Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"But a destructive revelation is not a father!--And a slaughterhouse is not a home!"

Holy shit, these just keep getting better and better. Today's Fourth World Panel is a doozy, and so is the issue surrounding it, Mister Miracle #9:

I love that image, but it requires some explanation. That's Metron on the right, clasping hands with Himon, a character introduced here (in a flashback issue along the lines of "The Pact") as a sort of mentor and inspiration to Scott Free. The thing is, he seems to be an obvious stand-in for Jack Kirby, right down to his appearance:

This adds a fascinating metafictional aspect to the story. In the first panel above, Kirby is literally the one who created the things Metron is talking about, along with everything around him, from the characters, to the worlds, to the actions everyone takes. The characters are the ones who act everything out, but Kirby is the original source. But not The Source, which here seems to be the fount of human imagination, along with the ideal toward which we should strive:

It's like Kirby is stepping right into his world here to underline that this is what he is trying to communicate through these stories: there are those who want to control you and bend you to their will, but we must constantly strive against them. And Kirby shows himself failing repeatedly, getting captured and killed over and over in increasingly horrible ways, but always returning, never giving up. And that's what he did in his career, never letting himself be ruled by "evil", always working his damnedest to realize his visions. This is glorious, inspirational stuff, and while it's fascinating to examine this aspect of it, it works in the context of the story as well. When Scott finally takes the initiative and refuses to submit to Darkseid, it's one of the most powerful moments of the series so far:

(By the way, I cheated there and rearranged the panels, so please don't get mad).

It should be pretty incredible to see Kirby continue to follow this up; by this point, he's building on everything that has come before, and showing that it's all leading somewhere, to an apocalyptic endpoint, with a showdown between Orion and Darkseid. Wow.

Next: "The Scavengers"! I hope it's good, but I doubt it will be as good as this issue, which is on a whole other level.

1 comment:

  1. Kirby based the visual appearance of Himon on his friend Shel Dorf, who can be seen standing together in this nigh-legendary photo:

    And yes, I've often wondered if the whole "I'm the visionary who escapes through imagination, but I'm trapped in a place created by others who exploit the power of my inventions" might have a little teensy bit of autobiographical projection there…!

    When this issue came out, I was unaware of anything behind the scenes in comics other than what appeared in letters pages…but when I saw this issue was 20 cents for a single story rather than 25 cents with a longer lead story, a backup, and a Golden Age reprint, somehow I knew intuitively the writing was on the wall (if you'll pardon the allusion) and the end of the Fourth World must be near.