Sunday, July 29, 2012

Makers Of Evil!

What do Iron Man #55 and Jimmy Olsen, Superman's Friend #134 have in common?

Both comics feature the debut of a significant villain, but on neither cover is that villain featured or even mentioned.

In Jimmy Olsen of course the villain is Darkseid, the prime mover and shaker of the storyline Jack "King" Kirby developed in his Fourth World epic at DC Comics in the early 70's.

Darkseid only appears as a face on a monitor screen. But his influence informs the whole of the story, as he operates behind the scenes.

Of course Darkseid would go on to become a major villain in the DC Universe, a granite-faced dictator who wouldn't flinch at taking on any and all of the heroes which might assemble before him.

Likewise in Iron Man we meet for the first time a villain who will go on to become a major malignant influence in the Marvel Universe, Thanos. Like Darkseid, who he resembles more than a bit, this Jim Starlin creation reveals himself to be the mastermind behind the scheme.

Later he will show up in Starlin's Captain Marvel stories, like Darkseid a powerful foe, but unlike his inspiration a villain who takes a more hands on approach often.

Starlin has stated that Thanos didn't begin as a Darkseid-type, but rather more akin to Metron, the intellectual observer created by Kirby.

This is supported by some recent artwork by Starlin showing Thanos sitting in a very Moebius-like chair looking rather reflective. This artwork is being touted as evidence that Starlin created the influential character before he started working for Marvel, and so is not subject to the usual contractual limits of characters produced during this early period. That's especially important now that Thanos might be a major part of the next blockbuster Avengers flick.

A corporation-creator clash is alas something else now that Thanos has in common with Darkseid.

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  1. Really interesting stuff. I've gotta read more of comics that feature these two villains.

    For instance I have the New Gods, Forever People, and Mr. Miracle on DVD-Rom but not the Jimmy Olsen issues. I wonder in I could find a collection of just those.

    1. I'm always rooting for Darkseid. But Thanos is a great villain too.

      By the way, I really like your blog, and I think it'd be a good idea if you visited mine:


  2. Dave - Jimmy Olsen is connected, but still off to the side of the Kirby Fourth World books. Big things happen in there, but you can read it apart from the others successfully. I still recommend it, because it's got some goofy fun Kirby stuff and surprisingly tense at times. There are two color trade paperback collections of the Jimmy material apart from the other FW stuff.

    Arion - I'll give it a look. Thanks for stopping by.

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