50 Years Ago, Jack Kirby Drew His Original Fourth World Saga to a Close


  • Sales of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World comic books may have been under-reported, leading to the misconception that they were not popular at the time.
  • DC moved Kirby to other projects due to perceived low sales of the Fourth World comics, ending Forever People and New Gods at issue #11.
  • The final issue of Mister Miracle #18 had a lot going on, including a wedding, and marked the end of Kirby’s original Fourth World Saga.

In every Look Back, we examine a comic book issue from 10/25/50/75 years ago (plus a wild card every month with a fifth week in it). This time around, we head back to November 1973 to see the finale of Jack Kirby’s original Fourth World Saga.

One of the great likely unsolvable mysteries in the world of comic books is whether Jack Kirby’s Fourth World comic books (a group of three interconnrected titles that launched in 1971, with New Gods, Forever People and Mister Miracle) sold well or not. As I’ve written about in the past in a Comic Book Legends Revealed, I think that there is enough evidence to suggest that Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ Green Lantern/Green Arrow run was selling better than it was reported at the time. The idea that that comic book wasn’t selling well just doesn’t pass the smell test (DC was doing mass market paperback reprints of the run AS IT WAS COMING OUT, and yet the regular issues weren’t selling? Come on).

That is very possibly ALSO what happened to Jack Kirby’s Fourth World comic books. The sales were LIKELY under-reported at the time, leading to the books seeming to be less popular than they actually were, as books were being reported as “returned,” but were not actually returned (as the distributors would just sell the books on the side and then falsely report that they had X returns, because distribution was working on an affidavit return basis at the time. Most comic books were reported correctly, because there was no side market for them, but certain creators like Neal Adams and Jack Kirby DID have that side market). I don’t know that for sure, but I think it is LIKELY.

In any event, long story short, DC started telling Jack Kirby to produce other comics, since his Fourth World comics didn’t appear to be selling. Forever People and New Gods each ended at #11, with Kirby moved to other new books for DC. Mister Miracle lasted the longest, but in November 1973, it ended as well with Mister Miracle #18 (by Kirby and Mike Royer), and the ending, which Kirby thought was wrapping up his Fourth World Saga, had SO MUCH going on in it, including a wedding!


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What happened to Mister Miracle in his last issue?

The issue opens with Scott “Mister Miracle” Free and his friends (Barda, a fellow escapee from Apokolips, who was his love interest, Oberon, his friend and assistant in his escape artistry, and Shilo Norman, Scott’s protegee) just working on a new escape trick when they are suddenly attacked by an unseen assailant.

It turns out that it is one of Darkseid’s minions from Apokolips, Virman Vundabar, and Oberon and Shilo are taken hostage while Scott and Barda hide via one of Scott’s escape tricks. The two are stuck together, though, and decide to give into their feelings for each other, and just get married…

Mister Miracle and Big Barda get together

However, their celebration is cut off by the reveal that two MORE of Darkseid’s minions, Granny Goodness and Kanton, are on Earth, as well, and ultimately Kanto captures Scott and Barda, knocking Scott out cold.

When he awakes, he sees that he and his friends are attached to basically a flying bomb…

Mister Miracle and his friends are put on a bomb

It flies off, and seemingly explodes. But then, guess what, with all of Darkseid’s minions on Earth, so, too, are now the HEROES of New Genesis on Earth! Orion shows up and kicks some butt…

Mister Miracle is seemingly killed

We then discover that there is a very good reason for them to be there.


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Did Darkseid crash Mister Miracle’s wedding?

The Source, the force that controls all of the universe, says that there WILL be a wedding this day, so the heroes of New Genesis showed up, saved Scott and his friends, and got set for the wedding. Sadly, Scott and Barda will have to leave Earth once they are wed. Scott has to say goodbye to his friends…

Mister Miracle has to go to New Genesis

Everyone, though, is worried about Darkseid showing up and breaking up this wedding. The villains are also worried about Darkseid showing up, as well, they were supposed to kill Scott and Barda, and failed miserably. It is all pretty funny seeing the bad guys freak out, but at the same time, there is also that concern about whether the wedding WILL take place or not! Luckily, it DOES take place…

Mister Miracle marries Big Barda

Darkseid, though, can’t help but be a jerk (he really IS a total jerk), and so he sends some attack cyclones to mess up his underlings, but they fail to hurt the heroes, who teleport away before the attack cyclones can hit them. This leads to an awkward moment where Oberon and Shiloh are, like, “Oh, hey Darkseid, what’s up?”

Darkseid stopped by to say goodbye

The villain then ends the original Jack Kirby Fourth World Saga with a creepy laugh.

If you folks have any suggestions for December (or any other later months) 2013, 1998, 1973 and 1948 comic books for me to spotlight, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com! Here is the guide, though, for the cover dates of books so that you can make suggestions for books that actually came out in the correct month. Generally speaking, the traditional amount of time between the cover date and the release date of a comic book throughout most of comic history has been two months (it was three months at times, but not during the times we’re discussing here). So the comic books will have a cover date that is two months ahead of the actual release date (so October for a book that came out in August). Obviously, it is easier to tell when a book from 10 years ago was released, since there was internet coverage of books back then.

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