Let me start with a quick apology. This is a review that was promised many moons ago. On a visit to Clint’s Comics back in September, I rediscovered this series from my childhood. I quickly re-read this series from 1984, and had the best of intentions to write up a review right away. Well, the books have sat on my desk for several
weeks er, months, and I want to start off 2016 with a clean slate, if not a clean desk.
Now, as a little back history, in the mid 1980s, Kenner acquired the rights to make toys based on the DC Comics characters. With the success of Mattel’s He-Man line and Hasbro’s G.I.Joe line, Kenner was looking for a new opportunity to develop a new product line. Three waves of figures were released between 1984 and 1986, along with vehicles and a Hall of Justice.
To support the toy line, a series of mini-series were developed by DC Comics, using the characters from each wave. For this first mini-series, Jack Kirby was brought in to plot the story and do the cover art. He also stuck around to pencil the fifth issue of this series. Joey Cavalieri co-plotted the series with Kirby, and Adrian Gonzales pencilled the first four issues.
In this story, Darkseid is once again plotting his takeover of the planet Earth. He charges four minions to prepare the Earth for his arrival. They in turn each share a portion of their power with a DC villain (Joker, Penguin, Lex Luthor, and Braniac), each associated with the various heroes that would attempt to stop Darkseid.
Granted with strange abilities, the villains find themselves with the opportunity to defeat their arch-enemies. Joker finds that he can warp reality, leading Batman, Robin, and Hawkman on a crazy journey through his mind. The Penguin has control over fish and birds, causing a headache for Aquaman and Green Lantern. Lex Luthor finds that he is now strong enough and fast enough to defeat Superman and the Flash. Brainiac can now transmit mental suggestions, getting Wonder Woman and the other Amazons worked up in a frenzy to go to war against Man’s world.
Thankfully, the heroes find ways to not only escape their foes but to take them down, as well as the minions of Darkseid. And that just makes Darkseid even angrier when he finally does arrive on Earth.
This story has been the butt of a lot of jokes over the years. I probably told some of them myself, truth be told. But age and some wisdom provides me a different perspective on this series. It wasn’t meant to be grand story-telling, and it wasn’t meant to bring back Jack Kirby into prominence in the comic book community again. This was purely made to sell the toys. It’s a fun book that should inspire hours of playtime with the action figures.
This series was finally collected in 2011 with the second volume of the Jack Kirby Omnibus from DC Comics. However, I see this series turn up often in the back-issue bins. For those readers in the Kansas City market, I would point you downtown to Clint’s Comics. Located at 3941 Main Street, Clint’s has one of the greatest back-issue selections in the midwest, as well as new comic books, trade paperbacks, toys, t-shirts, and more. Whether tracking down copies of Super Powers or some other prized book from your past, Clint’s is a great place to start your back-issue treasure hunt!