Sunday, July 16, 2017

Donald Trump Meets O.M.A.C.

In The Jack Kirby Collector #70, released earlier this year, Mark Evanier (author of Kirby: King of Comics, Crossfire, DNAgents, and many other excellent books) is quoted as saying, "[Most of the time, Jack Kirby] was thinking of gods, and creatures, and the future, and all sorts of things.  I've got to read back over [Kirby's] New Gods, because I'm sure, I don't know where he is, but I'm sure Donald Trump is in there someplace" (p. 77). 

Evanier could very well be right.  

According to Daily Beast writer Elana Levin, Kirby predicted the Donald Trump phenomenon in the pages of his comic book The Forever People, the first of a tetralogy called The Fourth World that consisted of four groundbreaking comic books released simultaneously in the early 1970s.  Those four books included The New Gods, The Forever People, Mister Miracle, and Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen.  In her 12-17-16 Daily Beast article entitled "How Jack Kirby and DC Comics Predicted Trump With a Bloviating Demagogue in 1971," Levin writes:

"Did the man whose comics predicted sentient, feminine-gendered, hand-held computers called 'Motherboxes' ('Hello, Siri!') also predict the orange despot Donald Trump? When I re-read Jack Kirby’s masterpiece, the Fourth World saga, this winter, I was struck by how prescient and how disturbingly reflective it was of our times even though it was written in the early ’70s.
"Jack Kirby, born Jacob Kurtzberg, is regarded as the father of American comics, having co-created most of the historic Marvel Universe. Kirby was Jewish, from New York City’s working class, Lower East Side, a veteran, and a New Deal Democrat—and these factors underpinned the politics of his work.
"Kirby had experienced tyrants and bullies first hand. As a young artist, he served in the military during World War II, where he saw combat as a scout and earned a bronze star. He stood up to Nazism before the U.S. even entered the war when he and creative partner Joe Simon famously depicted Captain America punching Hitler in the face. Kirby confronted Nazi sympathizers in the U.S. who sent him and his colleagues death threats. These death threats were taken seriously enough that comics fan Mayor Fiorello La Guardia personally dispatched police to offer protection to the comics publishers and spoke up on their behalf.
"In 1970 Kirby left Marvel comics to work for the competition, DC Comics. DC won him over with an offer of greater creative freedom to write and draw what he wanted to and earn marginally fairer pay. In short order, the newly liberated Kirby created not one but three new comics series, in which super-powered hippies challenged fascism and stand-ins for right-wing conservative leaders.
"Kirby’s new series, each drawn and written by him, were The New Gods, centered on the evil god’s son, who in an experiment of nature vs. nurture is raised by the good guys and becomes a hero who struggles with his temper but is truly noble in his self-sacrifice and dedication; Mister Miracle, the galaxy’s greatest escape artist and a god of freedom with a super strong paramour who he inspires to leave Darkseid’s army; and The Forever People, who are hippies from a utopian planet of gods—all of the heroes have shaggy hair and get described as 'groovy' by impressed humans.
"The interwoven stories in these series, later dubbed The Fourth World Saga (since DC comics already had parallel earths 1, 2, and 3), focused on the eternal struggle between freedom and the forces of oppression and destruction. Evil gods and their minions from the oligarchical planet Apokolips along with human collaborators from earth had already covertly begun a campaign to subjugate our planet. Their goal is the end of free will across the galaxy. Kirby invented a new crop of hippie heroes from the utopian planet of New Genesis to stop these forces of oppression.
"The 'big bad' of his saga was the understated but megalomaniacal master manipulator Darkseid, allegedly inspired by Richard Nixon, and certainly also inspired by Hitler. Darkseid means to end free will by probing the human mind so that he can discover 'The Anti-Life' equation, a sequence that would make all humans follow his commands. In Kirby’s mythos, the opposite of free thought is death.
"But one of Kirby’s most prescient creations was the proto-Trump, Glorious Godfrey. Kirby designed Glorious Godfrey as an evangelist in the Billy Graham model—Kirby is said to have accused Graham of promoting 'biblical fascism.' Glorious Godfrey’s parallels to Donald Trump are uncanny—their terrifying, elaborate orange bouffant hairdos pumped full of air are only the start. They rise to power on television, and they both manipulate the emotions of their followers in order to divide, conquer, and oppress."
To read the rest of Levin's article, click HERE.

Personally, I think Kirby actually planted his prediction of Donald Trump in a book released in 1974, O.M.A.C.:  One Man Army Corp, a darkly satirical science fiction series that was quite prescient in many ways.  In the New York Review of Science Fiction #245 (January 2009), I published an article entitled "Captain America Meets Big Brother" (reprinted in Jack Kirby Collector #62 in 2013) in which I analyzed the many prophetic elements Kirby wove into this groundbreaking series.  Issue #2 of O.M.A.C. (the November-December 1974 issue) involves a billionaire named Mr. Big who rents a metropolis known as Electric City for a giant masquerade party that's actually an elaborate cover to assassinate O.M.A.C. and wipe out an organization called the Global Peace Agency.  You can see Mr. Big in the lower left-hand corner below....  

The physical resemblance is quite eerie, indeed....

If you're interested in reading Kirby's mind-blowing Fourth World series, a 1,586-page hardcover omnibus edition will be released this December.  You can pre-order the book HERE.  

Kirby's O.M.A.C. series was collected in both a hardcover and paperback edition a few years back.  Both editions are still readily available.  Click HERE for more information.

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