Jack Kirby's meta-series where he developed an entire cosmic mythology involving the New Gods of the utopia of New Genesis and the dystopia of Apokolips. Collectively, they were called The Fourth World.
New Genesis and Apokolips were once one planet, but were split apart during the Old Gods' Ragnarok. New Genesis is ruled by the benevolent Highfather, while Apokolips is kept in the rocky fist of Darkseid. Before the beginning of the series, there was "The Pact," where to keep the peace between Apokolips and New Genesis, Highfather and Darkseid trade sons. Darkseid's son, Orion (pictured right), grows up to wield the "Astro-Force" and knows that he is destined to kill Darkseid in battle. Darkseid, in turn, raises Scott Free, who rebels against him and becomes Mister Miracle (and ends up marrying Big Barda, a reformed former member of Darkseid's Female Furies).
Other characters on New Genesis include: Lightray, Orion's cheerful and optimistic friend; Forager, one of the evolved bug people of New Genesisnote ; and the Forever People, essentially hippies FROM SPACE.
Other characters on Apokolips include: Desaad, Darkseid's chief Torture Technician and dirty old man; Granny Goodness, who specializes in brainwashing people and having the evil Female Furies; Kalibak, Darkseid's other son and second-in-command; and Parademons.
Other concepts of note include the Source, an ancient metaphysical energy-thingy that's connected to the Source Wall; Mother Boxes, living magical computers that some of the New Gods have; Boom Tubes, teleportation tunnels by which the New Gods travel through space in a degree of minutes; and the Anti-Life Equation, which Darkseid is forever seeking.
The original Fourth World books were:
It may be also important to note that the New Gods was abruptly canceled before Kirby could finish it, in part because only Mister Miracle caught on with readers (and even then got canceled several issues later). The New Gods and Mr Miracle were revived in the late '70s by DC minus Kirby's involvement and continued the original numbering but were cancelled in the "Great DC Implosion", with New Gods' last issues being published in "Adventure Comics" (as well as an arc on "Justice League of America" designed to bring Darkseid back).
Kirby was brought back to give his own official ending to the franchise, as part of a deluxe format reprinting of the eleven issues of New Gods that Kirby produced but the whole thing fell apart due to editorial interference (Kirby was forbidden from killing Darkseid and Orion off... maybe, some sources say otherwise). What ultimately came about was a new story called "Even Gods Must Die", which was a lead-in to the graphic novel "The Hunger Dogs", which suffered extensive executive meddling but offered a semi-decent ending to the series as Kirby (per DC's demands) ended his story with Darkseid overthrown by his slaves.
Later writers revived the characters and concepts, though with a great deal of decay in concept as only Darkseid and Mr. Miracle caught on with fans (with Orion and Big Barda tagging along). These stories included the original 1970's Secret Society of Super-Villains, The Great Darkness Saga, Rock of Ages, ''Legends'', ''Cosmic Odyssey'', ''Genesis'', Seven Soldiers, The Death of the New Gods, Countdown to Final Crisis, and finally Final Crisis, which slammed the door on the New Gods once and for all, while giving Darkseid a hell of a send-off as the Villain Decay got shrugged off of him on his way out the door. However, after the New 52, they were all (presumably) brought back to life thanks to Cosmic Retcon. Darkseid serves as, of all things, the Starter Villain for the Justice League, and his invasion of Earth is what leads to their formation. Fittingly, he also served as the final villain of that particular Justice League run, in the "Darkseid War" story arc.
Before that though, when Kenner Toys had the Super Powers toyline in the 1980s, they used a number of Kirby's New Gods characters as action figures and Kirby finally got some sort of a direct payoff for his creativity. He also contributed to the tie-in comic, and it even seems roughly in continuity with his original stories.
Some of the characters (Orion, Scott Free, Big Barda) were brought in for the Kingdom Come story (after all, who wasn't?).
Mister Miracle, Barda, Oberon, Lightray, and Orion have all served in the Justice League of America at various times.
Because Jimmy Olsen was one of the original Fourth World books, and Superman guest stars in the first issue of The Forever People, the whole New Gods saga has had close ties to Superman since the beginning, and the 1990's Superman: The Animated Series firmly cemented the two mythoi together. These days, Darkseid tends to be depicted fighting Superman and/or the Justice League more often than he is shown fighting Orion.
Characters from the Fourth World have been featured in several DC adaptations; usually those involving Superman.
- Super Friends - A few appearances scattered across episodes, including Darkseid.
- DC Animated Universe:
- Superman: The Animated Series - Superman's dealings with Apokolips and New Genesis forms the major Myth Arc of the show.
- Justice League and Justice League Unlimited - Continuing from Superman: The Animated Series, characters from the comics appear scattered across various episodes, proving to be among the most difficult for the characters to deal with.
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold
- Smallville - Forms the Myth Arc of season 10, though with much alteration in concept.
- Justice League: War - An Origin Story for the Justice League as they have to deal with an invasion from Apokolips. Like the comics, it connects the origin of Cyborg to Mother Box technology along with a mixture of other advanced technology.
- Young Justice - Apokoliptian technology is seen throughout, with one episode dedicated to the Forever People. Darkseid is seen in the last episode as a sequel hook to the third season.
- Justice League Action - The Justice League confront Apokoliptians in several episodes, and Mister Miracle and Big Barda play a central role in one episode.
- DC Extended Universe:
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - Darkseid's omega symbol is seen in Batman's nightmare, a Mother Box rebuilds a crippled Victor Stone into Cyborg, and a hologram of Steppenwolf is seen in the Ultimate Edition.
- Wonder Woman - In a home video-only post-credits scene, Etta Candy gathers Steve Trevor's teammates to go on a secret mission to obtain a Mother Box (the one that would create Cyborg one century later).
- Justice League - Steppenwolf is the Big Bad. His scheme is to find the three Mother Boxes scattered around the Earth to perform Hostile Terraforming on the planet, and the Justice League gathers to stop him. Darkseid is mentioned and it's presumably him who beams Steppenwolf back on Apokolips with a Boom Tube. Darkseid was supposed to appear, but he had been axed from the theatrical version, leaving only a mention of him by Steppenwolf.
- Director Ava DuVernay has been attached to a film adaptation of the title (likely set within the DCEU).
This meta-series includes:
- A God Am I: Darkseid.
- Above Good and Evil: Metron doesn't take any side, though it doesn't stop him from aiding the good guys against Darkseid any chance he gets. The main reason he's considered neutral is because in the early days of the war, he helped Darkseid develop boom tube technology, in exchange for the raw materials he needed for his Moebius Chair. Since then, he's mainly been seen aiding the good guys (perhaps out of remorse?), though he's worked with Darkseid on occasion since as well, despite Darkseid never making any secret of what fate he intends for Metron. It's partly that Metron's primary motivation is For Science!, and partly because Darkseid and Metron have few intellectual equals who can stand them for long.
- Always Chaotic Evil: Depending on the Writer, the population of Apokolips is this. This is implicitly not the case in Kirby's original conception, though - rather they're almost hopelessly brainwashed by the brutality of Darkseid's regime. Much like Tolkien, it seems Kirby was uncomfortable with the idea of an irretrievably Always Chaotic Evil people, and so The Power of Love trumps Darkseid's conditioning every time.
- Amazon Brigade: The Female Furies.
- Amazonian Beauty: Most of the Female Furies qualify, but especially Big Barda.
- Anthropomorphic Personification: All the characters are, after all, gods. Explicitly confirmed in Final Crisis, where Batman states the New Gods are Platonic Ideals.
- Darkseid is the personification of Tyranny.
- Granny Goodness is the personification of Abuse towards Youth and the Subjugation of Youthful Spirit.
- Mister Miracle is the Embodiment of Freedom. When he gets shot, it signals the Victory of Evil.
- Orion is war. His struggle with his violent nature makes him a personification of a just war, fought only when necessary but regretful of its effects. His brother Kalibak is savage war, fought for the sake and indulgence of violence.
- Lightray is the personification of joy and charisma, and the Forever people are the spirit of youth.
- Armed Legs: Stompa's anti-matter boots.
- Athens and Sparta: The proto-planet divides into a warlike Mordor run by Darkseid called Apokolips and a verdant green planet called New Genesis.
- A Storm Is Coming: During Jack Kirby's run, someone warns Darkseid about an oncoming storm. Darkseid answers, "I am the storm!"
- Bad Ass Normal: Dan Turpin.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: Most of New Genesis is an unspoiled paradise, and the one major city, Supertown, is sleek and futuristic with abundant gardens and parks; Apokolips is an industrial wasteland with multiple fire-spouting craters that are each a significant portion of the planet's radius. The trope generally applies to the characters as well, with the good New Genesites being handsome/beautiful and the evil Apokaliptians being mostly ugly or deformed. There are some notable exceptions:
- Some of the (evil) Female Furies are buff but attractive.
- Orion (a good guy, with, admittedly, severe anger management issues) is ugly; in-story he's so ugly that he often wears a half-mask to conceal his face. He is of Apokoliptian origin, being the son of Darkseid himself; his goodness is due to him being raised on New Genesis by Highfather Izaya from a fairly young age.
- Glorious Godfrey is universally considered in-story to be extremely handsome and charismatic but is thoroughly evil. His sister Amazing Grace is also evil but beautiful.
- In the hands of a kind artist, Dan "Terrible" Turpin looks like the sort of guy you'd cast Danny Devito to play; in Kirby's original art, you might be excused for thinking he was a shaved gorilla in a suit. He's very definitely a good guy.
- Darkseid's uncle Steppenwolf is usually depicted as reasonably handsome (but with a Beard of Evil).
- Beeping Computers: The Mother Box's "ping!"
- Big Bad: Darkseid. Not just for the New Gods, but the rest of the universe.
- Big Good: The Highfather. After his death this position is taken over by Takion. And of course, the Source is ultimate universe-creating good of the series. At least until the Death of the New Gods arc.
- Black and White Morality: New Genesis is unambiguously good while Apokolips is totally evil.
- Bold Inflation: One of Kirby's trademarks!
- Especially interesting here because it comes off so well. These are Aliens Speaking English, and they're breaking it down for the foolish humans.
- Born in the Wrong Century: Sonny Sumo, aka that guy who had the Anti-Life equation in his head. Darkseid ironically rectifies this.
- Brawn Hilda: Stompa.
- Brown Note: The Anti-Life Equation turns out to be this crossed with The Virus.
- But Now I Must Go: This actually happened to Mister Miracle and Big Barda when the original Kirby series was cancelled.
- Cut Short: Kirby's original series; even Mister Miracle, which wasn't cancelled, still got a heavy Retool that divorced it from the New Gods mythos (until the final issue where The Bus Came Back).
- Darker and Edgier: Our hero enters the scene, confesses to (presumably mild) off-screen torture, then gloats over his fallen enemy as he slowly and deliberately batters him to death on screen, pausing only to angst about the horror of war and his own hidden inner darkness. Pretty dark and edgy for a DC comic by Jack Kirby ("Spawn") from 1971 (in the original *New Gods* run). The next comic, "The Glory Boat", underlines the idea that while New Genesis gods like Lightray are powerful, only savage fighters like the Apokolips-born Orion are truly effective warriors. Then "The Pact" shows the war between Apokolips and New Genesis escalating to the point where both sides are fighting on a planet-destroying scale.
- Darkest Hour: Final Crisis. Not only for the New Gods, but for all of the DCU.
- Depending on the Writer: So much. So much. Are New Genesis and Apokolips in 'our' universe or another dimension entirely? (This was lampshaded once in a Character Blog for the series Checkmate) What is the Anti-Life equation? Are the New Gods real gods or Sufficiently Advanced Aliens? Much of this is probably because a lot of the writers didn't keep up with canon or disliked certain concepts.
- Divine Conflict: The good, freedom-loving New Gods of New Genesis led by Highfather Izaya, and evil, oppressive New Gods of Apokolips led by Darkseid are locked in an eternal conflict with each other. It was settled through truce for a time with an exchange of Highfather's son Scott Free and Darkseid's son Orion, but when Scott escaped, Darkseid used that as a justification to restart the conflict.
- Early Installment Weirdness: At first Scott Free used to be at least as tall as Big Barda. That situation reversed in the 80's.
- Even Evil Has Standards: The Apokoliptian New God Sleez was so depraved and flat out disgusting that he repulsed even Darkseid who previously had him as an aide before growing disenchanted by Sleez's petty cruelties and permanently banished him to Earth.
- Evil Matriarch: Granny Goodness is this, put in a blender with a hardcore dominatrix, and turned up to eleven.
- Enforced Cold War: The Pact. It doesn't really work.
- Evil Orphanage Lady: Granny Goodness from Apokolips could hardly be more inappropriately named, as her job is to brainwash the children in her orphanages into becoming servile, brutal slaves of Darkseid.
- Fad Super: All over the place; much of the story was dedicated to Kirby's views on the 1970s and the way the world was going. It's mostly managed to translate into modern times, though, as most of the issues (feminism, freedom, war versus peace, nature versus nurture, the power of authority, the goodness of youth) are still pretty relevant.
- The Force: The Source. In fact, rumor has it the Force from Star Wars was actually based on this.
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: The Black Racer knows his next target! Who is it? He? She? You? And yes, he's staring at the reader.
- Flanderization: Orion, Orion, Orion. As written by Kirby, he was a basically noble person who was rough around the edges and frequently struggled with his darker side and his brutal nature. A good chunk of modern writers have him being a Hair-Trigger Temper Blood Knight.
- Perhaps surprisingly, the same happened to Darkseid, who, in Kirby's take on the character, was rather more complex and well-rounded; in "the road to Armaghetto", the despot shows a somber, reflective side, wry humor and even restrained horror at the coming generation, which will be worse than he was. His 'evolution' into the most purely evil being in creation and designated villain for the universe seems degeneration into caricature.
- Fluffy the Terrible: Granny Goodness. Someone with that name can't possibly be evil, right? Right?
- From Nobody to Nightmare:
- Even for a New God, Glorius Godfrey was a joke character - til Legends (DC).
- Granny Goodness started out as a Lowly. She became the trainer of the Female Furies and Darkseid's most effective lieutenant.
- Fully Absorbed Finale: The finale of the Gerry Conway Return Of The New Gods revival was resolved in Adventure Comics after the great DC Implosion. The entire New Gods mythos had one too in Final Crisis by Grant Morrison.
- Gods Need Prayer Badly: In Walt Simonson's run on Orion, he had the title character deliver a Take That! to the concept as well as some detail into how the New Gods have taken advantage of the concept.Orion: Gods are not dependent on their worshipers; worshipers are dependent on their Gods. And the New Gods? We're as old as time, constantly remade, constantly reborn with each turning of the wheel... Each time a mortal turns on a computer, puts a piece of bread in the toaster, opens a door, strikes a match, or wonders at the stars, he worships at the altar of the New Gods!
- Götterdämmerung: "There came a time when the Old Gods DIED!"
- Grand Finale: Final Crisis, which restores much of the characters to Kirby's original vision of them, then slams the door on them for good.
- The Hunger Dogs was also intended to be this. It didn't work out, for a number of reasons.
- The Grim Reaper: The Black Racer. Interestingly enough, he had a human form of a paraplegic Vietnam vet.
- Hate Plague: Courtesy of the Paranoid Pill from Dr. Bedlam, which he unleashes on an apartment building and turns its inhabitants into terrified, irrational mobs that try to kill Mister Miracle because they think he's a vampire.
- Heart Is an Awesome Power. Villainous example, and again, Glorious Godfrey. How dangerous could someone who is a goodlooking blond with tremendous powers of persuasion possibly be? There's no way a cowardly wimp like him could be a threat. HA HA HA No. Legends (DC) showed just how powerful a talent like that could be.
- Metron was based on Leonard Nimoy.
- Big Barda was based on Lainie Kazan.
- Hyperlink Story: The original Kirby series attempted to be this. It never quite got to the "one big story" part.
- I Was Quite a Looker: Granny Goodness.
- If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: When recruiting her, Darkseid commands Granny Goodness to prove her loyalty to him by killing her longtime faithful hound. She does it without question, despite it tearing her up inside.
- Kirby Dots: Of course.
- Kryptonite Factor: New Gods are only vulnerable to "Radion", a specific radiation. Darkseid eventually kills Orion with a time-traveling radion bullet in Final Crisis, and Darkseid is shot with that same bullet by Batman.
- Laughing Mad: Mad Harriet.
- Lotus-Eater Machine: The Lump: a catatonic creature that can Mind Rape you with scenarios and mental images once you're connected to it.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Subverted; Orion already knows he's Darkseid's son. He does have trouble resisting his inner violence though.
- Magic Powered Pseudo Science: The alternative to the Sufficiently Advanced Alien view.
- Magitek: Another alternative interpretation, embraced by Grant Morrison and (arguably) Kirby himself.
- Meaningful Name: Everyone?
- The Meaning of Life: Inverted by the Anti-Life equation, which (Depending on the Writer) basically proves that life has no meaning.
- Nurture over Nature: Orion's dilemma.
- Omnicidal Maniac: Darkseid wants to enslave the universe or, if he can't, destroy it.
- Orc Raised by Elves: Orion is this, being part of an experiment/peace deal that also included Raised by Orcs. Scott Free was the son of one of the benevolent deities and was given to be raised by the Evil Overlord Darkseid. Darkseid's son, Orion, was raised in his place. Both of them grow up to be heroes.
- Orcus on His Throne: Darkseid, usually. When he's not, well... that's bad.
- Order Versus Chaos: With Apokolips representing Order and New Genesis Chaos.
- Physical God: See Depending on the Writer.
- Polluted Wasteland: Apokolips consists of "fire pits" continually fueled by slaves.
- Poorly Disguised Pilot: The New Gods started appearing in Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen. It was the best thing that ever happened to the title.
- Punny Name: Scott Free. For an escape artist. It was originally given to him ironically by Granny Goodness, to remind him that he'll never be free. The lesson didn't take.
- Purple Prose: In spades. Check the Page Quote for a sampler.
- John Byrne's Darkseid / Galactus crossover was a tribute to Jack Kirby, and was stuffed full of Purple Prose Ham-to-Ham Combat.
- Put on a Bus: Happened to the Forever People at the end of Kirby's series. Also happened to Mister Miracle and Big Barda, but they at least got to go to New Genesis. (Neither stuck)
- Raised By Rival: An uneasy peace between New Genesis' Highfather and Apokolips' Darkseid is cemented by the two trading sons to be raised by the other. Darkseid's cruel parenting resulted in both sons hating him.
- Retroactive Legacy Character: In the original comics we have the Black Racer and Mister Miracle, although their predecessors only appeared for the issue where they gave up said legacy. Later comics revealed that Infinity-Man was also a Legacy Character, and Mister Miracle would get an Affirmative Action Legacy with Shilo Norman.
- Rogues-Gallery Transplant: Darkseid started off as a New Gods villain, and still is, but he is now better known as a Superman foe.
- Rousseau Was Right: Seemingly Kirby's view of morality in the series. Darkseid and his court may be irrevocably evil, but they did not have to be. Orion is the son of the personification of tyranny itself, but was raised by a loving father and is a hero. Scott Free was raised to be a soldier of Darkseid, but maintained his free spirit and escaped, and Big Barda was a soldier who changed sides when redeemed by the power of Love. Ultimately, evil always loses, in the short run or the long.
- Scenery Porn: It was drawn by Jack Kirby, after all.
- Science Fantasy: Probably the best description of the series's genre.
- Sky Surfing: Mister Miracle and his disc thingies.
- The Black Racer as well, what with the skis and all.
- Spiritual Successor: To Kirby's earlier Tales of Asgard series. New Gods was originally supposed to be a direct sequel until Kirby jumped ship to DC. In one chapter, a wanderer on New Genesis finds the remains of the final battle from Tales including some broken weapons and armor.
- Splash Panel: Kirby loved using these. The opening of "New Gods" is one of the most famous double-page splashes.
- Statuesque Stunner: Big Barda.
- Status Quo Is God: The reason DC wouldn't let Kirby kill off the New Gods (or even let Darkseid die). (Though there are some sources who say Kirby didn't want to kill them either when he wrote "The Hunger Dogs")
- Also the reason that Death Of The New Gods is a pretty misleading title.
- It doesn't help that it's all but Canon Discontinuity.
- Also the reason that Death Of The New Gods is a pretty misleading title.
- Stealth Sequel: Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers, the creator-owned Kirby series published by Pacific in 1981. As the series goes on, it slowly becomes apparent that Captain Victory is Orion's son. He even inherits the Astro-Harness, and Victory's grandfather and greatest enemy, Blackmass of the planet Hellikost, is a disembodied Darkseid. A limited-series revival in 2014 by Joe Casey finally made this all but explicitly the case.
- New Gods itself was a Stealth Sequel to Kirby's run on Thor. The first comic opens with the death of the "Old Gods", which includes a very familiar silhouette of a certain Thunderer.
- Sufficiently Advanced Alien: See Depending on the Writer, above. They still have aspects of this regardless.
- Superheroes in Space: They are essentially an alien race of superhero gods.
- Take Over All Creation: Darkseid's ultimate goal.
- Take That!: Kirby's original New Gods had several "Take That!" disses against Marvel, with perhaps the biggest one being...
- Stan L... sorry, "Funky Flashman", the toady conman who works for Darkseid, lives in a crumbling house with a sycophantic manservant — "Houseroy" — based on Roy Thomas, gets his meagre cash by rooting around in a container shaped like Jack's head and isn't half as talented as he thinks he is. Oh, and he wears a toupée. Jack was not happy with Stan at the time.note
- In the Legends crossover, Glorious Godfrey used the alias "G. Gordon Godfrey", a joint parody of Watergate participant (and later radio demagogue) G. Gordon Liddy and, well, J. Jonah Jameson.
- Translation with an Agenda: The Mexican editorial Novaro translated the New Gods in Spanish as the "Nuevos Ídolos". Back to English, that is "New Idols". A correct translation would have been "Nuevos Dioses". The editorial was run by conservative religious people, who would not accept to define any fictional characters as "Gods".
- Warrior Poet: In the original comics several characters have elements of this, mostly because of the way it's written, but Orion and even Darkseid are known to have talked to themselves about philosophical concepts.
- World of Ham: Just read the quote on the top of the page.
- Villains Out Shopping: Getting mugged and just analyzing the experience, or working the register at Burger Fool... Darkseid had a lot of free time.
- In the original comics, he tours an amusement park. Granted, it was one controlled by Apokolips but he seems genuinely amused when a pair of people mistake him for a guy in costume. And then there was that time Darkseid wore a costume... of course, that was part of a plan to get close to a human whose mind contained the Anti-Life Equation.