Tom King Shares Why “The New Gods” Has The Right Storyteller

Eisner

I have always felt that since Nolan, DC has represented more of the mature storyline type of comic book movies with their willingness to bring more than just explosions and a formulaic story to theaters. But it is this writers opinion that the house that DC built has suffered from choices that past leaders have made. I do feel that recent releases such as Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Shazam have proved that when they give a storyteller the creative freedom to express themselves that it can both be profitable and well received by fans(critics be damned). I do believe that we have a chance to see something big with The New Gods. One of the more well-known recent caretakers of this part of DC is Tom King, so when he likens the director Ava DuVernay to Kirby himself, that is something what carries some weight.

Tom recently said to Publisher Weekly :“’I feel like I have this genius, Jack Kirby, who created this (series) and this genius Ava DuVernay,” he explains. “I see them as parallel figures, both taking their uniquely American backgrounds and using them to push American art forward into places it’s never been before. I feel like it’s my job to bring those two geniuses to together and to make it work.’” It is King’s suggestion that the two are parallel but need to be brought together that is the most intriguing. With Kirby being the being the iconic, and sometimes overshadowed, comic book creator of The New Gods, Darkseid, Captain America, Black Panther, The Eternals(currently in production at Marvel), any comparison to him better be made by someone with clout and King has it in spades.

“’I feel like I have this genius, Jack Kirby, who created this (series) and this genius Ava DuVernay,” he explains. “I see them as parallel figures, both taking their uniquely American backgrounds and using them to push American art forward into places it’s never been before. I feel like it’s my job to bring those two geniuses to together and to make it work.’” It is King’s suggestion that the two are parallel but need to be brought together that is the most intriguing. With Kirby being the being the iconic, and sometimes overshadowed, comic book creator of The New Gods, Darkseid, Captain America, Black Panther, The Eternals(currently in production at Marvel), any comparison to him better be made by someone with clout and King has it in spades.

Now how do we lend relevance to this statement? Simple, we look at the man who made it. With the shared trauma from 9-11, King wanted to contribute to the betterment of his country, so he did what any other comic book intern (Marvel and DC) does, he signed up to work for the CIA. And armed with nothing more than his encyclopedic knowledge of Thor origin stories, he somehow bested one guy with “six PhDs in foreign languages and affairs” and another that was a “special forces dude who was ready to fight.” His seven years with the agency working to “stop the bad guys from doing bad things,” just wasn’t allowing him to “be the best father I could and also be in the CIA.” His wife’s job as a lawyer allowed him the time to write A Once Crowded Sky(2013). This got him his next job writing for DC, with runs on Grayson, Green Lantern, and Batman. And after a stop back at Marvel to write The Vision, DC tasked him to take on a one of Jack Kirby’s creations, Mister Miracle. 

Mister Miracle and Big Barda

MM becomes the reason that King’s comparisons between Kirby and DuVernay mean so much for the success of The New Gods. His recent work on both Mister Miracle and Batman earned him four Eisner Awards (best writer, best limited series, best short story and best graphic album—reprint) in 2019. DuVernay’s work has earned her Academy Award nominations, a Peabody Award win among other, but the some might be quick to only reference her not so well received A Wrinkle In Time. And so when King mentions he sees himself as the bridge between the legendary stories first brought to life by Kirby and the modern and powerful story telling from DuVernay, he isn’t out of line. A powerful ship with no rudder is still lost at sea. I feel that the DuVernay as directory has a great rudder and co-writer in King.

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