Welcome to Vanishing Point, a monthly column about the more outré continuity problems in the DC Universe, and my personal *non-canon* attempts to make sense out of them.
The greatest stories of all time there are several contenders for the claim: Crisis, "Whatever happened to the Man of Tomorrow", Christmas with the Superheroes #2, The Dark Knight Returns, and in the non-continuity category, Watchmen, Camelot 3000, and Spanner's Galaxy [a personal favorite].
But considering the point of the column, one story arc leaps to mind, a story of the time..
When the Old Gods Died
It all begins with the Source. In my very first Vanishing Point, I discussed the various portrayals of God in the DCU, and admittedly glossed over the Source. Now however, I'm willing to give it a bit more thought..
In the original Kirby New Gods stories [which we will be for the most part focusing on in this column] the Source was God, and the Uni-Friend was His messenger. There isn't much doubt on that score.
However, as time went on, and other writers added to the mythos, it became more of an energy field empowering and also created by sentient beings. [Comparisons to the Force beg to be made in fact some believe Lucas was inspired by this very concept.]. In a way, it's not unlike the collective unconscious postulated by Jung, a psychic substrate which exists everywhere and nowhere.
In any case, several billion years ago, the universe is created by and creates the Source. The first world formed is called Asgaard, a.k.a. the Godworld, by it's eventual inhabitants. For millennia upon millennia they spun alone. Eventually, these Old Gods grew to indescribable power and fell to fighting.
Equally matched in power they seek various means to increase their might. Some attempt to pierce the barrier to the Source itself, but fail, and find themselves chained to a great Wall for eternity, to contemplate their folly. Others pierce the dimensional barrier, and tap into a force which is antithetical to life itself. [not to be confused with the Anti-Life Equation, about which more later]. Events accelerate to a final battle.. the brave died with the cunning, the noble perished locked in battle with unleashed evil, and all passed in a fiery holocaust.
The Godworld splits asunder, releasing tremendous forces into the nascent universe [It's unclear whether this was the same event which the Maltusian Krona witnessed]. As it passed through the younger worlds, it empowers various entities, making them Gods. Some of these, now known as the Promethean Giants, attempt to pierce the Wall to the Source, only to join their elder compatriots in imprisonment.
Others, especially on a minor world third in orbit around a small yellow star, manage to curb their impulses, and merely allow themselves to be worshipped [taking half-remembered names of the Old Gods] by those less fortunate, possibly due to the absence of the genetic complex commonly known as the "metagene". One group in particular name their realm Asgard, .this has caused confusion over the years.
Meanwhile, in a pocket dimension created by the destruction, two worlds form. One, containing at it's core the dark goddess Sh'ivaa, becomes an evil realm, tainted by the shadows. This world is Apokalips.
The other sylvan orb is blessed by a more direct contact with the Source, as well as the essence of the bright god Balduur. Her inhabitants create a floating city, which they call New Genesis. As years pass the world itself takes the name New Genesis, and the city becomes known as Supertown. Naturally, with their natures polarized, the two worlds soon come into conflict.
An early leader, Yuga Khan, falls to the temptations of the Promethean Wall, while his one of his sons, Uxas, betrays his own brother to master the Omega Force and become Darkseid .
In one battle, Steppenwolf, brother of Queen Heggra, accidentally slays Avia, wife of a warleader of New Genesis named Izaya the Inheritor, igniting his warrior fervor. The tide turns against Apokolips, until Darkseid, having negotiated with the mysterious Metron , creates a teleportation device called the Matter Threshold a door to anywhere.
The battles rage on. Izaya kills Steppenwolf, gaining vengeance but not satisfaction. After one battle, he crashes on an unnamed world, meeting his second bride, Layla, and fathering a son. Oddly enough, this son has a psychic link with the spirit of Izaya's first wife, a fact which can only make sense if somehow Layla was a reincarnation of Avia.
The war soon reached their sanctuary, however, and Layla is slain. Izaya returns to lead his people once more, taking his son with him. In their rage, these "New Gods" destroy whole suns, leaving only their two homeworlds intact in their dimension. Finally, Izaya's lust for battle is sated, leaving only sorrow and disgust in it's wake.
Wandering the scarred countryside of New Genesis, he reached a simple stone wall. There, sickened by horror, he calls for his "inheritance", and receives it. Now one with the Source, the newly named Highfather trades his armor for robes of peace, and negotiates a trade with Apokolips his son for Darkseid's.
The Pact is made, and all seems at peace. Orion, child of Darkseid, is raised as a warrior for the cause of life, one in which he revels in sometimes too much.
The child of Izaya and Layla/Avia is given the name Scott Free in mockery of the day when, driven to flight by the torments of his "trainers", escapes his captors.. and breaks the Pact.
The day arrives, as with the assistance of the mysterious Himon, Free escapes. It is war once more. Darkseid discovers that the aforementioned minor world, now called Earth, holds the secret to the Anti-Life Equation, a psychic construct which would enable the wielder to control the thoughts of others.. _all_ the thoughts of _all_ the others. He kidnaps four humans, hoping to extract the secret from their minds.
Orion raids Apokolips, rescuing the victims. He takes them to Earth, and with their assistance, defeats many of Darkseid's plans, including the Fear Machine of Desaad, the machinations of his human cohorts of Intergang, the Deep Six, the insectoid Mantis, even his own half brother, Kalibak the Cruel.
But Darkseid survives to plot anew. Since the day he first stepped foot on Earth, he has known that the key to his ultimate victory lies there. Many plans has he hatched, some more successful than others. Deep within his black, stony heart there is fear, however, for he knows the words of the Source:
The Father of Apokolips shall meet his banished son in the red light of the fire pits
And in the final analysis, even Gods must die
All characters are DC Comics
This column is © 1998 by Mario Di Giacomo.