Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"No goddling!! No faltering!! No whining!!"

I love that word, "goddling". Maybe it's a typo, but I like the idea that Kirby came up with a special word for coddling gods. It's from the opening splash page of Mister Miracle #7, which gives us today's Fourth World panel:

That's our man Scott Free and his lady Barda preparing to head back to Apokolips and secure their freedom once and for all by winning it in fair combat. This leads to the expected awesome fights, as they plow their way through various goons, giving Barda a chance to show off:

And then they get caught by Kanto, Darkseid's weapons designer, who provides the obligatory death trap for Scott to escape, and then end up in Barda's clutches, prepared to face another one of Kirby's weird-ass creations, the Lump.

But that's for next time. This time out, I'm struck by a couple things, including the genteel way that Mister Miracle and Kanto resolve their conflict. It's one of those signs that this world is more complex than simple good and evil; not every one of Darkseid's minions follow him unquestioningly. Kanto seems to be in it for the enjoyment, and when he bores of the fight, he not only lets Scott go, but helps him on his way. He's not exactly a good man born into an evil world, but he's honorable, or at least seems to be at this point. It's an interesting wrinkle to the huge tapestry Kirby is weaving.

The other notable aspect is the strange costume choices that Darkseid's followers wear. The New Genesis New Gods all seem to clothe themselves in futuristic garb, with sharp angles, bright colors, and clearly defined shapes. But the Apokolips denizens either sport drab colors or strange, anachronistic clothing. Kanto has the oversized beret and poofy leggings of a Renaissance artist, Granny Goodness wears a sort of chain mail, Desaad has the cloak of an old wizard or something, Verman Vundabar has the monocle and general's outfit, and we saw that Steppenwolf had that weird tunic-and-pointed-hat combo. Even Darkseid has the helmet that's kind of like something from a suit of armor. What does all this mean? Is Kirby drawing a parallel to old, restrictive religions that seeks to trap people in the past rather than strive toward the future? Is he making a connection to the "dark ages"? I'm not sure, but I find it fascinating.

Of course, if we're talking costumes, the standout this issue is Granny Goodness' horrific Little Bo Peep loungewear:

That's just wrong. In fact, it's part of what makes the character creepy and unsettling, clothing a twisted evil old wretch in a garment associated with childlike innocence. It fits; hell, her name is Granny Goodness and she runs an orphanage called "Happiness Home", in which she tortures children and raises them to be depraved killers. Irony!

Other nice (or not so much, really) stuff this issue includes a scene that recalls the Holocaust, which is striking coming from Kirby, a Jewish WWII vet:

And I wanted to point out this nice bit of storytelling, in which the following pair of images end one page and then start another one:

I love the way Kirby switches the point of view there, keeping readers on their toes. He never lets up with the excitement, does he?

Next: "A Superman in Supertown!"


  1. Another superb piece...but much as it pains me to contradict you, I must state for the record that in my vintage copy of MM #7 that word balloon on the first page very clearly says "coddling." Perhaps your copy has a stray blob of ink...or perhaps in retouching some line art for the Omnibus reprint a well-intentioned reletterer inadvertently added a typo where none existed before. I'd have to compare more than one copy to see. But really, the word there is and always has been "coddling."

  2. Aw, I was afraid of that; it didn't really sound like something Kirby would write. I don't know if they relettered the Omnibus, but it sure looks like it was a purposeful G. Oh well, it is in my head, at least.

  3. So this is from some recent Omnibus? Damn, I may have to buy it. I LOVE Mister Miracle and Big Barda, so I'd love to read this story. Love that last two-panel sequence you posted -- as you mentioned, very interesting transition. Plus, those panels really show where Steve Rude got a lot of the inspiration for his work on the 80s Mister Miracle Special he illustrated.

  4. Never mind, there it is right on your "Recent Reading" sidebar widget. Man, even with discounts $50 may be prohibitively pricey for me. Time to check my local library... Yep, all four volumes in stock with no other requests ahead of me. Yay for legitimate piracy!