Last time, these idealistic aliens called the Forever People settled down to live in a slum alongside a lonely little boy named Donnie, and with the help of the Infinity Man scared off a bug-vampire-creature named Mantis. It wasn’t bad, but it was relatively standard stuff. This is better:
Glorious Godfrey is in town, preaching the gospel of Anti-Life. Godfrey is plainly based on Billy Graham, who was a close associate of Dick Nixon, one of the main inspirations for Darkseid. From the Wikipedia:
After Nixon’s victorious 1968 presidential campaign, Graham was an adviser, visiting the White House and leading some of the private church services that the President organized there. Nixon offered Graham the ambassadorship to Israel in a meeting they had with Golda Meir, but Graham turned down Nixon’s offer. Nixon appeared at one of Graham’s revivals in East Tennessee in 1970; the event drew one of the largest crowds to ever gather in Tennessee. Nixon became the first President to give a speech from an evangelist’s platform. However, their friendship became strained when Graham rebuked Nixon for his post-Watergate behavior and the profanity heard on the Watergate tapes; they eventually reconciled after Nixon’s resignation. Graham announced at that time, “I’m out of politics.”
The Anti-Life creed bestows total certainty, total unity, and total entitlement–especially the entitlement to murder. “Yes, it is [Darkseid’s] gift to us, friends! The cosmic hunting license! The right to point the finger or the gun!”
One of Godfrey’s minions, a Justifier, accosts Donnie and threatens him for the location of the Forever People. Luckily, the kids save Donnie with Mother Box–but not before the Justifier blows himself up with a suicide vest.
The Forever People realize Glorious Godfrey must be behind this religious frenzy, and set off after him, but not before one of the saddest scenes in the whole Fourth World saga:
Wow. I know you can read the panel, but I have to break that out for a second:
BEAUTIFUL DREAMER: Goodbye, Donnie! We leave you what cannot die–Love! Friendship!
SERIFAN: It is so in New Genesis! It can be here!
DONNIE: You must come back! You must!
now hold on a second there, donnie
Donnie, I know you live in an abandoned slum neighborhood where your only other source of human contact is Uncle Willie, who is like 90 years old, senile, and ready to shoot anything that moves. And a few weeks ago these extra-dimensional teenagers show up and start, like, giving meaningful responses to your dialogue balloons, which has probably never happened to you before. And they fix your TV.
- They have no problem giving a massive hit of Space LSD to a 10 year old boy
- They get hunted by suicide-bomber religious maniacs armed with “omega rays! Earthmen would disintegrate instantly!”
- The Justifier blew up your house. The Forever People can’t be bothered to fix it.
- The fact that the Justifier got into Donnie’s home, and then blew it up, strongly suggests that Uncle Willie, who was in charge of “security,” is dead. The Forever People can’t be bothered to find him or heal him.
- Also, Donnie, I hate to bring it up, but you are crippled. And the Forever People, with their crazy techno-magic, haven’t helped you.
- Would you like some more LSD to take your mind off what shitty friends the Forever People are? Too bad, the Forever People are cutting out. Bye!
- You beg them to come back. SPOILER ALERT: The Forever People will never see you again. You were a drag, Donnie.
I presume the reason we never see Donnie again in the Fourth World saga is that he commits suicide. Seriously: when the Forever People come back to the slum, not only will they make no effort to find Donnie, they don’t even mention him.
“It is so in New Genesis! It can be here!” Can be. Not will be. Apparently you’ve gotta earn it.
stop making fun, kirby was awesome
But let us pretend that scene works and move on. Godfrey’s Justifiers are going on a rampage:
The Forever People arrive outside Glorious Godfrey’s revival tent and summon the Infinity Man–TAARU!–who bypasses the Justifiers and demolishes Glorious Godfrey’s psychoactive sound system.
In case you were wondering: this proves that Satan is more powerful than God, or at least that the Forever People’s faith breaks apart on that particular jagged rock. Also: you don’t want to dare Darkseid to do his worst.
And then this classic page:
is this the end?
Nope. This issue kicks off a pretty good arc in The Forever People, and as we’ll see the rest of the titles begin to pick up steam as well.
This issue speaks for itself pretty plainly–maybe a little too well–so there’s not a lot to say. Whereas Granny Goodness is practically a Jungian archetype, Glorious Godfrey feels more like an editorial cartoon. Not a bad one! And there’s a time-honored place for topical political cartooning in super hero comics, starting with Captain America punching Hitler in the face all those years ago, also courtesy of Jack Kirby. But generally I feel that making super-stuff too topical is often a mistake: it certainly hasn’t done the Forever People, as a concept, any favors over the past forty years as one revival after another has fizzled.
I do like that the Forever People leave Donnie with a blessing of love and friendship, while Glorious Godfrey’s organized goon squad of crusaders are burning books and rounding up undesirables. And that ultimately the transcendent Infinity Man is denounced by the religious zealot. It’s also a little unusual to see evangelical Christianity, or at least something with its trappings, portrayed in a relentlessly negative light in mainstream entertainment.