09
Feb
12

kirbsday: the orion gang and the deep six!

New Gods #4 opens with the science-god Metron showing the child-god Esak some of the wonders of the universe…

Esak is curious about the difference between the New Gods and mortal men.  “Time to them is not as time to us–is it?  Tell me, Metron!  Are we truly beyond time?–Are we beyond death?

Nope!

Last time, Orion and his human pets chased down agents of Inter-Gang, getting a timely assist from the bizarre Black Racer. This issue continues that theme, but Orion’s plot opens with his discovery of the murder of his friend Seagrin, who we haven’t seen before and will never see again.  He’s kind of like a hippie Aquaman: “He loved the deeps and all life in it!  It was his element!  Within it, he found harmony in living! . . . Somewhere in these waters he fought and died!”

Orion gives Seagrin a proper Viking New Genesis funeral:

And then, dang it, when Orion goes home after the funeral, the pets keep introducing themselves!  These guys are like parrots.  I understand that, in serialized fiction, you have to constantly reintroduce characters and their plotlines, but surely there’s ways to do that which are more elegant than having the characters repeat their own full names three times in four issues!

New Gods #1:

New Gods #2:

New Gods #4:

Damn it, you guys!  I know Orion found you hooked up to some Apokolips brain-scanning machine, but come on.

Anyway, the plot of this issue is: Seagrin is dead, and Orion’s gonna solve the case with the help of his pets.  The clue is that Seagrin’s Mother Box didn’t activate to save him, so it must have been jammed.  The jammer was likely built by Inter-Gang, Darkseid’s minions in organized crime.  So they must locate the jammer and destroy it.  And they’re going to do this by pretending to be a bunch of Irish mobsters, “The O’Ryan Gang.”

They locate a member of Inter-Gang named Snaky Doyle via Orion’s Mother Box.  (The jammer explicitly doesn’t shield humans from the Mother Box, which if you ask me is a pretty serious design flaw).  Dave Lincoln mugs Snaky with a pipe:

Once they learn of Inter-Gang’s “seashore base,” Claudia “Claudia Shane” Shane poses as a motorist in distress and gasses the guards.

Victor “Victor Lanza” Lanza pretends to be the O’Ryan Gang’s underboss, here to negotiate with Inter-Gang and learn the jammer’s location.  He encounters Country Boy, a mob boss with a fishing gimmick:

Orion locates and vaporizes the jammer, and his henchmen defeat Inter-Gang.  But Orion is captured by Slig and the Deep Six, who prowl the coasts and mutate sea-creatures into creatures of Apokolips.

anything to add?

I’m glad Orion’s friends actually did something useful this issue.  Orion has made a big deal about recruiting them into a secret war; it’s nice to see them actually participate for once.  But it may be too little, too late: we won’t see them again for months, and frankly I won’t miss them too much.

As far as the on-going cosmology: it’s implied in this issue that the New Gods will die if their Mother Box gets deactivated, either because that kills them outright or because it can no longer shield them from harm.

But as far as larger significance in this issue?  I think what we get here is that men can kill gods (albeit indirectly), and gods may disguise themselves as outlaws to move among immoral men.  And that’s about it.

The good news is that we’re setting up for some good stuff in the next few issues.  The bad news is that The New Gods until this point feels like it’s treading water a little bit.  The Forever People have embarked on a huge quest; Mister Miracle is always dueling the villain of the moth.  But Orion has fought a billboard that makes people afraid, some gangsters (but the lion’s share of the credit belongs to the Black Racer), and a guy who shoots a gun by using a fishing rod.  All of which is wonderfully weird, but kind of marginal.  Thor wouldn’t fight a billboard, although I wouldn’t be surprised if Walt Simonson had tried…

The most interesting stuff in The New Gods so far has been the asides on New Genesis, with Metron and Lightray and the Black Racer, rather than the supposed hero.  Kirby will fix that in time, but it feels like an unnecessary commercial risk.  The audacity of The New Gods as a series is that it’s the repository for all the crazy backstory in The Forever People, Mister Miracle, and the Kirbified Jimmy Olsen–basically, it’s the source and destination for all the odd cosmological stuff referenced in those titles, which means it isn’t always an easy sell.  When it works–when the title is devoted to chasing down loose ends in and explaining them with parable–I think it is really effective, but it’s hard to do that while time-sharing a 22 page story with Orion taking on the Mafia.

wait there is more

There’s a funny splash page of Kalibak here.  We didn’t get to see much of Kalibak in New Gods #1–he’s basically just a bellowing cave man with a techno-club thing–so it’s our first indication that he might be more important.

Dig those Kirby toes!  The Man-Gog from like Thor #156 or something has toes just like that.


4 Responses to “kirbsday: the orion gang and the deep six!”


  1. February 10, 2012 at 4:22 am

    I’ll really miss Claudia Shane, Harvey Lockman, Victor Lanza, and good ol’ Dave Lincoln.

  2. 2 Scott LeMien
    February 10, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Maybe Kirby got tired of hearing the importance of introducing characters from writers, so he was like: here, put this in yer bonnet and wear it!

  3. February 10, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    You mean “Claudia Shane, Simple But Worried Secretary” and “Young But Cool Harvey Lockman.” We’ll see them again in approximately four issues.

    In my head, I am always measuring The New Gods against The Mighty Thor. Both magazines tell the tale of an honorable but sometimes reckless warrior-god struggling against demons in the modern age, complete with subplots and supporting characters in a mythological realm.

    Aside from some important differences in the hero’s characterization, one of the main differences between the two series is that in The New Gods regular humans have been enlisted into the struggle. (Jimmy Olsen and the kids are involved, but not always knowingly.) It’s kind of a neat idea to have humans right in the eye of the storm: it gives Kirby the option of doing these worms-eye-view stories, sort of the way he did with The Losers. You can imagine someone like Will Eisner doing great stuff with these human “grunts,” half-oblivious to the forces controlling their lives, though of course I’m not sure how well Eisner would handle the cosmic Gotterdammerung stuff. But Kirby, for whatever reason, never gets this human element to work in this series.

    By the mid-1960’s, The Mighty Thor may well have been Marvel’s best title, but it got off to a slow start. Back when it was merely Journey into Mystery, the early Thor issues didn’t really get too mythical. Thor debuts in like issue 83, we get Loki in issue 85, and it isn’t until the mid-90’s that we get Asgardians on a regular basis. At a similar point into its run, The New Gods had already introduced a whole new cosmogony, a dozen supporting characters on Earth and in space–and had been cancelled. Was the series too weird too soon?

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