- The source for graphic novel reviews HomeLatest graphic novel newsBrowse by titleBrowse by writerBrowse by artist
Jack Kirby's New Gods


Jack Kirby's New Gods

Words by

Jack Kirby

Art by

Jack Kirby


1 star


1 star


1 star

Buy this book:

Jack Kirby's New Gods

Spanning his lifetime, Jack Kirby's comic work counts amongst some of the most innovative in the medium. Having created characters and artistic styles that remain popular and influential to this day, it was the New Gods, created in the 1970s, which is widely believed to be Kirby's masterpiece. Looking back at it now, we're left with a strange looking pantheon of characters, as powerful and messed up as the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece or Rome.

Jack Kirby's New Gods

The New Gods inhabit two worlds, New Genesis and Apokolips, which could be loosely equated into a kind of heaven and hell. They aren't quite as black and white as they could be though, helped by some cross-pollination. Lead protagonist Orion is a prime example of this, having been born into the aristocracy of Apokolips but transferred to New Genesis soon after his birth. His struggle with his origins, physically manifested in an ugly visage he keeps masked and a warlike temper he doesn't, is an underlying if slightly under-explored theme in this collection.

There's a lot to get used to in this book, from strange semi-magical technologies and special powers to the characters themselves. The main players, despite their different origins, aren't particularly different to from the superheroes types common in comics. There are some very obvious similarities, such as the Black Racer, a darker version of the Silver Surfer, flying around on skis instead of a board.

Jack Kirby's New Gods

It's with the dialogue that the passage of time has really made its mark. There's lots of thinking aloud, a device far less common in modern comics as audiences have been perceived to get more sophisticated. Storylines carried over from month to month in the original published format feature a lot of repetition in the first few pages, which is especially grim when the words coming out of characters mouths are as banal as "I'm Claudia Shane, simple but worried secretary!"

The artwork is functional, with some classic Kirby touches like dynamic full page opening panels, but some scrappy finishing dragging it down. The fact that this reprint is in black and white when the original was published in colour may not help its cause.

Compared to the kind of storylines we expect from comics today, it's easy to see how the medium got a bad name. Kirby was undoubtedly responsible for some of the things we love about comics, but in our view, this is very much a step on the evolutionary scale. If you're interested in comic history, feel free to go back to this era. When picking out the comic greats however, New Gods should be left to the history books.

Comment on this graphic novel review

Published by

DC Comics

First published


Originaly published in

The New Gods 1-11




Jack Kirby info