Monday, April 28, 2008

Review: The Death of the New Gods

SPOILERS are not necessarily ahead, but I may make an unfortunate slip of the tongue and ruin the plot - - - even though I intend to avoid it for those of you who are waiting on the collected version.

Jim Starlin (aided and abetted by Matt Banning, Mark McKenna & Art Thibert on inks) has completed his magnum opus “The Death of the New Gods” 8-issue mini-series. In many ways it was superior to the recently concluded yearlong “Countdown” weekly maxi-series, which also utilized a few of the (now-departed) New Gods characters. The Fourth World characters which were originally created by Jack Kirby have often fallen by the wayside in the greater DC Universe, despite several high-profile attempts to launch them in an ongoing monthly book.

Creators as diverse as John Byrne and Walt Simonson have produced memorable runs using the New Gods cast without having to basically redraw the map that had been established by the “King”. That‘s an important point to keep in mind when reading this short-run series, because despite the carnage visited on the inhabitants of Apokolips and New Genesis, it appears that while the curtain has seemingly been closed on the Fourth World; a “Fifth” World incarnation is likely in the offing.

Jim Starlin is well known for his epic runs on classic, cosmic-scale characters like Captain Mar-Vell, Adam Warlock and Dreadstar (from Metamorphosis Odyssey) and he really gets back on his game with this series. Starlin’s artwork was nothing short of breathtaking throughout the entire eight issues. Panel-after-panel, page-after-page of simply beautiful Starlin artwork unfolds, that is at least on par with some of his past creative triumphs. I give him very high marks for stepping up his efforts on this book! The three inkers mentioned above, all turned in fine work to maintain the titles monthly status and visual consistency.

Be warned that many of your Fourth World favorites make their final exit off camera (so to speak), with the series main protagonists Mr. Miracle, Orion and guest-star Superman investigating their friends passing ala TV’s CSI, once the corpses are eventually discovered. It’s also worth mentioning that there are intentional macguffins tossed in to throw suspicion on various New Gods cast members, who may or may not be the real perpetrator of the carnage.


The penultimate issue reveal involving the planets Apokolips and New Genesis, suggests that the readership may actually be having their collective chains yanked somewhat, is my only quibble with the end result. I hope that I'm wrong, but ....

Shown earlier in flashback, Kirby’s original fate of the “Old Gods” dramatically points out the danger of sweeping these wonderful characters under the rug - - - only to quickly bring them back - - - although somewhat adjusted in either motivation or appearance and then passing it off as something NEW.

If the New Gods have died, let’s see what you’ve creatively got for a “Fifth World” DC, but if you just want to “update” King Kirby – please let that idea sit on the shelf and spare us the trouble.

It’s all been done before!

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