And his chair…is it a recliner?

§ April 29th, 2022 § Filed under jack kirby, Uncategorized § 5 Comments

So here’s a thing that bugs me way out of proportion to its importance (I know, I know, “welcome to comics fandom”): the whole “Is Metron a New God or not?” thing.

Here’s a pic of Metron, in case you need reminding:


For those unfamiliar, Metron is a character in Jack Kirby’s “Fourth World” line of books for DC Comics, comprised of several titles and headed by the series New Gods. It tells the tale of the denizens of the peaceful world New Genesis, their conflicts with the endlessly aggressive world of Apokolips, and how Earth, wouldn’t you know it, is stuck in the middle.

More or less, the “good guys” are on New Genesis, the “bad guys” control Apokolips, and yes, there’s a bit of business where the leaders of the two worlds, Highfather and Darkseid, trade their sons (Mister Miracle and Orion, respectively) to each other as part of a peace pact.

Aaaand that’s all well and good, but then here’s Metron, a dude with a flying chair who travels the universe seeking knowledge, occasionally siding with either New Genesis or Apokolips as it suits his purpose. And his creator, Jack Kirby, went out of way to establish that Metron is his own guy, with no specific affiliation to either side:

So it does sometimes bother me a bit when he’s just casually referred to as “one of the New Gods.” Because, he, as written by Kirby, has specifically said he’s not.

When I semi-facetiously griped about this on Twitter the other day, I got several responses which you can see there (though a couple have since gone AWOL, or at least I can’t find them now). Mostly they were from folks trying to explain why this isn’t The World’s Worst Disaster as I’ve been trying to make it out to be.

One response I liked, and I feel makes the most “in-story” sense, was that Metron is totally part of the New Gods, but likes to talk himself up like he’s, you know, “better” than that. I realize a comic where the leader of the good guys is named “Highfather,” and the chief bad guy is “Darkseid,” doesn’t sound like one overrun with subtlety, but there are subtleties to the actions and personalities present in the series, beneath all the POW! panels. It wouldn’t be a surprise to discover that Metron was “putting on airs,” trying to place himself above the petty squabbles during his pursuit of knowledge.

Especially given, as was pointed out to me, in Swamp Thing #62 Metron relates a vision of the final battle of the Old Gods, which includes his father:


…and as the person on Twitter put it, he was at least “of the same stock” as the rest of the New Gods if this were the case. This story, however, was by Rick Veitch, not by Metron’s creator Kirby, so its canonicity re: Kirby’s intentions are not established.

And as others have put said, lumping in Metron with the rest of the New Gods could very well be just convenient, and certainly easier than having to explain “well, here are the New Gods, here’s all of Darkseid’s crew, and then here’s this dude who just kinda hangs around” every time. Which is also fine, but other writers having Metron refer to himself as a New God feels a little suspect to me. But perhaps that can also be explained away by Metron telling bit of a fib to get something he wants, which probably isn’t beneath him.

If you go to issue #15 of Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe (from which that image at the top of this post came), the entry describes Metron as

“…The leading scientist, explorer, and inventor among the New Gods of New Genesis.”

…and also notes his group affiliation as being with “The New Gods” so that’s pretty much that, I guess.

So…is he or isn’t he? I still think the answer is that yeah, he’s a New God, but acts like he’s better than that. And while he’s had his share of dealing with Darkseid, by and large he’s sided with the New Gods. It does still seem weird to have the character outright say “I’m a New God,” when Kirby established early on that he probably wouldn’t say that, however.

Anyway, speaking of Kirby, did we ever nail down whether Klarion’s familiar Teekl is a girl cat or a boy cat? I feel like that’s still up in the air. But at least we know s/he isn’t a New God.
 
 

Special thanks to Bully the Little Stuffed God and his Moobius Chair for production assistance

5 Responses to “And his chair…is it a recliner?”

  • Ten exclamation points and twelve dashes in one single panel – no one can say it wasn’t the height of emotion in comics!

    Or I guess I should say: Comics — exciting!! Thrilling! INVENTIVE! The media of — TOMORROROW!!!!!!!

  • Andrew Davison says:

    For UK readers of a certain age, the chair triggers queasy memories of the one used by Jimmy Saville in the TV show “Jim’ll Fix it” (e.g. https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2012/jun/28/jimmy-savile-treasures-auction)

  • Thom H. says:

    That kind of writing eventually gives me a headache as every phrase — seems to get — louder and! — LOUDER!!

    The Kirby art really shows you where Keith Giffen picked up a lot of his tricks, though. So pretty.

  • Chris V says:

    Well, I’m pretty sure that Kirby took Metron’s name from Metatron, an angel from Jewish tradition. As such, in Kabbalah, Metatron is Enoch’s name after he transforms into an angel. Metatron is also widely accepted as the angel prophesied to give knowledge of the future messianic age in apocalyptic writings.
    So, I always assumed that Kirby meant for Metron to have been an evolved human showing the potential of the human race to eventually evolve beyond the gods in the future.
    I admit that I take more of this idea from Grant Morrison’s writing than what I remember from Jack Kirby’s Fourth World, but Kirby was versed in Cabalistic lore and it does fit with ideas I associate with Kirby’s views.

  • Albert says:

    So Metron’s dad was Nigel Thornberry>

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