Saturday, May 31, 2008

Midnight of the New Gods, Part 2 of 2

Back in November, I wrote that I had enjoyed The Death of the New Gods #1 by Jim Starlin and added that I would return to the subject for a final word after the 8-issue miniseries concluded.

I am pleased to be able to say that I found the entire series satisfying and true to the spirit of the great New Gods characters as created by Jack Kirby. From me, The Death of the New Gods earns an A.

I have to admit I was worried for the first four or five issues. It seemed that the story was being structured as a highly-suspenseful who-done-it, even though that would have rendered the entire series self-trivializing and would have reduced all eight issues to a single-sentence perfunctory plot point after the identity of the killer was made known. But in fact Starlin started teasing us and playing with the who-done-it idiom back in the very first issue when Serafin of The Forever People was "revealed" as the killer of The Black Racer. Or was the killer The Infinity Man? Or was it Himon? Or was it the "increasingly unstable" Mr. Miracle himself? Or even Orion?!

We now know that none of these red herrings was the actual villain of the story. The masterstroke of the entire series was Starlin's personification of The Source. I clearly remember when I was a youth reading "The Pact" in New Gods #7 and to the great Kirby dialogue "If I am Izaya the Inheritor, then what is my inheritance?" the flaming finger replied by writing on the wall "The Source." I was amazed by the Fourth World mythos as it was unfolding back then, and now thirty-six years later Jim Starlin has tickled my sense of wonder in the same vein. Bravo.

Here's a little tidbit of trivia I have seen mentioned nowhere else. This miniseries was originally to have been named Midnight of the New Gods, and in fact that was its established title while the first issue was being worked on. I know because it is my distinct pleasure to have obtained a page of original artwork from the first issue, and that is the series title as indicated in the upper margin of the art board. Click here to see this beautiful page, in which Metron appears to have awoken in the sanctum sanctorum of Dr. Strange!

I probably don't need to remind you that this is a reader's blog. If you'd like to read what some others have said about The Death of the New Gods, click here to view a five-page discussion board on the series.

I think we've all enjoyed our time with the Fourth World characters and I, for one, am anxious to see what the Fifth World will bring. But don't you wonder, just a little bit, what comprised the First World and the Second World and the Third World?