Smash cut to the end of the world:
And the creation of a new cosmos in its aftermath:
Eons later, grim Orion of the New Gods, “wielder of the Astro-Force,” (the weird modern-art tubing thing you see him standing on in the cover) travels to one of these worlds guided by his carefree friend Lightray:
And receives a mission from the gentle High-Father, who can literally read the writing on the wall:
You can’t quite tell in the picture, but yes, that is a giant fiery hand writing on the sacred Source Wall at the heart of New Genesis. The characters discuss the Life Equation, which has something to do with the Hand, the Wall, and free will. (“It is eternal! It is the Life Equation! And its power is part of your Wonder-Staff!”)
The guy on the far right, Metron, gives us a little bit of explanation for the Anti-Life Equation, which was a McGuffin sought by Darkseid within Beautiful Dreamer’s brain in Forever People 1. Also, note that Simyan and Mokkari, researchers at the Evil Factory, spoke of coming from a place called Apokolips, ruled by Darkseid. So we’re getting some mild connections between the series right now.
Speaking of Darkseid of Apokolips, Metron also delivers massive spoilers:
High-Father is mad, but I’m so grateful I didn’t have to play coy about this for a zillion more weeks.
orion to apokolips
From Forever People 1 we know that Darkseid is already on Earth, which apparently leaves an entire planet controlled by a Space Caveman:
Yes, the nearly naked Space Caveman is wielding a “Beta-Club.” I’m still thinking of running a Fourth World game using a super hero RPG, but sometimes Encounter Critical seems like the better choice.
then to earth
Their battle is interrupted by Metron (the blue-headed dude a few panels ago) who teleports in to tell Orion that there’s more at stake, specifically, four experimental test subjects from Earth:
Orion frees the hostages and fights Kalibak briefly, before helping the humans escape:
then to war
Orion and the four humans flee to Earth, where Orion bellows a challenge to Darkseid, wherever he might be.
some value added
It may not be clear reading this, but New Gods 1, like Forever People 1, is so dense that it’s hard to summarize without, like, posting the whole issue. And that’s especially interesting since so little actually happens in this issue: Orion visits home, receives a quest, invades the enemy’s headquarters, and (after an argument with Metron) rescues some innocent villagers. Although there are some fights in this issue, they’re almost afterthoughts, which is unusual in a Kirby comic. The whole thing is pretty much exposition and characterization.
And it’s pretty good characterization, too. Our main focus is on Orion, but he’s first contrasted to Lightray, one of the young princes of New Genesis, who has few cares and loves to laugh. Orion, however, is almost joyless. “My destiny is battle! I wield the mighty power of the Astro-Force! It is a grim and fearful responsibility!” But High-Father has responsibilities too, particularly to look after the younger gods and to sustain New Genesis’s relationship with the Source, yet High-Father is patient and nurturing in spite of his burdens. At the climax of the story, Orion’s brutish courage is contrasted with Metron’s dispassionate self-interest, and it turns out that Metron is right: Orion is urgently needed on Earth, and there’s no time to waste kicking Kalibak’s ass. The one character who seems to be closest to Orion’s temperament is Kalibak himself, which isn’t surprising since they are half-brothers. (Shh, it’s a secret!) So even though Orion is depicted as brave and heroic, he’s also got some serious psychological problems that he himself cannot see. Good thing he’s been entrusted with the ultimate weapon!
The other curious thing about this issue is how it begins. For three months, readers have been following the antics of Jimmy Olsen, occasionally catching a glimpse of some larger plot involving a mysterious villain called Darkseid. With Forever People 1, things suddenly start rushing to the fore: the Boom Tube, Apokolips, the Anti-Life Equation, Mother Box–but we still don’t really know what the hell is going on. And so with New Gods 1 Kirby finally rips back the curtain and we get to see everything. It’s a really well done piece of large-scale storytelling which works beautifully when viewing the work as a whole. How it would have come across to a little kid trying to read random issues each month, who knows.