- The early days of Jack Kirby’s “Fourth World” comics had a strong and interconnected storyline, with Darkseid slowly revealed as a powerful and menacing villain.
- Darkseid’s goal is to obtain the Anti-Life Equation, which would allow him to control the free will of everyone in the universe.
- Darkseid finally steps into the spotlight in Forever People #3, delivering a powerful speech that showcases his immense power and presence.
“To Quote a Phrase” is a feature where I spotlight memorable quotes from comic books. Today, we look at an epic self-description of Darkseid when the mad villain made his first direct attack on Earth and the Forever People.
One of the interesting things about the early days of Jack Kirby’s iconic “Fourth World” comic books is that Kirby put a good deal more planning into this interconnected epic than most people were putting into their comic books at the time. Even the greatest writers of the generation tended not to think more than a few months in advance about their plotlines, but Kirby had a clear storyline idea in his mind for the opening arc, at least, of his Fourth World epic battle between Darkseid and the forces of Apokolips and Orion and the forces of New Genesis.
As a result, the early issues had a strong simmering nature to them, akin to Walter Simonson’s iconic “Surtur is coming – DOOM!” bit in Mighty Thor (which, of course, was Simonson’s tribute to the epic Thor stories of Kirby and Stan Lee). Darkseid is very much brought along very slowly, not only his motivations and plans, but the sheer POWER of the character. In fact, it was SO subdued that I really think Kirby even threw in a specific page in New Gods #1 to sort of address just HOW subtle he had otherwise been with Darkseid in the comic.
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The Anti-Life Equation changed everything for Darkseid
The first time that we met Darkseid, he is over a monitor in Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #134, and that’s it…
(Amusingly, Morgan Edge was such a great Kirby creation that the Superman writers sort of “stole” him for thier titles)
Darkseid continues in essentially just a supervisory capacity in those early Jimmy Olsen issues.
In Forever People #1, again, Darkseid mostly just works over a monitor, telling his henchmen what to do…
This brings me to the page I was referencing from New Gods #1 (by Kirby and Colletta), where Darkseid is working behind the scenes throughout the issue, but Kirby then makes sure to at least throw in an awesome full-page splash of the villain being all evil…
The opening arc of Kirby’s Fourth World epic involved Darkseid feeling that he was close to discovering the Anti-Life Equation, something that would give him the ability to control the free will of everyone in the universe.
As Kirby explained it in his iconic 1990 interview posted in The Comics Journal #134:
If someone took control of your mind and you were not able to think as yourself any longer, you would no longer be yourself. You’d be something in his command. You as an individual would be dead. That’s Anti-Life. In other words, if you gave yourself to some cause, and gave up everything as an individual and you were at the beck and call of some leader, you would be dead as an individual. And that’s what Darkseid wants. He wants control of everybody. If it was snowing outside and you weren’t wearing any shoes and it was 38 degrees below zero and this guy says, “Go out and get me a bologna sandwich,” you have to go through all that; you obey him automatically, you obey him meekly. You walk out without a coat and you freeze to death. He doesn’t care. You do it anyway despite the fact that you don’t want to do it. You’re dead as an individual. You have no choice. You can’t object and you have no stature as a person. You’re dead. A slave is a dead man. That’s what Darkseid wants. Darkseid wants complete subjugation of everything at a word – his word. He wants every thinking thing under his control.
I believe it’s an evil concept but he doesn’t think so.
So Darkseid kidnapped a few humans to test their minds to see if they had any knowledge of the equation, and Orion and the New Gods step in to take issue with that, which is essentially a declaration of war (we will later learn that Darkseid has covered himself from a “treaty” perspective, as he had arranged for Mister Miracle to break the treaty first).
Still, Darkseid himself remained a background figure. In New Gods #2, he lets an underling take on Orion…
Finally, though, that changed in Forever People #3.
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Darkseid explains who he is in forceful detail
In Forever People #3, the Forever People merged to form the powerful Infinity Man, and Darkseid shockingly steps in as the Infinity Man is about to take out Darkseid’s underling, Glorious Godfrey…
Darkseid then BREAKS DOWN THE BOUND THAT TRANSFORMS THE FOREVER PEOPLE INTO THE INFINITY MAN!
However, once the Infinity Man was out of the way, Darkseid also backs off, as, again, he’s only going to get involved if he HAS to do, but make no mistake, he is a powerful being.
This then leads to an amazing line when Godfrey tries to yammer on, Darkseid cuts him off and then delivers an iconic speech:
I like you Glorious Godfrey! You’re a shallow, precious child — The Revelationist — Happy with the sweeping sound of words! But I am the Revelation! The tiger-force at the core of all things! When you cry out in your dreams–it is Darkseid that you see!
Just amazing all around. People way overlook just how good Kirby’s writing was on these books.
Okay, folks, if you care to suggest cool comic book quotes that you’d like to see spotlighted here, drop me a line at email@example.com. There’s a decent enough chance that if you think the quote in question is super cool, than I, too, will find it super cool and feature it here. Not a 100% chance, though, of course. Let’s say roughly a 60% chance.
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