Comic companies love big events, and so do comic readers (whether they want to admit to that fact or not); and some of the biggest events in DC Comics have been a result of two worlds merging together in an epic battle. Looking back at stories like 'Infinite Crisis' and 'Final Crisis,' these events dealt with characters from Earth 1 interacting with Earth 2, and very often we would see elements of Jack Kirby's New Gods as well. It's been a year since the launch of the DC reboot and we still have not had a big cross-over event, but how long will this last? How long until we see another event unfold in the DC Universe? We're guessing, not that much longer; and if you've been reading some of DC's biggest titles (JUSTICE LEAGUE and EARTH 2, for example) you might be inclined to agree with us.
We should probably start off with a refresher course on the NEW GODS in order to better understand what elements of Kirby's "fourth universe" are popping up in some of DC's recently released books. In February of 1971 Jack Kirby published the NEW GODS at DC comics. In this new series, Kirby created new characters inspired by the mythology of ancient civilizations. Using these new characters, Kirby wrote one of the most epic tales comics has ever seen: a battle between gods. Kirby begged the question of whether it's possible for good to overcome evil. His characters served to develop a metaphorical dialogue about good (Highfather, Orion and Mister Miracle) and evil (Darkseid), and the journey of good overcoming that evil. His stories are timeless, classic, and still referenced to this day in many DC books and story arcs.
In 2007 DC Comics published the first part of their 8-issue series, DEATH OF THE NEW GODS which was written and illustrated by Jim Starling. In this 8-issue event Starling put most of Kirby's classic characters to rest by killing them off. Characters like Mister Miracle, Orion and Big Barda (who died in a kitchen, of all places) met their doom at the hands of of an agent of the Source. You don't really need to know who killed them, just know that they died. The story ended in Final Crisis with the death of Darkseid. It has been several years since the death of the New Gods, but the reboot of the DCU gave the publisher the opportunity to bring many of these characters back to the forefront of comics -- and that's precisely what I think they are doing.
The first appearance of a New God came in DC's JUSTICE LEAGUE series written by Geoff Johns. The series' first issue launched five years in the past, where the league is fighting against Darkseid and his army of Parademons. In it, they fight together to defeat the evil ruler of Apokolips -- one of Kirby's New Gods. This was the only appearance of any New God in the New DC Universe until the first issue of EARTH 2 by James Robinson, released earlier this summer. The series launched with an ultimate battle between Steppenwolf (a member of Darkseid's elite, leader of the military on Apokolips) and ended with Steppenwolf's massacre of The Trinity (Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman). By launching the book with this scene, Robinson created an interesting parallel between the two worlds and opened up the possibility of the integration of Kirby's Fourth World New Gods into both Earth 1 and Earth 2. Both books launched five years in the past and featured members of the Justice League fighting off a world attack from Apokolips and Darkseid. Was it a coincidence that both Earths were fighting the same adversary at the same time?
Fast forward to the second issue of EARTH 2 when Jay Garrick is given the gift of speed from the God Mercury, who in the previous issue had fought against Darkseid alongside Wonder Woman. For those of you that are familiar with Roman Mythology, you might recall Mercury is also the Greek God Hermes, a character that you might recognize in playing a vital role in the pages of WONDER WOMAN. Clearly, there are two versions of this God, as well, because the Earth 2 Mercury dies while Earth 1 Hermes is still alive, kicking and causing trouble. The fact that the character exists in both universes, however, is another interesting parallel.
Since the end of the first arc in JUSTICE LEAGUE, we have not seen any New Gods -- that is until just this past week. WONDER WOMAN #12 was not only a great issue because it featured a fantastic story and beautiful art by Cliff Chiang, it also featured the first appearance of one very important character to the New Gods: Orion. On the final page of the issue we see a hand rise up out of the snow, and the silhouette of what appears to be Orion strapped to the Astro-Harness. Now, it's not just this image that is very interesting, it's the text on this page that is rather striking as well.
"Perhaps the fall of Olympus." That, right there, is pretty telling. The Olympians are Gods and if you've been reading WONDER WOMAN, you know that they are falling. In Jack Kirby's NEW GODS, he explains that the "Old Gods" would die and give way to the "New Gods." Does this mean we just witnessed the birth of Orion, a "New God?" And does this mean the New Gods will replace the Old, Olympian Gods? And what does that mean for Wonder Woman's history? Does it mean that DC is toying with the idea of changing the origins of the New Gods?
Now this opens up a whole heck of a lot of questions! In the regular DC Universe it has been five years since the appearance of a New God, according to the first fight we witnessed in JUSTICE LEAGUE. Now we see the appearance of Orion, and on the previous page, an omen of bad things to come.
Will the New Gods be the bridge between the next cross-over event in the DC Universe? Hints can be seen in both Earth 1 JUSTICE LEAGUE and EARTH 2. What do you think? Do you think this might be the next step for the DCU, or do you think I'm reaching? Would you like to see more of the New Gods appear in the DC Universe?