Thursday, March 23, 2017

1st Issue Special #13 (1976)

1st Issue Special #13 (April, 1976)
"Lest Night Fall - Forever!"
Plot & Edits - Gerry Conway
Dialogue - Denny O'Neil
Art - Mike Vosburg
Cover Price: $0.30

Hey it's another issue of that strange mid-70's series which I seem to have a bit of an obsession over... 1st Issue Special!

Today we're going to discuss a book featuring the Kirby Kharacters... though the issue itself isn't written or drawn by the King!  This may just be the first story done without his involvement... which is something, I guess.  He doesn't even get a passing mention in the "Story Behind the Story" page...

This is also a series that actually wound up getting picked up as a regular ongoing series... though, it did hit a year later while DC was "exploding".

Well, let's hop in and see just what Orion... that is Orion, right?... and the crew are up to!


We open with Orion (of the New Gods) busting through a wall.  His costume is certainly different from what we are used to... he's wearing a more traditional-looking outfit which isn't all that dissimilar to Animal Man's... in certain panels, the "eye holes" in his mask are sorta shaped like Buddy Baker's goggles... the headgear also kinda looks like Spartan from WildC.A.T.s.  Anyhoo... enough with the fashion report... he bursts through and enters into battle with Kalibak.  They pound on one another for a bit, while Orion tries to learn the whereabouts of Darkseid.  Kalibak obviously... ain't talkin'.

During the fight, as heroes (especially those in 1st Issue Special) often do, Orion begins to day dream... recalling the events which led him here.  He remembers returning to New Genesis and meeting with Highfather, Scott Free, Big Barda, and Metron.  He comes with dire news to report... Darkseid is planning for a war which involves the invasion of Earth.

No sooner does he share the news than wave after wave of Parademons descend upon the group.  Orion and Barda hold them off the best they can until Metron is able to open a Boom Tube to send the baddies back to Apokolips.  At this point it is decided that Orion head to Earth to stop his father, Darkseid.

Back in the present, Orion and Kalibak continue their struggle.  They are evenly matched, and so... Orion blasts the floor under his foe to send him falling to the story below.  He continues working his way through the tenement, until he runs afoul of... Granny Goodness!  She puts him down with a single blast... after which, his limp body is dragged away by the horde.

Back on New Genesis, Highfather is acting woeful in front of a roaring fireplace.  He is soon joined by Metron who informs him that "The Source" has been activated.  The pair head out to the Wall of Prophecy to see what's up, and are greeted by a message warning what might happen should Orion be successful in falling his father.

Metron expands upon the warning by revealing that he had located Darkseid... and learned that he had, get this... attuned his heartbeat to the rhythms of Earth's Sun... this means, should he die... the Sun will explode.  Sounds legit, right?  I don't think this "stuck"... though, it's just wacky enough that I wish it had.

We rejoin Orion as he comes to.  He is surrounded by his captors... who are just dudes in tank tops wielding spiked clubs and rinky-dink laser pistols.  Orion easily bests them in combat and escapes captivity... only, he's not on Earth anymore.  He looks up to the fiery red sky, and realizes that he's in a lazy Crisis on Infinite Earths tie-in on Apokolips!

Orion walks the streets, and it isn't long before he runs into his half-brother, Kalibak... and, wouldn'tcha know it, they fight again!  This time, Orion wins decisively.

He breaks through the doors of Darkseid's palace... and winds up face-to-face with the man himself.  He threatens to kill his father... which is news that Darkseid basically brushes off.  Kalibak begs for another opportunity to fight... and in a great panel, Darkseid just nonchalantly shoves him down!

Before Orion can lunge at Darkseid, they are joined by Highfather and Metron.  Highfather informs the lad that his efforts have been an exercise in futility... what's best for the Earth is letting Darkseid live... not that we can say with 100% certainty that Orion would've been successful, right?

The New Genesis gang heads home, leaving Darkseid alone with his thoughts.  To his mind, they are currently at a stalemate with the good guys... but, I don't think I agree.  Darkseid can kill any and all of the New Genesis folks... it's just that they cannot kill him.  I dunno.  We wrap up with Highfather and Metron telling Orion not to lose hope... there will be a war, but for the moment at least, there is peace on New Genesis.


Another interesting issue of 1st Issue.  This one is strange in that what happens could (should?) have had an effect on the entire DC Universe.  This is almost too relevant a story to appear in this series, ya know?  The idea that Darkseid is readying for an all-out war on not only his neighbors on New Genesis, but the Earth as well... really should be something the DC heroes know about, and aid the opposition against.

Now, I don't wanna slag on the relevance of my beloved 1st Issue Special... but, c'mon, this series brought us Lady Cop, the Dingbats, and the Outsiders (not those Outsiders)... hardly movers and shakers of the DC Universe.  This story feels large, and important... which is a good thing!  Just a weird way to end this volume... as this is the final issue of 1st Issue Special before it faded into the sunset.

I mentioned it above, but... as silly as it is, I really kinda dig the idea that Darkseid cannot be killed without the Earth being destroyed.  I haven't read the Return of the New Gods series that spun out of this, but I'd definitely be interested in checking it out... to see how creative they get with this concept.

I'm not sure quite how I feel about Orion's new costume.  It's definitely more traditional... which, I dunno... I mean, it's sharp, but it's lacking something from his earlier wacky helmet.  The art overall, however, was really quite good.  It's definitely not Kirby, but Vosburg does a great job here with the characters.  Darkseid is perhaps a bit on the dinky side, but overall, I really dug the look of this.

I keep thinking, with how many DC characters that it would be great for them to bring a concept like this back... even if it was a digital-only (or digital-first) sort of thing.  There are plenty of characters we haven't seen (or seen very little of) since Rebirth... it might be interesting to explore some of those.

As for a recommendation... well, if you recall... we sorta kinda have a demandment here, if you come across an issue of 1st Issue Special in the wild (for a reasonable price), you just gotta snag it!


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