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  1. #1
    Extraordinary Member Lightning Rider's Avatar
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    Default The depiction of New Gods' powers in other media

    Is anyone else a bit let down by the depiction of the New Gods in shows & films? Specifically Darkseid in animated shows/films. I feel like he and his followers are routinely depicted as big strong bads who punch hard without much mystique to them. Not that there's anything wrong with some hand-to-hand combat, and I recognize it isn't always easy to animate complicated fight scenes, but I feel like we're missing out on seeing the truly engaging mix of sci-fi and mysticism that Kirby originally intended.

    Steppenwolf's depiction in Justice League was slightly better in the sense that he was noticeably large, could radiate energy blasts, and used the motherbox. But I can't say it was anything too creative.

    Now I'm not an expert on the New Gods, but I was lucky enough to get my hands on Volume 1 of the origina Omnibus, and have read various stories over the years featuring New Genesis and Apokalips. Even though it's not always that different, I feel it's important to emphasize that they aren't just strangely-dressed flying bricks. They exist on another plane entirely, they only project themselves into a material form we can comprehend. They know and influence the natural universe in a way ordinary flesh-and-blood beings can't, no matter how super or alien.

    What are some of the best moments/examples of the New Gods behaving in a distinctly cosmic or divine way, and what do you hope to see from Kirby's creations with respect to their abilities in the New Gods film & other content going forward?

  2. #2
    Boisterously Confused
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    Given my forum name, you may find this opinion a bit weird, but I have always thought Kirby's Eternals a better creation than his New Gods. I like them both, but exactly what the New Gods are, and what they can do is a bit too complex. Mr. Miracle, a favorite of mine if for no better reason than his remarkable fashion aesthetic, is a standout example of this. He's supposed to be an all powerful New God, but comes off as a gadget-laden acrobat.

    Now I get it. Kirby's NG's were much more imaginative than their Marvel counter-parts. But honestly, especially with superhero comics, there comes a point at which you're being too imaginitive. It works if your character is somebody that's only showing up from time to time (ala The Guardians of Oa), but if you're having to overexplain them on the regular, that can get tedious. I love the idea of the New Gods, but I can see why they've always struggled to maintain a title.

    The Eternals, IMO, were Kirby's go at a similar idea after he'd seen what didn't work. Yes, they had a vast range of abilities. Ridiculously so. But those abilities were pretty clearly defined, and you could get what they were about in a surface glance, although there was a lot more to it if you wanted to give it the thought.

    So what's this got to do with your question? Explicating the New Gods' abilities is a challenge in comics, where you've got the room to use thought bubbles and caption boxes to get the reader up to speed. In an a/v medium, where you've got to keep the story moving, the challenge gets more difficult.

  3. #3
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    I gotta say, I love the New Gods on a conceptual level, but the number of stories I've read that actually realizes the potential of the idea are really damn few and far between.

    These aren't just "powerful aliens" or flying bricks, they're manifestations of multiversal constants beyond the range of our understanding. I mean, just trying to explain that when Darkseid invades earth it's not really him and just an avatar; the shadow of the idea of what Darkseid is.....that's a weird concept to wrap your head around, and that's just getting them into the story, from which you gotta explain what they do *in* the story!

    Off the top of my head, I think Morrison's Final Crisis handled the New Gods as close to Kirby's ideas as you're likely to find, and Johns' Darkseid War had a few concepts and moments that really worked too. In larger media? I can't think of a great example off hand, though I feel like Young Justice season 3 didn't do a *bad* job.
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  4. #4
    Mighty Member LordMikel's Avatar
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    For me, the best mini series with the New Gods is Cosmic Odyssey. It introduced me to the New Gods but also Etrigan.
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  5. #5
    Extraordinary Member Lightning Rider's Avatar
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    One detail I liked was in Injustice 2, how Darkseid's finisher included his giant fist coming through a portal in space and punching you. Shit like that. Bending space and time to be in more places than one almost effortlessly.

  6. #6
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    I always thought the DCAU did a great job on the New Gods - some stellar voice acting (Michael Ironside as Darkseid, Michael Dorn as Kalibak, Ed Asner as Granny Goodness) and Darkseid was a major threat throughout Superman TAS/Justice League & Justice League Unlimited - he clobbered Superman easily several times in the show

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  7. #7
    Extraordinary Member Lightning Rider's Avatar
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    Oh, something else I'm curious about. The New Gods are referred to several times as being much larger than they appear to us on Earth, altering the size of their avatars to interact with our plane of existence. How, then, would Superman or any other character be able to visit Apokalips or New Genesis and not be tiny? Do they have to go through boomtube to enlarge/magnify themselves to adjust?

  8. #8
    Dark Angel of Feminism Shadowcat's Avatar
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    Maybe give them some more defined powers, and make them appear more godlike. Most are just eternal, with great strength and healing. Build an actual mythology around them.
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  9. #9
    Astonishing Member phantom1592's Avatar
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    I was introduced to Darkseid and his cronies in the cartoons and toys of the 80's... and they weren't that interesting. They always got away to fight again, so there was that... but i've never read a comic or seen a show that makes them the idol of millions that i see on the boards. Even when they are the 'stars' like in the GL vs. New gods tpb or Final Crisis... I just find them dull.

    I think a major problem is that 'gods' don't mean much in comics. If the biggest thing they have going for them is that they are 'New Gods'.... so what? Superman is pretty much a God... Wonder WOman, Shazam, Flash, Green Lantern... they are all Gods or described as 'God-like'... Thor, Asgardians, Olympians... There isn't a whole lot that slapping the title 'god' on that elevates them.

    I've heard before that Only Kirby could do them right... and that may be true, but he's not going to do anything with them again, and i've never seen anyone make them 'cool' since. I'd rather see them stop being pushed than pushed poorly, because what we've seen... i think sucks.

  10. #10
    Astonishing Member phantom1592's Avatar
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    The other problem that i think is inherent in New Gods... is that they're inherently incompentant. Every time they are brought up.... the thing we hear is how Darkseid is all powerful. He may be slowed... he'll never be beaten... He never truly 'loses'.... But at the same time, for beings that are supposed to be so powerful... They are in a constant stalemate. New Genesis and Apocalypse constantly circling each other like angry dogs... nobody ever able to get the upper hand.

    Add in the fact that Orion and Mister Miracle are supposedly 'New Gods'... but were contemporaries on the Justice League... and Orion is doomed to constnatly want to destroy his father, but never will be able to.... There isn't much there.

    Did Kirby give them other stuff to do? The way the Asgardians will fight the dark elves... or frost giants... or Surtur... or midgard serpent... and lots of earth bound adventures. Lots of myths and lore to play with to flesh them out. it wasn't JUST Loki all the time. But it seems they get stuck in the Highfather vs. Darkseid rut when I see them.

  11. #11
    Extraordinary Member Lightning Rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantom1592 View Post
    The other problem that i think is inherent in New Gods... is that they're inherently incompentant. Every time they are brought up.... the thing we hear is how Darkseid is all powerful. He may be slowed... he'll never be beaten... He never truly 'loses'.... But at the same time, for beings that are supposed to be so powerful... They are in a constant stalemate. New Genesis and Apocalypse constantly circling each other like angry dogs... nobody ever able to get the upper hand.

    Add in the fact that Orion and Mister Miracle are supposedly 'New Gods'... but were contemporaries on the Justice League... and Orion is doomed to constnatly want to destroy his father, but never will be able to.... There isn't much there.

    Did Kirby give them other stuff to do? The way the Asgardians will fight the dark elves... or frost giants... or Surtur... or midgard serpent... and lots of earth bound adventures. Lots of myths and lore to play with to flesh them out. it wasn't JUST Loki all the time. But it seems they get stuck in the Highfather vs. Darkseid rut when I see them.
    I feel like Darkseid himself is single-minded in his quest, but the other new gods usually do some other stuff.

    You're not wrong in that the eternal conflict can make them stale sometimes. I'd write a story where the prophecy is fulfilled and the two worlds become one again. You can always undo it later, they're the New Gods.

  12. #12
    Astonishing Member Adekis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ascended View Post
    These aren't just "powerful aliens" or flying bricks, they're manifestations of multiversal constants beyond the range of our understanding. I mean, just trying to explain that when Darkseid invades earth it's not really him and just an avatar; the shadow of the idea of what Darkseid is.....that's a weird concept to wrap your head around
    I mean, absolutely none of what you just said is from Kirby. And I think that's the biggest problem with the New Gods overall. Other writers have added so many other things on top of them that Kirby's core ideas get... not necessarily lost, but maybe paved over? Originally, the New Gods basically are just aliens with some crazy super-tech who call themselves gods. Kirby designed them to embody broad, important ideas. That's why they're gods, but he didn't really work that into their stories in many ways except for at the most important level - their characterizations!

    Multiversal constants who inhabit different avatars across universes, giants who shrink when they go through boom tubes, Kirby didn't do any of that! As much as DC might support the idea of one Orion for the whole multiverse, it's not reasonable to assume that Walt Simonson's Orion is the exact same Orion as Azzarello's from the New 52 Wonder Woman, just in a different avatar for a new timeline - or that the Scott Free who turns into a new Metron while Barda marries Kal-El in Superman: The Dark Side is the same character as Tom King's Mister Miracle! And similarly, Kirby's Darkseid is really nothing like Geoff Johns' from JL: Origins.

    If that "multiversal constant" business applies to New Gods, it applies to every other DC character too - and frankly I think you can make that argument pretty easily, but it's not what I'm talking about right now. There's certainly no good way to argue Grant Morrison's idea that New Genesis and Apokolips are outside the multiverse entirely - except for the very small range of books where that concept was designed in from the ground up.

    I think a lot of writers have made these big sweeping changes to the New Gods in an attempt to make them seem grander, so they stand out better next to the big guns - but what makes them cool isn't that Orion is a pre-incarnation of Batman, it's that he's Orion, something pretty unique in the DCU, and very different from Batman indeed. And that principle applies to pretty much every change that someone made to make the New Gods seem bigger and cooler, in my opinion.

    On a final note, too few versions of the New Gods are able to conclude their epic, and almost all of them are overtaken by the Justice League in terms of their significance in the events if Darkseid does end up dying. I think a big sweeping story where the New Gods, written with an eye on Kirby's original work, get to play out a version of their story to its conclusion, has a lot of merit.
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  13. #13
    Extraordinary Member Lightning Rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adekis View Post
    I mean, absolutely none of what you just said is from Kirby. And I think that's the biggest problem with the New Gods overall. Other writers have added so many other things on top of them that Kirby's core ideas get... not necessarily lost, but maybe paved over? Originally, the New Gods basically are just aliens with some crazy super-tech who call themselves gods. Kirby designed them to embody broad, important ideas. That's why they're gods, but he didn't really work that into their stories in many ways except for at the most important level - their characterizations!

    Multiversal constants who inhabit different avatars across universes, giants who shrink when they go through boom tubes, Kirby didn't do any of that! As much as DC might support the idea of one Orion for the whole multiverse, it's not reasonable to assume that Walt Simonson's Orion is the exact same Orion as Azzarello's from the New 52 Wonder Woman, just in a different avatar for a new timeline - or that the Scott Free who turns into a new Metron while Barda marries Kal-El in Superman: The Dark Side is the same character as Tom King's Mister Miracle! And similarly, Kirby's Darkseid is really nothing like Geoff Johns' from JL: Origins.

    If that "multiversal constant" business applies to New Gods, it applies to every other DC character too - and frankly I think you can make that argument pretty easily, but it's not what I'm talking about right now. There's certainly no good way to argue Grant Morrison's idea that New Genesis and Apokolips are outside the multiverse entirely - except for the very small range of books where that concept was designed in from the ground up.

    I think a lot of writers have made these big sweeping changes to the New Gods in an attempt to make them seem grander, so they stand out better next to the big guns - but what makes them cool isn't that Orion is a pre-incarnation of Batman, it's that he's Orion, something pretty unique in the DCU, and very different from Batman indeed. And that principle applies to pretty much every change that someone made to make the New Gods seem bigger and cooler, in my opinion.

    On a final note, too few versions of the New Gods are able to conclude their epic, and almost all of them are overtaken by the Justice League in terms of their significance in the events if Darkseid does end up dying. I think a big sweeping story where the New Gods, written with an eye on Kirby's original work, get to play out a version of their story to its conclusion, has a lot of merit.
    Interesting post. I don't think the "multiversal constant" is absolutely vital to the characters, but I do think their essence points to something otherworldly and beyond the flesh and blood aliens that fill the pages of the DCU from inception. You could argue he basically wanted them to be weirder Asgardians with a more futuristic aesthetic, and Thor & company are more often than not depicted as strong aliens. But I think there are enough subtle hints that point to a more dynamic existence. Aside from calling themselves gods, the duality of their worlds reflects real-world religious themes, the Black Racer functions as an avatar of death, the source wall being what it is, etc. Making them really big or immune to certain universal shifts and whatnot just seems like a logical extention of that.

  14. #14
    Astonishing Member Adekis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lightning Rider View Post
    Interesting post. I don't think the "multiversal constant" is absolutely vital to the characters, but I do think their essence points to something otherworldly and beyond the flesh and blood aliens that fill the pages of the DCU from inception. You could argue he basically wanted them to be weirder Asgardians with a more futuristic aesthetic, and Thor & company are more often than not depicted as strong aliens. But I think there are enough subtle hints that point to a more dynamic existence. Aside from calling themselves gods, the duality of their worlds reflects real-world religious themes, the Black Racer functions as an avatar of death, the source wall being what it is, etc. Making them really big or immune to certain universal shifts and whatnot just seems like a logical extention of that.
    Yeah, I agree with some of that. The New Gods' structure points to a greater depth, there's no doubt about that. But, Kirby never spells out what that depth is or how it works, not even in a pair of his infamous "Under-Explained Quotation Marks!"

    And I think that's a pretty fair absence, to be honest. I think most of their more "dynamic existence" (ha - now I'm doing it) is from the way they function as characters with underlying themes, and that to spell out their divine nature in more comic-booky terms kind of over-explains them a bit.

    Besides, they're clearly not immune to universal shifts. If time and the whims of comic writers have proven anything, it may be that the New Gods are even more vulnerable to the common retcon or revamp than the average Super-Hero - and certainly more vulnerable than the likes of Batman.
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  15. #15
    Extraordinary Member Robotman's Avatar
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    I like the fact that Kirby left things kinda vague. It’s allowed other creators to pick up where he left off and come up with some great additions to the characters. Morrison’s interpretation that the New Gods that we see are just aspects of them on our earthly plain. They can also be portrayed similarly to the way the Greek and Norse pantheons are in comics, where they really do have more physical forms. They all add to the character’s mystique and history.

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