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Unlike most FAQs, this one's been set up a bit differently. Here, I came up with a basic question, and I took responses I received via e-mail and through newsgroups and mailing lists and compiled them into an overall discussion of the question. So the "answers" below are not one single description of the question, but rather several opinions thrown out for the general public to take in and use for a better understanding of the material. I figure this way would be better since (a) it's different from most FAQs I've seen, and (b) it allows the "newbie" reader to the New Gods to get a pretty in-depth array of "answers" about the New Gods Universe. (I say "answer" because, again, these are, in many cases, opinionated responses (especially the Genesis ones towards the end)).
If you have any additions or questions at all, please feel free to let me know, and I'll address it here a.s.a.p.!

1 Basic questions

1. Who are the New Gods?
The Watcher - The inhabitants of New Genesis. Once, in NEW GODS #1 (1971), they call themselves "Celestials". Most prominent members include Izaya (Highfather), Lightray, Scott Free (Mr. Miracle), Orion (adopted into Highfather's family), Metron, and many others.
Chris Reilly - The New Gods are a race of god like beings who live on New Genesis.
David Gordon - The product of Ragnarok.
Thad Doria - Forager called them "Eternals" in his first appearance: "Yes! I dare call you Eternals by name! I am one of you!"
Mario Di Giacomo - The New Gods are a race of semi-divine beings, created by Jack Kirby during his second tenure at DC. As an attempt at a new mythology, they were critcally successful, but never really gained popular acclaim.
Ramhog - Personally, I think that the New Gods (all of them) are humanity's collective unconscience made manifest, thus the variety of cultural archetypes, etc.
Blink182 - Characters like Orion, Big Barda. The remnants of the gods from a millenium ago when Apokolips and New Genesis was one planet. These characters are the descendants of sorts.
CaptainKal - They are natives of the worlds New Genesis and Apokolips. They've evolved personal powers and technology so advanced as to be considered gods. They apparently achieved godhood around 28,000 B.C. Their powers and technology are partially based on their predecessors, the Old Gods. New Genesis is supposed to be the world of the good gods. Apokolips is supposed to be the world of evil.
Ben Herman - After the cataclysmic battle that destroyed the "Old Gods" and their world, two new planets were formed. They came to be called New Genesis and Apokolips. According to New Gods #7, New Genesis was formed with the atoms of an Old God named Baldurr, giving the planet his "nobility and strength." Apokolips, however, "was saturated with the cunning and evil which was once a sorceress" of the Old Gods. On both worlds, a race of new gods developed (hence the name New Gods), and they came to reflect the qualities of their worlds. The gods of New Genesis were brave, noble, and philosophical. The gods of Apokolips were cruel, evil, and violent.
2. Okay then, who were the Old Gods?
The Watcher - The gods who came before the cataclysm that divided one world into New Genesis and Apokolips. It was implied in several Jack Kirby issues that the old gods might have been the Norse gods of Asgard. In an issue of FOURTH WORLD, John Byrne made the connection explicit by using Thor in a story.
David Gordon - The Norse gods, for the most part: Thor, Loki, Odin, etc.
Thad Doria - While the Norse Gods concept is the predominant one, alternate concepts exist. In History of the DC Universe, Marv Wolfman suggests that the war between the Titans and the Olympians unleashed the energy that created New Genesis and Apokolips. In Cosmic Odyssey, Jim Starlin proposed that the "Old Gods" were a race of super scientists who dabbled in Things They Were Not Meant to Know and destroyed themselves in an attempt to probe the Anti-Life dimension. According to Mark Evanier's run on New Gods, animated corpses of the Old Gods shamble beneath New Genesis--they are the Dreggs. They mindlessly re-enact their days of glory in their dark caverns.
Simon DelMonte - And just to be complete, JLByrne made out the old gods to be the old gods of myth, complete with introducing his take on Thor that was supposedly closer to Norse myth than "the Fabio of the super-hero set" (to quote Ben Grimm on the recent FF cartoon).
Mario Di Giacomo - Good question. The New Gods were supposedly created many millenia ago, when a world of divine beings (the aforementioned Old Gods) was sundered in two by a great war. As Jack referrred to the name Balduur, and called the primordial planet Asgaard, it could be assumed he originally meant the Old Gods to be the Norse pantheon (possibly as a tweak at Marvel Comics, as one of the heroes Kirby hads created during his time there, Thor, was a member of that pantheon). Nowadays, however, they are just considered to be really old cosmic beings, most of whom are now deceased.
Ramhog - They were the gods that existed *after* the Ragnarok of Odin's Asgard. In other words there was a Norse cycle between the one we're familiar with and the New Gods.
CaptainKal - Predecessors to the New Gods. They lived on one of the first worlds to achieve sentience in the cosmos (called Asgard by some). A final, fatal conflict raged between factions of the Old Gods that was so lethal that it destroyed them and split their world in two, thus forming New Genesis and Apokolips (some call this conflagaration Ragnarok). Until the "Genesis" storyline, it was believed that all the Old Gods perished then. Humanoid life achieved godhood on 'Asgard' around 15 billion years B.C. 'Ragnarok' occurred around 5 billion years B.C.
Ben Herman - Kirby never explicitly states who they were, but many have assumed they were the gods of Norse mythology. The fact that one of the Old Gods was named Baldurr helps support this.
3. What is the Source?
The Watcher - Good question...a mysterious hand that writes on a wall when it wants to send messages. Izaya first beheld this during the great war against Apokolips, and it helped inspire him to end the war by exchanging his and Darkseid's children. To my knowledge, it has never been explained, but it has a predecessor in the Book of Daniel, a hand which wrote on the wall and foretold the destruction of a king's empire.
Chris Reilly - It is the ultimate "source" of knowledge and enlightenment.
David Gordon - The origination of all things.
Thad Doria - According to Kirby's text pieces, the Source is God.
Mario Di Giacomo - God, or at least an aspect of Him. In the most common portrayal, however, it's basically an energy firled not unlike Star Wars's conception of the Force.
Ramhog - The Force.
CaptainKal - The Source is supposed to be the ultimate, fundamental, cosmic power from which all other things spring. It is the basis of the Life Equation which allows sentient life the freedom to choose their actions and destiny. All things are linked through the Source, especially living things.
Ben Herman - Kirby never gave an exact explanation, but it was implied that the Source had created the universe, so it was either God (with a capital "G") or the equivalent of God. The Source is linked to all life in the universe. It's worth noting that there are parallels between this and aspects of certain Eastern religions, with their ideas of the Holy Being as an impersonal force or order.
4. So what the hell is the Astro Force anyway? (asked by Nigel Kitching)
From the pages of ORION #24

"The Astro-Force, the harness, my wristbands are one and the same. They are a part of the Source and cannot be destroyed. Not by mortals. Perhaps not even by gods! A power beyond the comprehension of the flesh. They are the wrath of the Source, Lightray! And I, who along stand poised between the ferocity of Apokalips, and the compassion of New Genesis, am its wielder. A light that burns in the heart of darkness! - Orion, to Lightray

Gregg Allinson - I take it as an opposite and opposing force to the Omega Effect that good (New Genesis only?) warriors use. Oddly though, the Omega Effect can be used to simply exile people whereas the Astro Force is always lethal and even presents a danger to it's users (as can be seen by Orion's concern over using it in New Gods #1). Perhaps the weapons of good and evil got switched somewhere along the way...?
Captain Kal - The Astro Force is another fundamental force of nature. It is wielded by Orion through his Astro-harness. It has the power to shatter the binding force of atoms or shift worlds in their orbits. It is inferior to Darkseid's Omega Force.
Crom13 - Sorta like the Power Cosmic, but lots more Kirby Krackle. (In other words - Don't Ask!! Just Buy!!)
Mario - If it was up to me..
1] The Astro-Force is something that was given to Orion, probably in a ritual setting. The actual energy is localized in his body, the only one on New Genesis that can contain it due to his heritage [which might be a spoiler, since I doubt he got this power from Tiggra :) ]
2] However, he cannot _release_ the force on his own, since if he did so, it would likely all pour out at once [think of it as a high-pressure water tank]. In the process, he'd probably explode.
3] Hence, Highfather/Metron/someone on new Genesis created the Astro-Harness to act as a valve, allowing him to release it in controlled, if powerful, bursts. He also has smaller circuits in his gauntlets, but they can't release as much energy. Hence, if Kalibak, Superman, or anyone else put on the harness, nothing would happen, other than Orion getting _really_ angry, and that's not a good idea.
As to what the Astro-Force actually _is_...I have no clue. Probably the Source is involved, although the idea that it is the energies of the Old God Balduur appeals to me.
Ramhog - The force utilized by Orion for various purposes, possibly the same force behind Izaya's Alpha Bullets. Exactly what it is and where it comes from, we do not know.

5. What is the Anti-Life Equation?
The Watcher - This has had many interpretations in the hands and minds of many creators. Originally, Jack Kirby suggested that the Anti-Life Equation was a concept which, when properly solved, would give the solver absolute mental control over everyone in the universe. Some humans held parts of the Anti-Life Equation in their minds, which was one of the reasons Darkseid expanded his war into Earth. The partial owners of Anti-Life Equation nowledge, such as Billion-Dollar Bates, used it often to amass power for themselves. For all his searching, Darkseid has never been able (as far as I know) to solve the equation. Others, Jim Starlin among them, have chosen to present Anti-Life as a destructive force.
Chris Reilly - If Darkseid figures it out, he can enslave the universe.
Thad Doria - The elimination of free will. It is the ultimate goal of Darkseid that there be no will but his own throughout the universe. This has had many interpretations in the hands and minds of many creators.
Originally, Jack Kirby suggested that the Anti-Life Equation was a concept which, when properly solved, would give the solver absolute mental control over everyone in the universe. In the issue of THE FOREVER PEOPLE that first introduced Darkseid's Omega Effect, the Forever People found an Earth person who did indeed have a manifestation of the Anti-Life equation: an Oriental guy named Sonny Sumo. Darkseid's soldiers tracked him down, but the Forever People reached him first. They used Mother Box to awaken the Anti-Life Equation within him, and he used it to issue a single command: "SLEEP!!!" With that, an entire battalion of Darkseid's troops fell flat on their faces, asleep. However, this use of the Anti-Life Equation angered Darkseid, who wanted to be the only one who could use the Equation. So he let loose his Omega Effect and blasted all of the Forever People, and Sonny Sumo as well. He sent them to different points in time, but he was later made to change his mind and bring the Forever People back. Sonny Sumo was lost in time, however, and he never returned.
Mario Di Giacomo - A mental construct that, when solved, allows for the psychic domination of all life, everywhere. Kirby's chief antagonist, the evil New God darkseid, considers solving it hisa primary task. For a while, there was some indication that Anti-Life was an entity, but this has been banished to plotline Limbo.
Stephen Michael Menendian - Kirby's concept was this (as I understood it): If life was the ability to choose our own destiny and the freedom to make decisions for ourselves, anti-life is where someone takes that away from us like Darkseid.
Ramhog - Total, universal mind control.
Blink182 - Apparently the ultimate power source, that is Darkseid's quest to achieve.
Ben Herman - Like so many other aspects and concepts in the New Gods' series, this is open to interpretation. The basic meaning of Anti-Life is that it is the elimination of free will. In Forever People #3, Glorious Godfrey, a servent of Darkseid, presents Anti-Life to humans in his guise as an evangelical figure. He refers to Anti-Life as a gift of Darkseid, as "The cosmic hunting license! The right to point the finger or the gun!" Basically, what Godfrey is offering humans is the opportunity and justification to destroy others, and to do so without any doubt or guilt, because they have voluntarily forsaken their free will and morality. The Anti-Life Equation, then, seems to be some intangible formula that is found buried either partially or fully within random human minds. Sonny Sumo and "Billion Dollar" Bates were two such people. When the parts of the equation are assembled, it presumably gives the user the ability to eliminate all free will in the universe, to impose Anti-Life upon all beings in existence.
6. What is the Fourth World?
Watcher - More or less, it's the group of characters and settings which form the core of Kirby's great tetralogy...JIMMY OLSEN, NEW GODS, FOREVER PEOPLE, and MR. MIRACLE. Since all these were interlaced originally, they formed a "world" of their own, though the action took place on Earth-One.
Gordon - Only Jack truly knows for sure.
Mario - The "Fourth World" is an umbrella title for the New Gods storylines. Occasionally, writers try to make it mean something in-continuity, but it never really works.
7. Why's it called 'the Fourth World?"
Watcher - Probably because of the modern habit of dividing the nations of Earth into First World, Second World, and Third World countries. Kirby denoted his characters and situations as coming from a different "world" than any of the others.
Mario - No one is really sure. Two common theories are: Jack meant it to be beyond the First, Second, and Third Worlds of then-modern politics, and another, noting that the phrase first appeared on issue for of the New Gods series, thinks that an overly excited copy writer meant it as "This is the Fourth World Jack Kirby has created in this series" and it just took off from there.
From the Jack Kirby FAQ by Bob Heer - "I've heard some creative explanations for the name "Fourth World" being applied to Kirby's greatest creations, the saga of the New Gods. An extrapolation from the "third world" term. Counting the early 40s superhero stuff as the first world, the later S&K stuff as the second, the Marvel Universe as the third. The fact that there were four books involved. A reference to the DC convention of naming parallel worlds (Earth-1, Earth-2 and Earth-3 existed by then). A reference to the Hopi creation myth of "Four Worlds" (my favourite).
"The truth seems to be that either someone in DC's production department put "Kirby's Fourth World" on the cover of the fourth issues of NEW GODS, MISTER MIRACLE and FOREVER PEOPLE (and Kirby's seventh issue of JIMMY OLSEN, which came out around the same time), or Kirby put it on the cover of one of those books and someone at DC picked up on it for the rest (Steve Sherman claims he heard Kirby use the term before it appeared in print, while Mark Evanier doesn't recall hearing it).
"Somehow the name stuck (perhaps because Kirby didn't really give the saga an overall name, and it was usually just called the tetralogy (or trilogy for those who whould deny JIMMY OLSEN his place in the sun)). The next usage I know of was in the letter page of MISTER MIRACLE #7 (there may have been a house ad in some DC books the month before, but I haven't tracked it down yet), in a reply by Evanier/Sherman. A very matter of fact usage, so the term seems to have caught on with fandom quickly. It appeared again on the cover of MISTER MIRACLE #10, and in letters in MISTER MIRACLE #16 and #18. The phrase also appears in a few pencils for KAMANDI and DEMON covers, which adds a whole other twist.
"So the explanation seems to be either 'don't mean nothing' or 'might mean something, but Kirby doesn't seem to have told anyone.'"
8. Where are New Genesis and Apokolips, the planets of the New Gods?
Gregg - If we assume it's the ruins of Asgard reborn, then in a seperate dimension.
CaptainKal - 'Ragnarok' threw New Genesis and Apokolips into an adjacent pocket of space-time at the center of the universe. It is only reachable via Boom Tubes. I suspect, though it hasn't been shown, that they are in the same corresponding space as Oa was, save for the dimensional barrier.
Mario - In another dimension, properly reachable only by Boom Tube. Those who manage to teleport there by other means end up miniature-sized.
Ramhog - According to JIMMY OLSEN #141 in "A strange galaxy never before seen by man!". According to me it's in a higher plane of consciousness.
9. What is the "Godwave?"
Blink182 - That was where some of our heroes got there powers from. A wave that contracts to "infinity" and then pulled back inward causing quite a bit of havok (See Genesis crossover).
CaptainKal - The Godwave is the energy released by 'Ragnarok'. It's first pass through the cosmos spawned all
the pantheons of gods throughout the universe. After if rebounded from the edge of the universe, it made a second pass. The weakened Godwave created and planted the potential for power in mortals. Later, many of these so endowed would become metahumans, etc. After rebounding again, the remaining Godwave energy actively interfered with the powers of those it had endowed on its previous passes. This occurred in the present era.
Mario - The left-over energy from the destruction of Asgaard. It empowered the pantheons of Earth.
Ramhog - When the gods go to a baseball game and one stands up with his arms in the air and then the rest of the gods in the crowd do it too and they all go "Wooooo!" and it looks neat? That's the "Godwave".
10. What's with that burning hand that writes messages to the Gods of New Genesis?
CaptainKal - The 'burning hand' is a manifestation of the Source, as is the wall it writes on. The messages it writes conveys messages from the Source to the New Gods of New Genesis. Special note: It only provides information; it never dictates their actions. This is consistent with the Life Equation.
Jack Bohn - The first manifestation of the Source on New Genesis; it provides prophecy via the image of a hand tracing letters onto a wall, as in the biblical Book of Daniel.
Gregg - It's the Uni-Friend.
Mario - That's the Uni-Friend, an avatar/messenger of the Source. Basically, it's an angel.
Ramhog - It's the manifestation of the Source that communicates directly to Izaya. It's Izaya's "Burning Bush".
11. What is the Omega Effect?
Mario - I think it's fairly plausible, since it keys on Kirby's core idea about Darkseid, mainly that he is all about control.
An object hit by the Omega Effect has it's molecules placed under Darkseid's complete control. He can move them across space (and time), scatter them to distant corners of reality, tweak them to cause physical pain, and yes, reassemble them at Darkseid's whim.
However, it's not perfect. You may recall in the story Jack wrote as a prologue to Hunger Dogs, that the beings he recreated with the Omega Effect (Steppenwolf and Desaad, as I recall) seemed somewhat soulless. For, while Darkseid could recreate their bodies, he could *not* recreate their minds, which had gone to the Source.
The Omega Effect cannot directly affect the mind, and that is the one arena in which Darkseid has always wished for more power. That's why he is almost always looking for a way to gain the control of the mind, via the Anti-Life Equation and/or conquest of the Source.
12. What is a Mother Box?
Mario - It's called a living computer, but I think it's more like a data terminal to the Source. After all, it's most common act is to deliver knowledge. All kinds of knowledge. Knowledge of the past and present, time and space, matter and energy, and even body and spirit.
Orion's can open up Boom Tubes, detect various phenomena, and reshape (heal?) his features. According to some writers, it can also calm his rage. And of course, the Boxes can summon the "elemental furies", whatever they are.
According to Himon, it takes a certain mental strength and purity to create a Mother Box, but then we see that Slig of the Deep Six had one. And Orion *kills* it (which makes me wonder what his Mother Box thought about it, especially with issue #4's revelation that Mother Boxes communicate. I guess we could call it an InterBoxNet. :) )
This is what we know...
There's more than one way to build a Mother Box. Himon's use the Source as a power supply, but apparently, others on Apokolips create lesser ones. Every Mother Box must be built by it's owner, and becomes attuned to it's mind. (which is why it only pings...the real communication is telepathic).
Clearly, the mindset on New Genesis makes reaching the proper mental state to activate a Mother Box (or, in the case of the Forever People, a gestalt box) a relatively simple task. I suspect Metron or Highfather guide the younger gods in this task.
On Apokolips, it's harder. Part of me wonders if Slig was an earlier student of Himon, who was seduced by the opportunity to join the "dark side". However, since his Mother Box had already become attuned to him, it remained, even though it probably grieved at his descent into evil. When Slig died, in it's grief, it allowed Orion to destroy it. (I expect Seagrin's Box destroyed itself off camera.)
If I'm right, it will only grant it's gifts to those with the proper desire to serve life. The dreamers, the shapers, the fighters, and the teachers. Those who hoard knowledge for it's own sake, or as a means to an end, will find themselves with nothing but a box of inert electronics.
13. What is a Boom Tube?
Sean - The portal and only way to get to the Fourth World. Boom tubes are only accessable through use of a Mother Box or a boom tube generator.
14. What's this about people "shrinking" if they travel to New Genesis and/or Apokolips via another way than a Boom Tube?
Mario - New Gods are about 300 feet tall, on an absolute reference scale. When they Boom Tube to another plane, the Mother Box/Mega-Rod reconfigures their body to an appropriate size. Similarily, when a Terran BT's to New Genesis, they are reconfigured as well.
But if you use a *different* form of teleportation, that reconfiguration doesn't take place. So humans end up ants. This was most recently seen in a Supergirl arc, where she teleported magically to Apokolips, and was miniaturized until she was exposed to a Mother Box by Himon.
One out for the whole "why not teleport to Earth as giants?" idea is that the transformation is required in order to be able to *move*...gravity and the square-cube law could come into play...

"Of course. Your Earth, Superman, is nothing more than a *speck* in an *air pocket*." "Orion--look at us. We're the same size. If Earth was a speck, I would be a microbe here. And you've been on Earth. You're not a giant there." "The boom tube, Superman. It adjusts your size as you travel through it."
- A slightly bombastic Orion and Superman discuss interdimensional travel. New Gods #10, (third or fourth series, depending on how you count them); Rachel Pollack/Stefano Raffaelle/Brian Garvey

15. Are the New Gods really gods?? Do they have magical powers, or are they cosmic?
From the pages of ORION #24

"Gods are not dependent on their worshippers; worshippers are dependent on their gods.
And the New Gods? We're as old as time, constantly remade. Constantly reborn with each turning of the wheel.
No WORSHIPPERS? FOOL!!! LOOK ABOUT YOU! Each time a mortal turns on a computer, puts a piece of bread in the toaster, opens a door, strikes a match, or wonders at the stars...he WORSHIPS at the altar of the New Gods.
...Every living thing that swims or creeps or crawls or walks recent into the forever night...dedicates its life to our service.
- Orion, to the defeated and blinded Arnicus Wolfram

Walt Simonson - Regarding gods in comics: frequently, readers suggest that gods are really (merely) technologically advanced aliens, and maybe some of them are. There are a lot of gods in comics and I don't pretend to begin to know them all. But I also think that occasionally readers probably take Arther C. Clarke's Third law a little too seriously. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." The deal with aliens, to me, is that they are an answer. Not a question. We can look at the magical stuff 'gods' in comics do and say, oh, well, really, Thor or Odin or whomever is just an advanced being. Essentially, we're writing them off essentially in a mechanistic fashion to make them comfortable to us. We may not understand their technology but we understand technology in general and may even have the hope that someday, we'll unravel the technology of these god/aliens. Aliens are not so different from us; we belong to the same class of beings.
Actual 'gods' are a different case really. They are not an answer. They are a question. A mystery to which there is no answer because the mystery itself is the answer. Consequently, I don't treat the New Gods as aliens with wonderful gizmos. They do of course have wonderful gizmos but I don't think we could build them even if we knew how. Gods are usually understood in a context that the interested parties comprehend. Zeus threw lightning bolts because that's what the Greeks saw. Somebody had to be tossing those things. The universe rides on the backs of Elephants standing on a large Tortoise because these are things that are understood in India, the mundane made wonderful. But in a deeper sense, these are only metaphors for the mysterious power of gods.
IMHO, the New Gods work through technology because in the modern world, that is generally how we understand power. It is a metaphor of the power of the New Gods that we can recognize. It isn't an indication that really, they're just aliens and we aren't far enough advanced to understand their gizmos. The fact that various readers and even pros from time to time have suggested that the gods (any gods really) are merely aliens suggests to me that our familiarity of technology has become so all-encompassing that we don't always see through it to the metaphor that, I think, it represents in this case. Which is the mysterious power of the gods.
As I said above, I think they represent a question, not an answer.
Mario DiGiacomo - Definitely magical, using technology as a means of expression. Look at it this way...
The New Gods are considered at least equal to the DC Comics version of the Greek pantheon, and everything those gods do (in Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel, anyway) is magical.
Technology is the medium by which we comprehend what the New Gods do, much like how the ancients saw lightning as weapons (spears, axes, or hammers) thrown by the storm gods.
- Excerpts from a discussion on the Orion Message Board
berk - Maybe Arthur C. Clarkes famous statement might apply here: you know, the one about how a sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic to less advanced cultures. And there's Frazer's observation, in The Golden Bough, that magic and science really share a very similar attitude to the world: they both try to discover laws of nature through knowledge of which those powerful forces can be manipulated.
The DCU, like the MU, is all about answers - everything has to be explained, catalogued, and classified until it's drained of all mystery - and thus of all dramatic power as well, IMO. The Fourth World really was an attempt to bring a mythological approach to comics, and that approach can not be sustained in a DCU that is by its very nature completely antithetical to it. The "superheroes" of the DCU are its "gods" and its gods - whether their original sourec is Greek mythology or Jack Kirby's brain - are thus reduced to nothing more than superheroes.
- Excerpts from a discussion on the Orion Message Board

2 Characters

1. Who is Orion?
Watcher - The son of Darkseid and Tigra. He was adopted by Izaya in the exchange that ended a great war between New Genesis and Apokolips. He has great power and fierce fighting ability, and it is prophesied that he will someday face Darkseid in a last battle in the area of Apokolips called Armagetto.
Chris - Darkseid's son who was raisd by Highfather on New Genesis.
Mario - The son of the evil Darkseid, raised by the benificent denizens of New Genesis as part of a peace agreement between Highfather and Darkseid.
Ramhog - Darkseid's son and Izaya's adoptive son. Also Luke Skywalker.
Blink182 - Son of Darkseid and current JLA member. Very much like his father in some ways.
2. Who is Darkseid?
Watcher - The ruler of Apokolips, father of both Orion and Kalibak, nephew of Steppenwolf and son of Heggra. Also the greatest enemy of Highfather and the New Gods. His physical power is considerable, but his genius as a conqueror, tyrant, plotter, and commander of the forces of Apokolips and their human and non-human pawns is much greater. Lance Visser - In the kirby series, his exact physical power was never really clear. He avoided direct physical contact most of the time. Writers afterward have made him immensely powerful, but that in some ways was
a major change.
Mario - The tryannical ruler of the dark world Apokolips, Darkseid uses his great powers to crush all dissent to his rule as he seeks his goal of total universal domination.
Ramhog - Ruler of Apokolips. Also Darth Vader.
Ben Herman - The ruler of Apokolips. He succeeded to the throne by having his mother, Queen Heggra, assassinated. Darkseid manipulated his uncle, Steppenwolf, into mudrering Highfather's first wife, therby causing war between New Genesis & Apokolips, and enabling darkseid to seize power. Subesequent writers have revealed further details about Darkseid's past. Darkseid's original name was Uzas, and he "became" Darkseid by claiming the power of the Omega Force. Darkseid's father was Yuga Khan, an ambitions tyrant who sought to conquer the Source, only to become imprisoned by it for all eternity. Darkseid had a brother, Drax, who was betrayed and almost killed by Darkseid when he seized the Omega Force.
3. Who is Highfather?
Watcher - Izaya, the ruler of New Genesis, father of Mr. Miracle (Scott Free), and foster father of Orion. When his wife Avia was slain by Steppenwolf with the help of Darkseid, it began a great war between Apokolips and New Genesis. He later turned away from warmaking when the conflict threatened to destroy both planets, and, encountering the Source, took the name "Highfather." He effects the robes and staff of a Biblical prophet and is Darkseid's opposite number in terms of leadership.
David Gordon - Izaya, "First Among Equals" of New Genesis, father of Scott Free (Mister Miracle).
Mario - Darkseid's opposite number, the ruler of New Genesis, now deceased.
Ramhog - Leader of the New Gods of New Genesis. Also Obi-Wan Kenobi.
CaptainKal - 'Highfather' is more of a title than a name. It is given to the leader of the New Gods of New Genesis. Highfather Izaya is the best known one. He is the father of Mr. Miracle. The current Highfather is Takion, an Earth man bonded to the Source by the machinations of Highfather Izaya to be his successor.
Ben Herman - The leader of the Gods of New Genesis. His real name is Izaya. He was originally known as "The Inheritor," and was a member of New Genesis' military. Izaya's wife Avia was murdered by Steppenwolf. Izaya led New Genesis against Apokolips in the subsequent war, and he eventually killed Steppenwolf in battle. As the war dragged on, casulties mounted and New Genesis was devastated. Sicked by the violence, Izaya rejected his role as a warrior. He came across the Source Wall,the only remaining artifact from the time of the Old Gods. The Source communicated to Izaya, who adopted the title of Highfither, spiritual leader of New Genesis. Highfather then negotiated the Pact, exchanging his son for Darkseid's, to (temporarily) end the war.
4. Who is Mister Miracle?
Watcher - The son of Izaya and Avia. He was exchanged to Darkseid as part of the pact which ended the first great war. Darkseid gave him to Granny Goodness to be raised in her cruel "military academy", and she named him, mockingly, "Scott Free". Through all the torturous experience at the academy, young Scott learned how to become a master escape artist. Eventually he hooked up with Himon, another master of escape and foe of Darkseid, and, in his adolescence, escaped from Apokolips via a warp. Later he came to Earth and took up the costumed identity of Thaddeus Brown, an escape artist murdered by a member of Inter-Gang.
Gordon - Son of Highfather, sent to Apokolips and raised as one of Granny Goodness' soldiers as part of the Pact with Apokolips. in Darkseid's mind, the key to breaking the Pact between New Genesis and Apokolips - the moment he breaks "scot free" from Apokolips, the Pact is broken.
Thad Doria - Darkseid's plan had always been for him to escape eventually. This would break the pact, you see. And the pact was merely a stalling tactic so that Darkseid could rebuild his forces anyway.
Mario - Mister Miracle, aka Scott Free, is the genetic son of the Highfather, and was traded as an infant for Orion as part of a peace treaty. Raised by the brutal Granny Goodness, his eventual escape to Earth broke the peace treaty. He has made a name for himself as a master escape artist.
Ramhog - Son of Izaya and adoptive son of Darkseid (sort of). Also Jim Steranko.
5. Who are the Forever People?
Watcher - Five of the "young gods" of New Genesis, which they call "Supertown". They are Big Bear, Beautiful Dreamer, Vykin the Black, Mark Moonrider, and Serifan. Their connection to the principals of the Fourth World saga (Izaya and Darkseid) has never been revealed, but Darkseid did kidnap Beautiful Dreamer early in the course of the renewed war with New Genesis, thinking she had the key to the Anti-Life Equation in her mind. A pin-up in an issue of FOREVER PEOPLE featuring her and Darkseid stated that the two of them held the keys to the New Genesis / Apokolips war, but this was never further explained. They had the power to unite through their Mother Box and become or be replaced by the Infinity Man, a hero of great power. They were the first New Genesites to meet Superman. At the end of their first series they were exiled to an alien planet, and the second FOREVER PEOPLE series showed how they had lived since then.
Thad Doria - The canonicity of the second series is in doubt, however. Points raised by its writer (J. M. Dematteis) that may have been retconned or ignored by later authors (correct me on this folks):
1) The FP were orphan Earthlings taken by Highfather from various eras and places to be raised on New Genesis.
2) Big Bear and Dreamer married and had a daughter, Maya, who was also a Mother Box (in a way I can't quite explain).
3) There exists a sentient evil counterpart to The Source, called The Dark.
Visser - Forever people suggests that she had the power to interprete the anti-life equation, but would never willingly do so. She did not have it in her mind, but she could derive the anti-life equation if she were willing.
Mario - Five children of New Genesis who fled to Earth to find their own path. They have the ability to join together to summon the Infinity Man.
6. Who are all those other New Gods?
Watcher - There's a bunch of 'em. Too many to go into detail right here. Lightray and Metron are the most prominent ones. Lightray is Orion's closest friend and partner. He can fly, throw lightray blasts, and in general manipulate the power of light. Metron is a master of technology who rides his "Mobius Chair" through time and space, but he had to betray a secret of New Genesis to Darkseid in order to get the element to power it. Because of this, Metron covertly aided Scott Free in his days at Granny Goodness's academy, as a penance, and helped him find his way free of Apokolips. Metron is also a great friend of Scott's mentor Himon, whose theories Metron often put into practical use.
Chris Reilly - LightRay, Bug, Granny Goodness, Stepenwwolf, Kaliback, Tigress (Dayseid's wife, and Orion's mother) Bernadeath, Lashina, Stompa, Deesad, The Black Racer, Metron, Jaffar and the deep six, Avia (highfather's deceased wife) Mantis, Baron Vundabar, The Parra Demons, and the Hunger Dogs (There's also Photon if you want to include that loser)
Gordon - Metron, the Enigma who uses his Mobius Chair to explore the cosmos. He doesn't really take sides in the New Genesis/Apokolips War.; Lightray, Orion's exact opposite in temperament as well as Orion's best friend; Desaad, Darkseid's chief toady and torturer; Kalibak, Darkseid's other son; Kanto, Darkseid's Master Assassin; Virman Vundabar; Glorious Godfrey; Too may others to mention
Thad Doria - Metron is usually amoral. In Darkseid's words "You'll betray us all in time! But this thing [the Boom Tube] you shall build...for us!" His only loyalty is to his quest for knowledge, though he is more often on the side of New Genesis than not. He seeks to understand The Source, either by penetrating The Wall or by other means.
7. Why don't those bad guys just overthrow Darkseid and stop talking about it?
Watcher - It ain't that easy. For one thing, Darkseid is a plotter par excellance. For another, he's very, very powerful. For a third, he possesses the Omega Effect and can either disintegrate a foe or send him back through time by using it.
Chris - Because Darkseid wields The Omega effect.
Gordon - Because Darkseid always knows what they're going to do before they do it. He'll catch them and kill them, at least until he needs them again.
Thad Doria - Despite their bluster, Darkseid's minions have had their spirits broken. They cannot openly betray their master.
Visser - For the same reason that nobody managed to overthrow many of the monster dictators of history. They are well protected. And the often set their underlings to fighting with each other to the point where there is such hatred and rivalry among the subordinates that they politically cancel each other out.
Mario - Because Darkseid is _very_ good at his job. The lower classes of his realm have learned all too well that anyone who proclaims a revolt against Darkseid is either a plant, or will soon be dead. There is an exception..the man named Himon, who leads a successful underground movement against Darkseid. However, he isn't so much interested in overthrowing him by force, but in changing the lives of the "lowlies" by showing them their true potential.
Blink182 - Why do you think we haven't killed Sadam Hussein? Because someone worse than he might take his place....
Ben Herman - Darkseid's possession of the Omega Force makes him incrediply powerful, dangerous, and difficult to kill. Additionally, over the centuries he has completely crushed the wills of his subjects, to the point where they believe they are nothing without his guidance. They live in perpetual fear of their tyrannical ruler. As Granny Goodness says in Mister Miracle #18, "Darkseid is total power! He can strike us down or toy with us at will!"
8. How'd these guys find their way to Earth, dang it??
Watcher - Darkseid expanded the war into Earth when he detected humans there who had parts of the Anti-Life Equation.
Visser - The old gods had a bridge to earth. That was destroyed with them. They still had knowledge of and a connection to earth, but they had no way to get there until the great war (boom tube) and the terms of the pact that ended the war was supposed to keep both sides off earth. (new gods 1 & 7)
Mario - Darkseid has discovered, by whatever means, that the solution to the Anti-Life Equation could be found on Earth. Coincidentally, when Scott Free escaped, he landed here as well. Basically, the Earth is a nexus for these sort of things. :) As to the actual method..most New Gods have the ability to create a wormhole through space called a Boom Tube, after the loud noise it makes upon opening.
Blink182 - Using Mother Boxes, which create Boom Tubes, which are modes of transportation.
9. Why can't Orion and his step-bro Kalibak get along?
Watcher - Each one of 'em claims, "Dad always liked you best!" No, really it's because Darkseid has a vested interest in keeping Kalibak a powerful enemy to Orion, and Kalibak never liked Orion that much, anyway.
Gordon - Kalibak would be a half-brother, as Darkseid is his and Orion's father. And Kalibak knows that Orion is still his father's favorite, even though he fights for New Genesis.
Thad - Kalibak often tries to earn his father's love by attacking his enemies, such as Orion. It is unlikely he will ever succeed.
Blink182 - Kalibak is everything that Orion can't accept of himself.
CaptainKal - Kalibak is always trying to trump Orion to prove himself to their father, Darkseid. (Typical sibling rivalry)
10. When will Orion and Darkseid finally settle their dispute?
Watcher - In MR. MIRACLE #9 (1972), Metron and Himon prophesy to Darkseid, "We shall be in Armagetto when it ends! For it is here where you will face Orion!" Though neither have exactly been depicted as prophets, this statement seems to have the weight of prophesy. Darkseid has been "killed" several times, and brought back just as many. But the prevailing school of thought among many New Gods fans seems to be that Orion and Darkseid will eventually meet at Armagetto and that, in the last battle, both of them will perish. This may take a good long while, as several Legion of Super-Heroes stories showed Darkseid awakening in the 30th Century after about 1000 years of hibernation. They may have been retconned. But, even so, there's no prohibition against Orion going to the Legion's time and squaring off with his father in a final fight there.
Chris - They did, if you were lucky to read the final issue of New God's (it was only made available in the New God reprint series in the 80's. Dakseid kills Orion. I guess that's not part of DC continuity though. What is?
Gordon - Darkseid will never kill Orion...that's the rub in this whole epic: the father cannot kill his own son. Can Orion kill Darkseid? Doubtful. And since Jack left his saga unfinished, I say we'll never know.
Jack Bohn - They most likely read what Orion quoted at the end of THE NEW GODS #11 (1972), "It is written that the father of Apokolips shall meet his banished son in the red light of the fire-pits! --- And there they shall decide this war!"
Visser - I believe the actual prophecy is that darkside will die and that orion will survive but will have been changed greatly by the act. Darkseid has been killed several times, but not by kirby. Kirby may have intended
to have him die in hunger dogs, but in the story that saw print it didn't happen. There are also the last few issues of captain victory to consider which seem to provide a distant future for the new gods (by kirby). Orion's son is captain victory. Apokolips is still there, but is ruled by someone else. Darkside has been reduced to being in essense a disembodied voice. (effectivly dead). New genesis has been destroyed. None of the names (new gods names) are used in the story (because it wasn't being done for DC), but the intent seems clear.
Mario - It is written that one day, in the fire pits of Apokolips, they will have their final battle, and only one will survive. They have met several times, oftenm apparently slaying each other, but it never sticks. In the 80's, the graphic novel the Hunger Dogs purported to show the final conflict, but it technically hasn't happened yet.
11. Why did Highfather give his son to Darkseid?
Watcher - To end the great war between New Genesis and Apokolips. Izaya's son Scott Free was given to Darkseid, and Orion was given to Izaya.
Chris - Why did Highfather give his son to Darkseid? It was a cease fire pact. They traded sons.
Gordon - To keep peace between New Genesis and Apokolips.
Thad - As explained above, Darkseid was buying time with a truce. He always meant for Scott Free to escape, so that the war could resume.
12. Why doesn't Metron ever seem to do anything?
Me - Metron is on a quest of knowledge. He seeks to learn and study. He rarely ever interferes in the actions that take place, unless he can either control them or his involvement will further his studies.
Gregg - He does. He observes and gains knowledge so that he can eventually gain knowledge of the Source. Plus, I'd like to see somebody ask Scott Free this question...;)
CaptainKal - He's more of a scientist and a thinker.
Mario - Because he doesn't care about either side..all he wants is more knowledge.
Ramhog - Because he thinks too much.
13. Who are the Earth-allies of the New Gods, both good and bad?
Me - Among the many, these are the most important: Claudia Shane, Victor Lanza, Harvey Lockman, Dave Lincoln, Oberon, Shilo Norman, Thaddeus Brown, Ted Brown, Morgan Edge, Intergang, and of course, the various incarnations of the JLA.
Mario -
Good: O'Ryan's Mob, the JLA, assorted humans.
Bad: Primarily Intergang.
Ben Herman - On New Genesis' side, there is Dave Lincoln, Claudia Shane, Victor Lanza, Harvy Lockman, Dan Turpin, Sonny Sumo, Eve Donner, Oberon, Shilo Norman and Ted Brown. Members of the Justice League, especially Superman, have been involved in aiding New Genesis. Serving Apokolips are Morgan Edge, Intergang, and the Justifiers.
14. Are any of the New Gods based on real-life people?
Gregg - Big Barda is an amalgamation of Roz Kirby and singer Lanie Kazan. Rumours have swirled that Mark Moonrider is Mark Evanier, but Kirby denied this. Stan Lee was the inspiation for Funky Flashman and his servant Houseroy was Roy Thomas, and Mr. Miracle was inspired by Jim Sterenko.
Mario - Supposedly, Mister Miracle is Jim Steranko, Mark Moonrider is Mark Evanier, Himon is Jack Kirby's father, and Barda is Roz Kirby in Lanie Kazan's body. Furthermore, Funky Flashman may be Stan Lee, with Roy Thomas playing his servant Houseroy.
Jack Bohn -
The Black Racer: the Angel of Death, soul guides of various mythologies; the Silver Surfer; if the New Gods have arisen from the ashes of the Norse gods, then his use of skis (cross-country and not merely downhill) is appropriate.
Darkseid: Totalitarian rulers of the twentieth century such as Hitler and Stalin.
Desaad: The Marquis de Sade, 18th century French noble whose name is the origin of the word "sadism".
Mr. Miracle: Harry Houdini, famous escape artist. Like Scott Free, Houdini (formerly Ehrich Weiss) took his stage name from another magician (the first Mister Miracle and the French conjurer Robert Houdini, respectively); I'm told the immediate inspiration came from fellow comics artist and magician Jim Steranko
Granny's Orphanage: the orphanage in Oliver Twist, as mentioned in the text by Kirby. Also seen in the Dickensian names Granny assigned her charges (and then molded their personalities to fit?): Virman Vundabar, Kanto, and Doctor Bedlam; George Orwell's 1984 for the Big Brother-like slogans on the walls: "Die for Granny -and she will live for you!", "You're not a liar -- if you lie for Darkseid", and "You're not a beast -- if you kill for Darkseid"; military boot camp, with its dehumanization and subsequent retraining.
Highfather: Odin, called the Allfather, I believe, at least in the pages of Marvel's Thor; Isaiah, major prophet of Israel and source for two famous poetical prophecies of peace: "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them."(Is 11:6), "...and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."(Is 2:4) - the latter particularly applicable to Izaya.
Metron: Metron is the name of the angel that is "The Voice of God". His immorality in the pursuit of knowledge suggests his name derives from the scientific suffix -metry from the Greek metron, meaning measurement (telemetry, geometry). However, in New Gods vol 1 #4, pp 1-4, Metron hovers above primitive proto-humans; he notes that someday they will look up and see him, and "Then they will think and dream." Perhaps Kirby is implying that his search for the Source is the truest desire of the Source.
Metron's Mobius Chair: the Möbius strip is a loop with a half twist, and has only one side; a topological oddity that parallels the oddities of time travel; H.G. Wells The Time Machine. Only described in the novel as a frame with a saddle, the 1960 George Pal movie elaborated it into a full Victorian chair in a frame with a spinning disk behind it. the Source: the image of the Source Wall on New Genesis; a hand writing in fiery letters, also appears in the biblical Book of Daniel, Chapter 5. I'm trying to find the source for the poem, "The moving finger, having writ, moves on..." Unlike that poem and most fatalistic oracles, the Source allows for free will, more like the prophesy found in the Book of Jonah, Chapters 3&4
Ben Herman - Darkseid was inspired by the fascist dictators of the 20th century, especially Hitler and Stalin. Darkseid was also partly inspired by then-U.S. President Richard Nixon, for whom Kirby had an intense dislike. Kirby's personal experiences probably also played a role in creating Darkseid. As Kirby's former assistant, Mark Evanier, once commented, "Darkseid was the repository for everybody who'd ever been rotten to Jack, or everybody Jack ever percieved as being a selfish pig." Glorious Godfrey, the evangelical preacher of anti-life who recruited/brainwashed followers for Darkseid, was probably based partly on Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi party's Minister of Popaganda. Godfrey's rally in Forever People #3 certainly has Nazi overtones, and Kirby prefaced that story with a quote from Hitler. Metron: Kirby probably saw Metron as an aloof scientist or academic who was obsessed with the quest for knowledge and discovery, and who was either oblivious or unconcerned with any effects his discoveries could have on the world. In one interview, Kirby compared Metron to Edward teller, the scientist who developed the hydrogen bomb.

3 Comics

1. What are the important New Gods issues?
Thad - Lots of them! Here are some of my choices:
JIMMY OLSEN #133-134: The beginning of the saga. Darkseid makes his first appearance in cameo in the latter issue. Earth is just being drawn into the great conflict.
JIMMY OLSEN #147: Superman finally makes it to New Genesis and meets Highfather.
FOREVER PEOPLE #1: First appearance of the Forever People and Infinity Man, and Superman's first meeting with people of New Genesis. Darkseid's first on-stage appearance. The intro of the Anti-Life Equation. My personal favorite issue.
NEW GODS #1: The mythology really begins to firm up with some backstory on Apokolips and New Genesis, which are finally depicted. First appearances of Orion, Lightray, Metron, Highfather, and Kalibak. Darkseid and Orion begin their great personal conflict.
NEW GODS #7: "The Pact", the origin story of Highfather, Orion, Scott Free (later Mr. Miracle) and the backstory behind the entire "godwar". Highly influenced by America's war-weariness in the Vietnam conflict, and still
powerful today.
( Thad - Said to be one of Jack's personal favorite stories. )
MR. MIRACLE #1: The first appearance of Mr. Miracle, son of Highfather and the most "superheroish" member of the New Gods.
MR. MIRACLE #9: "Himon". The continuation of Scott Free's origin (see earlier issues for "Young Scott Free" short-shorts), continuing thematically from "The Pact" and showing how the son of Highfather finally escaped from Apokolips. The prophesy of Darkseid's Last Battle is made here, and Himon, Scott's mentor, is introduced. Jack Kirby is rumored to have had a similar backstory issue in mind for the Forever People, but the book was cancelled long before he could produce it.
MR. MIRACLE #18: The New Gods make a guest appearance in Kirby's last issue of the original Fourth World run, with Darkseid and his legions as villains and the wedding of Mr. Miracle and Big Barda. Not flawless, but
fun.
( Thad - The first time we ever saw Darkseid laugh, IIRC.)
NEW GODS #6 ( / DC GRAPHIC NOVEL #4: Kirby returns to the New Gods and takes up where he left off. Not flawless, but good.
( Thad - Reports indicate this was not anywhere near the ending originally planned. But then, reports indicate there *were* no firm plans for an ending even back in the 1970's. )
Reilly - 1 (for obvious reasons) 6 (the pact between Highfather, and Darksied is revealed) They're actually all important, as it was an ongoing story
From the Jack Kirby FAQ by Bob Heer - "About a decade after the books were cancelled, Kirby returned to DC
and his greatest creations. What we got was a reprint of NEW GODS #1-#11, a new story called "Even Gods Must Die", a graphic novel called "The Hunger Dogs" and a couple of miniseries tie-ins to the Super Powers cartoon/toyline.
Reaction to this stuff is mixed, although it's obvious that there was a great deal of editorial bumbling by DC (if you take about half of "The Hunger Dogs" and rearrange some pages, you'll get a better story than what was published). What is clear is that this "ending" does not resemble in any significant way the ending that Kirby would have done if he had been able to continue the saga uninterrupted. It's a popular misconception that at the time of the original cancellation Kirby was getting close to the end of the saga. Actually he still had a lot of set-up and exploration to do before reaching the climax.
Ramhog - "The Pact" in New Gods, and "Himon" in Mr. Miracle. You know which issues.
Robert-Michael Huber - New Gods vol.3 #12-15, Jack Kirby's Fourth World #1, #8, #20.
2. Why do so many fans seem to ignore much of what Kirby didn't do?
Me - Fans seem to accept Kirby's stuff as canon, since he was the creator and did the "legendary" New Gods works. Since then, there have been many ups (Cosmic Odyssey, Superman: The Dark Side) and downs (Genesis).
Gregg - I don't think they ignore so much as they try to add onto the legend, but don't exactly do their research. For example, a cursory check of "Himon" could've told John Byrne that Avia was Scott Free's mother... On the other hand, it seems to me every writer who takes over New Gods ignores the last run. Evanier and Starlin didn't take into account Conway, and Byrne ignored all of them.
Mario - Because his stories were more than just cool fights and cheesecake. He made you think. Plus, they've been long out of print, so the only view people have of the characters have been the less than accurate retellings of other writers.
Ramhog - It isn't "kewl".
Ben Herman - Part of the problem is that DC Comics itself can't make up it's mind which post-Kirby New Gods stories fit into continuity. Since Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC continuity has been a confused mess. Add to this certain creators who were (perhaps justifyably) unhappy with certain post-Kirby stories, and chose to simply ignore them. And, with Hypertime (and its myriad alternate realities & timestreams) now in effect at DC, it's possible to regard all the stories as having taken place, but not all within the same reality. With all that going on, it's no wonder that many readers have decided to just look at the Kirby issues as what "really" happened.
3. Why so many guest appearances? Don't the New Gods have their own book?
Gregg - As written by Kirby, they were epic characters who elevated common superhero stories to modern myths. A lot of people want to tap into that epic feeling. Also, the New Gods are currently homeless 'til Orion comes out next year.
Mario - No writer has written the New Gods as well as Kirby did. Several series have come and gone, of varying quality. Hopes are high for Walt Simonson's take on Orion, however.
Ramhog - Who knows? But it sure ruins the characters and concept every time they do that, doesn't it?
Ben Herman - Sometimes. The problem is, Kirby conceived the New Gods books as a storyline that would eventually have come to a resolution, a definite ending. He was always moving in that direction. Because of this, the characters don't fit very well in the ongoing monthly serial format, where the status quo is enforced. Kirby didn't design the characters to work as superheroes like Superman or Batman, to have adventures month after month. So when attempts have been made to fit the characters in such adventures, they haven't fared well. It also doesn't help that many New Gods stories have been rehashes of the Kirby issues, rather than part of an effort to move the characters forward. Basically, very few creators seem to know what to do with the New Gods. There are exceptions, though, such as Jim Starlin, Walt Simonson and (sometimes) John Byrne.
Mark Gossman - There are certain aspects of the New God mythos that are simply silly. The Black Racer. Granny Goodness. Mr. Miracle. My personal favorite, Stompa. Glorious Godfrey, for God's sakes! These are all silly names, sillier than most in any comic book universe. Some of these characters look silly as well.
Now, as some of you may know, I'm all for a little silliness. I was never a big New Gods fan, but this silliness didn't bother me as much as I suspect it did/does others. If I've learned one thing within these hallowed internet halls, it's that there are many fans that take their comics seriously. VERY seriously. This silliness probably offends their sensibilities in some way, perhaps in a way they couldn't even articulate. For those who are hassled for reading "kiddie" books (and I've been on THAT street before), perhaps it's an embarrassment thing? You could argue how comics address many adult oriented themes and are nowadays geared towards an older audience until your blue in the face, but show your antagonist one picture of Virman Vundabar and their kiddie stereotype is engraved in them for life. I'd imagine, for teens especially, this would cause a natural dislike for a group of characters that kind of "proves" the point of all those that that widen their eyes and exclaim "YOU read CAAAAMIC BOOKS?!?!?" Not that I've ever heard anyone do that before.;)
There is a lot of contrast in the New Gods world as well, ESPECIALLY on Apokolips...you've got the flat out evil beings (Darkseid, Brimstone, Kalibak, Mantis, etc.) mixed with characters who look and sound silly but embody the concepts of torture (Desaad), corruption (Glorious Gadfrey), domination (Granny Goodness), and maybe dark sexual desire (Lashina). Evil, wrapped in a package of absurdity. While I find this combination to be all the more horrific because of the contrast (if done well) maybe there are those that just don't get it; perhaps they need their villains clearly labled and dressed accordingly.
Or perhaps I'm just waaaaaayyyyy over-analyzing the situation.:)
4. Why were Kirby's New Gods books cancelled?
5. Why weren't most of the New Gods in the Crisis of Infinite Earths?
Mikishawm - Marv Wolfman briefly explained the absence of the New Gods in early 1986’s AMAZING HEROES # 91 (a CRISIS wrap-up issue), noting that “I regret not being able to use the Jack Kirby’s Fourth World characters more because of things that Jack is planning to do with them.”
Jack’s follow-up to “Hunger Dogs” turned out to be 1985’s SUPER POWERS # 1-6, published concurrently with CRISIS # 6-11. John Byrne continued with the repercussions of the graphic novel in his early post-Crisis New Gods trilogy (SUPERMAN # 3/ ADVENTURES # 426/ ACTION # 586), notably in his acknowledgment of New Genesis’ destruction. By COSMIC ODYSSEY # 1, though, the Source seemed to have put the planet back together again. (I’ve always thought there was a story in there somewhere)
After the “Hunger Dogs” experience, it’s remarkable that Jack wanted to have anything to do with the characters at all. As Walt pointed out, the graphic novel began as a 24-page “Last New Gods” story entitled "The Road to Armagetto,” which would have appeared in issue # 6 of the 1984 NEW GODS compilation series following the reprint of NG # 11. Mike Royer’s recollection, as reported by John Morrow in THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR # 6, was that the sequence was a true ending that would have closed with the deaths of both Darkseid and Orion.
Instead, DC balked and sent Jack back to the drawing board, now requesting a completely different story for NEW GODS # 6 (at 48 pages rather than 24) while also asking him to expand and revise “Road to Armagetto” into a graphic novel. The end result, with pages from the original story reconstructed out of order and art revisions to compensate for the change from smaller comic book-sized dimensions, was a huge disappointment -- to fans and, certainly, to Jack. (John Morrow, in TJKC # 6, suggested that many of the revisions may have been designed with DC’s “Super Powers” toy line in mind and noted the resurrections of characters such as Steppenwolf, Kalibak and Desaad).
6. Okay, one last time: what is up with Cosmic Odyssey?
Sean - It's all about the Anti-Life Entity. The Anti-Life Entity was a concept Jim Starlin created, that totally didn't mix with anything that had been defined before. In COSMIC ODYSSEY, Starlin established that the ALE was an actual being which plotted to destroy the universe (by destroying certain worlds that would in turn destroy the whole shebang).
First off, the ALE was not an Entity, but an Equation, as defined by "the King" himself. It gave its user total control over all living things. But in the process of creating and defining this entity, Starlin decided to redo the New Gods' actual origin: instead of being descended from the "Old Gods," they were descended from plain old aliens with great technological constructs and weapons; in their eagerness to expand their knowledge, they destroyed themselves. And thus, in the midst of the chaos, New Genesis and Apokolips were born. Since Kirby's New Gods is more beloved by many creators and fans than non-Kirby New Gods, this major development was ignored. And since this was all the main thrust of the miniseries, the miniseries itself is considered non-canon.
There were elements, however, that were good (Forager's adventures with Batman and his sacrifice in #4, John Stewart's failure to save a planet from destruction - a plot point that was used in latter Green Lantern comics, the reunification of Etrigan the Demon and Jason Blood, and Mike Mignola's kick-ass art) and thus have been kept in canon.
So COSMIC ODYSSEY's place in DC canon is a strange one that many people question: there were really good parts, and there were parts that made no sense compared to everything else Fourth World-related.

4 Appearances

1. Where have the New Gods played an important part in the DCU?
Gordon - I would say that the machinations of Darkseid and friends permeate the DCU, so everywhere.
Ramhog - Forever People #1, Darkseid first app. in Jimmy Olsen, The Great Darkness Saga in LSH.
Huber - in the 'Legends'- and the 'Genesis'- Crossover, and in the 'Panic in the Sky'-storyline of Superman
Sean - Mostly in Superman, where they have made a majority of their appearances when not in their own books.
2. Why did Genesis suck so bad?
Mario - Because John Byrne is a hack.
Sean - The crossover suffered due to, I'd assume, poor communication between all the writers involved. Not many of the books featured any appearances by New Gods or other important characters involved. Several stories either made some off-handed reference to the event or had the main character try to deal with his or her "power loss" suffered by the superheroes or dealt with Plus Byrne had wanted to kill Guy Gardner in Genesis; luckily ("luckily?" what in name was *I* thinking?) Beau Smith convinced DC not to let him...

5 Jack Kirby

1. Who the heck is Jack Kirby?
Gordon - The King of Komics. There are no superhero comics without Kirby. No Marvel Universe, no DCU as we now know it.
Mario - Jack "King" Kirby was one of the great artists in comics history, and had a part in creating many of the most popular heroes and villains of the medium.
Ramhog - The King of Comics.
2. What is his history with the New Gods?
Chris - He created them, wrote, penciled, inked, and edited them.
Gordon - He created them and had the last word on them, as far as I'm concerned.
Mario - He created the New Gods his stint at DC in the early 70's.
3. What did he do, other than the New Gods?
Chris - Hulk, FF, Futurions, X-Men, the Demon, Superman's pal: Jimmy Olson, Captain America, Devil Dinosaur, Kamandi, Omac, Blue Bolt, Boy's Ranch, Fighting American, Challengers of the Unknown, Silver Surfer, and the list goes on, and on.
Gordon - Jeez, Captain America, Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer, Galactus, Thor, Avengers, the Hulk, Iron Man, Black Panther, New Gods, the Demon, Kamandi, the Sandman, Boy Commandos, Boys' Ranch, Fighting American, the Guardian, Jimmy Olsen...and on and on and on...
Huber - He co-created most of the Marvel-Universe in the 60's and Captain America in the 40's. For DC he co-created the Guardian, the Newsboy Legion, Boy Commandos and the Manhunter (Paul Kirk) in the 40's. He revamped the Sandman (Wesley Dodds) also in the 40's. In the 50's he drew the Green Arrow and he created the Challengers of the Unknown. In the 70's he created the Project Cadmus, the DNAliens, Dubbilex and the Hairies (I think these stories in Jimmy Olsen belong to the whole 'Fourth World'). Later he created, sometimes called his 'Fifth World', Kamandi, OMAC, the Demon and a new Sandman. After that he went back to Marvel for a short time.
4. What was with Kirby's dialogue for the New Gods?
Gregg - Read classical literature, like the Bible and Le Morte D'Arthur. Sound a bit stilted and over-the-top? Kirby was merely tapping into a classical/mythological vein, and in my opinion, he succeeded. These are gods and the men caught up in their wars. They shouldn't talk like people from Hoboken, and when they do sound like "average folks" (see Gerry Conway's run), the series loses a lot of energy and excitement.
Mario - People actually talked that way back then, more or less. Jack may not have been perfect in his rendition of the slang of the young (I was 5 then, I don't remember. :) but he made an effort.
Ramhog - Not just on the New Gods- almost *all* Kirby dialogue stinks. I've heard it refered to as a kind of "word jazz", where often it seemed he was just doing weird things with words more than having characters communicating an idea. You get used to it. :)

6 In media

1. Where else have the New Gods been seen outside of the comics?
Chris - Challenge of the Super Friends, and The new Superman adventures, on WB.
Mario - Darkseid was a recurring villain in one of the "Superfriends" incarnations. He, along with Orion and several other New Gods characters, have appeared in the recent Superman animated series now being broadcast in the WB network. In the early 80's, Jack returned to DC to write a toy tie-in series based on a line of action figures called Super Powers. Several New Gods characters were depicted in both the comic and the toy line.
2. What's this about similarities between the New Gods and Star Wars?
Gregg - Orion and Luke= Both young men weilding great power (Force/Astro Force), but troubled and always on the verge of becoming evil (Luke in Return of the Jedi/Orion throughout the series, when his face turns feral). Also, both are the unknown sons of the villain of the piece (Vader/Darkseid).
Darkseid and Darth Vader= Both the unknown father of the hero of the piece (Luke/Orion), who has the potential to kill the villain and take his place (Luke in Return of the Jedi/Orion throughout the series). Also, Vader uses the Dark Side of the Force and Darkseid...well...that's his name;). There are pronounced similarities to Kirby's Victor Von Doom in Fantastic Four as well: both are former allies of the heroes (Obi-Wan/Reed Richards), both are encased in armour to survive and blame the hero for that fact (again, Obi-Wan/Reed), both use "black magic" (The Dark Side of the Force/Literally black magic), and both weild great political power over an opressive dictatorship watched over by masked soldiers (Vader is presented as second only to the Emperor in power and commands super weapons like the Super Star Destroyer, and Stormtroopers obey his commands/Doom controls Latveria with his robots).
The Source and the Force= Influence, but do not control, the deeds of people. Both have never been fully defined and are shrouded in mystery.
Stu Beckman - The Source/The Force, Darkseid/The Dark Side, Mark Moonrider/Luke Skywalker, Vader/Darkseid's 'helmet-head' design, "but the scene that always strikes me is in Empire Strikes Back, where the dialogue is eerily echoing Himon (Mr. Miracle 9): Darkseid: 'Stay warrior! Let me complete the destruction of Scott Free --- so that you may live with the majesty that is the power of Darkseid!' Vader: 'Don't make me destroy you...join me and I will complete your training...if you only knew the power of the Dark Side!'" Mario - The hero [Orion/Luke] uses a mystical energy [the Source/Force] to battle a menacing villain who is secretly his father [Darkseid/Vader] who is based on a planetoid with big circular depressions on it. [Apokolips/Death Star]. The hero is accompanied by a reckless daredevil [Lightray/Han Solo?] and trained by an older man with incredible powers [Highfather/Obi-Wan]. However, there are good reasons to believe that much of this is coincidental, since these are also primal archetypes. Only Lucas knows for sure, and he denies it. Jack Bohn - I've been told Kirby's works are among the items read by Lucas while searching for inspiration for Star Wars. I wonder if it did influence him to think of Luke Skywalker as Orion, hidden son of the Dark Lord, growing up under the watch of Kenobi (Highfather). The Death Star might be compared to Apokolips, but, it might also be a coincidence that the two planets it has been shown in opposition to - Yavin IV and the forrest moon of Endor - have been shown to be lush with life.
The Force has light and dark sides, similar to the Life and Anti-Life Equations in the Fourth World. We also find in Episode One that there is a "Will of the Force", something also in the early scripts of Star Wars. It is interesting to find out in the Star Wars: Behind the Magic CD-ROM (and perhaps in The Annotated Screenplays) that the Luke/Vader/Emperor confrontation was originally to take place in the lava caves of the Emperor's throneroom under the planet-wide city of the Imperial homeworld. This directly echoes New Gods vol 1, #11 22:4 -- "It is written that the father of Apokolips shall meet his banished son in the red light of the fire-pits! -- And there they shall decide this war!"

Acknowledgements:

Thanks to the following folks for responding to my initial FAQ posts on the Kirby-L, SuperHeroNews, rec.arts.comics.dc.universe, and e-mails:
Mario Di Giacomo
Ramhog
Robert-Michael Huber
Neil Sarver
Edward Lewis Wilkinson, Jr.
Jim Murdoch
Terry Fry
Lance A Visser
The Watcher
Thad Doria
Bob Kennedy (BobKinDC)
Tony Caroselli (Last Son of Krypton)
Bob Heer
Simon DelMonte
Jack Bohn
Stephen Michael Medendian
Chris Reilly
David Gordon
Gregg Allinson
Mark Gossman (Wayopex!!)
Blink182
Stu Beckman
CaptainKal
Nigel Kitching
Ben Herman
Crom13


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