Universe Lost, Part 7: “When the Old Gods Died!”

“THERE CAME A TIME WHEN THE OLD GODS DIED!”

That is the single most awesome sentence ever to appear in comic books. The caps lock on my computer turned itself on as soon as I started typing, such is the power in those words.

In 1971, Jack Kirby put those words on the first page of DC’s New Gods #1, setting out the themes of what would become known as the “Fourth World Saga.” It began with the end of the world, an apocalypse playing out over four exclamation-pointed sentences.

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Universe Lost, Part 6: Gods of New York

In New York City, anything is possible! Anything can happen … and it usually does.

— Stan Lee, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends S1E2 (“The Crime of All Centuries”)

Stan Lee was a pest. He liked to irk people and it was one thing I couldn’t take. … He hasn’t changed a bit.

— Jack Kirby, The Comics Journal #134 (Feb. 1990)

There are no two comic creators more fascinating to me than Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Kirby passed away in 1994, while Lee today is most visible through his perennial cameos in films based on Marvel characters.

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Super-Adaptation

A-Kirb-Kin-Adapt-cover

Tales of Suspense #84 (Dec. 1966), art by Jack Kirby

“You know why I like plants? Because they’re so mutable. Adaptation is a profound process. Means you figure out how to thrive in the world.”

— John Laroche (as played by Chris Cooper), Adaptation

In the movie Adaptation, Nicolas Cage’s screenwriter character has to figure out how to adapt a nonfiction book about flowers into a Hollywood movie. He has to somehow transform the story of a horticulturist’s passion for rare plants into something that a movie studio will want to spend millions of dollars on, in hopes that they can then make those millions back – and then some – because people will want to watch that story while eating popcorn in the dark.

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