January 24, 2022

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Heroes Case File #200: The Forever People

Jack Kirby made the New Gods, but something about the Forever People keeps them from reappearing all that much.

I had originally planned to do this entry last week, but then Stan Lee passed away, and well, it seems appropriate to do one of his Misplaced creations instead of his longtime collaborator Jack Kirby’s works.

But if you’re one of those Kirby boosters, take some comfort in the fact he got the big 200th entry in this series that is probably read regularly by maybe four people.

As far as I know, the backstory for the creation of the Forever People (among others) was that DC wanted legendary artist Jack Kirby to work on their Jimmy Olson series, and Kirby agreed but only on the condition that he be permitted to create three new, interconnected series of his own.  Jimmy Olson’s book would tie into this new creation as well, and Kirby even took a shot at his work at Marvel by setting up the Fourth World, a place where the New Gods were born after the Old Gods all went kablooey, and yeah, what little he drew of the Old Gods sure looked an awful lot like Asgard.

So, what were the books Kirby whipped up?  Well, there was New Gods where Orion of New Genesis came to Earth to protect humans from the power of his evil father Darkseid.  There was also the adventures of Mr. Miracle, the world’s greatest escape artist, a man raised on Apokalips by Darkseid’s minions after an infant exchange.  These days, Darkseid is one of DC’s biggest villains, Orion has been a member of the Justice League, various other New Gods keep popping up, and Mr. Miracle even gets his own series from time to time.

But hold on, I said there were three new books.  What was the third?  Well, that would be Forever People.

These guys.

Forever People followed a group of five teenagers (because Kirby loved using youthful protagonists as often as possible) who travel around on a flying bike called the Super-Cycle, using their own various superpowers to do whatever it is they were gonna do.  The general design of the characters appears to be something like what I imagine Kirby thought Flower Children looked like.

Who were these five?  Well, they all had superior strength and general immortality due to being New Gods, but beyond that, they were:

  • Team leader Mark Moonrider, who had an explosive touch.
  • Big Bear, the largest member and the strongest of the lot.
  • Beautiful Dreamer, the lone female, originally romantically linked to Moonrider but eventually married to Big Bear, and a powerful psychic.
  • Vykin, the guy who got to carry the Mother Box and had some magnetic and tracking powers.
  • Serifan, a gunslinger wannabe with special cosmic cartridges that did all kinds of weird stuff.

The Forever People went around stopping various minions of Darkseid, but somehow I think even Kirby knew they weren’t as memorable or interesting as his other Fourth World creations because when DC insisted he put Deadman into one of his series, he stuck the ghost into Forever People because Kirby didn’t much like Deadman and I guess he figured the character wouldn’t be too noticed there.  Or maybe he cared about the Forever People least of all.  Considering New Gods was the flagship of his mini-line and he modeled Mr. Miracle’s wife after his own, it makes sense.

But there was one thing the Forever People could do that the other New Gods couldn’t:  summon a powerful ally.

Yes, the Forever People could summon the Infinity Man, a powerful entity with a wide variety of powers related to the Source.  Infinity Man apparently was Darkseid’s brother, but he was a good guy.

He looks benevolent.

Oh, hold onto that thought.

See, Kirby’s Fourth World stuff didn’t sell very well, and whatever story he was planning was never quite finished, but while the New Gods keep appearing in DC books, the Forever People tend to only come up when creators who are big time Kirby fans remember them.

And then they died.

To be fair, all the New Gods died.  The series was called Death of the New Gods and everything.  A mystery assailant was killing New Gods on both Apokalips and New Genesis left and right, and the ultimate culprit was revealed to be the Infinity Man.

Oh, and he killed the Forever People first.

But no one noticed right away.

That sucks.

Now, the whole death of the New Gods was supposed to set up Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis, but no one working on the New Gods’ deaths knew much about Morrison’s story aside from the fact the New Gods were being killed off.  As such, the stories don’t quite mesh, but Morrison postulated the New Gods weren’t just powerful aliens as they were usually portrayed but actual gods, and as spiritual beings, they could come back by inhabiting mortal bodies.  The Forever People were basically reincarnated in a group of Japanese teenager hero groupie types led by the Most Excellent Superbat who had the awesome power of extreme wealth.  They were called the Super Young Team.

So, I guess they’re still out there.  I’m not sure.  They’re no Mr. Miracle.

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