DC 1st Issue Special #13 (April 1976)
"Lest Night Fall -Forever!"
Plot and editing: Gerry Conway
Dialogue: Denny O'Neil
Art: Mike Vosburg
Karen: This is certainly an oddity in my collection. I was looking through my old DC books, trying to find a one-and-done to review, since we have an acknowledged lack of DC books here at BAB, and ran into this title. This was my first exposure to the New Gods, and I can honestly say, it was not a memorable one. In fact, although my memory in general seems to be going south these days, I still tend to remember my comic book trivia fairly well, but I didn't remember a darn thing about this book! I imagine I read it once and filed it away, and never looked at it again. So in some ways, it's like a brand new book to me. So let's take a look at this strange offering, shall we?
Karen: First off, I have little experience with Mike Vosburg, but based on his work here, color me unimpressed. It's not terrible artwork, but it certainly doesn't pop. I guess I would call it passable, but it has a rough, almost unfinished look to it. Particularly if one were to compare it to Kirby, it comes off lacking. Also, after the cool Dick Giordano cover, well, it feels like a letdown. The splash page features Orion, in a less than inspired new uniform (really, a big "O" on his chest?) attacking some Apokolips goons. The truce between the New Gods and Apokolips has been broken, and Orion has come to Earth, where he finds his half-brother, Kaliban, and a bunch of Darkseid's troops. As Orion and Kaliban fight, we get a flashback, with Orion recalling recent events in New Genesis. We see Highfather, Metron, Big Barda, and Scott Free, aka Mister Miracle, although he is not dressed in his standard super-hero outfit. Orion had just returned from a scouting mission to Apokolips and came back with the disturbing news that their long time enemy was preparing for war, and planned to invade Earth. No sooner had Orion shared this information then New Genesis was attacked by parademons. The New Gods fight off the creatures, with Orion thinking, "I cannot help myself! I glory in warrior's work - in violence and destruction!" Metron ultimately uses his Mobius chair to create a boom tube to send the parademons hurtling back to Apokolips. Highfather reluctantly tells Orion to do "whatever is necessary" and sends him to Earth. Orion takes this to mean killing Darkseid, and heads off for our blue planet, which brings us back to the present.
Karen: Kaliban seems to have the upper hand in their fight, but Orion manages to break free. His brutish half-brother grabs a war club and swings it at his head, but Orion dodges it and uses his astro-force to knock Kaliban through the floor. About two years ago I read volumes one and two of the Kirby Fourth World omnibus, and I have to say, I'm really missing Orion's original look and his whole astro-harness get-up. It was a unique look. Here, Orion looks like any other generic, force blasting hero. He moves on in search of Darkseid but instead finds Granny Goodness. Gotta love these Kirby names. Granny manages to blast Orion and knock him out.
Karen: Back on New Genesis, Highfather sits in a big comfy chair looking worried next to a gigantic fireplace. That New Genesis really looks like a nice place to hang out. Suddenly Metron materializes and tells Highfather that the Source has become active,and takes him to see a large wall standing in the middle of a field. It is the Wall of Prophecy, and the Source has written, in glowing letters, "When son slays father chaos reigns." Well that seems pretty obvious, right? Orion has gone off to kill Darkseid, his pop, and this makes it sound like that might not be such a good idea. But Highfather seems mystified by it all. Apparently the New Gods are not immune to senility -or maybe this was just Conway's way of slipping in some exposition. Metron explains to the reader -er, Highfather -that he has used a boom tube to locate Darkseid. It turns out the fiend is not on Earth after all, but back on Apokolips, where he and Doctor Bedlam have somehow attuned Darkseid's heartbeat to Earth's sun in such a way that if Darkseid dies, the sun will explode. After having revealed this shocking bit of news, Darkseid has another surprise: he senses that Metron and Highfather are watching him, and grinning, shuts off their boom tube. Although I thought most of Vosburg's art was rough, his Darkseid here is effective (if a bit lean). Highfather finally gets the meaning of the message from the Source and he and Metron realize they have to stop Orion from finding Darkseid.
Karen: Orion has his hands full with Granny Goodness' thugs, who wait just a little too long to start his beating, giving the warrior time enough t orecover and instead beat the stuffing out of his would-be tormentors. He busts out of a window only to realize he's no longer on Earth but in Apokolips, near Darkseid's palace. He decides to go after him, when he's attacked from behind by Kalibak. Tired of dealing with his half-brother, Orion puts everything he has into his punch and sends the brute flying right through the wooden door of the palace. Orion storms in and demands to see Darkseid, and lo and behold, there he is. After callously dismissing Kalibak, Darkseid strides over to Orion and tells him that if he kills him, he'll also wind up destroying the Earth. Orion angrily accuses Darkseid of lying, and works himself up into a frenzy, building up to unleash his astro-force. But before he can blast Darkseid, Metron and Highfather arrive and stop him, rather anti-climatically I might add -they just tell him to stop, and he does. No struggle, no mad dive to divert an energy blast, nada. With Orion powered down, Darkseid goads him, saying that if he'd killed his father, he'd feel guilty. Orion seems genuinely confused about how he'd feel. The New Gods depart, and return to New Genesis, where Orion continues to brood amongst the beauty and happiness around him.
Karen: My understanding is this was a bridge between Kirby's original New Gods series and a second series that began with issue #12 (July 1977). If it was supposed to be an introduction to the New Gods and the Fourth World concepts for new readers, it fails at that task. Surprisingly there's no recap, no introductions or explanations given. The book assumes you know who these characters are, which seems really odd given how careful writers typically were in the 70s to make sure to include a recap for readers of even the previous issue. There is a brief text feature at the end that has a few sentences that discusses the war between Apokolips and New Genesis, but that's it. Now that I have read Kirby's New Gods series I had no trouble reading this issue, but back when I bought it? I probably didn't have a clue what was going on, which is why it went unread all these years. I'm not one of those people who thinks that only Kirby can do the New Gods (I thought Starlin had a decent handle on the characters and mythology in Cosmic Odyssey), but this is pretty bland fare. I'd recommend this issue only for New God completists, whomever they might be (do they exist?). It certainly isn't a great work of comic book art.