For Your Consideration: DC’s Orion by Walter Simonson Book One

Robert Greenberger

Robert Greenberger


by Robert Greenberger

Orion by Walter Simonson Book One

Orion by Walter Simonson Book One


Darkseid is all over the place these days, thanks to comics and movies, but what about his antagonistic son, Orion? It looks like he won’t be getting his due until the just announced Ana Duvernay New Gods film. Until then, we can revel in his comics exploits starting with Orion by Walter Simonson Book One.

Back in 2015, DC Comics collected all of Walt’s Fourth World material in a hardcover omnibus and we’re finally getting affordable trade compilations. Here, he pays tribute to the great Jack Kirby, honoring the man’s creative genius with his own distinctive take on mythic adventure.

For Jack’s 100th birthday last year, Walt wrote in Paste Magazine about his first real exposure to Kirby’s work. He had randomly picked up Strange Tales #92 and was floored by the story.

Orion #1

Orion #1


“Jack drew a relentless hunt. Jack’s aliens did not look like anyone else’s aliens. They were dangerous with ‘alieness.’ His characters in general, alien or human, posed with drama. There was something alive, almost sinister, about the locations he drew, whether it was the swamp where the alien craft first landed or the boarding house where the chase finally ended. Even the coloring was strange, full of raw hues and knockouts where one color was washed over most of a panel, like a raw spotlight shining on the scene. Most of all, the work was vital, bursting with energy even in those panels where characters were merely standing around. And if they were in motion, they moved with authority. It was like no other comic book I had ever seen.

“In microcosm, that was the genius of Jack Kirby. He was like no other artist who worked in comics, a uniquely gifted individual who brought a new sensibility and a fire to the art and storytelling of American comic books, a fire that burns to this day. I’m happy to say I’m still learning from him.”

It’s all evident here in this book, collecting Orion #1-11, Showcase ’94 #1, DC Universe Holiday Bash #1, New Gods Secret Files #1, Secret Origins of Super-Villains 80-Page Giant #1, and Legends of the DC Universe 80-Page Giant #2.

Simonson introduced his creation, Mortalla, in Orion #6

Simonson introduced his creation, Mortalla, in Orion #6


At Comics Alliance, Chris Sims noted, “Orion is the one Simonson masterpiece that always seems to get overlooked. And really, that in itself is surprising when you consider that it has one of the single best fight scenes in comics and gave us the greatest Green Lantern of all time.

“I think one of the reasons that it’s so frequently overlooked is because it comes out of a time when there were just so many good comics coming out of DC. That period between 1997 and about 2002 was one of the best times for the company, especially in terms of the second- and third-string characters.”

What Walt revels in is the same thing that made Kirby’s Fourth World so fascinating. This is cosmic opera on the grandest of scales, a frothy mix of epic battle and palace intrigue. Nothing is as it seems and no one can be fully trusted while all fear Darkseid and his eternal quest for the Anti-Life Equation. While using the full cast from both Apokolips and New Genesis, Walt also adds in the Newsboy Legion, leaving the rest of the DC heroes and villains out of things.

Orion #10

Orion #10


We open with Orion dealing with the news that Darkseid may not be his biological father, setting him in search of the truth. He’s on Earth seeking a way to extract the Anti-Life Equation from the minds of mankind but must be stopped before the entire universe is threatened, setting up issue #5’s epic brawl.

Then there are the backup stories, giving Walt’s friends a chance to play, starting with a pair written by Walt and drawn by Frank Miller, followed by Dave Gibbons. Additional shorts come from Eric Stephenson, Erik Larsen, and Al Gordon, Howard Chaykin, Jeph Loeb, Rob Liefeld, and Norm Rapmund, and Walt and Art Adams. These stories are in support of the lead tale, adding to the storyline rather than mere filler. Just as Walt pitched in and helped explore Kirby’s stage in John Byrne’s Jack Kirby’s Fourth World series, he pays it forward here, making for a richer tapestry.

New Gods Secret Files #1

New Gods Secret Files #1


Walt wrote and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez drew a Metron and Orion story for Showcase ’94 #1 while he reunited with his Thor partner Sal Buscema on a Highfather and Orion Christmas tale. He collaborates with Jon Bogdanove and Bill Reinhold on Granny Goodness’ backstory. The shorter works are never less than interesting and quite often enlightening so should not be overlooked.

This is most certainly for fans of Walt’s Thor or his current Ragnarok as well as those who love these characters.

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