Tuesday, October 19, 2021

It’s real groovy-doovy time at Jack’s place


What if Jack Kirby deliberately wrote farce? What if he consciously chose to write silly dialogue, like no one else spoke just because he could and he found it funny? Jack Kirby felt free at National/DC, constrained and patronised at Marvel: ‘DC was actually like a haven because I was an individual there….I felt a sense of freedom there…I went to California because I just about had it with the field. I had to feel like a man again.’¹ The King’s free, far-out fun is well on display in Jimmy Olsen # 144 (December 1971), published 50 years ago today, 19 October, 1971.

Criticism of Kirby’s writing, by which critics mean his dialogue as opposed to his plotting or visual storytelling, lambast him for a perceived tin ear. They slate him for his declaratory speech in the mouths of the New Gods of Forever People, or what they see as strained attempts at counter-cultural youth speak.

In their fulminations, they tend to focus on very small examples from the thousands of words in Kirby’s stories and somehow imply that Kirby was not aware of what they see as his shortcomings and they want to point that out as if to bring the King back to the earth of lesser, leaden writers. As Kirby sought to push the boundaries of what could be done with superhero comics, some cultural mavens wouldn’t let him take off, they felt there was a standard of comic book scripting and Kirby was falling short.

Representative of that school of thought back in 1971 is ‘Pesky Pasko’ (the late Martin Pasko) who was a regular letter-writer to the Fourth World titles before he became a writer for DC a few years later. Pasko praised Kirby’s plotting in Jimmy Olsen # 144’s letter column but says ‘Jack Kirby cannot write well’ and is ‘often deficient’ in characterisation and ‘natural-sounding dialogue’.

At least in this letter, Pasko, and other modern-day critics, don’t seem to have considered the possibility that, after being straitjacketed into relative conformity by a lesser talent in Stan Lee who was afraid to let Kirby’s imagination full release lest the poor readers couldn’t cope with it and the dollars stopped flowing, what if Kirby knew exactly what he was doing and just had fun being wild? What if he didn’t care if it didn’t work all the time, he just wanted to let loose?

No one would argue that Jimmy Olsen # 144 is a literary masterpiece or that Scottish people actually say ‘bless me tartan’ or that a black kid in 1971 would utter the phrase ‘Real groovy-doovy serious’ (I’m going to use it, however), although as we walk through the office we might have wanted to say, as Scrapper says, ‘Wow! What a chick!’ I don’t recommend this in 2021 but feel free to think it. The point is because no one talks or talked like this, does that make the comic any less funny, any less engaging?

With some exceptions, Jimmy Olsen was Jack Kirby’s escape valve. After heavy-duty, eloquent, social commentary in the Forever People, New Gods and Mister Miracle, he lets it all hang out with Jimmy and the Boys. In National/DC’s lowest selling title, no one is going to tell him, ‘you can’t do that.’ If he wants to be silly, if he wants to be farcical, if he wants to have his characters speak like an ancient Scottish novel, why not? He’s earnt it.

The freedom he feels at National/DC doesn’t just apply to the words he puts in his characters’ mouths. He deliberately includes Scott Shaw! and his San Diego comics pals in Jimmy Olsen # 144 as the ‘San Diego Five String Mob’.² In his personal and creative life, Kirby was reaching out to his fan base, acknowledging it, bringing creator and reader closer to each other and here in this issue, he gave a group of his readers comics immortality.

Freedom to do or say what you want, freedom to invite your friends around any time. Jimmy Olsen, a title targeted at the younger reader, is most frequently kids’ world. On the cover, the adult, establishment figure Superman flies above the kids like a super parent, almost oblivious to the trouble they’re in, stratospherically separate in the adult world. The kids fight, they try out silly voices, they seek adventure, they meet pretty girls, they find out everything isn’t as it seems. They do what they want and no one really tells them ‘no’.

In his comics and his life, Jack Kirby wanted and earned the right, to do the same.

¹The Comics Journal # 134, pgs. 94 and 92.

²Scott Shaw! talks about how this came about in Comic Book Creator # 24, pg. 19

Research this article:

Comics:

-Comic Book Creator # 24, Fall 2020

-Comics Journal # 134, February 1990 (Jack Kirby interview by Gary Groth)

-Jack Kirby Collector # 5, May 1995 and # 8, January 1996

-Mike’s Amazing World of Comics website

-The indispensable Kirby & Lee: Stuf’ Said! (Jack Kirby Collector # 75: TwoMorrows)

-The equally indispensable Old Gods, New Gods (Jack Kirby Collector # 80: TwoMorrows)

Popular culture:

-Helter Skelter, the True Story of the Manson Murders (Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry, W.W. Norton, 1994)

-There’s A Riot Going On (Peter Doggett, Canongate, 2007)

-Time Magazine, September 27, 1971

-Uncovering the Sixties (Abe Peck, Pantheon, 1985) 

-Vietnam: An Epic History of a Tragic War (Max Hastings, William Collins, 2019)

Michael Mead is a 55-year-old New Zealand comic book collector, who likes to think he can do "contextual" commentary reviews of old comics, asking: "where does this story come from?", looking at the social, political, cultural times it came from, the state of the comics industry, the personal and creative journey of the writer or artist, the personal journey of the reader as a child and as an adult. 

As part of this, he is vain enough to think he can bring new insights into Kirby's Fourth World comics and so, on the 50th anniversary of publication of each issue of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, Forever People, New Gods and Mister Miracle, he will publish a contextual commentary. This is his 28th of a projected 48 Fourth World commentaries (only 20 to go!). Check out his earlier entries on this blog and tell him to stop talking so pretentiously in the third person for God's sake! 

 

 

 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

See me, feel me, touch me, heal me


See my face, hear my calling. Forget your own past, let go of you, stop sending me messages. I am part of you but I am not the same. I have my own values and I fight for them. Let me show you, let me lead you into glory.

Jack Kirby’s New Gods # 6, (January, 1972), published 50 years ago today, 14 October, 1971, sounds a counter-cultural siren for a new way to tame the monsters of the deep, the raging ocean of Sixties voices, talking at each other, rather than listening to each other. In the character of Richard Sheridan, a conscientious objector, Kirby engages ever more directly with the culture, locates his heroes ever closer to the teenaged reader pondering how close he is to boarding a plane for Vietnam.


Like Moby Dick by Melville, Kirby’s tale (sorry, couldn’t resist!) is not primarily about the fish (mammal, thank you Jerry Seinfeld).¹ The giant leviathan, like a surging marine blood vessel, pulsing with Apokiliptian rage, represents the unavoidable, inevitable, unstoppable well of conflict, suppressed for so long, frothing over from the Jungian unconscious beneath the Sixties waves and surfacing in front of us, leaving us no choice but to face it.

The war won’t go away in 1971 and whether you are a solider like Orion and Richard’s father Farley or a peaceful objector like Richard and Lightray, you must make a stand. Like the Weather Underground’s campaign to ‘bring the war home’², Kirby ‘brings Apokolips to Earth’ via Darkseid. Kirby’s inclusion of the real world, generational conflict that mattered most to youth and their parents in the pages of his comic book shrinks the distance between fantasy and reality because it’s too important not to be talked about.

Through Richard Sheridan, Kirby seeks to humanise the actors in the pages of the newspaper and in the nightly news. The faceless, shrouded figure in bandages on the front cover, is someone. Not a ‘hippie’, not just another nameless soldier in a body bag, not a ‘fool’, not to be dismissed as a ‘pacifist’ who ‘dodges’ trouble (read: dodges the draft), not a ‘marshmallow’, not a ‘puppy’, not someone who will ‘never fight when duty demands it.’

Shipwrecked by the leviathan, Richard, Farley and daughter Lynn are rescued by Orion who then liberates and re-meets Lightray, uncoiled from a Deep Six mummified trap. Orion, like Farley to Richard about Vietnam, is derisive of Lightray’s involvement in the war between Apokolips and New Genesis.

‘So the smiling lamb decided to try his hand among the wolves after all!’ Lightray like Richard, has a message of transformation to retort Orion’s destructive snark: ‘…though war is the game of tragedy, I shall give it greater meaning.’

Richard meets Lightray and after enduring the endless, myopic jibes of his World War Two father, he says “I am a conscientious objector. I don’t like wars or killing.’ Lightray replies, ‘Is that right? Well I know a place where everybody’s like that.’ With a few typewritten strokes, Jack Kirby, who some think cannot write well, has connected with his youth readership and made them feel less alone at a time where it seemed the whole State was against them.

There is only one course open to all and that is to fight, in the way they each know how. Lightray locates the grotesque ‘sender’ the beast that directs the leviathan’s destruction. In a display akin to a religious conversion, he resists Orion’s call to kill the thing and instead transforms it into the ‘…more sophisticated, unified and techno-active caller.’ Evil is born again, called from fallen, one dimensional hate to multi-dimensional hope, strength, challenge, for a reckoning.

In this way the journey of Lightray and Orion parallels Richard and his father’s. As they learn more about each other, as they seek first to understand, they begin to respect each other more. Faced with the threat of the Deep Six’s Jaffar, it is Richard not his father who defends the family.

No conscie coward, Richard courageously throws himself at the monster and suffers death and dehumanisation as his reward, his face replaced by a blank mask, he becomes like an unknown solider, ’a faceless hero….this one shall go to the Source as one of us...’, representative of all the thousands who never came back. His example awakens his father who finds new strength for the fight.

Orion then wipes out the Secret Six threat but like Richard and his father, it is the peacenik who now leads the battle, it is Lightray who commands but not in the way Orion expects. His first act is transcendent as perhaps by Mother Box’s spirit or Richard’s last remaining spark of life, his mask is removed and we see him again as he was.



In an incredible two-page spread, Lightray reaps what he has sewn earlier inside the ship and the life cube is transformed into a ‘…glistening warhead…’, carrying the living ---the dead—and the fiery trumpets of the Source’. The Secret Six are blown to Biblical smithereens  and a ‘young man of conscience has chosen a warrior’s death.’ Lightray’s motivation is the same as Richard’s, he does not believe in war but he will fight for his family if they are threatened, he will risk his own life to save others: ‘If we must die, let New Genesis live!’

The last words of the issue come from Richard’s father who lives but has also been transformed. In his son’s actions and death he has truly seen him, felt a little of how he felt, listened, it has touched him, he is proud, he has got the story, he has seen the glory.


‘See me, feel me, touch me, heal me
See me, feel me, touch me, heal me
See me, feel me, touch me, heal me
See me, feel me, touch me, heal me’

Listening to you I get the music
Gazing at you I get the heat
Following you I climb the mountain
I get excitement at your feet

Right behind you I see the millions
On you I see the glory
From you I get opinions
From you I get the story’



(See Me, Feel Me, by The Who from their 1969 album Tommy, released as single in September, 1970).

¹ In the Seinfeld episode,  'The Marine Biologist'  (season five, episode 14, 10 February, 1994) the character George Costanza fakes being a marine biologist to impress a woman he likes. His ruse begins to backfire when he is called to save a whale at a beach. Recounting the story he calls the whale a 'fish'. Jerry corrects him and says 'mammal.' George looks pained and replies 'whatever' and continues with his story.
² Sixties revolutionary group, The Weather Underground, wanted to 'bring the war home', show the violence that was happening in Vietnam to the insulated American public to help build public support against the war, by bombing American government buildings. Weather Underground member John Jacobs came up with the phrase.

Research this article:

Comics:

-Comics Journal # 134, February 1990 (Jack Kirby interview by Gary Groth)

-Jack Kirby Collector # 5, May 1995 and # 8, January 1996

-Mike’s Amazing World of Comics website

-The indispensable Kirby & Lee: Stuf’ Said! (Jack Kirby Collector # 75: TwoMorrows)

-The equally indispensable Old Gods, New Gods (Jack Kirby Collector # 80: TwoMorrows)

Popular culture:

-Helter Skelter, the True Story of the Manson Murders (Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry, W.W. Norton, 1994)

-There’s A Riot Going On (Peter Doggett, Canongate, 2007)

-Time Magazine, September 27, 1971

-Uncovering the Sixties (Abe Peck, Pantheon, 1985) 

-Vietnam: An Epic History of a Tragic War (Max Hastings, William Collins, 2019)

Michael Mead is a 55-year-old New Zealand comic book collector, who likes to think he can do "contextual" commentary reviews of old comics, asking: "where does this story come from?", looking at the social, political, cultural times it came from, the state of the comics industry, the personal and creative journey of the writer or artist, the personal journey of the reader as a child and as an adult. 

As part of this, he is vain enough to think he can bring new insights into Kirby's Fourth World comics and so, on the 50th anniversary of publication of each issue of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, Forever People, New Gods and Mister Miracle, he will publish a contextual commentary. This is his 27th of a projected 48 Fourth World commentaries (I’m more than halfway!:). Check out his earlier entries on this blog and tell him to stop talking so pretentiously in the third person for God's sake! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Give me a reason to believe, forever


Every picture tells a story. Jack Kirby’s multi-level Fourth World epic continues to crack open the American dream and make our heads explode in Forever People # 6 (January, 1972), published 50 years ago today, 5 October, 1971. Kirby’s surface tale of Mark Moonrider, Vykin, Big Bear, Beautiful Dreamer and Serifan fighting Darkseid and his Omega effect, a battle between innocent hippie avatars and overpowering strategic evil is exciting enough but it’s the picture behind the story that endures.

Kirby’s tale continues his exposé of the two Americas he began in Forever People # 4, between the State that wants its youth to just play a game of pretend you don’t see what is really happening and accept the lies that we told your parents and the counter-culture kids who want to blow it all up by firing ‘…a few well-placed shots (that) will start a chain of disruption that can’t be stopped.’



Happyland’s destruction is like Muhammad Ali’s 1974 victory over George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle¹, the Movement absorbed blow after blow, endured and then applied the final little touches as a previously dominant opponent collapsed under their own weight, punched out and out of gas, defeated more by themselves, by their own anxiety and the weight of unsustainable beliefs  than by the blows of an underrated adversary.

As Forever People # 6 hit the stands, the news was full of the ‘bitter lessons of Attica’, a prison riot in which 35 people died², most of them Black, the sham ‘democratic’ election of South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu who was the only candidate, the failure of Vietnamisation and the sinking morale of a reduced force of US soldiers who no longer believed they were ‘fighting for democracy.’³ Time Magazine said Attica, was like ‘…Kent State, Jackson State, My Lai and other traumatic events that have shaken the American conscience and incited the searing controversy over the application of force.’⁴

Kirby’s characters play out the conflict between what society said it stood for and what it actually did. One on side is Glorious Godfrey and his Justifiers, dressed like a medieval King with his faceless Crusaders, he is the evil chameleon Messiah, alternately angelic-faced destroyer and cynical manipulator, someone who teaches his followers a belief in anti-life, that  makes‘…all justifiable. Belief in you, Glorious Godfrey, makes us “Justifiers”’, echoing Bugliosi’s description of Charles Manson: ‘He taught his followers a completely amoral philosophy, which provided complete justification for their acts. If everything is right, then nothing can be wrong’.⁵

The most unnerving part of Godfrey’s philosophy is his knowledge of the human condition. Asked about his secret to get his minions doing what he wants, is it the helmet, the uniforms, the creed, Godfrey gives an answer straight out of the fascist playbook: ‘Earthmen are given all these things at birth. I merely justify their readiness to use them. That’s why they love me.’ We’re just looking for the Leader to give us permission to act out our selfish instincts.

Matched against the worst of us, is the best of us. The Forever People and Sonny Sumo use the anti-life equation against Desaad’s warriors and then destroy Happyland, Kingdom of the Damned. When what is said cannot be reconciled with what is done, it must be destroyed to be reborn.

The image of the back of the Humpty Dumpty Nixon lookalike character’s head being blown off is like a Sixties metaphor. We simply cannot go on like this. This madness must stop. 1971 was the year of the Pentagon papers that lifted the lid on the lies told to the American people by successive Democratic and Republican administrations about Vietnam, the same year Nixon installed the tapes system in the White House⁶ that led to his downfall three years later, ‘…death rushes through a thousand collapsing circuits—Happyland’s façade begins to crumble.’


As in past issues, the Forever People can deal with Apokolips’ thugs but they cannot prevail against Darkseid’s power. His Omega effect is truly terrifying and he erases all but one of the Forever People from the Earth. The scenes of Vykin, Sonny Sumo, Big Bear, Beautiful Dreamer and Mark Moonrider (off camera) getting wiped out really set my childhood heart pounding. 

Darkseid leaves the youngest, Serifan alive, because he has dealt with the threat. His evil is strategic, he has long term goals for which he must conserve his energy. He has no time for the short-term tactical mayhem proposed by his lesser subordinates.

As the youngest, Serifan is a substitute for the younger, child reader. The weakest, the one whose greatest fear is being alone because he needs his other, older, friends to help him.

Even so, in a crisis, Serifan shows his resourcefulness and manages to escape to the sanctuary of the Super-Cycle, a boy and his living toy are all that is left to stand up to gathering evil: ‘I’m Serifan. And we two are all that is left of our unit. Just we two!’

When all looks lost, we know it’s not over. We still have reason to believe.

‘If I listened long enough to you
I'd find a way to believe that it's all true
Knowing that you lied
Straight-faced while I cried
Still I look to find a reason to believe.’


(Reason to Believe by Rod Stewart from his 1971 album, Every Picture Tells A Story. The album was number # 1 on the US Billboard top 200 charts in the week Forever People # 6 was released. The single from the album , Maggie May/Reason to Believe, was number # 1 on the US Billboard top 100 in the same week).

¹Ali beat Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo)  on October 30th, 1974 for the heavyweight championship, absorbing many blows, rope-a-dope style before unleashing a flurry of punches in the eighth round. After a hard right to Foreman’s face, Ali declined to send Foreman to the floor with another punch, instead opting to watch him spin semi-balletically to the canvas in a final piece of artistic triumph over Foreman’s brawn. On arrival in Zaire, Ali had cultivated a strong relationship with the local people while Foreman with his German Shepherd dog and garish clothing was perceived as Belgian type colonial oppressor. See the classic, 1996 documentary film, When We Were Kings.

²Time Magazine, September 27, 1971, pgs. 12-13

³Hastings pgs. 505-517

⁴Time Magazine, pg. 13

⁵ Bugliosi, pg.629

⁶The Nixon administration installed the tapes system in February, 1971 in the Oval Office, including in Nixon’s desk.

Comics:

-Comics Journal # 134, February 1990 (Jack Kirby interview by Gary Groth)

-Jack Kirby Collector # 5, May 1995

-Mike’s Amazing World of Comics website

-The indispensable Kirby & Lee: Stuf’ Said! (Jack Kirby Collector # 75: TwoMorrows)

-The equally indispensable Old Gods, New Gods (Jack Kirby Collector # 80: TwoMorrows).

Popular culture:

-Helter Skelter, the True Story of the Manson Murders (Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry, W.W. Norton, 1994)

-There’s A Riot Going On (Peter Doggett, Canongate, 2007)

-Time Magazine, September 27, 1971

-Uncovering the Sixties (Abe Peck, Pantheon, 1985) 

-Vietnam: An Epic History of a Tragic War (Max Hastings, William Collins, 2019).

Michael Mead is a 55-year-old New Zealand comic book collector, who likes to think he can do "contextual" commentary reviews of old comics, asking: "where does this story come from?", looking at the social, political, cultural times it came from, the state of the comics industry, the personal and creative journey of the writer or artist, the personal journey of the reader as a child and as an adult. 

As part of this, he is vain enough to think he can bring new insights into Kirby's Fourth World comics and so, on the 50th anniversary of publication of each issue of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, Forever People, New Gods and Mister Miracle, he will publish a contextual commentary. This is his 26th of a projected 48 Fourth World commentaries (I’m more than halfway!:). Check out his earlier entries on this blog and tell him to stop talking so pretentiously in the third person for God's sake! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

This is the miracle we know


After wandering long and lost in the dark, Scott Free’s life  is a transcendent journey, step by step, towards grace and the truest version of himself. He possesses a core strength ‘that survives the worst that life can bring’ and ‘emerges with sudden splendour in the face of death’, like his creator Jack Kirby.¹

In Mister Miracle # 5 (December, 1971), published 50 years ago today, 16 September, 1971, the King of Comics rises up against the malign forces of Apokolips, transported in the Fourth World character he most identified with and offers us quiet strength, hope and the smiling, impish optimism of someone who doesn’t know when to quit. This is the America Jack Kirby knew.

Characteristically, Mister Miracle # 5 begins with someone other than Mister Miracle, his companion, paramour and fellow Granny Goodness orphan, Big Barda. Scott Free is no alpha male, he lives and breathes through others, through an old man, through a powerful yet vulnerable warrior woman of Apokolips.

In a memorable sequence, the gorgeous, muscular, feminine, no-nonsense Barda helps Scott with preparation for his escape act, by hoisting a giant Civil War cannon over one shoulder with one hand, as if it were a suit of clothes or a rucksack with her lunch in it. Along the way she puts a group of leering, unimaginative male ciphers in their place, dismissive of their weak sexism. Barda is all action, heal to toe, elegant power, amplified by the distinct, hand-crafted inking line of Mike Royer. 

In a later sequence, she is eventually captured by the villain of the issue, Baron Vundabar and his dog soldiers. As she stands in the tranquil surrounds of a quiet pool before the battle, she decides to leave Apokolips and takes a moment to enjoy the cooling touch of healing waters, throwing her head back and closing her eyes. We see her, just for a second, like the Queen on holiday, a woman free of any roles or expectations or any man’s eyes, even as the dog soldiers approach behind her. Soon that serenity is shattered and her royal instinct transforms her for war.


Kirby lets us see behind the masks. He gives all his characters the freedom to say who they are, all of who they are, particularly people on the edges of the culture, the people who don’t count, to buck stereotypes and stuff it all back in their critics’ faces. Like Barda, the undersized Oberon is the odd one out. The relationship of old man Oberon and young man Scott Free is like that of father to son but Kirby reverses it. The younger Scott is the one who speaks wisdom to the older assistant.

Mister Miracle needs all the people in his life, his miraculous community, to escape. In a chilling back-up story, the early life of Scott Free, he is trapped in Granny Goodness’ terror orphanage, surrounded by the ‘brute randomness of death’², mercilessly tortured by the vicious Granny and hazed by ‘children of the same foul spirit.’³ They seek to punish him on the throne of truth, ‘Scott Free must be freed of lies!!’ The story is the first real glimpse of the apocalyptic world of conflict and death, of carnage and sirens that shaped Scott and that he must escape. Through it all, he refuses to break and is the ‘face of hope and mercy in dark places'⁴, to the prisoner, to the tormented, to slaves who look like us.

Mister Miracle draws on this defiant, constant belief as he willingly allows himself to be put in a death trap by Baron Vundabar to rescue Barda. Vundabar throws everything at him, encasing him in an impenetrable coffin, smashing him with steel fists, shocking him with huge electrodes, incinerating him in a ‘controlled atom blast’ and then finally corroding his apparently lifeless form in acid.

Vundabar’s mistake is not his technology. It’s his inability to understand that Scott has been through all of this a child. He’s been enslaved, he’s been beaten, he’s been shocked, his personality pounded but he has not dissolved. Scott’s adult life has been about becoming immune from pain by making himself vulnerable and helpless from a position of strength. 

Escaping traps is how he feels the power of his own salvation, power he only dreamt of as a child. It’s akin to the impossible, fearsome, murderous traps Jack Kirby would have been in on the front lines of World War II. He wanted to come home to Roz, a survivor of the murder machine of war, not cleaned and pressed in a coffin.

Mister Miracle wins of course. He triumphs like a smiling G.I. in Paris as he watches on as Vundabar and his cronies laugh in apparent victory. Scott’s escape is due to both American ingenuity and his own knowledge and belief.  “I’m familiar with this type of structure, Vundabar!! I knew where to go! What to do! Now, I’m here!’ Scott could be describing the arc of his own life as much as his understanding of Apokoliptian engineering.


With the villains vanquished, Scott holds Barda in his arms, the proud female warrior says, ‘Scott!! Scott!—Forgive me!! I was afraid! –For us! I—a warrior!’. Scott replies, ‘You’re better than that, Barda. You’re a woman.’ There is no sense here that a stereotypical man is saving a diminutive, helpless woman. Barda and Scott are equals, they both ‘instinctively grab a neighbor’s hand and rally to the cause of one another.’⁵ They have been through the worst and now give each other their best. They help each other become their truest selves.  This is the miracle they know, from sea to shining sea. 

‘O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!’

(America the Beautiful, 1911 version)

¹In this commentary I draw from former United States President George W. Bush’s 9.11.21 speech at the Flight 93, 20th anniversary, memorial service.

²Ibid.

³Ibid.

⁴Ibid.

⁵Ibid.

Research this article:                                          

Comics:

-Comics Journal # 134, February 1990 (Jack Kirby interview by Gary Groth)

-Mike’s Amazing World of Comics website

-The indispensable Kirby & Lee: Stuf’ Said! (Jack Kirby Collector # 75: TwoMorrows)

-The equally indispensable Old Gods, New Gods (Jack Kirby Collector # 80: TwoMorrows)

Popular culture:

-Former United States President George W. Bush’s speech at the Flight 93 memorial service, 9.11.2021. From the CNN transcript

-Helter Skelter, the True Story of the Manson Murders (Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry, W.W. Norton, 1994)

-There’s A Riot Going On (Peter Doggett, Canongate, 2007)

-Uncovering the Sixties (Abe Peck, Pantheon, 1985) .

Michael Mead is a 55-year-old New Zealand comic book collector, who likes to think he can do "contextual" commentary reviews of old comics, asking: "where does this story come from?", looking at the social, political, cultural times it came from, the state of the comics industry, the personal and creative journey of the writer or artist, the personal journey of the reader as a child and as an adult. 

As part of this, he is vain enough to think he can bring new insights into Kirby's Fourth World comics and so, on the 50th anniversary of publication of each issue of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, Forever People, New Gods and Mister Miracle, he will publish a contextual commentary. This is his 25th of a projected 48 Fourth World commentaries (I’m more than halfway!:). Check out his earlier entries on this blog and tell him to stop talking so pretentiously in the third person for God's sake! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

It’s real groovy-doovy time at Jack’s place

What if Jack Kirby deliberately wrote farce? What if he consciously chose to write silly dialogue, like no one else spoke just because he co...