Darkseid Special
THE DARKSEID SPECIAL #1 By Mark Evanier, Paul Levitz, Scott Kolins, Phil Hester, and Dave McCaig
Jack Kirby's genius is on full display in the DARKSEID SPECIAL #1 one-shot. In this issue, we see the resistance fight against the evil of Darkseid as well as other stories about battling tyrannical forces. This comic fully encapsulates the depth of Kirby's ideas and how those ideas continue to speak volumes.
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On August 28th, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the day that the “King of Comics,” Jack Kirby, arrived on the planet. The man who co-created legendary Marvel Comics figures like Captain America, Thor, and the X-Men also contributed significantly to DC with awesome cosmic characters. Perhaps the greatest character that Kirby created for DC was the sinister overlord Darkseid. This Jack Kirby One-Shot DARKSEID SPECIAL #1 centers on this big bad of the DC universe.

DARKSIED SPECIAL #1 page 8. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Unlike the NEW GODS SPECIAL earlier this month, the DARKSEID SPECIAL #1 goes into the depths of Darkseid’s homeworld, Apokolips, and delves into the character of Darkseid. Yet, this comic doesn’t only focus on Darkseid. It also has a side story about OMAC (the One Man Army Corps). It then concludes with two special issues from Jack Kirby’s original works. Overall, this comic doesn’t pack the action-packed excitement or visual splendor of some of the others New Gods books, but it makes up for that with a complete understanding of Jack Kirby’s themes.

The Embodiment of Tyranny

While this comic is titled after the evil ruler of Apokolips, Darkseid doesn’t appear as much as one would expect. Instead, the main story of this comic, written by Kirby’s colleague and biographer Mark Evanier, spotlights the group known as the resistance. The resistance is a trio of humans who escaped the brainwashing orphanage of Granny Goodness and travel around Apokolips intent on overthrowing the dark lord. It’s a tale of defiance against the greatest of odds.

READ: Scott Free fights Darkseid’s tyranny as Mister Miracle. Take a look at our review of Tom King’s MISTER MIRACLE #1!

While it is easy to think of Apokolips as a fantastical, supernatural location, this comic reminds its readers that Jack Kirby’s inspiration for the planet was a very real location in our world: Nazi Germany. Indeed, Apokolips is a planet where Hitler’s dream of complete domination and power were realized. Darkseid exists as the very embodiment of tyranny. Throughout this comic, we see him punish his enemies with no remorse or second thought. He seeks to dominate the will of everything that exists.

DARKSEID SPECIAL page 9. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Certain comics relegate Darkseid to just a maniacal force of evil. Evanier’s story understands that Darkseid doesn’t commit wicked acts out of malice towards others. It’s simply because Darkseid is afraid of a world not in his control. It’s cowardice that inspires Darkseid to grip tighter to his power as he’s always afraid he will lose it. Consequently, the resistance realizes that to overcome tyranny you must not give into fear. Dictators like Darkseid thrive off a population in terror. However, it only takes a few brave people to defy tyrants and show that dictators are just as afraid as everyone else.

OMAC Crushes Oppression

For the second story in this DARKSEID SPECIAL, Paul Levitz and Phil Hester write about OMAC. The One Man Army Corps was the comic that Kirby wrote for DC after his NEW GODS lines failed to sell. OMAC is more or less a depiction of a Captain America-esque supersoldier in the future. In the original comics, a mysterious A.I. satellite known as Brother Eye converts Buddy Blank into OMAC, a soldier who works for the Global Peace Agency (GPA).

DARKSEID SPECIAL #1 page 25. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

In this issue, OMAC turns on the GPA after they have him sabotage a lab. The destruction inadvertently created tsunamis that killed millions of people (no, I don’t understand the science of it either). The GPA follows the classic doctrine of “peace at any cost.” They believe that billions can die to ensure peace in the future. OMAC is outraged when he finds out and takes down the GPA one by one; shutting down their power source, Brother Eye.

This is a fascinating story because it depicts another, more subtle form of tyranny. Jack Kirby was critical of how the United States overextended its power, especially militarily, all for the goal of peace. Moreover, Kirby was fearful of spy organizations like the CIA and their abuse of privacy. This is fully embodied in the all-powerful Brother Eye.

READ: Here’s another of Jack Kirby’s genius inventions in THE NEW GODS SPECIAL #1!

One criticism I have for this story is that it could be very confusing for new readers. Other Kirby One-Shots have done an awesome job paying homage to earlier Kirby works while catching new readers up. Levitz and Hester expect readers to understand the rich and complicated history of OMAC, which most people simply wouldn’t.

The Eye of Providence

Finally, at the end of this comic, there are two short snippets written by the King himself. The first one is a typical Kirby New Gods story focusing on the Forever People. Serifan and Big Bear perfectly embody the hippie counterculture movement as they stop Darkseid’s forces from raiding and polluting Supertown. Yet, the really interesting story of this special is “The All-Seeing Eye” from DC’s TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED series.

READ: Discover what else made the King such a genius in ComicsVerse’s own tribute to him!

In this story, Kirby wrote about a reporter who receives a mysterious head-sized eye. This eye allows him to see anything on the earth at any point. The reporter can discover any crime, catastrophe, or piece of information simply by looking through the eye. Furthermore, in the place he wants to look, a giant eye will appear in the sky. The reporter gains fame and prestige by using the eye’s powers but it also comes at a cost.

DARKSEID SPECIAL #1 page 39. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The All-Seeing Eye is likely Kirby’s representation of the Eye of Providence. This is the eye that appears on the dollar and some associate it with the Illuminati. It represents God’s presence watching over humanity. Kirby is telling a cautionary tale about seeking out God’s power. Once again this may be an allusion to government intrusions on privacy and personal freedoms. It’s amazing that Kirby discussed in the seventies that which is even more relevant now. This foresight is why he was one of comics’ greatest minds.

Final Thoughts 0n DARKSEID SPECIAL #1

The art throughout the DARKSEID SPECIAL isn’t anything spectacular but it does work well alongside the issue. Scott Kolins and Dave McCaig’s art can’t compare to Kirby’s splash pages from the 70s. So perhaps Kolins and McCaig intentionally drew harsher, rougher looking panels to embody Apokolips’ dour environment. The main colors on nearly every page are brown, red, and orange. This does a good job of encapsulating the bleakness of living on Apokolips.

DARKSEID SPECIAL #1 page 5. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Finally, I recommend reading Mark Evanier’s written piece at the end of the comic. “Ungodly Power” is a fantastic, funny, and touching dedication to Kirby from someone who actually got the chance to know him. You get the feeling from reading the column that Evanier wanted to write an essay full of stories about the King. He demonstrates that it’s impossible to fully encapsulate the genius of Jack Kirby. Yet, DC has made great stride to honor the King with fantastic one-shots like DARKSEID SPECIAL #1.

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