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little kon-el

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 575
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Member Since: Tue Apr 04, 2017
Posts: 1,172
Subj: Kirby's Darkseid and why he's cool.
Posted: Sun Jun 25, 2017 at 01:51:22 am EDT (Viewed 220 times)
Reply Subj: How Was Darkseid Written Under Jack Kirby, Or In His Original Incarnation?
Posted: Wed Jun 21, 2017 at 10:33:10 am EDT (Viewed 258 times)

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I really like The New Gods, but I haven't read a lot of the Jack Kirby stuff (Mostly because Kirby's dialogue was just PAINFUL to read! Stan Lee's dialogue is dated as well, but he was much better than Kirby, his scripting was just terrible.). I did read a reprint or two a few years ago, but I don't remember much about it. Darkseid and Orion seemed to be written differently, Darkseid seemed to be more-humble? I guess that you can say. He didn't seem to be as violent or destructive as he usually is. I know that Darkseid and The New Gods weren't meant to be part of the DC Universe (I don't think that the Celestials and The Eternals were meant to be part of the Marvel Universe, either.), and I read in various places that Kirby had a specific ending in mind. Does anyone know how he meant to end it? Was Darkseid violent or sadistic under Kirby? Was The Anti-Life equation different back then, too? Thanks.

It wasn't that Darksied was more violent. He is the evil in all men. He's that thing in the back of your head that has you do something saddistic or cruel. The Darksied of Jack Kirby would show up on your couch and put doubt in your head when you arrive home. He isn't the guy who fights you. That's Thanos. Thanos is like a lesser Darkseid because he fights you.

In Kirby's Darkseid, you have the personification of Hitler and all the stuff that Kirby hated about Fascism and cruelty. Reread those stories again with that in mind. Darkseid is cruel fascism.

As a counterpoint, the New Gods of New Genesis were meant to be the next generation trying to counteract the cruelty of the previous ones. It's Hitler vs. The Flower Children. Kirby believed that the next generation would overturn all the horrible crap that his generation had to fight in Nazism.

But he was disappointed. In the 1980s, you have this graphic novel that was meant to be the beginning of the end of Darksied, but it became something more about the end of communism, with the people of the slums of Apocalipse rising up, and the exiling of Darksied and the destruction of New Genesis. It was this parable against nuclear war and that the destruction of one's enemy is also the destruction of yourself.

He also has this really weird ending from the toy tie-in Super Powers book where he sends invading armies of Parademons into Earth's far past, the far future, into the Joker's crazy universe, and into oblivion as a way to show the cycles and the brutality of men are greater than that of Darksied. He was really disappointed with how he saw this type of fascism and cruelty as a cycle, not something that can defeated.

I think think the only person that comes close to the ending that Jack Kirby intended is Grant Morrison. The key to understanding the Anti-Life equation is that in Kirby's mythology, the opposite of life isn't death, it's a lack of choice. The secret of anti-life is in us all. It's our ability to choose our fate rather than be restricted by the will imposed by other people. In both his JLA story and in Final Crisis, is it the people finding ways to reject the will of Darksied that defeats Darkseid. It is that choice, that freedom, that defines success or failure in those stories.

The best example of a Kirby story about this theme is the one in Forever People where Darkseid creates this amusement park that tortures people. All of these people come and are tortured...but all other see is these smiling-faced people. Everyone except for the children. The children understand that these people are being tortured, but their parents will just tell them the opposite. They'll just tell them that what they're seeing and feeling isn't true. They'll teach them to ignore the suffering of others and focus on themselves. Those kids will grow up isolated and alone.

That's Kirby's Anti-Life equation in a nutshell: the self-doubt and isolation that comes from being rejected and having other people not seeing reality for what it is.

And again, that's why Darkseid in Kirby's run is so cool. He isn't a guy who beats other people up. He isn't Thanos. The way he would defeat Captain America is to put doubt in Captain America and make him remember that not only did he fail to save Bucky, he failed to stop the war that killed millions. And he'd do it by appearing on Captain America's couch and just talking to him.

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