In October, 1971, Don and Maggie Thompson’s fanzine Newfangles reported:
There are indications that DC is in serious trouble. Dealers are not too keen on the 25¢ comic book[s], sales are skyrocketing for Marvel, Charlton and Gold Key (GK has 15¢ books, Marvel and Charlton 20¢)… DC’s titles are also reported to be dying in droves on the stands, if they get that far—wholesalers prefer to handle the 20¢ books, apparently.
A couple of months later, with disappointing sales reports now in for about a quarter-year’s worth of the “bigger & better” format DC had inaugurated in June, publisher Carmine Infantino prepared to make some course adjustments. The most significant upcoming change would be to the format itself (more on that later), but there were other indicators of Infantino’s efforts to staunch the bleeding as 1972 got underway; for example, Green Lantern, one of the signature series of DC’s Silver Age, was cancelled with its 89th issue, shipping in February. As for the titles written, drawn, and edited by Jack Kirby, with which DC had clearly hoped to clean up with sales-wise following Kirby’s 1970 defection from DC’s chief rival, Marvel Comics: Jimmy Olsen was removed from Kirby’s purview with the 148th issue (which, like GL #89, came out in February); and while Infantino wasn’t quite ready to pull the plug on Kirby’s three remaining titles — the core books of the star creator’s interconnected “Fourth World” epic — he appears to have been determined to take a more active role in guiding their respective directions than he had before. If the King could ever have been said to have had free rein in managing “his” comics at DC (and that’s by no means an indisputable statement), that day was over.
As indicated by the cover of Forever People #9, one of Infantino’s strategies was to leverage the company’s recent (if relative) success with Comics Code-approved horror to boost sales of its titles in other genres. And so we have a primary cover image in which Kirby and inker Mike Royer have given us a straight-up riff on Frankenstein, with the series’ titular stars relegated to a column of floating heads to its left. If you weren’t already familiar with Forever People, how would you know it wasn’t a monster comic?*
Of course, that image wasn’t the only thing that set the cover of FP #9 apart — there was also the top-side slug and graphic promising an appearance within of the series’ first guest star since Superman back in issue #1: Deadman.
Fifty years after the fact, it’s admittedly hard to parse the precise motivations of Carmine Infantino in directing Kirby to introduce Deadman into his Fourth World mythos. Did he really believe that the character he and Arnold Drake had co-created back in 1967 would boost sales by his very presence, after not being able to sustain a series of his own? (Deadman’s original run in Strange Adventures had concluded in 1969 with issue #216, following twelve installments.) Or was he more interested in giving the ghostly superhero — who, despite being by this time more closely associated with the feature’s second artist (and eventual writer) Neal Adams, Infantino may still have considered his baby — a creative and commercial boost of his own, courtesy of Jack Kirby’s prodigious imagination?
Perhaps it was something of both. About the only thing we can be sure of in regards to Infantino’s directive to Kirby to feature Deadman was that the King was unhappy about it. As one of his assistants at the time, Mark Evanier, later recalled for an interview in The Jack Kirby Collector #6 (July, 1995):
Jack was asked by DC to put Deadman in New Gods. He didn’t want to, he had New Gods already plotted ahead, he didn’t want to do other people’s characters at all, and he didn’t like Deadman. I remember he thought it was impossible to do a good character with that name. In the whole DC universe you couldn’t have picked a character Jack would less have wanted to put into his book, except maybe Fox and Crow. (laughter) So he decided to put Deadman in Forever People where it was a little less offensive.
About a decade after that interview, Evanier elaborated on Kirby’s antipathy towards Deadman for author Ronin Ro’s book, Tales to Astonish: Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and the American Comic Book Revolution (Bloomsbury, 2004):
He didn’t like losers, he didn’t like dead people, and he chose not to dwell on failure and defeat and death in his work.
Nevertheless, Kirby had been given a job; and consummate professional that he was, there was no way he wasn’t going to give it his best shot…
If my younger self hadn’t been the kind of comics fan who always read the publishers’ “coming attractions” columns — “Direct Currents”, in DC’s case — I’d likely have been mystified by Deadman’s remark about his work not being finished. But since I was that kind of fan, I’d already read this:
Well, yeah — I was pretty sure. Even though I hadn’t actually read Strange Adventures #215, in which the spirit of murdered circus aerialist Boston Brand finally caught up with his murderer, the Hook, I knew what had happened in it. Plus, I’d read Justice League of America #94 (Nov., 1971), which featured Deadman’s most recent appearance prior to Forever People #9. In that comic, scripter Mike Friedrich had built on what Neal Adams had established in his final Deadman stories for Strange Adventures, showing that the Society (aka League) of Assassins to which the Hook had belonged was still out there, still masterminded by the evil Sensei, and still very much a threat. JLA #94 had shown that Deadman still had a role to play in what felt like a large, ongoing narrative; sure, he’d solved the mystery of his murder, but that didn’t necessarily mean that that story was truly over. At least, that’s how my fourteen-year-old self saw it.
Mark Evanier, on the other hand, seems to have seen things differently. He felt that DC had made a mistake in resolving the plotline of Deadman’s hunt for his killer back in 1969 — that said hunt was in fact intrinsic to the character’s appeal. Evanier was able to convince Kirby that, to make Deadman successful again, they were going to have to reintroduce the hero’s quest for the Hook. And Evanier was sure he’d found a loophole that would allow them to do so without their having to completely override previous continuity (a loophole we’ll be getting to shortly, never fear)…
In 1995, Evanier remembered the circumstances of how he and his fellow assistant. Steve Sherman, received their “Synopsis prepared by” credit:
Because Jack didn’t want to even look at the old Deadman comics, at his request Steve Sherman and I prepared a storyline for Forever People. Jack read it and said, “This is great, this is fabulous, you guys did a great job!” and then he didn’t use any of it. (laughter) But he felt since we had been assigned to plot #9 and #10, he should give us a credit. He left us off #10 accidentally, so he stuck it on #11. It’s a really generous credit considering he didn’t use a word we came up with.
The robbery victim isn’t particularly keen on being referred to as “an old magpie” by Big Bear (she calls him a “hair bear” in retaliation), but she comes to appreciate the Forever People as, over the next several pages, they stop the thieves and recover her cash. When the police finally arrive on the scene, she makes sure they know who the real bad guys are:
Trixie explains that the dress dates from the Jazz Age, when she herself “was a flapper who floored the males!”
Back in Trixie’s apartment, the Forever People express their gratitude to her for renting them rooms, and promise they’ll soon find a way to pay for them; right about then, “Doc” Gideon shows up at the landlady’s open doorway…
The group moves into a curtained alcove, and takes seats around a table for Trixie’s seance. Fortuitously for Gideon, he’s seated next to Serifan, who has the blue cartridge he covets…
The “loophole” that Mark Evanier found that would allow Kirby to re-open the closed case file of Boston Brand’s murder had to do with an inconsistency in which hand the killer’s hook had been said and/or shown to be on, over the course of Deadman’s run in Strange Adventures. In the hero’s introductory appearance in SA #205, the hook had indeed been said to be on the murderer’s right hand, just as Trixie Magruder claims in the scene above. But later, Neal Adams’ cover for the series’ penultimate episode in issue #215 had very clearly shown the hook to be on the assassin’s left hand. There was a definite discrepancy in the published record; no doubt about it.
But, as has been entertainingly detailed by my friend Brian Cronin in his “Comic Book Legends Revealed” column on CBR.com, there wasn’t just one discrepancy to be accounted for. Over the course of the two final Deadman stories in Strange Adventures, writer-artist Adams flipped the hook from one hand to another multiple times — and in at least one panel, forgot to draw the metal prosthesis at all, depicting “the Hook” as a guy with two perfectly normal hands. The way I see it, if you’re going to justify your claim that Deadman didn’t actually find his killer in SA #215 based on some drawings showing a hook on a left hand, you need to account for all the other drawings which show it on the right, or which leave it out completely. Otherwise, it makes sense to relegate the flip-flops in Adams’ stories to what they obviously actually were — i.e., simple errors of carelessness.
While I’m at it, I’ll note that Trixie Magruder’s role in revealing the truth to Deadman doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny, either. Setting aside the fact that she’s a brand new character who was never seen in SA #205’s origin story, nor in any other comic featuring the employees of Hill’s Circus (not to mention the fact that a character who did appear in those stories, Vashnu, seemed to have the small outfit’s “fortune teller” slot locked up) — hey, maybe she was standing just out of range in all those Strange Adventures panels, y’know? — how in the heck could she know that the guy Boston Brand caught up with in SA #215 had a hook on his left hand? The “big reveal” scene had occurred in the secret lair of the Society/League of Assassins, somewhere in the vicinity of Hong Kong, and had no other witnesses besides Deadman and the bad guys. It’s not like it would have been in the Metropolis papers.
OK, I’ve formally lodged my complaints; now, on with our story…
Following the Frankenstein trope to a “T”, “Doc” Gideon’s creation is both uncontrollable and unstoppable…
Showing that he’s well aware of what he’s doing here — and well aware that the reader will be aware, as well — Kirby lampshades his riff on Frankenstein by having Gideon’s monster emerge onto a busy Metropolis street close to a movie theater showing The Castle of Frankenstein (not the title of any actual real-world film, as far as I know; perhaps Kirby was paying tribute to the magazine of that name, published 1962-1975).
But, as he did with Vykin, the creature is able to turn Mark Moonrider’s own “megaton touch” power against him, sending him flying (hey, let’s see Frankie try to top that). Serifan is able to use a cosmic cartridge to intercept Mark before he goes splat against a wall — but in the meantime, the creature escapes.
That’s the last we’ll see of “Doc” Gideon, who, having accomplished all that Kirby’s plot requires of him, is evidently of no further interest to the writer-artist.
After the police see Gideon safely carried away, the plainclothes detective on the scene calls in to MPD HQ: “I think we’ve got a new case for ‘Terrible Turpin!’” — a nod to the Metropolis police sergeant featured in the most recent issue of New Gods, just a couple of months before.
Meanwhile, Gideon’s creature has gone underground, finding refuge in the network of pipes supplying gas to the city…
We’re going to go ahead and jump forward in time two months to discuss the conclusion of this story in Forever People #10 (as well as the revelation of the “diabolical new machination from the Kirby “scream machine”) — but first, we have to finish up with Forever People #9. That’s because despite DC’s 25-cent/48-page format being on its last legs, it was still in use when this issue was released,; and so, while there’s no “Young Gods of Supertown” featurette for us to peruse here (“Monster in the Morgue!” having completely taken up the 26 pages allocated to Kirby-as-editor for new content), there is the usual Joe Simon-Jack Kirby reprint to take note of:
This tale, which was originally presented in Adventure Comics #74 (May, 1942), would be the last such S&K Sandman yarn to appear in Forever People, simply because #9 was the last issue of FP that would be published in the larger, more expensive format. As of May, DC’s standard-size comics would all revert to their previous length of 32 pages, though now at a 20-cent price point — five cents higher than the same size comic had cost buyers one year earlier.
Tucked away in the midst of three pages of ads (which, in Forever People #9’s case, fell in between the 19th and 20th pages of the lead story), attentive readers found the following explanation of the coming change:
This particular missive may be my favorite of the earnest messages that always accompanied price changes at both DC and Marvel (until they didn’t… anybody out there remember what year that was?), if only because Carmine Infantino apparently expected us to believe that all nine DC editors actually wrote it together.
It’s also interesting in that it sounds more confident in its explanation as to why DC had raised its prices and page-count almost a year earlier than in laying out just why they’re (mostly) rolling back those changes now; I mean, “the economic situation has changed again” may be accurate (when wouldn’t it be?), but it’s also pretty vague. On the other hand, I guess I can understand why the DC brass wouldn’t have wanted to write: We had to do this because you all started spending more of your comics money on Marvel and our other competitors’ books than on ours, you little jerks.
In any event, it’s worth comparing this statement to Marvel’s corresponding Bullpen Bulletin, issued the previous October to explain their own 25-to-20-cent downshift after just one full month at the higher-priced 48-page format. Like DC, Marvel had offered vague language about “economic reasons far too complicated to go into”, rather than a more direct remark along the lines of: We figured out that trying to fill all those extra pages with new material the way we’d planned was going to be too damn expensive. Or, as some believe to have been Marvel publisher Martin Goodman’s true motivation through the whole business: We’re gonna really stick it to DC by suddenly undercutting their prices, gang.
And now, on to Forever People #10. We’ll linger at the cover just long enough to note that there’s no ersatz Universal movie monster or other specifically horror-genre-invoking imagery on this one (not counting Deadman himself, at any rate), so maybe Carmine Infantino’s interest in pursuing that strategy only lasted a month. On the other hand, the Forever People themselves are definitely still being shown in a subordinate role on the cover of their own comic book.
The title of this issue’s story is “The Scavengers”, and Kirby spends the first few pages of his narrative introducing us to the bad guys of the title — an international criminal organization devoted to locating and acquiring unusual items on behalf of their clients, by any means necessary. We meet the group’s Director, who, immediately after having discussed an assignment to purloin a full-size Egyptian pyramid with a reluctant operative, takes a call that turns out to concern some folks we know…
Kirby had introduced the concept of the “Follower” over a year ago, in Mister Miracle #2. There, it was shown to be a life-like robot that could mirror the actions of whoever was controlling it. But as indicated by Mark Moonrider and Serifan’s dialogue above, the technology can be adapted for other purposes as well…
OMG! The Director has a hook on his right hand! Has Kirby re-opened the Boston Brand murder case, only to almost immediately close it again? Stay tuned…
As for Mark Moonrider’s statement to Serifan about gathering their group together — per their promise to Trixie Magruder in the previous issue, the other Forever People have headed out to find gainful employment; and so, over the next few pages we follow Serifan as he retrieves Beautiful Dreamer from a photographer’s studio where she’s modeling swimwear, and Big Bear from his new gig as a chauffeur. Meanwhile, back at the boarding house…
Considering that the Followers are New Gods tech, it seems more than a little odd that it’s Mark who’s dumbfounded that someone has made off with the thing, and Deadman who quickly concludes that well, duh, it did exactly what it’s been programmed to do by following its abductor. Almost as odd is the fact that Followers aren’t built with some kind of “off” switch to prevent just this sort of thing from happening. But, hey, whatever.
In the next moment, the rest of the Forever People arrive (including Vykin, who doesn’t seem to have found a job yet, or if he has we’re not told about it). But rather than show us what they decide to do next, Kirby cuts to the headquarters of the Scavengers, where the Follower is tested by having a big tough guy fight with it. Unsurprisingly, the Follower lays out its opponent with one punch, but this just weirds the Director out all the more…
According to Mark Evanier, Jack Kirby was unhappy with the notion that, as originally conceived by Arnold Drake and Carmine Infantino, Deadman didn’t have a physical body — that to effect any kind of change in the physical world (to punch somebody, for instance), he had to possess the body of some other, living person. This dissatisfaction led to the idea of having Deadman acquire a new, super-powerful body via the previously established concept of the Follower.
While it’s not hard to understand how Kirby — a creator whose characters never seem to be in their natural state unless they’re leaping, flying, or punching, or at least poised to do so — had difficulty in relating to a superhero whose most distinctive characteristic was that he had no physicality of his own, the King’s solution took the risk of turning Deadman into yet another acrobatic bruiser in a costume, a la Captain America, the Guardian, Sandman, and others (albeit one who couldn’t himself be killed — at least not easily — as we’re about to witness)…
The “mechan-apes” are indeed pretty tough, but are nevertheless ultimately vanquished by the might of Big Bear — a feat that does not go unobserved..
The “fully automated robot circus” unleashes another deadly “performer” on Vykin and Big Bear — this time, it’s a mechanical “super knife-throwing act“, which Vykin eventually takes down via the superpower that makes him “a mystic network of technical attunement!” — a gift that allows him to find the killing machine’s kill-switch just in the nick of time…
When it appeared in June, 1972, The Demon would be the first color comic book Jack Kirby had produced for DC since his return to the company in 1970 that didn’t have anything to do with the Fourth World mythos. Its existence arose from the fact that he King had parted ways with Jimmy Olsen earlier in the year and, needing another assignment from DC to fill his contracted number of pages, took on Carmine Infantino’s request to try his hand at creating something in the horror-monster character vein. In retrospect, one can hardly help seeing the blurb announcing the new series’ debut as an early harbinger of the death of the Fourth World (at least in the form of an ongoing epic chronicled by Kirby) — but at the time, The Demon was just another new Kirby book, as far as the readers (and, according to Mark Evanier, Kirby himself) knew.
As one of those original readers back in 1972, I wish I could remember my initial reaction to my first glimpse of the demon we’d soon come to know as Etrigan — but I’m afraid I don’t. I’m sure I must have been at least a little intrigued — it was Kirby, after all, as well as an evidently supernaturally-themed character, and I was very much into those — but I suspect that my response, whatever it was, was greatly overshadowed by my more visceral reaction to the Forever People story that had preceded it. And that reaction, I remember clearly, was decidedly negative.
As you might guess, that had to do mostly with Kirby’s handling of Deadman. I’ve already mentioned most of the elements that irked my younger self way back when (and which still annoy me at least a little to this very day, if I’m going to be honest), but here’s one more biggie: Deadman’s dialogue.
Arnold Drake had given Boston Brand a distinctive voice in his first appearance — one which seemed appropriate to his identity as the hard-bitten star performer of a ramshackle traveling circus, and also helped set him apart from the mass of DC superheroes, most of whom generally spoke in a more conventional, if not outright formal speech pattern; and Drake’s successors, both in his Strange Adventures series as well as in Deadman’s other appearances, had thus far kept that voice consistent. But Kirby’s Deadman — practically from the first lines he utters in FP #9, and definitely from the panel on page 13 where he uses the word “shall” not just once, but twice — rarely, if ever, sounds like the guy readers had already come to know.
I’m by no means one of those who disparages Kirby’s dialogue-writing ability as a matter of course; and, in fact, I think he could have given us an acceptable version of Boston Brand’s established manner of speaking, based on his track record with other “tough guy” characters, such as the aforementioned Dan “Terrible” Turpin. But I suspect that Kirby may never have actually known what Deadman had sounded like in every one of his prior appearances; unfortunately, that’s the sort of thing that happens when you leave it up to your assistants to research an unfamiliar character, and then work from what they tell you, rather than from your own first-hand knowledge. While I’m generally sympathetic to Kirby in terms of the position he’d been placed into, having been directed by his boss to shoehorn a preexisting character he didn’t care for into his own personal, highly complex epic (and, while he was at it, revitalize that character as a viable property) — certainly I’m more sympathetic today than I was back in 1972, when I didn’t know any of this behind-the-scenes stuff — it’s hard not to think that maybe Kirby might have done at least a little better by Deadman if he’d just taken the time to, y’know, read a few of his earlier stories.
Anyway, as I was saying: the story’s take on Deadman was probably the main reason I found Forever People #9 and #10’s two-parter to be one of the least satisfying narratives yet to appear in any of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World books — but it wasn’t the only reason. My other major complaint was that spending two whole issues on Deadman, “Doc” Gideon and his monster, the Scavengers, et al, had delayed any progress being made on what I considered to be the real story of Forever People — the ongoing chronicle of these young gods’ struggle against Darkseid and the other forces of Apokolips on Earth, especially in relation to Darkseid’s efforts to obtain the Anti-Life Equation.
I would likely have been even more bummed out about that aspect of Forever People #9 and #10 had I suspected that there was going to be only one more issue of the book, period — and thus, only one more chapter in the chronicle of that aforementioned struggle. But for more about the unexpectedly sudden conclusion to the saga of those crazy kids from Supertown, and the outcome of their final showdown with Darkseid, you’ll have to check back in four months.
Actually, though, while we’re not going to discuss any other aspect of Forever People #11 in this post, we are going to touch briefly on that issue’s letters page, as it included readers’ responses to the first part of the Deadman duology in Forever People #9. According to Mark Evanier and Steve Sherman (who managed the “Buzzing in the Boom tube” lettercol for Kirby), the vast majority of letters they’d received so far were “raves”, with only four negative missives from “Deadman purists” having arrived by the time they wrapped work on the column.
But however well Kirby’s revamp of Deadman may (or may not) have been received by fans, it doesn’t appear to have met with much approval in the DC offices As recounted by Ronin Ro in Tales to Astonish:
At DC, executives expected him [i.e., Kirby] to give Deadman a new costume and make him a big success. When they saw what he’d done, some ran around the office yelling, “Oh, my God, Kirby has changed Deadman! We can’t have this!”
Such an attitude was obviously unfair; but even if DC’s dismay could be considered justified, the deed had already been done. Kirby had changed Deadman, for better or worse, and DC couldn’t just ignore that fact.
Or could they?
Deadman’s first two appearances following the release of Forever People #10 did not, in fact, make any mention of Deadman resuming the search for his killer, or of his acquisition of a solid body via the Follower. On the other hand, both of those stories (which appeared in Brave and the Bold #104 [Nov.-Dec., 1972] and World’s Finest #223 [May-Jun., 1974]) were written by Bob Haney, who routinely ignored continuity whenever it pleased him; so perhaps we shouldn’t place too much significance on that fact.
Boston Brand’s next appearance, on the other hand, was a somewhat different matter; coming in Phantom Stranger #33 (Oct.-Nov., 1974), it was written by none other than Deadman’s co-creator Arnold Drake. While there was no sign of the Follower in Drake’s script, Deadman was nevertheless unambiguously portrayed as being on the hunt for his murderer, the Hook. Based simply on this one story, it certainly appeared that at least one of Kirby’s major changes had stuck.
At least that was the case until Phantom Stranger #39, published one year later, which saw Deadman return to join his fellow supernatural superhero in an adventure that pit them both against the League of Assassins’ Sensei — once again the mastermind of the organization to which Boston Brand’s killer, the Hook, had belonged. The plot threads abandoned by DC following JLA #94 four years earlier had to all appearances been picked right back up, just as though those intervening Forever People stories (not to mention the 33rd issue of Phantom Stranger itself) had never even occurred. What had happened?
Evidently, what had happened was the author of the PS #39 tale, Paul Levitz. This young writer (and I do mean young; Mr. Levitz has existed on this terrestrial sphere a mere nine months longer than your humble blogger, which means he was only eighteen years of age when PS #39 came out) was of the new generation of fans-turned-pro who cared about continuity every bit as much as Bob Haney didn’t. Levitz also appears to have been among those readers who (like yours truly) would have preferred that Neal Adams’ solution to the Brand murder mystery be left alone — none of this “wrong hand” business — but because continuity was important, those stories that didn’t “fit” that scenario had to be accounted for somehow.
In the eighth issue of DC’s in-house fanzine The Amazing World of DC Comics (cover dated Sep.-Oct., 1975). Levitz’s byline appeared on an article called “The Haphazard History of Boston Brand”, which explained that both the Forever People sequence and Arnold Drake’s earlier Phantom Stranger tale had somehow taken place prior to the last three Deadman stories in Strange Adventures. This obviously created a whole set of new questions — if Deadman hadn’t yet encountered the League of Assassins when he met the Forever People, why did he think he’d already found his killer? How did he ultimately resolve the right-left hand question? What the hell ever happened to the Follower? But readers could fill in the remaining gaps via their own imaginations, if they were so inclined; Levitz’s main self-assigned job, that of unsnarling Deadman’s tangled continuity, had nevertheless been accomplished… at least until Crisis on Infinite Earths came along in 1985-86 and made it all rather a moot point. After that reality-redefining event, there was plenty of room to doubt that those Forever People stories had ever “happened” at all, and thus, no reason to worry about Deadman’s brief detour into the Fourth World, or to fret over the fate of the Follower…
…none of which stopped the brothers Allred, Mike and Lee, from having a go at tying up those decades-old loose ends anyway, in the fourth issue of their six-issue miniseries Bug! The Adventures of Forager, published by DC in 2017-18 under its Young Animal imprint.
If you’re unfamiliar with this work, it’s a loving (if less than wholly reverential) tribute to Jack Kirby, which, though centered on the New Gods character Forager, manages to include appearances by virtually every hero the King ever wrote and.or drew for DC (prior to 1984’s toy-line-promoting Super Powers, at any rate); it even features the original Blue Beetle, whom Kirby drew pseudonymously in a syndicated newspaper strip near the beginning of his career, when the character was owned by Fox Feature Syndicate. (Now that’s what I call a deep cut.)
In Bug! #4, the Allreds have Forager slip into a “reality shard” where he encounters a Follower-inhabiting Boston Brand. The creators, it must be said, play rather fast and loose with Levitz’s chronology — the inclusion of Tatsinda, a Neal Adams creation introduced to the Deadman mythos in a three-part backup series that ran in Aquaman #50-52 (1970), would seem to place this episode sometime after the conclusion of the Deadman series in Strange Adventures (in Levitz’s timeline as well as in order of publication) — but this is for Young Animal, so it’s probably not technically in DCU continuity anyway (though who can tell for sure, these days?). Nevertheless, it’s fun to see the Allreds explain, some 45 years after the fact, the reasons why Deadman chooses to abandon the Follower (along with the limitations he notes in the panel shown at right, it’s unsuitable for sneaking around to look for clues — at least when compared with his previous invisible and intangible spirit-form) — as well as to explain how, with the help of Forager and Manhunter (the 1st Issue Special #5 version, that is), he returns to his old human body-possessing ways. They even provide a clever in-universe explanation for Adams’ left/right/no-handed Hook art errors way back in Strange Adventures #215 and 216, which I’d say is going well above the call of duty.
Anyway, the entire Bug! miniseries is a very enjoyable read, highly recommended to any Kirby fan who doesn’t mind a little irreverence, and — what’s that? You say you’ve read every blog post I’ve ever written about Kirby’s Fourth World books and you don’t recall my ever mentioning a New Gods character named Forager before? Well, no, you wouldn’t — because he wasn’t actually introduced until New Gods #9, which came out in April, 1972, just a couple of weeks after Forever People #9. We haven’t discussed that comic on the blog yet — although we will, in just two short weeks from now. I hope to see you then.
We’ll close this post with an acknowledgement of something the more sharp-eyed of our regular readers have doubtless already noticed — namely, we have a new header image. Replacing the iteration that’s been in service since April, 2020, the new header reflects the realities of our fifty-year-old sliding timescale by featuring comics that will be hitting their golden anniversaries over the next couple of years.
Just for grins, as well as to satisfy the curiosity of anyone coming to this blog for the first time anytime after March, 2022, here are the two previous versions of our header, presented sans typography, menus, etc..
First up is the original banner, which appeared on all posts and pages from July, 2015 through March, 2020:
…followed by our just-retired April, 2020 – March, 2022 edition:
… and finally, just to make the trilogy complete, a “clean” view of our latest variation on a theme, expected to last us until March, 2024, or thereabouts:
After March, 2024? I reckon only time will tell…
In addition to the sources linked or cited in the text above, the following article was also consulted in the preparation of this post:
*The approach taken by Kirby on this cover has obvious similarities with that he used for Forever People #2, released over a year previously, in which the young gods of Supertown took a back seat to the “evil power vampire” Mantis. But Mantis’ design didn’t scream “old horror movie” in quite the same way the mad doctor and his unliving creation did on the cover of FP #9; in addition, the superheroic figure of Infinity Man was part of the main image, even if in a subordinate role to the vaguely-monsterish bad guy.