I had trouble deciding which one to choose, since there are some good scenes in this issue, but not a lot of single panels that stood out. It's a pretty good one, focusing on our band of space-hippies coming across a powerful man named "Billion-dollar Bates", who gets introduced in a nice bit of purple prose on the first page:
I love the rhyming there. "Beyond the gates of Bates' estates..." And it's an ominous setup; we don't even get a glimpse of Mister (not "Master") Bates until halfway through the issue. First, we see a weird, creepy group of cultists in the caverns under Bates' estates, and they're a great, freaky design by Kirby:
The elongated faces, the empty, cavernous eyes, and the unnatural pink color make these guys seem extra strange. And they're not even the normal cultists that apparently surround Bates. Not to give anything away, but they turn out to be Darkseid and Desaad, accompanied by some minions. They're here because Bates is in possession of the Anti-Life Equation, and thus has the power to make anyone do his bidding, a power that Darkseid wants.
The Forever People end up in the middle of everything, and Darkseid's plans get foiled, but the most fascinating part of the issue is a scene in which they have a stand-off with Darkseid and argue philosophies, with an especially notable moment being when Darkseid tweaks Big Bear's nose:
This issue seems key in Kirby's mythology, pitting the idealism of youth against the powers that want to control everyone and everything. The Orwell reference above wasn't just a passing comment; the Big Brother regime is exactly what Kirby seems to foresee in Darkseid's attempt to not only conquer everything, but remove any free thought. And the young, the "hippies" are the ones that are going to stand up to that evil control, or so it must have seemed in the late 60s and early 70s. And Darkseid treats them as a threat, but still commands some respect from them; it's a fascinating relationship, as is the way Darkseid decides once again not to kill them, because "greatness does not come from killing the young!" He has a strange, complex sense of honor, even as he's trying to subjugate the universe.
On a lighter note, I didn't notice until this issue that Mark Moonrider has a pretty egregious mullet:
I know I'm not one to judge the sartorial choices of the cosmically-enabled, but yikes.
Next: "The Death Wish of Terrible Turpin!" This is another one I'm excited to read.