I’ll be the first to admit, I just didn’t get Jack Kirby for a good long while after becoming a comic book fan. More and more, I’m learning I’m not alone in this. There’s something about Kirby’s bombast, and a million ideas per square inch that can be surprisingly challenging. Sure, the man’s clearly an artistic genius, but without Stan’s dialogue on Fantastic Four, would all that brilliance be reduced to the snooze-fest like the late 70’s Eternals?
Jack Kirby’s creative brilliance across his Fourth World saga for DC Comics (finally) convinced me I’d been 100% wrong. Hot off the heels of creating or co-creating the vast majority of the Marvel Universe as we know it today, Kirby turned around and created the entire New Gods mythology, including the modern all-time evil DC villain, Darkseid.
More importantly, Kirby’s innovative crossover epic is just absolute comic book joy. In between bouts of pure unadulurated fun (including a mind-blowingly bizarre extended Don Rickles cameo), Kirby effortlessly crystallizes the values of freedom and compassion in the midst of anger, fear, and hatred. Everything from the anti-life propoganda of Glorious Godfrey to the all-consuming fascism of Darkseid has extraordinarily clear modern parallels.
Below you’ll find a complete chronological reading order to Jack Kirby’s 4th world saga. In addition, I’ve added a Darkseid reading order, and a New Gods comic book timeline, so you can see how Kirby’s creations have appeared across DC Comics since their inception in the early 70’s.
Darkseid & New Gods Reading Order
Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Saga Reading Order
After leaving Marvel Comics toward the start of 1970, Jack “King” Kirby made his way to rival DC Comics to take over one ongoing title (“Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen”) and launch three new series and a brand-new mythos. With “The Forever People,” “The New Gods,” and “Mister Miracle,” Kirby effectively created an entirely new cosmic legacy for the DC Universe, with all-time great characters like Darkseid, Orion, and Metron.
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Below you’ll find the reading order for the complete Kirby 4th World saga as collected in four omnibus collections. You could easily make a case that it’s actually easiest to just read each title individually, and if you’re collecting digitally, I’d probably advise you do so. The stories don’t necessarily flow from one issue to the next, so much as share characters and a larger text.
Personally, I’d also say don’t feel bad if you want to skip just about all of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen. This title adds very little to the Fourth World, and is more for Kirby completists in my book.
Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus, Vol. 1
Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #133
Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #134
Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #135
The Forever People #1
The New Gods #1
Mister Miracle #1
Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #136
The Forever People #2
The New Gods #2
Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #137
Mister Miracle #2
The Forever People #3
Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #138
The New Gods #3
Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #139
Mister Miracle #3
Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus, Vol. 2
The Forever People #4
The New Gods #4
Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #141
Mister Miracle #4
The Forever People #5
The New Gods #5
Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #142
Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #143
Mister Miracle #5
The Forever People #6
The New Gods #6
Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #144
Mister Miracle #6
Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #145
Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus, Vol. 3
The Forever People #7
Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #146
The New Gods #7
Mister Miracle #7
Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #147
The Forever People #8
The New Gods #8
Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #148
Mister Miracle #8
The Forever People #9
The New Gods #9
Mister Miracle #9
The Forever People #10
The New Gods #10
Mister Miracle #10
Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus, Vol. 4
Forever People #11
New Gods #11
Mister Miracle #11 to #18
New Gods (1984) #6
New Gods (1984) is mostly just reprints of the original series but the second half of the 6th issue contains new material, which bridges the gap between Kirby’s 4th World and Hunger Dogs (Kirby’s conclusion.
Hunger Dogs Graphic Novel
New Gods After Kirby
The Secret Society of Super-Villains Vol. 1
Collects: Secret Society of Super-Villains #1 to #10, The Amazing World of DC Comics #11
Darkseid hires 10 major DC villains like Gorilla Grodd and Captain Cold as part of his plot to take over Earth.
Gerry Conway’s Return of the New Gods
Collects: New Gods #12 to #19
Darkseid & New Gods In The 1980’s
The Legion of Super-Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga
Collects: Legion Of Super-Heroes #284-296 And Annual #1
Keith Giffen and Paul Levitz’s “Great Darkness Saga” is one of my favorite DC stories, and also one of my top 100 favorite comics of all time! A great read for both new Legion fans, and those looking to see the evil of Darkseid at its best.
Collects: #183 To #185
Darkseid returns and attempts to conquer Earth-2.
Collects: Super Powers Vol. 1 #1-5, Super Powers Vol. 2 #1-6 And Super Powers Vol. 3 #1-4
From 1984 to 1986, Jack Kirby was finally granted a miniseries to pit the forces of the DC Universe against Darkseid and Apokolips.
Collects: Crisis On Infinite Earths #1 To #12
Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s 1985 DC mega event is not specifically a New Gods event, but features appearances from every corner of the DC Universe.
Legends 30th Anniversary Edition
Collects: Legends #1-6
Hot on the heels of Crisis, Legends is DC’s first Universe-wide event to feature Darkseid in a prominent role, fighting alongside Superman and company.
Collects: Adventures Of Superman #426, Action Comics #586, Superman Vs Darkseid: Apokolips Now! #1
Justice League International, Vol. 1
Collects: Justice League #1 to #6, Justice League International #7
Following Legends, Keith Giffen and J.M. Dematteis relaunched Justice League, with Mister Miracle and Oberon as core members.
Justice League International, Vol. 2
Collects: Justice League Annual #1, Justice League International #8-13, Suicide Squad #13
Justice League International, Vol. 3
Collects: Justice League International #14 to #22
Justice League International, Vol. 4
Collects: Justice League International #23 to #30
Collects: Forever People #1 to #6
Collects: Complete Cosmic Odyssey
Jim Starlin and Mike Mignola’s epic DC crossover event starring Darkseid. Cosmic Odyssey takes care to build out the mythos of the Old Gods
Collects: Mister Miracle #1 to #28
Mister Miracle returns with his longest running solo series following his membership in the Dematteis and Giffen Justice League.
Collects: New Gods #1 to #28
Jack Kirby protege Mark Evanier relaunches the New Gods.
Darkseid and New Gods Reborn In The 1990s
Collects: “The Hunger” Graphic Novel
Crossover by John Byrne.
Collects: Mister Miracle Special, Jack Kirby’s Fourth World #2-20, And Orion #3-4, #6-8, #10, #12, #15, #18-19
The mid to late 90’s relaunch of the New Gods saga was titled Jack Kirby’s Fourth World, and features stories from creative icons like John Byrne and Walt Simonson.
JLA: The Deluxe Edition, Vol. 1
Collects: Jla #1 To #9
Grant Morrison’s classic late 90’s run on the Justice League of America restores the property to its centerpiece status, and features ongoing connections to the Fourth World. Both Metron, Darkseid, and Big Barda play essential roles, in some of the best 4th World DCU integration in comics.
Collects: Genesis #1 to #4
The John Byrne led miniseries can be read after Tales of the New Gods #8.
JLA: The Deluxe Edition, Vol. 2
Collects: Jla #10 To #17
The second volume of JLA by Morrison and Porter is the most relevant for Darkseid and New Gods fans, with the JLA taking on both the Injustice Gang and Darkseid. This was my introduction to Mobius and the fourth world, and it’s great!
JLA: The Deluxe Edition, Vol. 3
Collects: JLA #22-26, 28-31 and 1,000,000
JLA: The Deluxe Edition, Vol. 4
Collects: JLA #34 and 36-41, plus JLA CLASSIFIED #1-3
Orion by Walter Simonson Omnibus
Collects: Orion #1-25 And Stories From Jack Kirby’S Fourth World #9-11 And 13
The master comic book talent Walt Simonson takes over an incredible solo run on Orion, rivaling even his untouchable work on Thor at times.
Darkseid & New Gods in 2000’s Through Final Crisis
Collects: Superman/Batman #1-13
Darkseid and Apokolips play a major role in this Batman and Superman team-up book by Jeph Loeb.
Seven Soldiers of Victory, Book 1
Collects: Seven Soldiers Of Victory #0, The Guardian #1-4, Klarion #1-3, Zatanna #1-3, And The Shining Knight #1-4
Grant Morrison’s elaborate Seven Soldiers project includes reimagined Mister Miracle as well as Boss Dark Side.
Seven Soldiers of Victory, Book 2
Collects: Mister Miracle #1-4, Bulleteer #1-4, Zatanna #4, Klarion #4, Frankenstein #1-4 And Seven Soldiers Of Victory #1
Collects: Death of the New Gods #1 to #8
In this Final Crisis prelude, cosmic mastermind Jim Starlin takes on the “Death of the New Gods.” Given Starlin’s skill with Darkseid’s cross-publisher twin, Thanos, the fourth world connection is natural.
Collects: Final Crisis #1-7, Superman Beyond #1-2 And Submit #1
Grant Morrison’s DC event continues his infatuation with Kirby’s Fourth World, as Darkseid makes a final play for the anti-life equation conquesting the entire DC Universe.
New 52 Darkseid Reading Order
To see how these issues fit in with the rest of DC’s New 52 Universe, you can check out Comic Book Herald’s complete New 52 reading order.
Justice League, Vol. 1: Origin
Collects: Justice League #1 To #6
The New 52 quickly repositions Darkseid as the ultimate big bad in the DC comics Universe, with an Apokolips invasion prompting the formation of the Justice League.
Collects: Wonder Woman #12 to #23
Orion joins Wonder Woman’s quest and war vs. the Gods of Olympus at the bequest of Highfather.
Collects: Earth 2 #1 to #6
Collects: Earth 2 #7 to #12
Apokolips comes for Earth-2!
Infinity Man and the Forever People Vol. 1: Planet of the Humans
Collects: Infinity Man and the Forever People #1 to #9
Green Lantern/New Gods: Godhead
Collects: Green Lantern/New Gods: Godhead #1, Green Lantern #35-37, Green Lantern Corps #35-37, Green Lantern New Guardians #35-37, Red Lanterns #35-37, Sinestro #6-8 And Green Lantern Annual #3
Godhead Reading Order:
New Gods: Godhead #1
Green Lantern #35
Green Lantern Corps #35
Green Lantern New Guardians #35
Infinity Man & The Forever People #4
Red Lanterns #35
Green Lantern #36
Green Lantern Corps #36
Green Lantern New Guardians #36
Infinity Man & The Forever People #5
Red Lanterns #36
Green Lantern #37
Green Lantern Corps #37
Green Lantern New Guardians #37
Infinity Man & The Forever People #6
Red Lanterns #37
Green Lantern Annual #3
Justice League Vol. 7: Darkseid War Part 1
Collects: Justice League #40-44
Justice League: Darkseid War – Power of the Gods
Collects: Darkseid War Issues: Batman, Green Lantern, Lex Luthor, The Flash, Superman, Shazam
Justice League Vol. 8: Darkseid War Part 2
Collects: Justice League #45-50 And Justice League: Darkseid War Special #1
DC Rebirth New Gods
Bug! The Adventures of Forager
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps: Fall of the Gods
Collects: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #26 to #29
Collects: Dark Nights: Metal #1-6
While Metal (my favorite comic book event of 2017 and 2018) is not majorly focused on the New Gods, it does feature the best ever appearance of baby Darkseid (in Metal #2). No joke, the entire event is worth reading just to see Batman wield baby Darkseid like an explosive device.
Should be noted that the prelude issue Dark Days: The Forge also features a very cool Mister Miracle appearance.
Should also be noted that this event is awesome.
Wonder Woman Vol. 6: Children of the Gods
Collects: Wonder Woman #31-37
Somewhat unpredictably, Darkseid makes his post Justice League: Darkseid War return to health in the pages of a long running Wonder Woman arc written by James Robinson. This is the most essential Darkseid story in “DC Rebirth” to this point.
Wonder Woman Vol. 7: Amazons Attacked
Collects: Wonder Woman #38-45
Wonder Woman Vol. 8: The Dark Gods
Collects: Wonder Woman #46-50 and Annual #3
Justice League Odyssey Vol. 1: The Ghost Sector
Collects: Justice League Odyssey #1 to #6
Collects: Mister Miracle #1 to #12
Collects: Justice League Odyssey #1 to #12
Where is the 1997-98 run of ‘Jack Kirby’s Fourth World??
Lee Stone says
Also worth noting is that the last issue (#6) of the New Gods reprint series in the ’80s featured a new Kirby story that follows #11 of the original run.
Claude Drolet says
Wow, this is a tempting list. I’d love to go back and read it all. The Great Darkness Saga has been on my “to read” list since the ‘80s.
I’ve read almost all the original Fourth World, but not all the stuff that comes after by far. Loved the Legends and JLI in the 80s, and the Despero/Death of Mister Miracle issues of JLI (38-40?) are one of my top stories of all time. I also loved the Byrne and Simonson stuff in the 90s. And completely agree with you that Morrisons’s run is justifiable called a classic.
I did not know that the Super Powers miniseries was in fact a Kirby revist to the Fourth World. All these years (30?) I’ve dismissed it as a ploy to sell the toys…have to track that one down. So much time wasted…
I take issue with your comment “don’t feel bad if you want to skip just about all of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen. This title adds very little to the Fourth World”, though. I think these books with the introduction of Project Cadmus and the reintroduction of the Newsboy Legion and the Guardian are must reading. As a kid, the Guardian was one of my favorites. He had all the nobility of Capt A, but without all the baggage.
Yeah, that’s pretty fair – Kirby develops a lot of DCU ideas that are prominent today in Jimmy Olsen. When you’re focused on the New Gods, though, they feel like a weird, largely irrelevant detour. Important for DC, and fun in their own right, but not essential for 4th World in my book.
Claude Drolet says
I have always associated Project Cadmus and the Harries, etc. as part of the Fourth World. Maybe because as a kid I had a bunch of Jimmy Olsen comics. My first introduction to Darkseid and Intergang were through Jimmy Olsen.
The Evil Factory that was set up by Darkseid and run by his minions…Simyan and Mokkari. Magnar was introduced in Jimmy Olsen,
All sorts of Intergang stuff interweaving with the project.