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by Mario Di Giacomo

The year was 1970. The legendary Jack Kirby, having left Marvel Comics under less than stellar circumstances, had moved to California to focus on other interests. However, he was soon to find himself working in comics yet again.

The comics market was in trouble. The minor boom caused by the Batman TV show was fading, and the editors at National Comics [the company which would later change it's name to DC Comics] were desperate for something new to publish. One editor, Carmie Infantino, traveled to California to see if Kirby would be interested in working for them again. Mark Evanier, who worked at DC at the time, tells what happened next:

"Jack did not want to do any existing DC books. Infantino said that the folks "upstairs" insisted that Jack take on one existing monthly. Infantino said Jack could take any book in the place.

I believe that was a matter of Infantino grandstanding a bit. There were certainly books then that Infantino would not have wanted Jack to tackle. If Jack had picked one of those, Carmine would have talked him out of it.

Jack looked over the DC books and didn't particularly like any of them. He didn't like the idea of kicking an artist off an assignment so he said to Carmine, "Give me whatever book doesn't have an artist. Give me the lowest-selling book in the line. Give me anything, I don't care." Jack prided himself that he could take anything and turn it into something.

JIMMY OLSEN was then without a regular artist. Carmine had also wanted Jack to do some Superman get his input into the character. Weisinger had just left and sales were slipping, so Infantino felt Superman needed an extra "push." JIMMY OLSEN seemed like a good place to do some of that.

There was also some sentiment around the DC offices that Jack oughta revive the Newsboy Legion. Since JIMMY OLSEN was a reporter, it seemed like a good place to stick the Newsboy Legion.

For all of these reasons, JIMMY OLSEN was selected. It was not then DC's lowest-selling book but it had been selling well below the other Superman titles recently.

The story about him asking for the lowest-selling title is not untrue...but it doesn't mean he was given the lowest-selling title. And that's the absolute, true story."

[Mark Evanier, post to KIRBY-L, October 9, 1998, reprinted with permission]

It soon became apparent that Jack had ulterior motives in mind. He introduced a mysterious villain, named Darkseid, part of a new mythology, one more suited to the modern age. A few months later, three new titles began: The Forever People, Mister Miracle, and the New Gods. These stories told a rich tapestry of powerful gods, ancient tragedy, and new hope. In New Gods #4, a title was given to the as mysterious as it was evocative: Jack Kirby's Fourth World. This is it's story.


Special thanks to:

  • Magnus Eriksson and the John Byrne Fan Site, for the chronolgy and Orion cover.
  • Chris Harper, for the Fourth World Bibliography
  • Tom Kraft, for his cover scans.
  • Jay Babcock and Lynn Walker, for their Jimmy Olsen issue summaries.
  • Kirby-L, for listening.
  • mdg, for being himself.