MIKE ALLRED Ranks JACK KIRBY’S NEW GODS Covers

A 13 COVERS SPECIAL: One of our faves drops into the Fourth World…

UPDATED 8/18/17: It’s 13 DAYS OF KIRBY 100, our celebration of the King’s centennial, featuring creators such as Alex Ross, Walt Simonson and Mike Allred. To check out what Allred has to say about how New Gods #9 — starring Bug — influenced him, click here.

One of the books I’m most looking forward to this year is Bug! The Adventures of Forager, the Allred family’s tribute to Jack Kirby’s DC creations. Issue #1 (of 6) is out 5/10 from the publisher’s Young Animal imprint and if you want a SNEAK PEEK — and you do — click here.

If you’re unawares, Young Animal is an imprint that takes many of DC’s more oddball properties and puts a fresh, modern spin on them. Try as I might, I actually can’t think of a better creative team than the Allreds — Lee, Mike and Laura — to tackle Forager and the Fourth World in just this way.

So I asked Mike if he’d be willing to rank Kirby’s New Gods covers and before I knew it, the whole thing popped right back in my inbox as if delivered by boom tube. Now, normally, we do our lists in increments of 13. That’s our schtick. But Kirby’s original New Gods title only went to 11 issues. Well, Mike improvised in a clever way, as you shall see… — Dan

By MIKE ALLRED

1. New Gods #9 is my clear runaway favorite cover of the run. Bug in action like a superstar ahead of his time! But having to visit it in our childhood guitar teacher’s waiting room created an obsession. No comic shops or eBay made ownership virtually impossible. Lee eventually talked James Ray, guitar teacher extraordinaire, into giving it to us. And now we’re making our own! WATTAWORLD!

2. New Gods #1. So simple. So bold. So weird with that odd crosshatch background. Surprised Jack Kirby didn’t go nuts with one of his collage pieces. But happy he didn’t. Its bold simplicity is very iconic and striking.

3. Mister Miracle #1. Of course, not an issue of New Gods, but if I’m breaking rules to list 13 I’m moving this baby in near the top. An all-time classic!

4. New Gods #2. Almost bookending the cover to #1. Again with a black-and-white background. Orion’s been zapped by sumpin’, and we’re introduced to Darkseid on a cover for the first time.

5. New Gods #6. Ah, the Glory Boat! I love these covers that promise so much! Orion and Lightray inset with great intensity on their mugs! Wild creatures struggling, crashing waves. And an eerie figure wrapped like a mummy. And, boy oh boy did this issue deliver, including Page 25, one of the great splash pages of all time!

6. New Gods #8. This is actually the first issue of New Gods I can remember seeing. And it twisted my little kid brain! A cop named Turpin gets into it with Kalibak and is nearly beaten to death. Easily the most violent comic I’d seen up to that point in my life. A great example of how Kirby could throw mere mortals into the mix and they hold their own. The cover is a perfect example of what you can expect in the issue, with Turpin thrashed but determined. Powerful stuff.

7. New Gods #10. One of the best images of Orion! Epic! That lil’ creep clinging to his right arm, with a swarm climbing buildings in the background. A nice shot of Mantis, one of my favorite Kirby designs, and of course a glimpse of Forager aka Bug! Now if my guy Bug were more prominent on the cover you’d likely see this bumped up on the list.

8. New Gods #7. THE PACT! One of the most significant single issues Jack Kirby ever did. A sweet example of the depth of his creative powers. The cover’s great too! Super gnarly! But without an iconic character, the cover doesn’t quite match the power of the content. A “Vader-ish” Darkseid gigantic in the background might’ve pumped it up nicely. Hey, Jack Kirby gave me some “constructive criticism”… Funny, ‘cuz covers still affect me the same way they did when I was a kid, on a very gut, visceral level.

9. New Gods #11. So bittersweet. KLASSIC KIRBY KRACKLE! Orion and Kalibak tearing it up with a cool peek at the Black Racer promising to get involved.

10. New Gods #3. Speaking of the Black Racer, here he is in all his glory, but with a background that doesn’t quite click. As a kid I thought that Black Racer was super cool! Probably because two of my all-time favorite characters are the Black Panther and the Silver Surfer and here Racer is clearly an amalgam of the two. While you can argue that all super heroes are silly, some are clearly more so than others, and Black Racer often gets that criticism. And that an amalgam isn’t always a good thing. But I don’t care, I love him!

11. New Gods #5. This is actually one of my favorite Kirby compositions ever! So much power in those twisted figures… and that little taste of the Mutate Monster! But Orion loses points for the haircut. Sorry, Orion. Get Mother Box to fix it!

12. New Gods #4. All of the elements are there! Orion on his flyer, POV guns in the foreground. Characters ready for action. … I just dig all the above a lil’ bit more.

13. Cosmic Odyssey #1. When I first saw this my initial reaction was, “Wait, is that BUG!?” Of all the big shots on the cover, my eye moved right to the tiny figure of Forager. It was always crazy to me how prolific Jack Kirby was, that such a great character like Forager was so beautifully introduced in New Gods #9 and then just as quickly left in the dust. What a thrill to see Jim Starlin, Mike Mignola and co. bring him back and utilize him in such a powerful, moving way. This is our jumping off point for the new series.

 

Author: Dan Greenfield

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