From the beginning of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World series it was the apprehension of the Anti-life Equation that drove Darkseid. The equation lay submerged in the minds of a handful of human beings from Earth, and most of us long-time Fourth World fans are familiar with these individuals because they’ve been reintroduced to us in various incarnations of the New Gods over the past four decades.
Early on, though, there was another who held the secret of Anti-life. He was Billion Dollar Bates, and he knew he had the power–although he had no idea that someone as universally infamous as Darkseid was seeking it. What Billion Dollar Bates hoped to do was use his “gift” to take over the minds of the world’s population and make everyone his slaves.
With the help of the Sect, a cult he founded and nurtured, Bates was just a command away from attaining that goal. What he didn’t know was that Darkseid, Desaad, and soldiers from Apokolips knew of his existence and had infiltrated his sprawling estate from the underground up. Concealed in the masks and robes of the Sect, Darkseid’s forces were in a far better position to steal Bates’s power than Bates had in carrying out his own nefarious scheme.
Into the fray came the Forever People: Mark Moonrider, Vykin, Big Bear, Beautiful Dreamer, and Serafin. They were five youths from New Genesis who were sworn to thwart Darkseid’s schemes. This time they were successful, but barely.
As a matter of fact, they were in a good position to take down the mighty Darkseid himself, but the ruler of Apokolips shrewdly avoided capture, yet no harm came to the Forever People. They had earned Darkseid’s respect by besting him at a point when what he desired most was in his grasp.
“The Power” remains a terrific story; self-contained yet essential to Kirby’s sprawling, (some would say unfinished) epic. Of course, no one in reality would actually spout the kind of dialogue that the characters did in this yarn, but this was an epic involving cosmic gods, for Kirby’s sake! You couldn’t have them spewing hippie-speak (although some tried) or urban-drawl or cyber chit-chat.
Not only that, but the pencils had to be mighty, the inks bolder than bold (and Mike Royer delivered), the panels BIG, the threats to humanity AWESOME, and the exclamation points doubled (!!), even tripled (!!!) in some cases. That’s all there was to it when it came to Kirby’s Fourth World. Anything less was something else.