Fourth World/Fifth World

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Can someone explain the concept of Fourth World and Fifth World and New Gods and Old Gods and all of that. I need a Dummies guide for it - I don't understand it at all and it's getting in the way of my reading of Grant Morrison's Batman run, so an explanation on anything especially as it relates to that is appreciated.
 

ProjectX2

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The Fourth World was a series of comics by Jack Kirby all about the New Gods. The New Gods are divided amongst two planets: New Genesis and Apokalips. New Genesis contains the good New Gods and is led by Highfather and Apokalips contains the bad New Gods and is led by Darkseid. Both sides were at war with each other until a peace treaty was made: Highfather and Darkseid swapped sons and Orion went to New Genesis and Mister Miracle went to Apokalips. I'm not sure how these characters were actually integrated into the proper DC Universe (Superman was involved somehow) but they're basically been doing the same thing for the last 30 years.

The Fifth World is (I believe) Grant Morrison's idea: if there were three incarnations of the New Gods previously (fun fact: Jack Kirby thought the Asgardians in the Marvel Universe were the Third World and when Ragnarok occurred, they would all be reborn as the Fourth World in the DC Universe), then what will the Fifth World be? This is what an arc of his JLA run, the Mister Miracle mini in Seven Soldiers and some of Final Crisis were about: the New Gods will be reborn on Earth in new bodies and the Fifth World will begin. I believe this officially happened in the aforementioned stories but since the characters haven't been used since, it's unclear. I'm pretty sure Didio mentioned something about how the characters are off limits until Morrison has time to do something more with them, probably in Multiversity.

That's basically all I know about it. The only time I remember it being mentioned in Morrison's Batman run was the Final Crisis tie-ins and that rumour about Batman becoming a New God. I hope some of this ramble has actually helped.
 

Zombipanda

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Morrison's conception of the Fifth World struck me as kind of brilliant and really the cherry on the top of Final Crisis.

I'll break it down a little later tonight.
 

Zombipanda

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Okay. Here's how it breaks down. Kirby left Marvel for DC because DC and he took the New Gods idea with him (I knew about it being a spiritual successor to Thor but didn't recognize he'd actually planned it like that. That's cool, Proj). The Fourth World was ostensibly going to be a separate entity from the DC superhero universe proper, a big cosmic mythological tale with characters he'd own the rights to and have editorial control over. DC gave him credits for the characters and let him basically edit. He put out four books, with three being main series and Jimmy Olsen basically using a crossover character to introduce the cosmology to new readers. It was, essentially, something like Thor, but without the constraints of being too deeply tied into what was running in the core superhero books at the time. The books got canceled before the story wrapped and the characters got folded into the DC universe proper, where they appeared infrequently and treated mostly as superhero characters who happened to be gods (again, see Thor), but were really just treated as space men with goofy technology. Darkseid apparently had a few good spots as a villain. There was a big Legion of Superheroes story where he was the bad guy that was apparently pretty great, though I haven't read it. He basically got folded into Superman's rogue's gallery, largely I'd assume, because he was one of a few characters who could be a credible physical threat to Supes.

The nomenclature of Fourth World basically came down to god cycles, the idea that there'd be gods before and gods after. See again Proj's Thor comment above. The gods themselves were supposed to reflect the modern age, with Darkseid and Co.reflecting the values of post-WWII mechanized warfare and the good guys representing, Idunno, the human spirit or something. Supposedly Kirby intended it to be a finite story with a beginning, middle, and end, concluding with the fall of the Fourth World. At the center of it was a conflict between Since then, they introduced Gog (from Kingdom Come) as a god of the Third World in the JSA book, which would suggest some of these elder gods might still be around. Which brings us around to Morrison.

He resolved the war in heaven, with the New Gods all ending up dead. The premise of Final Crisis was that Darkseid was the last one alive, but he was fatally wounded and rather than letting a new generation of gods take his throne, he'd rather take all of reality down with him. And here's where it gets dicey. In the process, he sent Bruce Wayne back in time with a device that turned him into a living, reality destroying weapon. If you read Final Crisis you'll recall a minor bit of window dressing involving the idea that pieces of ancient graffiti were being found representing the symbols of Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman. As Bruce traveled through time, he sketched these symbols, implanting them in the human subconscious in the process, rewriting time so that, in this new chronology, the symbols of these heroes are totemized. So in effect, all of reality has been rewritten with the symbolism of the heroic age implanted in the human psyche as far back as prehistoric times. So, by sending Batman back, Darkseid effectively set the stage for the Fifth Age, which is basically "man as god", the potential of common man to rewrite himself as something divine. Batman is presumably the soldier god, Super Young Team are the new Forever People, and other characters probably fill unrevealed spots. It's a cute conceit, but one that's so meta that it's rather hard to fit in to most storylines, and given that even Morrison's mundane ideas are usually left alone by other creators, it may be something that never really shows up in continuity again.

Oh, and in the new multiverse, apparently the Fourth World gods have reborn in a Kirby-universe that contains Kamandi and all of Kirby's other creations. I'm not sure what that's about.

So, to summarize... The Third World are primitive (maybe Old Testament?) gods, the Fourth World are modern gods, and the Fifth World are post-modern gods.
 
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I hope some of this ramble has actually helped.

Yeah, thanks.

If you read Final Crisis you'll recall a minor bit of window dressing involving the idea that pieces of ancient graffiti were being found representing the symbols of Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman. As Bruce traveled through time, he sketched these symbols, implanting them in the human subconscious in the process, rewriting time so that, in this new chronology, the symbols of these heroes are totemized.

I don't remember that in Final Crisis but I DO remember it being hit on a couple of times in Return of Bruce Wayne (I had a really hard time with FC, even with annotations).

So in effect, all of reality has been rewritten with the symbolism of the heroic age implanted in the human psyche as far back as prehistoric times. So, by sending Batman back, Darkseid effectively set the stage for the Fifth Age, which is basically "man as god", the potential of common man to rewrite himself as something divine.

That...is pretty brilliant.

Oh, and in the new multiverse, apparently the Fourth World gods have reborn in a Kirby-universe that contains Kamandi and all of Kirby's other creations. I'm not sure what that's about.

Was Kamandi originally set in DCU proper (in the future, obviously) and now it's in a different universe? Where did this happen? Final Crisis? There were a couple of scenes in FC with (I think) Kamandi and Anthro that didn't make any sense to me.

Another thing that I am having trouble getting is the spread in Return of Bruce Wayne #6 where it cuts back to Apokolips and is supposed to somehow tie in to Bruce's time in the desert (in 52 I believe, which I didn't read), the isolation experiments, and some other things. Actually, here's the description in the Comics Alliance annotations:

In any case, here we are on the remains of Apokolips, with Darkseid's giant statue head. This ties everything back to Bruce shedding his demons in the desert in 52, and the isolation experiments, and the cave in Nanda Parbat, those moments when time compressed for him, all of those times were this time, here, where Batman faces down evil on a metaphorical stage and defeats him by being.

I don't understand why it cuts to Apokolips for this and what it has to do with anything. How does it tie everything back?
 

Zombipanda

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Was Kamandi originally set in DCU proper (in the future, obviously) and now it's in a different universe? Where did this happen? Final Crisis? There were a couple of scenes in FC with (I think) Kamandi and Anthro that didn't make any sense to me.

No. Kamandi was originally its own thing, or it was at least ambiguous. They didn't say one way or another whether it was the future of the DCU but there was nothing to imply it was. Morrison folded all of the Kirby mythologies into the DCU but that may have been due to the multiversal orrery falling apart.

E said:
Another thing that I am having trouble getting is the spread in Return of Bruce Wayne #6 where it cuts back to Apokolips and is supposed to somehow tie in to Bruce's time in the desert (in 52 I believe, which I didn't read), the isolation experiments, and some other things. Actually, here's the description in the Comics Alliance annotations:



I don't understand why it cuts to Apokolips for this and what it has to do with anything. How does it tie everything back?

I actually don't recall this scene, so I can't precisely say.
 

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I actually don't recall this scene, so I can't precisely say.

You seem to be one of the few people here who followed the Grant Morrison Batman stuff as closely as I am, so next time you get a chance to look into it and let me know I'd appreciate your take. It's one of a handful of things that totally confuse me about the series.
 

Zombipanda

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You seem to be one of the few people here who followed the Grant Morrison Batman stuff as closely as I am, so next time you get a chance to look into it and let me know I'd appreciate your take. It's one of a handful of things that totally confuse me about the series.

Honestly, I only read through the Return once, and not in one sitting, but yeah, when I get a chance I'll dig it up. Now I'm interested. I vaguely remember what you're talking about, I think. It was a big two page spread in the last issue, right?
 

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Honestly, I only read through the Return once, and not in one sitting, but yeah, when I get a chance I'll dig it up. Now I'm interested. I vaguely remember what you're talking about, I think. It was a big two page spread in the last issue, right?

Right. A couple (?) pages before that has Darkseid speaking to Bruce from what I assume is elsewhere in time, and it looks like the Hyperadapter/Bat that flew in the window ties into that somehow. I just can't makes heads or tails of it. Darkseid says something to the effect of, "THERE you are" but I don't quite know what that means either. Or maybe it's the Hyperadapter speaking (who is technically Darkseid I guess; I don't know!).
 

Random

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The books got canceled before the story wrapped and the characters got folded into the DC universe proper,

Well it wasn't so much canceled as ended. Kirby fought as hard as he could to end it the way he want it (with Orion killing Darksied in a final battle) But DC refused to let all these characters die because they wanted to keep them around. And I believe the Kirby-universe created at the end of FC was done for the same reason.
 

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And I believe the Kirby-universe created at the end of FC was done for the same reason.

Another thing I didn't understand about Final Crisis - the status of these gods (New Gods?) or if it even matters. Obviously Metron is still around because he showed up in Return of Bruce Wayne (and in a similar form to one he took in Seven Soldiers) and Darkseid is some sort of dead...
 

Random

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Another thing I didn't understand about Final Crisis - the status of these gods (New Gods?) or if it even matters. Obviously Metron is still around because he showed up in Return of Bruce Wayne (and in a similar form to one he took in Seven Soldiers) and Darkseid is some sort of dead...

Yeah, I'm thinking that they may want them to return, which I think would make sense if they Have a few characters from the previous world show they were able to survive their end times, or the process of the fifth world being "born" has just started and not fully happen.
 

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