Sunday, March 24, 2013

Lois Lane's Fourth World!


When Jack Kirby arrived at DC after leaving his last post as top creative genius at Marvel, he quickly delivered an avalanche of new characters and titles. Those books became known as the "The Fourth World" as the unintended result of an ad which used the phrase to describe the four titles New Gods, Mister Miracle, Forever People and the existing comic Kirby had taken over Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen. Generally it took a while before Kirby's new ideas began to percolate through the broader DC Universe. But one place in which those ideas and characters did begin to appear almost immediately and with some regularity was in another of the Superman Family titles, Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane.

Under the editorial guidance of E.Nelson Bridwell, Robert Kanigher assumed the writer's chair for the title and along with artist Werner Roth, most famous for his stint on Marvel's X-Men, and then-mainstay Jack Kirby inker Vince Colletta, Lois Lane became embroiled in several stories involving the wild denizens of the Fourth World.

The first of these tales was "The Dark Side of the Justice League!" which pitted the unsuspecting Lois against tiny clones of the JLofA produced at the Evil Factory, a foul genetics laboratory controlled by Darkseid agents Simyan and Mokkari introduced in the pages of Jimmy Olsen. Here are the first few pages of that ground-breaking adventure.






The next few issues of Lois Lane have little Fourth World influence, but issue #114 which focuses on Rose and The Thorn and their enemies The 100, does have the character Morgan Edge, the then new publisher of the Daily Planet who had been replaced by a clone and served Darkseid as a member of Inter-Gang.


In issue #115 though, the Fourth World influence is felt most strongly as Lois encounters new Kirby creation The Black Racer, who debuted in New Gods #3. This issue in fact was the Racer's second appearance overall. We get to see Willie Walker, the new Racer going about his new mission as messenger of death. Here are a few handsome sample pages.





The very next issue of Lois Lane has our heroine getting mixed up in some hijinks at Happy Land, the deadly amusement park created and managed by Darkseid henchman Desaad. Happy Land debuted in Forever People, but we get another solid look at its depravity in these pages. Darkseid himself even puts in an appearance. This is likely his first non-Kirby drawn appearance ever.





Issue #117 has little Fourth World influence, though again Morgan Edge remains as a character in the story.



It is in fact Morgan Edge's story which becomes the focus of issues #118 and #119 of Lois Lane, as we find out more about his replacement by a clone agent of Darkseid, and the real Morgan Edge escapes the Evil Factory and meets up with The Outsiders, a motley motorcycle gang introduced in Jimmy Olsen.




And that just about wraps up this offbeat unofficial fifth book in the Fourth World saga. Bridwell would soon be replaced as editor by Dorothy Woolfolk and Robert Kanigher  would go on to write other DC books. Lois Lane would return to adventures of a slightly more mundane type. But for a time though, Lois like her colleague Jimmy Olsen found herself embroiled in a crazy new universe, a brand new type of danger, a new and perilous world, a Fourth World.

I do want to point out that most of the covers during this run were by Dick Giordano, and are simply outstanding.

On a final note, it would be outstanding if DC would reprint these Lois stories in a trade so that Fourth World fans all over could readily enjoy them.

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11 comments:

  1. Wow, these are important Fourth World events. Now I feel like I need these issues or my Fourth World collection will be incomplete.

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    1. I checked these issues out at my local store and good quality back issues were very expensive. Reading copies will do fine by me.

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  2. I've got most (if not all) of those issues and had been planning to do a cover gallery soon, so drat it - you beat me to it. Looking at those covers again, I can see what drew me to what I otherwise would've considered to be a 'comic for girls' back when I was a lad. Lois is quite the babe!

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    1. As drawn by Giordano for sure. I picked up some of these, but did not quite realize the full extent of Fourth World involvement.

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  3. First of all, it's "Planet," not "Bugle."

    Second, note that in several of the pages you posted, Superman is redrawn by Murphy Anderson! Just like in the Kirby titles. It wasn't just Jack after all. They didn't like ANY artist's Superman apparently.

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    1. Aarrgghh! I will correct that. Thanks. I almost called Willie Walker by the wrong name too, and just barely caught that one.

      Thanks again!

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  4. Great stuff, Rip. I hope you'll be covering the wrap-up of the Morgan Edge clone storyline in Jimmy Olsen #152, including possibly the most effective use of Darkseid ever in a story not written by Kirby himself.

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    1. I'll have to bone up on this one myself. Despite my ardor for the Fourth World all these years, these gems have been off my scope for the most part. I repeat that we need a trade reprint of these vintage non-Kirby Fourth World stories.

      What others need inclusion?

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    2. There isn't really that much else. In addition to the aforementioned Jimmy Olsen #152, issue #150 contains a short Newsboy Legion tale written by Nelson Bridwell featuring "Angry Charlie," the monstrous creature rescued from Scotland. The story has no other references to the Fourth World mythos.

      Then issue #155 includes a return appearance by Terry Dean, now meant as a new love interest for Jimmy. It's stated she sold her discotheque and is now running an inner city school. It's written by Leo Dorfman and has absolutely no connection to anything from the Kirby era other than the character, or at least her name. It seems quite possible to me that Dorfman submitted the script with a new female character, and Bridwell thought it would work better to bring back an existing character.

      These are the only return appearances by anything from the Kirby stories in Jimmy Olsen after he left the book. For my money, the stuff scripted or co-scripted by Nelson gets it right, and other writers clearly didn't understand Kirby's intent. Kirby and Bridwell held each other in great esteem and had a good working relationship. On the other hand, there was antipathy between Kirby and Bob Kanigher and they don't seem to have cared for each other's work. Pure speculation on my part, but a couple of these Lois Lane stories seem way more like Bridwell than Kanigher to me.

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    3. Er, you did want a guest essay, right? Yeesh, me and my big mouth! ;-D

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    4. I love info like this. Don't ever apologize for filling up my empty noggin. Thanks!

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