New Gods #1

New Gods #1, March 1971

I know several people for whom this is their favourite cover of all time. I wouldn’t go that far; while I love Jack Kirby, I don’t think he was a particularly great cover artist. A lot of his covers are distinctly lacklustre. Well-drawn to be sure, but not particularly exciting and enticing to a potential buyer. This is just such an example. It doesn’t really say anything. Any excitement is garnered merely from the cover blurb: “Orion Fights for Earth!”

While this first issue of New Gods was published in early 1971, the image of Orion was actually drawn in the mid-60s. A host of characters were created by Kirby, drawn up as design sheets, and filed away for future use. At that time Kirby was increasingly unhappy with his treatment at Marvel and withheld a lot of his best ideas. Several years later, in a meeting with Carmine Infantino, Kirby was offered a job at DC and he reached into his ideas drawer and pulled out the abandoned character designs. The Fourth World of the New Gods was born.

The above scan is my own copy of the book. It’s pretty poor, huh? I run it to show what can happen if you don’t look after your comics. I bought this comic, pretty much as you see it, back in 1984 from a comic shop. I wondered why it was so cheap. It turned out that the previous owner had had a brainwave and decided that covering his comics in wax would be a great way to preserve them! I suppose he figured he’d dip the covers in wax or polish and then be able to buff them up to a gleaming pristine mint sheen.

Didn’t work.

So what I have now is a practically mint interior of New Gods #1 with crisp white pages — and a cover that’s gradually turning transparent..! Sigh!

Cover by the King: Jack Kirby, with inks by Don Heck. The rather avant-garde colours are by Kirby also.