New Gods #6 (Dec.-Jan., 1971)

Over the six years that I’ve been producing this blog, I’ve found the fifty-year-old comic books I write about here — all of which I bought off the stands when they first came out — generally fall into one of three categories.  First, there are those comics that I liked, or even loved, when I originally read them, but which don’t hold up all that well today; though I can usually still find things to enjoy about these books, it’s by considering them either through the rosy lens of nostalgia, or at something of an ironic distance — sometimes both.  Second, there are those comics which, allowing for the inevitable changes in popular tastes and prevailing styles that have occurred over the last half-century, still hold up quite well indeed; such books continue to provide an entertainment experience that can be recommended to other readers with few if any reservations.

And then there’s the third, as well as the smallest, category: the comic books that I didn’t enjoy as much when I first bought and read them as I do today.  The comic books that I needed to grow into to fully appreciate. 

As you’ve probably already guessed, such a comic book is the subject of the post you’re reading right now.  Not that I didn’t like New Gods #6 at all when I first read it; I was too much of a Jack Kirby fan in general, and a Fourth World fan in particular, for that to be the case.  Nevertheless, compared to the issue that had preceded it — and to an even greater extent, the one that would follow it — this comic was vaguely disappointing.  As much as I enjoyed the fiercely dynamic action and extravagantly imaginative imagery that Kirby served up in “The Glory Boat!!”, my fourteen-year-old self found the story’s events too strange and unsettling, its violence too sudden and shocking, and its conclusion too abrupt and ambiguous for the narrative to be completely satisfying.

Thankfully, I’ve learned enough about life — and art — in the last fifty years to be able to better appreciate this work than I was able to in October, 1971.  That doesn’t mean that I believe I’ve fully plumbed its depths, mind you — a fact which in itself is probably a testament to this comic’s greatness.  But at least I have a more mature perspective to bring to bear on a discussion of what’s likely one of Jack Kirby’s single finest works.

We’ll begin by noting that this story picks up immediately after issue #5’s “Spawn”, as Kirby (with the assistance of inker Mike Royer) continues the story arc of Orion’s quest to defeat his enemies in the Deep Six, and stop the living engine of destruction — the “spawn” of the previous installment’s title — which they’ve released into Earth’s oceans.  But even if one hasn’t read New Gods #5 or its predecessors, “The Glory Boat!!” is eminently readable, all by itself; Kirby gives the reader all the information necessary to follow the action, and to understand the stakes, in his story’s early pages:

In literal terms, the Deep Six have not “resurrected” anything — their Spawn is a wholly new creation.  But by using such language, Kirby evokes the sea-monsters of human myth and legend, most especially the Biblical Leviathan:

No one is so fierce as to dare to stir it up.
    Who can stand before it?
Who can confront it and be safe?
    —under the whole heaven, who? (Job 41:10-11, NRSV)

Following this expansive and extravagant four-page prologue, the action moves into a much more constrained space, in both physical and psychological terms, where it will remain for most of the rest of the story; indeed, the narrative is constrained even in a temporal sense, its events unfolding in something close to real time.  What follows over the next twenty-two pages might almost be considered a tightly-constructed one-act play, even if one that would be prohibitively expensive to produce on stage.  (Although it might work as an audio drama, or one of those newfangled scripted podcasts.)

Orion isn’t leaving, of course — he’s just doing reconnaissance. His rising up out of the sea at the spot where the survivors of the Aurora happen to be drifting has hardly happened at random; rather, his Mother Box has led him to this precise latitude.  “If I’m to meet the enemy,” he thinks, “it’ll be here!!!”  Still, the warrior doesn’t let his primary, martial purpose prevent him from offering assistance to people asking for help; though, as we see below, his duty also requires him to let those people know that their accompanying him may well lead them into greater danger yet:

The bound figure standing on the boat like a mast is an eerie, arresting image, suggestive of legal execution or even religious sacrifice as much as simple imprisonment.  Interestingly, Kirby barely establishes this tableau before dispensing with it (counting the cover, we see the kelp-wrapped captive only three times).

This is Lightray’s fifth appearance to date (his most recent one prior to this was in Jimmy Olsen #141) — but the first time he’s shown up on planet Earth.  In New Gods #2, we’d seen the young god petition Highfather to allow him to leave New Genesis and join Orion in the latter’s fight against Apokolips’ forces — a petition which was categorically denied.  Now, it appears that the willful Lightray has taken matters into his own hands…

It’s been clear from page 5, where we first met the Sheridan family, that Farley Sheridan is openly disdainful and belittling of his son, Richard; now we understand why.  (At the risk of stating the obvious, we’re obliged to note that being a conscientious objector in America at the time this story was produced and published was very much an active rather than a passive stance, as the United States remained deeply involved in the Vietnam War; in 1971 alone, 2,357 U.S. military personnel were killed in action.)

Meanwhile, Lightray’s comment invites some skepticism, especially for those readers who witnessed Orion’s savage takedown of the Deep Six leader Slig in New Gods #5.  Is Lightray actually naive enough to believe that his friend Orion is thoroughly averse to “war, violence, or killing”?  Or is he consciously excluding Orion from “everybody” else on New Genesis?

Orion now emerges from the craft’s hold to tell his comrade that he needs to come see what the Deep Six have left behind…

What does “techno-active” mean, exactly?  What is a “caller“?  The gods obviously know whereof they speak, but they don’t have time to explain their actions to mere mortals (a category that includes us readers, as well as the Sheridans), save in the most basic terms: “We’ve arranged a battle…”

Over the months we’ve been reading about the two opposed god-worlds of New Genesis and Apokolips, we’ve likely come to associate the former — a green, fertile globe — with the organic, and the latter — a barren orb studded with fire-pits — with the inorganic.  So it may seem incongruous that in this story, the results of the mutations of Apokolips’ denizens come across as biology-based  — very messily so, in fact — while the one generated by New Genesis’ Lightray emerges, at least initially, in the sleek, seemingly sterile form of a gleaming cube.

Writing in The Jack Kirby Collector #24 (Apr., 1999), Adam McGovern notes of the preceding two page sequence:

It’s been observed before… that Kirby had a love-hate relationship with the machine age; he repeatedly implied that our technology will destroy us while he gave everything, including skin, a metallic shine.  Ostensibly [these two pages] are about the destruction/creation dichotomy in Orion’s and Lightray’s respective philosophies.  But what strikes me most about this page — and about what it sets in motion for the remainder of the story — is the bizarre but definitive expression of Kirby’s mixed technophobia and technophilia to be found in Lightray’s transformation of an ugly organic pest into a gleaming, cybernetic… er, bomb.*

Meanwhile, Orion and Lightray are making a sweep of the sea — below as well as above the surface, thanks to Lightray’s powers of illumination — though Orion frets about leaving the Sheridans unprotected. (It’s interesting to note that although Lightray — “the smiling lamb“, as Orion called him on page 8 — has been more outwardly friendly to the three humans who’ve fallen into their orbit, Orion is the one who seems the most sincerely concerned about their safety.)  Unfortunately, Jaffar has the ability to bend Lightray’s beams, effectively making himself invisible as he swims beneath his enemies — and onwards towards the Deep Six’s wooden control ship, where waits the Sheridan family…

If there’s a weak element in the dramatic conflict Kirby has set up between his story’s three human characters, it lies with the role of Lynn Sheridan.  One imagines that the writer-artist saw the daughter as a point of balance between the diametrically opposed father and son — but since we never learn what Lynn herself actually believes in regards to the issues that divide the male members of her family, she appears to lack agency, and never really emerges as a complete character in her own right.

Like Farley Sheridan, Jack Kirby was an active participant in the Allied invasion of Europe in 1944; nevertheless, it’s clear that the creator’s sympathies lie elsewhere than with the character whose biography is superficially closest to his own.

Where Adam McGovern sees “mixed technophobia and technophilia” in the transformation of the Deep Six’s “sender” to become Lightray’s “caller”, his fellow critic Charles Hatfield (writing in the same issue of The Jack Kirby Collector) perceives “Kirby’s fascination with mingled organic and inorganic forms (remember, this is the designer of the Thing, the Silver Surfer, Brother Eye, and Machine Man).”  Elsewhere in the same article, Hatfield writes:

God bless Kirby’s machines. The “techno-active” cube is a perfect example, because it grows. Metallic but fecund, it spreads, refashioning and extending itself—as if to become were the essence of being. This is an organic conceit, ill-suited for machines but quintessentially Kirby.  What I find most fascinating about this is that Kirby presents cold, glistening metal as the symbol of New Genesis — that is, as a symbol of fertility, ordered growth, and natural function.  Whereas the “sender” was a shapeless mass of ugliness, this “caller” is a thing of beauty.

Considering how many other nasty-looking beasties we’ve seen over the last five-and-a-half issues of New Gods — not to mention in all Jack Kirby’s other work — it should be impossible for us to feel the same terror and revulsion at Jaffar’s sudden appearance as do the Sheridans.  Yet, in this masterful sequence, Kirby brings us awfully close.

Death is a good deal more common in superhero comic books today than it was in 1971; yet, the suddenness of Richard Sheridan’s murder still has the capacity to shock us.  That’s due in large part to the bizarreness and mystery of Jaffar’s method, which robs a young man of his identity at the same time it does his life.  Somehow, the wiping-out of Richard’s face is more horrifying than a more conventionally gory act of violence could ever be.

“The skirmish with Jaffar has finally ended a quarrel!! — and decided an issue!!!”

Four months after the publication of “The Glory Boat!!”, the letters column of New Gods #8 printed a negative commentary on Richard Sheridan’s final actions from a self-described “recognized conscientious objector”. Christopher C. Zavisa of Ypsilanti, MI wrote, in part:

…I found the treatment of Richard Sheridan as a conscientious objector to be over-simplified and, in the end, a betrayal to men of similar philosophy.  Kirby had Sheridan battle Jaffar, rejecting his previously announced beliefs against violence and killing. Kirby, a veteran of World War II and a long-time artist of war mags, seemed to be saying that, in the end, every man will turn to violence as the last resort, no matter what his personal philosophy…

The editorial response, credited to Kirby’s assistants Mark Evanier and Steve Sherman, was as follows:

Your interpretation is not what was intended, by any means. Richard Sheridan was a conscientious objector and, as such, came under severe accusations of cowardice. What Kirby was trying to show was that it was not cowardice: merely an adhering to principles that his father could not understand. Richard proved this when he gave his life for his father — Even the most pacifistic soul wouldn’t stand idly by and watch his father and sister perish. The father thought that claiming conscientious objection was a cover for cowardice and, as Richard Sheridan’s sacrifice demonstrated, he was wrong.

Evanier and Sherman may have been somewhat presumptuous in stating flatly that even “the most pacifistic soul” would never reject violence when his loved ones’ lives were at stake; in fact, there is an absolute form of pacifism that demands just that of its adherents.  On the other hand, that’s not the only form of pacifism in existence; we might also note that, with all due respect to Mr.Zavisa, not all conscientious objectors are required to subscribe to the exact same creed.  In any case, the more important point made by Evanier and Sherman is, in my view, sound.  Jack Kirby wasn’t saying that any human being will resort to violence in extreme enough circumstances, making pacifism a sham; rather, he was making the point that holding a pacifistic philosophy doesn’t equate to cowardice.  That, and not the ethical validity of war and violence in general, is the issue “decided” by Richard’s sacrifice.

And so Lynn Sheridan, who’s never really managed to become a vital presence in our story anyway, exits the scene completely.  The idea here seems to be, as Adam McGovern puts it: “Women are at once marginalized from the Great Conflicts and excused from culpability for them.”

But neither Shaligo nor his two cohorts, Trok and Gole, are any match for Orion’s ferocity, or for his cunning; he dispatches them in little more than a page.

How and why has Richard’s face been restored?  What did Lightray mean earlier when he said, “this one shall go to the Source as one of us!!”  There seems to be some sort of apotheosis awaiting the late young man, although Kirby leaves its exact nature and purpose unexplained.  The gods, we are once again made to understand, move in mysterious ways.

Besides, Kirby doesn’t have time for explanations.  He only has three pages left to deliver the climax and denouement of his story — and two of those are about to be devoted to full-page splash panels:

I’ve been debating with myself about whether pages 24 and 25 should be presented singly, as they are in contemporary digital editions, or side by side, as we originally experienced them in print fifty years ago.  In the end, I’ve decided that they work best seen as a unit — though I have no idea whether or not that was Kirby’s actual intent.

On page 24, Kirby gives us a counterpoint to the Biblical allusion to “Leviathan” from the story’s opening page, although this reference is of much more recent origins; in referring to the sonic summons of the mutated “caller” as “the Lorelei sound”, the writer-artist evokes the supposedly legendary siren-like creature (actually an invention of the 19th century German poet Heinrich Heine) whose song distracted sailors on the River Rhine and caused them to crash upon the rocks.  The allusion to a siren’s song also lends extra resonance to Lightray’s binding of Farley Sheridan to the ship’s mast, by suggesting the episode in Homer’s Odyssey where the eponymous hero’s crew lashes him to their craft’s mast, so he can hear the sirens but is unable to go to them.

We’re not allowed to see the final, cataclysmic clash between the forces of Apokolips and New Genesis; perhaps the result is beyond the capacity of mortal senses to process.  Where up until now we’ve been right on top of the action, for the moment of collision, our point of view is abruptly cast backwards, into the far distance:

And the curtain comes down on the last character left standing upon our aquatic stage, as Kirby’s closing captions evoke “grand tragedy” and is cathartic effects.  Farley Sheridan — his sanity seemingly restored, though this is left ambiguous — will spend the rest of his life “…wondering…”  As will we.  Because we’re mortals, who must ever strain to comprehend the ways of the gods… but also because one measure of the worth of a work of art is that one never feels they have quite finished exploring its depths.  And “The Glory Boat!!” is one of those works that may keep us exploring, wondering, and pondering, to the end of our own days.


As Jack Kirby devoted all 26 pages allotted for new content in New Gods #6 to his epic drama, there was no room left this issue for a 4-page “Young Gods of Supertown” strip, or even for a pin-up or two.  Following the tantalizing tease for the next issue’s “The Pact!”, we went straight on into the issue’s Manhunter reprint by Kirby and Joe Simon:

Interestingly, even after this editor Kirby and his assistants were left with two pages to fill this issue; and so, they dusted off this Simon & Kirby two-pager:

Yeah, even in 1971, we were already beginning to wistfully wonder, “Where’s my jetpack?”  (Though I suppose that fifty years later, there’s a bit less wistfulness, and a lot more bitter disappointment.)

 

*”…er, bomb”: Not to give anything away, but you’ll see what McGovern is talking about — and also implying — once we get to page 25.

22 comments

  1. brucesfl · October 16

    Alan,

    Thanks for your excellent review of New Gods 6. I remember very well reading this 50 years ago when I was 14. It was one of the most upsetting and unsettling experiences that I can remember, reading this book. It does hold up very well. However I do believe this book demonstrates why The New Gods was not a commercially successful book. It was brilliant and just too far ahead of its time. DC simply did not have comparable books like this at the time, and I don’t believe DC’s readership was ready for a book like this. Certainly this issue and the next one would be tough for the average younger reader, and the covers for NG 6 and 7 would most likely confuse the average reader. Carmine Infantino, in an interview, claimed that the New Gods “appealed to the college kids but not younger readers.” Maybe this was true, but it was certainly not commercial. Stan Lee would never have approved of a story with such a dark, and actually very depressing ending. Also, I have noticed that Orion, like Conan, actually kills his enemies. At this point in time, that is something that simply did not happen in DC books. Of course Conan was at Marvel and occurred in the distant past. Also, Conan was having commercial issues at this time as well. Coincidentally, this month (50 years ago) Conan went back to bi-monthly publication with issue 13. I don’t know why that happened or if your research will reveal the reasons for that. I was not buying Conan at this time, and would not start until late 1972, but eventually Conan would go monthly again in 1972 until the end of its run. But getting back to New Gods, while it is understandable that Jack wanted to write and edit his own books, it might have been helpful to have someone point out to him that he might not want to create lots of great characters and then kill them off. New Gods needed more villains then just Darkseid (and interestingly it does seem that Darkseid appeared more in Forever People). It does seem that Stan Lee had better commercial instincts. But perhaps the New Gods could never have been a commercially successful book. It still seems a shame that it didn’t even last 2 years because there are some fascinating concepts here. Thanks again for the detailed analysis.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think the difference between Stan Lee and Jack Kirby was that Lee saw comic books as an ongoing serial narrative with no ending, but Kirby, especially at this point in his career, was writing what would now be regarded as a series of graphic novels, with a final ending eventually planned. Kirby killed off all these characters as he went along because he didn’t conceive of them endlessly appearing in stories written by other creators over the next half century and beyond. Once the story of the New Gods was over, it would be over, period.

      Of course, we can now perceive that Kirby was perhaps naive, that he should have recognized that DC, like Marvel, would want to be able to utilize all of these characters & properties that he created for them endlessly, and that they probably would have taken a dim view on him giving the “Fourth World” saga a definitive conclusion.

      As I’ve said on a number of occasions, it’s regrettable that in 1970 something like Image Comics did not exist, because the “Fourth World” would have greatly benefited from Kirby having ownership & full creative control.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Alan Stewart · October 17

        You’re correct, of course, Ben. Though I have to admit that there’s a part of me that would miss having the Fourth World concepts as part of the DC Universe, it would have been more than worth that loss if Kirby had been able to complete his magnum opus the way he’d originally envisioned, while still at the height of his powers.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Don · October 16

    Before I begin, a technical note that some of the images in this post are showing up as “broken” on my computer. The reproductions of page 24 and 25 of the main story and the second page of “The Rocket Lanes of Tomorrow.” FYI.

    Despite the real problem I had, both fifty years ago and now as well, with Orion and Lightray (and Kirby himself) leaving Farley Sheridan tied up to presumably die on the Glory Boat, which doesn’t seem like a particularly heroic thing to do, even if you are an otherworldly being of god-like power trying to make a point about the nature and nuture of human existence, I enjoyed this story quite a bit. Never a big fan when Jack or any other writer gets on his soapbox about something, but the “lion vs lamb” component to this tale was more than made up for by a lot of great action and daring-do.

    Artistically, Jack was firing on all cylinders in this story, as the two-page splash on pages two and three ably demonstrates. I have a “little” experience in working with that kind of exacting detail and I don’t know what amazes me more; the detail Jack put into those two pages or the fact that he did it on the cramped, restrictive schedule of a comic book production. My only gripe with this splash (and I hate that I wasn’t able to see the last one on pages 24/25) is that the way its colored in rust and brown, it looks more like a wooden sailing ship than the obviously more modern steel ship Jack intended.

    I have no opinion regarding Kirby’s philosophy of technophobia vs technophillia and often wonder if any such discussion is simply an attempt to make something grand and intellectual out of the simple fact that Jack just liked to draw creepy monsters and amazing machines. As to the more human debate in this issue, while I understand what Mr. Kirby is trying to say by showing the opposing opinions of the Sheridan men, he makes the arguement so broad and two-dimensional (what else can you do in a 26-page comic book?) and marginalizes Lynn, the female character in the story so completely as to rob it of any heft it might have originally had. Kirby’s decision to kill Richard and abandon Farley to his fate say alot more about how Jack feels about the dual natures of man and where they’ll lead than they do about the more immediate struggle of “peace vs war.”

    I remember enjoying this story back in the day, but hadn’t thought about it in years. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Alan.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Alan Stewart · October 16

      Don, like your fellow commenter Rick elsewhere on the page, I always assumed that Farley Sheridan was rescued by the Navy, or whomever. Kirby is careful to tell us (via an admittedly awkward final caption) that the wooden wreck Farley’s tied to was thrown well clear of the blast area (and that Lightray anticipated this). That and the whole “live out my life — wondering” business together tell me that Kirby wants his readers to understand that Farley survives this experience, and will live with his memories for years to come.

      Like

    • crustymud · October 18

      One other minor aesthetic issue with the two splashes on pp. 24-25: They’re both moving left to right. I would have flopped the art on p. 25 so that it would be moving the opposite direction (right to left), so as to give the spread a more head-on collision feel between the two opposing forces.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Alan Stewart · October 19

        Yeah, that’s the main reason I debated whether or not to display the pages side by side. I’m not 100% certain that Kirby actually designed them to be seen in a two page spread, just because having the flow of action moving in the same direction seems so counter-intuitive. But in the end I felt that seeing them that way had been part of the original experience of reading the story as first published in 1971.

        Liked by 1 person

        • crustymud · October 21

          I’m glad you decided to take this direction. I want to experience the comics you review as if I’ve been taken back in time fifty years, so give ’em to me just as they were when originally published.

          Liked by 1 person

    • jmhanzo · October 19

      Don, I think Jack has been showing us that Orion and Lightray aren’t purely heroic, despite being on the better side of the conflict. Think back to last issue, when Orion was shown enjoying the act of killing a helpless enemy and then throwing his body away like garbage. They’re heroes because they oppose the more evil Darkseid, but they’re not pure heroes like Thor or Superman.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. DontheArtistformerlyknownasfrodo628 · October 16

    Word Press made me log back in to post my comment for some reason and when I did, the “broken” pages I mentioned healed themselves. Ah, the miraculous powers of comics!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Rick · October 16

    Given the commotion that must of resulted from the titanic clash between New Genesis and Apokolips, I always assumed Farley was picked up by the Navy or somesuch to live out his life, as you say, “wondering.” Kirby’s dialogue always struck me as clunky when he returned to Marvel to do Cap and Panther, but his tone for the Fourth World seemed right to me. I haven’t read these pages in years, but they seem to sing now. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. There is a heck of a lot to unpack here. You could write lengthy articles examining New Gods #6… and of course a number of people have! Your overview & analysis on this blog was certainly insightful.

    Something that did not occur to me when i first read this story in the late 1990s, but which stands out to me now, is just how distinctive it was that Jack Kirby treated the character of Richard Sheridan and his decision to be a conscientious objector with dignity & respect. Kirby, I now know, fought in World War II, and apparently saw some very fierce, violent action. Unlike a number of his fellow veterans, though, Kirby appears to have discerned that Vietnam was a much different conflict from World War II, and that there were valid, legitimate reasons why young people in the late 1960s and early 70s were choosing not to go off and fight in it.

    I wonder if the trauma of Kirby’s experiences during World War II informed the views that he espoused in his “Fourth World” stories. The inhabitants of New Genesis want nothing more than to live at peace, and only ever enter into conflict when there is no other choice. That was the message that I got from Lightray telling Richard that there is a place were everyone is like him, choosing peace over war. I feel that Kirby utilized Lightray and the other denizens of New Genesis to articulate his own views, that war is horrific, that we should always strive for peace, and that fighting should only ever be a last resort.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Chris A. · October 17

    Christopher Zavisa later co-founded Christopher Enterprises with Chris Hoth, publishing a memorable series of Wrightson posters from 1975-78, the Edgar Allan Poe portfolio of paintings in 1976, and the retrospective hardcover Berni Wrightson: a Look Back in 1979.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. jmhanzo · October 19

    My impression of Jaffar removing Richard’s face was Kirby showing us how the casualties of war are reduced to faceless statistics, possessing no identity of their own anymore. You’re not an individual anymore, just another number to be added to the “killed in action” stats.

    Faces seem to be a common trend in the New Gods, as we see Orion grappling with the reality of his own true face throughout the series. My impression there was Kirby showing that a soldier has two sides he shows — the noble, admirable warrior who bravely stands up to defend his nation that the public wants to see, and then the savage killer who must become as vicious as his enemy to survive and be effective in combat.

    I see the Fourth World as Kirby’s take on Vietnam and the Cold War. Orion is the experienced soldier, Lightray is the eager young recruit, the Forever People are the platoon of young people sent to navigate a foreign land, and Mister Miracle is the POW trying to escape the violence.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. jmhanzo · October 19

    Oh, I forgot — Earth is Vietnam. New Genesis is the United States and Apokalips is the USSR, and they’re battling it out on land neither owns, among people they have little true interest in.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Stu Fischer · October 31

    I confess that I don’t consider this book the masterpiece that you and others consider it as, although I do like the issue. I agree with you about how the story would have been better had Lynn gotten a real personality. I really liked the characterization of Lightray in this issue. I agree with those who compared him to a new idealistic soldier that doesn’t really appreciate the situation and the dynamics of what is going on. Orion certainly does have a complete grasp and control of the reality of the situation and consideration of the civilians’ well being, even though he is also considered the dark, ruthless warrior.

    I do agree that New Gods #6 is a shock to young readers that primarily read D.C. Comics because it contains the death of an innocent civilian. I confess that way back when (1968-1973) during the time when I read comics as a kid (I still read them regularly as a teenager) while I preferred Marvel Comics for their realism, I was disturbed that Marvel took the realism too far by occasionally killing innocent civilians (by the time of this issue: Captain Stacy, Lady Dorma, Janice Cord to name a few) which D.C. never did (well, except in famous origin stories e.g., Batman and Robin). Richard’s death was disturbing to me back then as well as how he (initially) had his faced rubbed off. Of course, I didn’t think of the philosophical connection of Richard becoming a faceless casualty back then, but I certainly fully appreciate it now.

    I didn’t understand the whole bit with tying first Lightray and then Farley to the mast until I read in this blog post about the literary connection. I still don’t like it because it makes no sense in the story (unlike, for example, the allusion made by Richard having his face erased). The Deep Six don’t know anything about Homer’s “Odyssey” and even if they somehow did, I don’t think they would be interested in making literary jokes in their destructive schemes. I’m sure that Roy Thomas liked this bit though as it definitely is something I could see him doing.

    Another thing that keeps this from being a masterpiece in my opinion is the abrupt ending. I really felt cheated (now, but probably on my first read too) without an explanation, however steeped in “comic book logic” it would be, as to what happened and how.

    Anyway, I am really looking forward to your (I hope inevitable) blog post on New Gods #7 which I only vaguely remember, but I know was a doozy. Thanks again Alan for an excellent summary!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Alan Stewart · October 31

      New Gods #7 will most assuredly be coming your way in December, Stu. It’s only my favorite comic book of all time — here’s hoping I can do it justice. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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