure, protected by a forcefield, stands amongst the flames. This is Himon, who, like Mister M. is a technology-powered master of escape, and Willik suspected that he’d be able to survive the flames. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to have thought too far ahead, as he now can’t reach Himon without stepping into the fire, and a “dyna-blast” simply ricochets back on him, allowing Himon to make his escape.

Or just barely. Himon nearly teleports into a wall, but is pulled to safety by the young Scott Free, who, we learn, has become his protégé. I should mention at this point that there were a number of little short stories in the back of prior Mr. Miracle issues that detailed Scott’s life in Granny’s orphanage, bucking authority and being contacted by Metron, who basically tended to pop in and taunt Scott, forcing him to question his existence. We now learn, rather abruptly, that this quest eventually led him to Himon, almost in spite of himself. Kirby has a thing for shifting ephiphanies and major decisions offstage at times, and this is one of the big ones.

Still, Scott’s far from convinced by Himon’s ragtag band of orphans, who he’s put to work building and maintaining the gadgets he uses to slip through the fingers of Darkseid’s goons.

Here’s where Kirby’s stated “Oliver Twist” influence comes in, with Himon as a benevolent Fagin amongst the hellish industrial slums. Himon also bears a curious resemblance to Kirby himself, and since Kirby was reportedly very engaged in mentoring the new generation at this point, it’s not hard to see where all this comes from.

Here we get an interesting insight into Mother Boxes. We were told a while back that not just anyone can use one, and that’s confirmed here with one of Himon’s charges, the subtly named Kreetin, who can’t get the Mother Box he just constructed to work, even though “every gadget it needs is in it!” Himon tells him, rather patronizingly, that the Mother Box doesn’t work “because you don’t work! What is there about you that doesn’t work, Kreetin?”

Also among the orphans is Auralie, an escapee from the Female Furie training division, and it’s this that blows their cover. A young Big Barda, wearing a simpler version of her familiar costume, comes bursting in, following a tracker in Auralie’s uniform. To her credit, though, she just wants Auralie back, and in fact doesn’t want her to get in trouble with Granny, which means she’s not going to squeal on Himon. In spite of this, she and Scott can’t help blustering at each other a little, with Barda twisting a metal pipe around his neck, and Scott blasting it to pieces with his sonic disruptors. This sublimated display of affection is interrupted by yet another gang of intruders blasting through the door (yeesh, Himon’s not actually that good at concealing himself, is he? He must move around a lot!) This time it’s a mob, and they want Himon’s head. The orphans fade out en masse, but Himon’s forced to stay behind to help Kreetin, and is captured.

Kreetin is let go by the mob, and immediately scuttles off. Metron immediately shows up. In his noncommittal, passive-aggressive way, he prods Kreetin about his cowardice, but Kreetin is a pure pragmatist, happy to let his mentor be killed if it means he gets away. Metron, despite his implicit contempt, remains noncommittal and doesn’t try to force Kreetin into anything—which isn’t surprising, really, because Metron’s not one to be judging anyone after that crap he pulled with helping Darkseid invade New Genesis. I like to think he’s learned his lesson, and that’s why he doesn’t interfere directly but does try to nudge people in the right direction.

There follows an odd two-page montage of Darkseid’s troops trying over and over again to execute Himon via a ridiculous series of traps, much like Scott regularly puts himself through; and like Scott, Himon escapes, over and over again. Finally, we cut to Himon meeting with Metron on the outskirts of town. Metron greets Himon as “master of theories!!” and Himon declares Metron to be “master of elements!!”—with Metron revealing that Himon basically designed all the technology Metron uses, including the Mother Box, Boom Tube and Mobius Chair. Man, that’s quite the resume. It also seems sort of backward—I would have said Himon is the earthbound master builder, and Metron’s the “idea man” who floats freely about the cosmos, but whatever. The two are apparently conspiring to help Scott escape, despite knowing that this will wreck the truce between New Genesis and Apokolips, but also knowing Scott needs to make the decision himself.

Now it’s suddenly time for the obligatory “traitor turns them all over to the villains” scene, and yes, the traitor in question is Kreetin. He’s executed by Willik for his trouble, and then we abruptly see the various young apprentices of Himon, literally “hung out to dry”, their dead bodies suspended from a “Magna-ring”. We, the audience, see them dead even before Scott and Barda do; Barda’s been summoned to attend the death of Auralie (we glimpse part of her dead body, electrocuted in a massive device, which again seems a little gruesome for this era of comics). Barda is horrified, and obviously this lays the groundwork for her eventual about-face. As for Scott, Willik is apparently leery of putting to death a member of the military hierarchy, despite Scott’s suspicious behaviour of late, and has them dragged off by his waiter. Yes, his waiter. That’s after the guy’s brought in his dinner, of course. Oddly, Scott and Barda go peacefully, and Willik tucks in his napkin to enjoy his meal—

Yes, the next panel is a large explosion.

The waiter was Himon, of course, and he leads them off with a rousing pep talk, revealing the secret of his Mother Boxes: they’re a direct link with The Source. In other words, they’re spiritual computers, and only someone with higher aspirations can use them. Scott, meanwhile, is vaguely remembering his mother, and bursting into tears in Himon’s arms.

An unspecified amount of time later, Scott escapes, having been “stripped of this rank! His mechanisms taken!” Boy, talk about compressed storytelling. Scott dodges Parademons and dog cavalry all the way to the edge of Armagetto, where he’s suddenly saved by Barda and the Furies (who apparently don’t hesitate to commit treason against Darkseid if Barda commands it.) Barda takes out a hovering vehicle with a thrown pile of wreckage. As they pass beyond the borders, Scott and Barda suddenly find their bodes growing heavy due to the area being saturated with “mass-gravity atoms!”. In spite of this, Himon and Metron are waiting for him over the next rise, standing on either side of a Boom Tube, offering him a chance to escape to safety. Not only that, but even Darkseid is there, standing behind Scott, booming, “I’ll not stop him now! If courage and bravery took him here!—Some of it was MINE!” It’s the most overtly stylized and symbolic sequence we’ve seen in this book so far, with Himon, Metron and Darkseid all seemingly taking the form of symbolic figures, chattering in Scott’s head, but taking no action to help or hinder him.

DARKSEID: If he leaves Darkseid, he’ll still find Death!
HIMON: If he leaves Apokolips, he’ll find the universe!!!
SCOTT: Let me be Scott Free—and find MYSELF!

And with that, he’s through the Boom Tube, Darkseid’s war with New Genesis is triggered, and Darkseid gets to do his usual speechifying before we fade out.

Evanier reports that Kirby was starting to realize his books were about to come to a screeching halt as DC prepared to drop the axe, so it’s not surprising this book seems a little rushed; as mentioned, there were a series of little “Young Scott Free” back up features throughout the comic, and I assume that the events of this issue would have been seen in that format had the book been allowed to continue. But the writing was on the wall, and Kirby knew it, so he obviously felt the need to get this info out of the way. It’s too bad that we miss out on a few revelations (like exactly how Metron led Scott to Himon), but it’s still pretty well done, all things considered.