This Magazine Kills Fascists: Life vs Anti-Life In Jack Kirby’s ‘Fourth World’
This Magazine Kills Fascists looks at times that comic books and superheroes have dealt with tyrannical, corrupt and outright fascist world leaders — not because we think we can find a solution, but because art can provide inspiration in the face of oppression.
This week, we’re journeying to the Fourth World to talk about Jack Kirby’s The Forever People #3, which sees radical extremist Glorious Godfrey preaching the good word of Anti-Life, and helping the brainwashed masses justify their hatred, all in service of Darkseid.
The Forever People #3 opens with a striking image of a crowd of all white faces screaming about how “Glorious Godfrey is speaking the truth!” and condemning “Those who don’t think right,” but even before our eyes are drawn to the scene, we’re met with a quote from Adolf Hitler about how easy it was to manipulate his followers, as if they were one hivemind organism.
When we meet Godfrey himself, he’s not got the stone face of Darkseid or the greasy ugliness of Desaad; if anything he’s handsome and approachable. He’s got a nice haircut, he’s dressed well, he’s a bit of a showman. Heck, the best way to describe Glorious Godfrey might be to say that he’s downright dapper. So dapper that you almost miss the message he’s selling, which is that if you submit to Anti-Life, you can justify your hatred, your bigotry, your actions. Anti-Life is the one-stop solution to the problems of the modern day.
Godfrey's zealous brainwashed followers are called the Justifiers, and they're one of Jack Kirby’s all-time great creations. All it takes is a flashy piece of headwear and maybe a catchy slogan, and you’ve got a following of people desperate for answers who aren’t finding them anywhere else, willing to follow you and do anything
When you see bigots in real life, no-one ever says “I just hate _____”; there’s always a reason. People have to justify their hatred with excuses about losing their jobs, their women, their culture, or any of the other nonsense excuses you’ll hear on a seemingly daily basis these days. All it takes is for a flashy showman with good hair and a TV smile to come along to say, “You are justified,” and you can turn a generation of disaffected bigots into a movement.
Of course, Glorious Godfrey isn’t the leader here; he’s a tool of Darkseid who is as physically repulsive on the outside as he is on the inside. The thing about Darkseid is that, although he’s an imposing figure on par with Thanos, Doomsday, or The Hulk, his strength isn’t physical. He’s the evil that lurks in the back of your co-worker’s mind; he’s the evil of bad things happening to good people; he’s the evil that’s already in your home.
Godfrey and Darkseid aren’t defeated in The Forever People #3. In fact they best the titular heroes and hand them off to Desaad for torment and torture in The Kingdom of the Damned. The heroes tried to defeat Darkseid with force as The Infinity Man, but Darkseid is an idea, and can’t be brought down so easily. The only way to defeat an idea is with a better idea, and it’s not until Darkseid’s own subjects revolt against him in the DC Graphic Novel The Hunger Dogs that such evil is driven into retreat.
There are a number of worthy causes that all need help, support and donations now more than ever. If you can, please consider donating to any of the following institutions:
This week, we want to particularly highlight The Center For Media and Democracy, which “conducts in-depth investigations into corruption and the undue influence of corporations on media and democracy,” and seems like a good start when combating the Glorious Godfreys of the world.
For more post-election resources, Holy F— The Election is a great starting point. As you might guess, the website uses some strong language!