Jimmy Olsen #152 (Aug.-Sep., 1972)

Regular readers of this blog will recall how, over the past year, we’ve been tracking the Fourth World-adjacent story material that appeared in various “Superman” family titles — mostly in Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane — during the period that Jack Kirby was writing, drawing, and editing Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen.  The most significant piece of this material was that having to do with Morgan Edge, the head of Galaxy Broadcasting (and thus the boss of Lois and Jimmy, as well as of Superman’s alter ego Clark Kent).  Originally created by Kirby, Edge was introduced in his first Fourth World comic, Jimmy Olsen #133, as being secretly involved with the criminal organization Intergang — and thereby, as shown in the very next issue, also an operative of the dark lord of Apokolips, Darkseid.  More recently, however, it had been revealed in Lois Lane #118 that the Morgan Edge we readers had been reading about in all the Superman books wasn’t the real Edge at all — rather, he was an evil clone who’d been created by Darkseid’s minions in the Evil Factory to pose as the media mogul.  Read More

Mister Miracle #9 (Jul.-Aug., 1972)

In March, 1972, the lead story of Mister Miracle #8 had ended with a “Coming!” blurb promising that the very next issue would introduce readers to a “lovable old rascal” named Himon — billed not only as the man who’d mentored the series’ titular hero in his craft of escape artistry, but as an updated take on the character Fagin from Charles Dickens’ 1838 novel Oliver Twist.  With Ron Moody’s Oscar-nominated performance as Fagin in the 1968 film adaptation of the musical Oliver! still relatively fresh in the pop-cultural memory, readers might have been forgiven for expecting Mister Miracle #9 to be something of a romp — a tale one might read while listening to the movie soundtrack’s renditions of “You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two” or “I’d Do Anything” playing in the background.

On the other hand, readers who’d been following the “Young Scott Free” back-up feature in the last few issues of Mister Miracle might suspect that such a level of jauntiness would be incongruous (to say the least) in the context of our hero’s upbringing on the hell-planet of Apokolips.  But even those readers might not be prepared for the reality of “Himon!” — probably the darkest and most brutal episode of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World epic yet to appear, although one that still ends on a strong note of optimism and hope.  Read More

New Gods #9 (Jun.-Jul., 1972)

In its design, the cover of New Gods #9 mirrors that of Forever People #9, the other Jack Kirby comic published by DC in April, 1972.  Both covers feature a dominant image that excludes the comic’s titular stars, who are shunted off to a narrow. left-side border; both utilize a considerable amount of black in their color schemes, as well.  This striking similarity seems unlikely to have been a coincidence.

In his indispensable book Old Gods & New: A Companion to Jack Kirby’s Fourth World (TwoMorrows, 2021), author John Morrow posits that, in both cases, the intent was to boost sales by making the books look less like superhero comics and more like something in the horror-mystery genre, which was then a successful niche for DC.  Morrow suggests that this was part of a move by the company’s publisher, Carmine Infantino, to take a heavier hand in setting the course for these two titles, both ostensibly under the editorial control of Kirby.  (Another known indicator of that heavier hand was Infantino’s directing Kirby to include Deadman as a guest star in issues #9 and #10 of Forever People, regardless of Kirby’s disinterest in the character.)  Read More

Forever People #9 (Jun.-Jul., 1972)

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.  Read More

Mister Miracle #8 (May-Jun., 1972)

In March, 1972, the eighth issue of Mister Miracle picked up right where #7 had left off.  Having voluntarily returned to the dark god-world of Apokolips with the aim of formally earning his freedom through trial by combat, our titular hero, aka Scott Free, had been taken into custody by the forces of Granny Goodness — as had been his friend, ally, and fellow former inmate of Granny’s “orphanage”, Big Barda.  But while Scott was taken away to the mysterious Section Zero to face an unknown fate, Granny ordered that Barda “be returned to the female barracks”.

And that’s just where we find Big Barda on the first page of MM #8 — though the precise manner of her arrival is probably not quite what Granny had in mind…  Read More

New Gods #8 (April, 1972)

Following two episodes set either on the ocean waves or on the god-worlds of New Genesis and Apokolips (the latter also being set many years in the past), in the eighth issue of New Gods writer-artist-editor Jack Kirby brought the action back to the city of Metropolis for the first time since issue #5.  In doing so, he was required to pick up plot threads that had been left dangling ever since that issue, published six months earlier, as well as to re-introduce a significant new supporting character not seen since then.  Of course, Kirby being the master storyteller he was, he could throw you right into the middle of the action — as he does on the very first page of #8 — and you’d find yourself acclimated almost immediately, even if you’d never read any previous issue of New Gods, let alone remembered the details of issue #5:  Read More

Jimmy Olsen #147 (March, 1972)

As the year 1972 began, Jack Kirby had only two issues left to go in his Jimmy Olsen run.  According to Mark Evanier (one of Kirby’s two assistants at the time), the writer-artist-editor hadn’t been enjoying the assignment all that much, and it’s probably safe to assume that he wasn’t sorry to see the end of it.  Nevertheless, before making his exit from the “Superman family” of DC Comics titles, Kirby would take the opportunity to deliver on an implicit promise regarding the Man of Steel which he’d made his readers at the end of Forever People #1, published a little over a year previously…  Read More

Mister Miracle #7 (March, 1972)

In November, 1971, the lead story in Mister Miracle #6 had concluded with the titular hero resolving to return to the planet Apokolips — from which he’d escaped just prior to the beginning of his series, only to be regularly menaced by its forces on Earth ever since — to win his freedom “their way!! — in trial by combat!!”  Two months later, Jack Kirby’s cover for Mister Miracle #7 indicated that he would indeed be making such a journey within its pages — and also that the “Super Escape Artist” would, not unexpectedly, encounter more than a bit of trouble before achieving his goal.  (Not that we readers of January, 1972 would have wanted it any other way, of course.) Read More

New Gods #7 (Feb.-Mar., 1972)

Today’s post is one I’ve been looking forward to — with some trepidation as well as considerable anticipation — since I first began producing this blog, six and a half years ago.  That’s because its subject, DC Comics’ New Gods #7, is without question my single favorite comic book of all time.

Please note that I’m not saying that I think it’s the “best”, or “greatest” comic book of all time.  That would be a foolish thing to do, frankly, considering how many comic books have been published over the last century that I’ve never personally read.  I’m not even claiming that it’s the best or greatest comic book in my own collection (though I figure I could argue a strong case for it on that score, if the need ever somehow arose) — simply that, of all the thousands of comics I have read in the last 56 1/2 years, it’s the one I love the most.  And since love is entirely subjective and personal, I’m not required to justify why I favor it above all others, as I might if I were to declare that New Gods #7 is the indisputable worldwide GOAT, or whatever.

That said, I’m still eager — yes, and also anxious — to share this comic book with you, faithful readers, in the hope of having you understand, to whatever degree possible, just why I love it so much.  Read More

Jimmy Olsen #146 (February, 1972)

In considering the last third of Jack Kirby’s run on Jimmy Olsen — a run of five issues beginning with #144 that starts out pretty well, but finishes up rather anticlimactically, with a number of tantalizing plot threads left simply dangling — it’s probably worth remembering that Kirby was never all that excited about chronicling the adventures of “Superman’s Pal” in the first place.

In a 2011 blog post concerning JO #144, Mark Evanier (one of Kirby’s two assistants in 1971) wrote:

Jack didn’t much like working on Jimmy Olsen. It was someone else’s character, someone’s else’s book…and when you worked on the “Superman family” comics then, you had to coordinate with a half-dozen other editors who also had Superman (and sometimes Jimmy) in their comics…  Many at DC hated the way Jack drew Superman and Olsen and his renderings of those characters were being redrawn by others… and Kirby was just sick of the assignment.

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