In 1984, Jack Kirby was given an opportunity to return to his Fourth World and work on major Justice League characters.
Ok, so it’s not exactly a brand new series of titles, but he did get work with some of these characters in Super Powers Volume 1.
The Super Powers comic books were a 5 issue mini-series created to help promote the toy line that they were based off of. Kirby provided cover art and the plot for the first 4 issues and wrote the 5th issue.
Where to read Super Powers Volume 1:
- The Jack Kirby Omnibus Vol. 2 or
- Super Powers digital comics not yet available
Previously – Mister Miracle #18
Super Powers #1 – Power Beyond Price! – Cover Art and Plot by Jack Kirby
Darkseid has created a fight club to select “The Emissaries of Doom” to carry out his plan. Joker, Penguin, Braniac, and Lex Luthor are all granted powers greater than they have ever had and prove a challenge for the heroes.
Super Powers #1 – Clash Against Chaos – Cover Pencils and Plot by Jack Kirby
Superman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Batman, Robin, and Hawkman struggle with Luthor, Penguin, and Joker. Meanwhile, Brainiac plans a way to force Wonder Woman and the Amazons into a war that he can use to gather data.
Super Powers #3 – Amazons at War – Cover Pencils and Plot by Jack Kirby
Brainiac puts Wonder Woman and the Amazons under some kind of mind control and they begin to attack America. The Justice League works to stop them from fighting. That stops, though, when Brainiac turns his attention toward the Man of Steel and transforms him into Superman the Barbarian.
Super Powers #4 – Earth’s Last Stand – Cover Pencils and Plot by Jack Kirby
We learn that Darkseid is the one behind all the distractions of the superheroes. Towards the end of the issue, both the heroes and villains are sent to Apokolips. It is here that they learn of Darkseid’s plan to attack the Earth and claim it as his own.
Super Powers #5 – Spaceship Earth – We’re All On It – Written by Jack Kirby
Darkseid begins to attack Earth with his minions, but the New God Metron arrives in time to help. He sends Darkseid to the future where there is more advanced technology to defend against him. The team controls this technology through their thoughts.
Logic sort of goes out the window when you are reading a comic book that is based on a line of toys. There are plenty of plot conveniences and totally ridiculous situations. In many of these, the only explanation is that it might look cool and get people to buy more toys.
I was expecting the dialogue and the story to be very child-friendly. At times, it can be absolutely over-the-top and cheesy, especially when dealing with villains like Penguin and Joker. Overall, though, I was surprised at how serious parts of the plot and dialogue were.
The Justice League heroes actually might be the most “normal” part of this story. They more or less seem in character, even if they are in exaggerated situations. The exception to this is Wonder Woman, but that is quickly explained by a dose of mind control from Brainiac.
There are several cool individual moments sprinkled in throughout. The Flash saving Aquaman and Green Lantern from Penguin’s weird bird attack was an absolute highlight. To do this, he used Green Lantern’s ring and was able to create some constructs.
By itself, Super Powers Volume 1 is probably not worth reading. It is a fun and goofy story that doesn’t have a whole lot of emotional depth to it. As you could guess, it seems like it was made to sell toys and decisions were made based on how cool it would look.
The ending of the series is also rather underwhelming. We don’t actually get to see the Justice League in action together. Instead, they are using their brain waves to power robots that help take down Darkseid in the future. Like I wrote, it’s a little wild.
As a fan of Jack Kirby in general, and his Fourth World in particular, this was fun to read. Seeing Kirby’s work on the Justice League and New Gods is interesting to look into, even if it was made to promote toys.
Fourth World connections
While this doesn’t really add much to the Fourth World mythology, and I assume it is not in continuity, there are more connections to New Gods and Forever People than I though.I knew Darkseid was in this volume, but there were more connections to the rest of the Fourth World than that.
Specifically, we see Boom Tubes, Granny Goodness, Metron, and Apokolips. With Darkseid being the main villain, it was fun to get another peek at Apokolipls. We also got a brief glimpse of Leviathan, the sea monster that Kirby created in an early issue of New Gods.
The downside is there is very little mention of the heroic Fourth World creations. There is no mention of Orion, Lightray, or Highfather. You would barely even know New Genesis existed. I realize the point of this comic was to promote the Super Powers characters, but when Darkseid is causing trouble, I would love to at least see an Orion cameo.
Overall, this doesn’t introduce anything new to the Fourth World mythology. We also don’t get to see much of the existing aspects until later in the story. It isn’t a must read as you go through the Fourth World, but it can be a fun way to get a different view of some of these characters.
Next up is Jack Kirby’s return to New Gods, which includes a new story in the second part of the 1984 reprint series.
Follow along my Fourth World review – The Jack Kirby Fourth World reading order
Up next – New Gods #6 (1984)