Jack Kirby’s final work on the Fourth World characters was in Super Powers volume 2. This comic book was a 6 issues mini-series from 1985-1986.
The Super Powers comics were part of a massive promotional program to promote the toy line it was based off of. 3 volumes of these comics were created in total, with Kirby having a role in creating the first 2.
Kirby did most of the plotting and cover art on the first volume. In the second volume, he was responsible for the majority of the artwork, although the whole story has a very Kirby feel to it.
Where to read Super Powers Volume 2:
- The Jack Kirby Omnibus Vol. 2 or
- Super Powers digital comics not yet available
Previously – DC Graphic Novel #4: The Hunger Dogs
Volume 2 somewhat continues the story of Volume 1, but also surprisingly picks up where Kirby’s The Hunger Dogs graphic novel left off the Fourth World story. When I read Volume 1, I assumed it was in it’s own continuity, but Volume 2 made me feel like it was connected.
If there was any question whether it was in continuity, there are multiple references in the book to The Hunger Dogs. An early panel in issue #1 says “detailed in The Hunger Dogs graphic novel, by Jack Kirby”. This volume continues Darkseid’s story from where it was left off.
Darkseid was previously overthrown as ruler of Apokolips by a rebellion. With no place to rule, he sets his sights on Earth. He develops a scheme where he plants various “seeds” throughout Earth to reshape the planet more to his image.
The Super Powers/Justice League team of Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, Batman, Flash, Hawmkman, Robin, Superman, Wonder Woman, Red Tornado, Firestorm, Green Arrow, Doctor Fate, and Aquaman work to stop him. In trying to stop the seeds, however, they are transported to various points in history.
- #1 – Seeds of Doom! – Darkseid wants find a new world to rule and targets Earth. Desaad sends Martian Manhunter and Aquaman back in time to do battle with the Knights of the Round Table.
- #2 – When Past and Present Meet! – Darkseid observes from his new headquarters on the moon while Kalibak the cruel fights with Green Arrow, Red Tornado, and Hawkman in prehistoric times.
- #3 – Time Upon Time Upon Time! – Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Doctor Fate are sent back in time to the year 1087 on Easter Island. While there, they have to fight the insect Mantis.
- #4 – There’s No Place Like Rome! – Superman and Firestorm are sent to the Roman Empire to battle with a real gladiator. Darkseid’s uncle Steppenwolf enters them into a gladiator match where neither is able to use his own powers.
- #5 – Once Upon Tomorrow! – Batman, Robin, and Flash are sent to the future and end up fighting Parademons. They see a world where they were not able to stop the seeds and Darkseid became the ruler of Planet Earth.
- #6 – Darkseid of the Moon! – The final battle for Earth occurs. Darkseid, Desaad, Kalibak, Steppenwolf, Mantis, and the Parademons battle with the Super Powers/Justice League team.
For a comic book based on a toy line, Super Powers Volume 2 exceeded by expectations and seemed like a genuine improvement on the first volume. There are still somewhat ridiculous situations and unnecessary characters, but it is toned down from the previous installment.
That doesn’t necessarily make it a great collection, but it is better than I thought. The story is relatively straightforward and can be repetitive. The characters all seem to be written pretty well, although nothing that important happens to any of them. As a team-up event with no long-term ramifications, it is a pretty fun read.
The highlight by far is the return of Jack Kirby’s art. Many of the characters are redesigned from his previous Fourth World work. Many are minor modifications or clothing changes, but Steppenwolf in particular gets an entirely revamped look. It is a significant upgrade from his previous look. It’s also great to see him get a chance to draw the Justice League heroes.
The story as a whole feels much more Kirby-like than the first volume. That is surprising because Kirby received plot credit on the first volume, but only artwork credit on this volume. Darkseid’s scheme does seem much more like classic Darkseid.
I still don’t know that I could recommend this for non Fourth World fans. If you look at it as a crossover event, it’s just ok. But as a fan of the Fourth World, you’ll definitely want to see Kirby’s final work on some of his finest creations.
Fourth World connections
This volume also has more mentions to the larger Fourth World than the previous one. We get an early mention of a Boom Tube. We also get a fun addition when we see that Desaad is working on something called Star Gate. He has designed it to make the Boom Tube replaceable.
Most of the villains in these issues are based on Apokolips. While the first volume showcased Joker, Penguin, Brainiac, and Lex Luthor, all are absent here. Instead, Mantis, Steppenwolf, Kalibak, and the Parademons are all given a chance to shine.
It’s great to see more from those villains, even if some of them are defeated a little too easily. Darkseid is also handled pretty well here, as he devises a complex scheme that is a real challenge for the heroes.
I was disappointed again by the lack of any of the heroic characters from New Gods or Forever People. I know that the point is to promote the heroes from Earth. It doesn’t sit right with me though, that Darkseid is causing havoc on Earth and Orion and Lightray don’t even show up for a cameo.
Overall, this isn’t the most important story in the Fourth World saga. It is meant as a simple, but fun story that gives some of the lesser-known Apokolips villains a chance to star.
Follow along my Fourth World review – The Jack Kirby Fourth World reading order