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
Jack Kirby’s cover for New Gods #2 may be considered of a piece with that of Forever People #2, out earlier the same month. Like its fellow installment in Kirby’s ongoing Fourth World saga, it features a black-and-white photo collage background, a dominant foreground figure, a set of floating heads…
And a whole lot of copy. Even the book’s title acquires a couple of extra words, so that a newcomer to the series might think they were picking up a copy of Orion of the New Gods, instead of the indicia-official The New Gods. It’s a busy cover, you might say.
That’s my sixty-three-year-old self talking, though. Back in February, 1971,when I first saw this cover at the age of thirteen, I doubt that the slightest critical thought passed through my mind. I might not even have done much more than give the cover a glance before buying the comic and bringing it home. I was, after all, already so invested in Kirby’s new epic that all I wanted to do was to open up the book to the first page, and find out What Would Happen Next. Read More
While I can’t claim to have strong, specific recollections of my thirteen-year-old self’s reactions to the cover of Forever People #2 the first time I saw it, sometime in February, 1971, I’m sure I must have found it at least somewhat startling. Mainly because the five titular heroes — presumably the stars of the book — were relegated to a row of floating heads at the bottom (where they might not even have been visible on the spinner rack), while a brand-new character, Mantis — evidently the villain of the piece — took the front and center spot. Even the Forever People’s ally/secret weapon/kind-of-alter-ego, the Infinity Man, was relegated to the background, completely overshadowed by this “evil power vampire!”
Power vampire? I definitely recall being struck by the use of that latter word in the cover copy. This was likely just because I was interested in vampires, thanks to my enthusiasm for the daytime television serial Dark Shadows. But it may have also resulted at least in part from my subconscious realization of how unusual it was to see that word on the cover of a comic book — at least one published by either of my two favorite companies, DC and Marvel. Read More