In 1977, both The New Gods and Mister Miracle were revived. The titles continued with their previous numbering and continuity, but Jack Kirby was not involved. The title on the cover of the revival read "Return of the New Gods," but the indicia listed only "New Gods." It was cancelled later that same year. The relaunch was preceded by a setup appearance in 1st Issue Special #13 (Apr. 1976).
These revivals were later relegated to having happened in an alternate universe, or Earth-17. Read more about the reasons why in the Introduction: 1977 Revivals.
In 1st Issue Special, writers Gerry Conway and Dennis O'Neil picked up Jack Kirby's story and were quite faithful to its continuity. They did however reverse a few "personnel decisions" by resurrecting Desaad, Kalibak, Slig, and Jaffar from the dead. The 1977 story began with Orion fighting Kalibak, whom the Black Racer apparently didn't take after all. Orion now sported a more super-heroic costume which included an "O" emblem and a mask instead of a helmet. Mister Miracle and Big Barda had remained on New Genesis after their wedding. Orion was hot to confront his father, Darkseid, at last. But the Source called to Highfather saying, "When son slays father chaos reigns." Orion nearly engaged his father the timely intervention of Highfather convinced him to leave Darkseid alone. Curiously, the letter column appealed to readers to vote with their voices for the return of a New Gods title, but the space was already touting the return of Mister Miracle. However the creators it mentioned (Martin Pasko, Ric Estrada and Joe Staton) were not the ones who eventually worked on the title. (1st Issue Special #13)
Before the 1977 relaunch, Darkseid played a role in Secret Society of Super-Villains. Unlike the rest of the 1977 revival, that series remained in continuity. Like Inter-Gang, the Secret Society was organized by Darkseid but its members quickly rebelled against him. He sent
Mantis and Kalibak to squash their uprising but was ultimately forced to abandon the group. (Secret Society of Super-Villains #2-5) Funky Flashman then stepped in to try to promote the team. (#4-11)
"The Return" reintroduced the New Gods as a sort of team, with Orion as its leader. His crew consisted of Lightray, Lonar, Forager, Metron, and a new heroine, Jezebelle of the Fiery Eyes. (New Gods #12) Jezebelle had blue skin and (like Barda) was from Apokolips and groomed by Granny for combat. Her mutant eyes delivered powerful force and after she was captured on New Genesis, she was offered sanctuary. (#17)
Darkseid had a new minion, the reptilian Gargon, who was much like Desaad. (#13) Desaad soon returned as well, with Darkseid mentioning his prior decision to bring him back from the dead. (#17, 19)
Darkseid was again on the hunt for the Anti-Life Equation and had found it residing inside six humans. These were Det. Dave Lincoln, one of the original abductees; Donald Bradford, who worked at the DNA Project; singer Lorraine Hampton; deadbeat Richard Roe; General Maxwell Torch; and the Arctic native, Nomak. (#12)
Darkseid learned enough about the Anti-LIfe from kidnapping just one of the six humans to strip Highfather of his powers. Also the New God called Lonar was killed in trying to defend that human. (#15) While Lonar's funeral was held on New Genesis, Darkseid dispatched Kalibak, Brola, Titan, and Bane to Earth. (#16-18) He succeeded in collecting all six humans and created an Anti-Life being called the Antagonist. Darkseid also learned that the Source was the secret to the Anti-Life, and set out to penetrate its boundary. (#19)Note: Lonar's death was ignored by later writers.
When The New Gods was cancelled again, its final issue referred readers to the story's conclusion in Adventure Comics…
Orion's team freed the humans from Darkseid and destroyed the Antagonist, and he went to confront Darkseid in space. (Adventure #259) Darkseid had expended a great deal of his Omega Effect in fending off Highfather, so a blast of Astro Force from Orion sent the despot reeling into the boundary of the Source. Like the Prometheans before him, Darkseid rebounded and expanded to a gargantuan size then began rocketing toward Apokolips. Desaad interpreted this "object" as a meteor and blasted Darkseid into bits. (#260)
One plot thread to note was Darkseid's abduction of young Esak from New Genesis. He exchanged Esak with a young boy from Apokolips named Lucifar as a cruel reminder to Highfather of their original pact. (#14-15) Years later, in The Hunger Dogs, Kirby also used Esak a pawn of Apokolips (which makes one wonder whether Jack Kirby read the 1977 revivals).
The New Gods made one other major appearance in this era. Apokolips was the staging gorunds for a team-up between the Justice League and Justice Society in Justice League of America #183–185 (Oct.–Dec. 1980). The story was also penned The New Gods writer Gerry Conway, and is notable for being the first DC Comics artwork by George Pérez (who took over when longtime penciller Dick Dillin died suddenly). In typical crossover fashion, the heroes splintered off into subteams alongside the gods of New Genesis. Apokolips had kidnapped the entire population of New Gensis for slaves to build an engine that would restore Darkseid from the dead. Darkseid (who'd died in Adventure #260) had survived as a disembodied consciousness and recruited the Injustice Society of Earth-Two (Fiddler, Shade, and Icicle) to help. (#183)
Darkseid planned to have Apokolips shatter Earth-Two and take its place.
With Metron's help, they redirected the villain's destructive machine back at him and he was once again reduced to atoms. Superman and Wonder Woman inspired rebellion in one of Granny's young girls, Crimson. (#184-185)
Unlike any other New Gods, Mister Miracle appeared a couple of times after his own title was out of circulation. He made two guest appearances in the Batman team-up title The Brave and the Bold (#112 and #128; the story from Mister Miracle #19 references his appearance in the latter). A third appearance, #138, was published after Mister Miracle was revived.
The story was good but the art by Marshall Rogers was exceptional for its time. The initial creative team lasted for only four issues, but Rogers drew the covers for two more issues.
The events from the 1977 revivals of Mister Miracle and New Gods are not considered part of normal pre- or post-Crisis continuity. There was one major character development in this revival that was ignored by later stories: Scott Free's developing his "god powers."
SEE: New Gods History: Earth-17
Scott and Barda left New Genesis against the protestation of Highfather and intended to return to a "normal life." Naturally, Darkseid would have none of it, and Scott spend most of this series fending off attack from Apokolips. (#19-22)
A large part of the story concerned Scott's "godhood." While Barda was merely his "mortal wife," it was revealed that Scott's life on Apokolips was a trial by fire. He had to prove his mettle to earn his god powers. Those powers turned out to be those of the Mother Box: an innate connection to the knowledge of the Source, and myriad abilities most notably teleportation. A second part of Scott's enlightenment was that he was loyal to no one. He relinquished his citizenship of New Genesis and renounced all allegiance to Izaya. (#24)
The series ended with Scott, Barda, and Oberon moving to Los Angeles (a plot point not picked up in later continuity). (#25) Their final foe was an Earth girl named Alianna who had been groomed by Granny Goodness. Scott drove Granny off and freed Alianna from her servitude. (#24-25)
Mister Miracle and New Gods were cancelled in the infamous "DC Implosion" — a mass cancellation of titles in 1978. The cover of Mister Miracle #26 appeared in Cancelled Comics Cavalcade #2. Save for a guest appearance by Mister Miracle in DC Comics Presents #12 (1979), the New Gods were again in limbo.
Mr. Miracle, Big Barda, Highfather, Doctor Bedlamn, Kanto, Granny Goodness, Virman Vundabar, Oberon
#20 (Oct. 1977)
Mr. Miracle, Big Barda, Doctor Bedlam, Kanto, Granny Goodness, Virman Vundabar, Oberon
#21 (Dec. 1977)
Mr. Miracle, Big Barda, Oberon, Highfather, Himon, Darkseid, Granny Goodness
#22 (Feb. 1978)
Mr. Miracle, Oberon, Darkseid, Highfather, Himon, Kanto
#23 (Apr. 1978)
Mr. Miracle, Big Barda, Oberon, Orion, Highfather
#24 (June 1978)
Mr. Miracle, Big Barda, Oberon, Himon, Highfather, Ted Brown
#25 (Sept. 1978)
Mr. Miracle, Big Barda, Oberon, Alianna, Granny Goodness, Ted Brown, Darkseid
DC Comics Presents #12 (Aug. 1979)
Mister Miracle, Big Barda, Oberon, Highfather
The New Gods v.2 (reprint series, 1984) +
The Hunger Dogs Graphic Novel (1985)
In 1982, DC hired Kirby to redesign some of his New Gods characters for the Super Powers line of action figures. They also asked Kirby to return to his original New Gods saga, ostensibly to "finish the story." This work would be appended to the end of a six-issue series reprinting Kirby's New Gods run.
This 24-page story was entitled "On the Road to Armagetto," and was slated to appear in the final issue of the reprints, after The New Gods #11. Jack's first draft took place in Armagetto on Apokolips, where Darkseid's "lowlies," or "hunger dogs" lived. Orion roused these dregs to his side. But Darkseid was in possession of a powerful tiny bomb that could destroy a continent, the Micro-Mark. It was invented by Metron and perfected by Esak, whose own pursuit of knowledge led him down a darker path — and a hideous transformation. (Contrary to popular belief, Kirby did not kill off Darkseid and/or Orion in the original version of "Armagetto.")
DC did not think this story was a suitable "ending" to the reprints. To fix it, they asked him to write a different conclusion, and create an additional story for an original graphic novel.
The new tale that concluded New Gods v.2 began not with Orion hell-bent to kill his father, but to liberate his mother, Tigra. Elsewhere, Darkseid actually admitted to feeling lonely, so he resurrected four of his dead followers — Desaad, Steppenwolf, Kalibak, and Mantis — using his Omega Effect in combination with a "brain scanner." They were little more than mindless animals and had to undergo "adjustments." Just when Orion located his mother in Darkseid's sanctum, soldiers riddled Orion with bullets and he fell into a fire pit. Darkseid exhibited some remorse telling his soldiers, "Your work was something a father could not do." (New Gods v.2 #6)Note: Desaad and Kalibak had already been restored to life in the 1977 revival, so Kirby's story retroactively overwrote that.
An advertisement at the end of New Gods #6 promoted the Hunger Dogs graphic novel. It was billed as a "sequel" and the story continued. Kirby repurposed the bulk of "Armagetto" to create The Hunger Dogs; to read the original version in its entirety, get a copy of The Jack Kirby Collector #46.
In Hunger Dogs, Orion had fallen into the slums of Armagetto where he was found by Himon. Himon's daughter Bekka took a liking to Orion. Darkseid's new master plan was to detonate a series of Micro-Mark bombs across New Genesis. The bombs were invented by Metron's protégé Esak, who had been horribly mutated after pursuing his own quest for knowledge. Orion killed Esak but took pity on him and used his Mother Box to restore Esak's normal appearance. Himon stole one of the Micro-Marks but Darkseid used it to track him down Himon and kill him. Highfather was unable to prevent the bombs from destroying New Genesis, and one also detonated on Apokolips as Orion escaped with Bekka and Tigra. Highfather abandoned New Genesis and sent the floating city of Supertown into space to search for a new home planet. Elsewhere, it appeared that Metron had secured such a planet. (The Hunger Dogs)
In the second Super Powers series (1985–86), Kirby was only the penciller, but some plot points picked up the threads from the end of The Hunger Dogs. It began with Darkseid seeking to escape the uprising of the Lowlies. He, Desaad, Kalibak, and Steppenwolf escaped to Desaad's secret base on the moon, where Desaad created the Star Gate to replace the Boom Tube (mechanisms for which have been damaged during the revolt). Darkseid's planned to conquer the Earth as his new stronghold, but he was eventually betrayed by Desaad, and apparently disintegrated. Note: Curiously enough, as with the Super Friends comic book, the Super Powers stories could actually fit into pre-Crisis Earth-One continuity (mostly). One major disconnect is the fact that the heroes (including Batman and Robin) operate out of the Hall of Justice, as in the Super Friends cartoons. Kirby had no involvement in the third series, which picked up where the second left off.
Writers who tackled the New Gods immediately after Hunger Dogs and Crisis on Infinite Earths acknowledged the repercussions of the graphic novel (most notably the destruction of New Genesis) but no one incorporated the developments of the 1977 revivals. John Byrne adhered to Kirby's chronology when he wrote the 1987 trilogy of Superman #3, Adventures of Superman #426, and Action Comics #586. Jim Starlin's 1988 Cosmic Odyssey also referenced the destruction. But in the main New Gods revival that was created after the Crisis, the events of The Hunger Dogs were removed from the Fourth World timeline. Orion had not met his mother, and New Genesis was not destroyed.
—Thanks to John Morrow and Aaron Severson, who provided edits for this section