Walt Simonson brings his skills, well honed in the pages of Thor, to Jack Kirby’s Fourth World with tremendous effect.
ORION THE GATES OF APOKOLIPS: is a fast-paced tale about a never-ending battle between a father and son with the fate of the universe in the balance. Raised from birth to be a warrior, Orion has spent a lifetime opposing his father, the maniacal godlike Darkseid. But when the evil despot discovers the secret to ultimate power, the scales are tipped and the brutal and ruthless anti-hero must find a way to bring down his father or watch as the malicious tyrant takes over the entire universe.
If you’re a fan of Walt Simonson’s epic run on Marvel’s Thor then you’ll be immensely satisfied with his take on The New Gods and Jack Kirby’s Fourth World heroes and villains. Lots of over the top costumes, architecture and flat-out cosmic conflict.
Two plot lines run through this story, culminating in a battle royale. Darkseid has cracked the anti-life equation and is testing it on earth, while Orion discovers Darkseid is not his father. Orion goes berserk and tracks down Darkseid, fouling his plans on earth and challenging him to a one on one battle in the fire pits of Apokolips. In between we get some intrigue with Orion’s mother, the reintroduction of the Newsboy Legion, and all of New Genesis coming to see the climactic finale, but really it’s about Darkseid and Orion slugging in out. And that they do, for about twenty pages.
Simonson’s artwork is bold, bright and completely over the top. So well suited for this story of gods and heroes, it looks out of place when he’s drawing ordinary people like the Newsboy Legion. Sherilyn Van Valkenburgh deserves a portion of the credit for her stunning colours throughout. It’s gorgeous stuff overall and keeps the reader’s interest level high through each page turn.
The backup tales are written by Simonson and feature art by Frank Miller, Dave Gibbons, Klaus Janson, Jon Bogdanove and Bill Reinhold. They’re flashes into the personal histories of New Gods and provide a nice texture to the overall collection.
This trade paperback collects Orion issues 1-5 and two tales from Secret Origins Of Super Villains 1 and 2. Unfortunately there weren’t any more Orion collections released, so that dramatic ending of issue 5 leaves us in a lurch. For some reason DC collected issues 3-4, 6-8, 10, 12, 15, 18-19 in Tales Of The New Gods (2008), which is pretty strange for a twenty-five issue series written and drawn by one creator. It’s a good value at $12.95; published in 2001 it lists a $21.95 Canadian price.