Jack Kirby Collector Edited by John Morrow Jack Kirby Collector celebrates the life and career of the "King" of comics through interviews with Kirby and his contemporaries, feature articles, and rare & unseen Kirby artwork. Now in tabloid format, the magazine showcases Kirby's art at even larger size.

Fascism In The Fourth World:
An examination of the Third Reich's similarities to the conflict of the gods

by and © Jerry Boyd

From Jack Kirby Collector #22

Fascism In The Fourth World

An examination of the Third Reich's similarities to the conflict of the gods, by Jerry Boyd

So much can be read into Jack Kirby's Fourth World opus that subsequent readings over time only add to the genius of this unfinished, yet endlessly entertaining masterpiece. The beautifully-orchestrated interplay of technology, intrigue, spirituality, biological engineering, etc. can all be commented on in depth, but one of the most fascinating aspects to me in all of this was Kirby's take on Nazi history as it was presented in the world of Apokolips.

Kirby had been a soldier in WWII serving in General George Patton's Third Army which became world-renowned for its crushing breakthroughs on the German defenses after D-Day. Like any other infantryman, he witnessed firsthand the horrors of war, and had seen or learned afterwards the terrors the S.S. had kept hidden: The extermination camps.

The Nazis had threatened a world, and for a time had seemed unbeatable. Their philosophies, use of technology, new approaches to warfare and ethnicity, etc. seduced a significant part of their nation, and sadly, continue to inspire new worshippers to this day. Years after Hitler's "thousand-year Reich" fell in May 1945, comics creators would create fictional would-be world conquerors like the Yellow Claw, Magneto, and Doctor Doom. Older characters like Fu Manchu and Dr. Mabuse would be revamped for a post nuclear-age movie crowd and a cruel, calculating scientist/despot named Dr. No would calmly tell super-spy James Bond how he planned to plunge the world into WWIII in the first of the Ian Fleming-based film adventures. Kirby had spent the better part of the '50s co-plotting and drawing monsters and madmen who ate, slept, and breathed tyranny; but just as the world couldn't (and shouldn't) forget the Big One, neither could he.

The Darkseid drawing is a concept drawing for the Super Powers toy line. Art © Jack Kirby.

Hitler & Darkseid

Hitler, the ultimate villain of the 20th century, is mirrored somewhat in Darkseid, the "ultimate" - period. In writings on and recollections of the Fuehrer, his desire for war is apparent. In his book Mein Kampf, the young Hitler expresses his desire for a large Germanic living space - Lebensraum - which would take place not in colonial possessions overseas, but in Europe. What if the Europeans (the present possessors) object? "Then the law of self-preservation goes into effect; and what is refused to amicable methods, it is up to the fist to take." He goes on to write: "Mankind has grown great in eternal struggle, and only in eternal peace does it perish..."

Darkseid is the archenemy of peace. "Wielder of holocaust! Disciple of power and death!" Orion describes him as he stands before the demon's statue in New Gods #1. Kirby makes Darkseid's worldview less complicated (and wisely so) and gives him three main objectives:

1) The acquisition of power (leadership of Apokolips) - New Gods #7
2) War with New Genesis (the entire tetralogy)
3) The attainment of the Anti-Life Equation (one attempt thwarted in Forever People #8)

Like Hitler, Darkseid is cruel, manipulative, charismatic, and aloof. It has been said about Hitler that he had no "real" friends, only cronies, hangers-on, and worshippers who sought to curry his favor for personal reasons. Hitler had a good intuitive sense about his associates, and after releasing the barbaric nature of his followers, sat back in the position of leader/warlord in efforts to twist the world into fitting his monstrous vision. Hitler took the undercurrent of anti-semitism, ethnic prejudices (against Slavs and Gypsies), political mistrusts (against Communists and outsider democracies), and gave those frustrated, impoverished, brutal, and sometimes perverted members of his Nationalist Socialist Party a slow, but steady reign of terror which ended in the Nazification of Germany.

In Kirby's writing, Darkseid's agenda needs no great amount of time. The "power beings" of Apokolips are inherently evil, their planet having been "saturated with the cunning and evil which was once a sorceress." Evil is manifested in many types: Desaad and Kalibak are tormentors, Kanto's an assassin, Granny Goodness and Wonderful Willik are lesser tyrants, and even Mantis desires a "share of the booty here (Earth)." Like Hitler, Darkseid gives free rein to the evil in his cohorts in order to facilitate his gaining of "the ability to control all free will!"

While the Fuehrer and the ruler of the shadow planet inspire respect (and terror) from their accomplices, true love eludes them. Hitler's great love was his niece, Geli Raubal, who committed suicide in 1931, after quarreling with her lover/uncle. To the Nazi princes Adolf confessed forever afterward that she was the only woman he ever loved. The core of Hitler grew ever colder after her death.

Darkseid was denied an early love in his life. Suli died mysteriously as a result of court intrigue. She is mentioned briefly in New Gods #11, but without affection by her paramour. Her death may have hardened the heart of the ruler of the dark world. Tigra and Darkseid are placed together briefly in New Gods #7, but "irreconcilable differences" are shown between them, and Darkseid has her whisked away in continued exile after announcing his plans for Orion.

Darkseid's two sons are extensions of his plans: Orion, part of a political pact, and Kalibak as a brutal warrior/enforcer. He is not warm or friendly to either. Hitler was friendly, playful, but not warm toward the children he knew. He saw children as an extension of the "state," and the state's future would be manifested in tall, athletic, blond barbarian/soldiers that would dominate the world. The egos of the two leaders would not permit a real heir to the positions of power that they had mapped out for themselves.

Creatures Of Conflict

Aside from the Hitler/Darkseid similarities, two other characters stand out in comparison. Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Germany's Minister of Propaganda, was one of the Fuehrer's most trusted henchmen and an important personage in the brainwashing of the German and Austrian peoples. Goebbels staged Nazi Party rallies, art exhibits, oversaw film productions, made speeches, and generally oversaw the "selling" of National Socialist ideology to the masses. Later, when the war would go badly, the "bloodthirsty noncombatant" would call for German deserters to be shot.

In short, he sold Hitler's brand of "Anti-Life." Glorious Godfrey, Darkseid's pompous preacher, is his counterpart. Godfrey (Forever People #3) sends out the "Justifiers," suicidal human bombs who strike out at those resistant to their philosophy. Godfrey whips people into a frenzy with his sweeping oratory (like Goebbels) and then sits back to view the carnage. Kirby even began Forever People #3 with a quote from - Adolf Hitler.

In Amazing Heroes #47 (May '84), Kirby compared Metron, "the academic god," to Edward Teller, who developed the hydrogen bomb. "He had to create the bomb; that was his capability, and he followed his capability." Jack's contention is that a person has to follow his drives, his ambitions and capabilities - and oftentimes, without thinking what it might do to the people or world around him. Metron sets in motion some of the technology used in the war of the gods, but he is emotionally and morally unattached. His own great powers keep him outside of the intrigue/ turmoil/destruction of the war, and so he simply continues on his quest to gain even more knowledge.

Jack's creation of Metron is brilliant but he may have been hitting into another true-life characterization he was not aware of. Hitler's Minister of Armaments and War Production, Albert Speer, was a man with similarities to Metron. Briefly, Speer began as a young architect but received a powerful patron in Hitler (a frustrated architect) and was given free rein to design buildings, stadiums, museums, etc. in glory to the Reich. During the war, he was thrust into war production and became a genius at it, frustrating the allied bombers by continuing to keep up arms production and experimenting with new "wonder weapons."

Speer was never a "true Nazi," many claimed, just a deluded man caught up in his job. Jack would rightly say Speer followed his capabilities. Speer would say in his memoirs that he never stopped to ask about the extermination camps or ponder what a Hitlerian world would be like.


Jack Kirby's assessment of Nazi Socialist ideology is clearly reflected in the manner of life on Apokolips. Young Scott Free grows up as a cadet on the dark planet and is constantly bombarded with platitudes of "You're not a beast - if you kill for Darkseid!" and the like (Mister Miracle #6). Indeed, the entire culture of Apokolips is on a war/death fixation and because of this, all citizens are linked to the mindset and ambitions of its ruthless, power-mongering leader.

In 1934, Adolf Hitler exacted a sacred oath of allegiance from all officers and men of the armed forces - to himself. In doing this, the Fuehrer became Germany and Germany became Hitler. This bind to the highest legitimate authority in the land took from the man his individuality, personal responsibilities, and for many, decisions made by conscience. After a time, the war effort would dominate all aspects of life within the Reich and millions of Germans would share the final fate of their leader.


The New Gods are mysteriously linked to the prophesying Source (the closest thing to an omnipotent spirit in their system). Even Metron is in awe of its secrets and power. The Source is connected to the Mother Box, an invaluable instrument to the "ultimates," giving them protection, comfort, travel coordinates, and more. Izaya the Inheritor, at a low point in his life, accepts the Source as an alternative to war and with it, begins a new era of peace and contentment in the world of New Genesis. Though the Supertowners have no great understanding of the magnificent, fiery hand which appears to them at times, they know that the Source is wise, good, and merciful.

On the shadow world, the Source is rarely acknowledged. In New Gods #6 (1984), a scientist observes, "Were I on New Genesis, sire, I would believe that the original personalities now reside with that mystery, the Source!"

"Careful! You tread on subversive ground," Darkseid answers. The master of the holocaust will abide no outside power (spirituality) in his realm.

In 1941, Martin Bormann, party secretary to Hitler, said publicly, ''National Socialism and Christianity are irreconcilable." Eight years prior to that statement, the Nazi princes had slowly and deliberately jailed, killed, and persecuted into silence Christian leaders and clergymen in a program to invent a religion of the state - a religion based on culture, race, and blood. The Christian Cross was to be removed in existing churches and superseded by the swastika.

O' Deadly Darkseid

"The face they saw was granite-hard - and the eyes in it were fixed on the limitless! In this face was the challenge to gods and men. He was the ultimate test for anything that lived!"
Mister Miracle #18

The above description of Darkseid says it all! Darkseid is relentless, ever-present evil and his lifestyle reflects the worst qualities in men. Betrayal, spousal abuse, child abandonment, assassination, destructiveness, and more are all displayed with aristocratic elegance by the dread lord of Apokolips. The Omega Effect, his unstoppable disintegrating eyebeams, are a logical extension to his creed of total power. Yet, all of this malevolence is tempered masterfully by Jack. The writer/artist keeps the real horrors off-panel, yet all the time he lets you know this evil god and his minions are far worse than Marvel's Loki, whose only goals are the destruction of Thor and friends and the throne of Asgard. Darkseid wants it all.

Darkseid is complex and even majestic in his own way. He disdains destroying the Forever People (in #8), explaining to Desaad, "Greatness does not come from killing the young." Admonishing Desaad again (in New Gods #2), he serves up a moment of grudging admiration for Orion, his sworn enemy.

Even Darkseid needs a companion. In New Gods #6 (1984), he sadly confides, "I could use a friend. Desaad, perhaps." Other instances like this show the dark lord's vulnerability or humanity, not the least of which are two sequences in which he is finally shaken by the powers of automation (New Gods #6, 1984) and Micro-Mark (The Hunger Dogs). The machines have outstripped the makers and Darkseid is dismayed to be in the presence of a power more destructive than himself. He is astute enough to know that he cannot rule the universe if his weapons of war have destroyed it.

But, while Adolf Hitler and Darkseid sound notes of oppression and destruction, Kirby's happy optimism is met in New Genesis. That planet is the utopian hope of peaceful, happy, brotherly co-existence realized. Just as the allies defeated Nazism, Darkseid too, can be defeated - if one considers his/her own heart. The triumph of Izaya/ Highfather is echoed in his son's triumph/escape from Apokolips and Orion's victory over his own natural impulses. Big Barda leaves her home world (hell) for Scott Free, falls in love with him, and with love in her heart, goes with him to New Genesis (paradise).

The Hitlers (and Darkseids) of the world must be faced, but if one overcomes, the promise of heaven and happiness is within each person's reach, and the totalitarian regimes of the dictator can never be completely realized.

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