Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It's Hard To Dislike "Death Of The New Gods"

Why? Because it's Jim Starlin. DC really dodged the bullet on this whole miniseries by getting Starlin to write and draw it. Because it's like if you put Marv Wolfman & George Perez on Countdown -- yeah, it's another editorially-mandated clusterf**k but how can you dislike it when you've got such legendary creators on it? It would be like hating Stan Lee. Which is like hating Comics. There's some math in there.

If you're familiar with Starlin's work with characters like Captain Marvel or Warlock at all, you understand that this guy's a master of the Cosmic Story -- probably right behind Kirby in that regard. So if you get bogged down or confused by metaphysical/galactic sentences like:

"They'd actually taken the Source's cryptic meanderings and sculpted them into the foundation of a ridiculous little religious fantasy,"

rest assured that it all has some higher spiritual purpose and that God will probably make an appearance in the third act, even if He is in the form of a section of drywall or a Nerf ball with Kirby crackle emanating from it.

Because the mini is called "The Death of the New Gods," a big portion of the suspense and emotional impact is taken away because you're poised to expect DEATH. In fact, if the # of deaths don't total at least three each issue, one might almost feel disappointed.

That all said, I can only imagine what die-hard Kirby fans must be thinking when they read this book. It's like if you were a die-hard Buffy fan and you watching a TV movie called "The Death of All the Buffy Characters."

In that sense, this book is both a tribute and a slightly patronizing "farewell to thee" to Kirby's legacy at DC. Further, I see Death of the New Gods as an interesting companion to Marvel's recent Elementals mini. The two publishers, faced with these uniquely "Jack Kirby" characters and worlds, have gone and used two different approaches with them -- one, to put Neil Gaiman on the job and make it all pretty, and the other, to perform radical and fatal "heart surgery" on the cast.

Which begs the question: is the Fourth World saga - and Jack Kirby's bombastic creations in general -- old-fashioned and dated in comparison with comics today? I dunno. Ask George Lucas.


  1. My take on The Death of the New Gods is that it's "either an idea whose time has come, or one of the supreme pointless endeavors in DC history. Maybe both."

    But then, I've always thought the Fourth World books strode the line between silly and stupid. I think the books were dated when they came out - certainly by the time I read them (the early/mid 1980s) they seemed ridiculously dated.

    And I think Starlin is just a shadow of himself compared to his Dreadstar days, especially when he's working with corporate-owned characters.

  2. I don't know, they're telegraphing this is pretty obviously implicitly the Death [and Rebirth] of the New Gods, which is not a million miles away from what Gaiman and Romita did over on [i]Eternals[/i] (Elementals was a 1980s Bill Willingham book).

    I've made the same joke repeatedly, but now that I've seen the first issue of the mini and they've had a few more tie-ins dealing with "the death of the New Gods", it seems a little unfair.

  3. So the reason they couldn't have just wrapped up the storyline like Kirby telegraphed (Orion beating Darkseid and ruling Apokolips in his stead) was...

    Oh yeah, thats right- he's getting a major push as the Evilest Mastermind of All Time. Fair enough, then...

    What I'd really, really like to see is more along the lines of Grant Morrison's Mister Miracle: Using the tropes of the New Gods as a template for the eternal question of life vs death, hope vs despair, freedom vs control. Metaphysical contemplations wrapped in metaphorical superhero constructs = Awesome!

    Then again, I read waaay too much Michael Moorcock. So I'm biased.

  4. I can still hate Stan Lee, Val.

    He did make Nightcat, after all.



    (Okay, I don't hate him for it, but still...)

  5. "It's Hard To Dislike "Death Of The New Gods""

    And yet I still do...

  6. I find it very easy to dislike "Death of the New Gods". In particular, I dislike seeing characters that I grew up with and love basically used as cannon fodder. I also dislike the Jokerish glee with which Starlin has described the project. It reminds me of the sadistic kid in the playground who delighted in pulling the wings off of flies. It's easy to tear down the creations of others. I'd rather see the New Gods left alone and 'creators' come up with new concepts and ideas.

  7. I like Starlin's work in general, but his comments about this project indicate that he doesn't understand the New Gods at all. He is good at cosmic stories, but if he doesn't get the characters, it's not going to be a cosmic story I can enjoy. I'd much rather read his work on his own characters.

  8. Really, this "send-off" of the Fourth World is just so that DC can stop paying royalties to the Kirby estate, right?

  9. But Spike, you don't give characters a huge splashy kill-off if you're never gonna use 'em again.

    Kill-offs for the purposes of never using characters happen in one panel or off-panel.

    This is the kind of Event kill-off that comes right before the reboot.

  10. So what I'm sort of getting here is that it is slightly easier to dislike "DOTNG" than I first postulated...

  11. "Nightcat" -- oh, yeah...

    but it had a great cover on it, didn't it?

  12. DOTNG is just fodder. The continuity fans pick it up because they need to see all the dots that connect the new to the old.

    I'd rather just have their great new idea; balls to the explanation.

    If the reboot were that good I wouldn't worry how we got here. You could drop some vague dialog later on and let another writer mine the gap 20 years from now in a web comic.

    That's the classy way to do it.