Jack Kirby was a legend in the field of comic books and rightly deserves to be remembered as one of the greatest of all time. It’s also fitting tribute that his New Gods have been given a special issue to highlight both his own work (the third story of the three) as well as some of his greatest characters. It’s just a shame that it isn’t better.
In the first of three short stories, Forager escapes from the enslaved insect colony under Supertown, which has been conquered by Kalibak who has plans to turn New Genesis into the new Apokalips. Seeking the aid of the New Gods, Forager is joined by Orion and Lightray – and Orion has a score to settle with Kalibak, his half-brother. In the second tale, Orion and Seagrin investigate the monsters Darkseid has been creating below the surface of the Unholy See. In the third tale, Lonar finds his battle horse, Thunderer, and meets with Orion. However, the steed’s reaction to Orion speaks volumes…
While each of the stories on their own is perfectly fine, each is too short to truly do justice to the concept of the New Gods and so the plots are minimal at best. Also, given the array of characters in the New Gods, it’s a poor statement that each story mainly seems focused on Orion. Lightray plays second fiddle in one story, Highfather makes only a brief appearance, and don’t go looking for any Darkseid moments because Kalibak is the best you’ll get.
The writing manages to tell the stories and nothing more, and while the first takes up the most pages, it’s a rather standard tale of Orion’s furious anger being tempered by the philosophy of peace he’s adopted from New Genesis. For long-time readers of New Gods, it’s nothing they haven’t seen before although it still makes him a fascinating character at his core.
However, the artwork is a real saving grace of New Gods Special #1. Shane Davis’s writing may be ordinary here, but his art is fantastic and shows a great eye for detail. The second tale, from the legendary Walter Simonson, packs a visual wallop, while Kirby’s third tale is of the high-quality standard you would expect. Kirby was known by fans as “The King” and for good reason.
Given Kirby’s enormous contributions to the field of comics, it’s great to see the spirit of that being followed through with the other creators of the other two stories doing double-duty as both writer and artist of their tales. While the end result of New Gods Special #1 may be somewhat disappointing due to the lack of space to tell the stories properly, it’s still a worthwhile buy and proof that the memory of Kirby will never be forgotten by fans.