The death of the New Gods was no hoax: every last Fourth World character perished in the series leading up to DC's Final Crisis. Sadly, all the work that went into the characters' reinvention was for naught because not long after Final Crisis, the DC universe was rebooted to make way for the "New 52" (and the New Gods that were created as part of the New 52 were completely distinct).
Takion keeps track of the god killer's activity. From Death of the New Gods #2 (2008); art by Jim Starlin.

Seven Soldiers + Death of the New Gods + Final Crisis (2005–08)

Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle

Notes and sketches about the new New Gods. From Final Crisis Sketchbook (2008); art by Grant Morrison and J. G. Jones.
New Furies (Lashina, Granny, Wunda, Bernadeth) torment Shilo Norman at the Dark Side Club. From Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle #1 (2005); art by Pasqual Ferry.
Doctor Bedlam (front) with Kanto, Kalibak, Lashina, and Desaad. From Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle #3 (2006); art by Freddie Williams II.

The death of the New Gods was teased a couple of years earlier by Grant Morrison in his epic crossover event, Seven Soldiers. One of its four-issue limited series was Mister Miracle, featuring Shilo Norman instead of Scott Free. The gods of New Genesis had long recognized Norman's potential to defeat Darkseid. They believed that he could conquer not only the evil one's Omega Effect, but also the Anti-Life Equation itself. At age 23, Shilo had become a famous escape artist. His greatest stunt would be to escape the pull of an artificial black hole. He was lost inside the hole for seven days, where he encountered Metron, who explained that "There was a war in heaven … The wrong side won." Mister Miracle's mission was to somehow free the "bright ones."

The bulk of the story took place inside a trap (or test) that occurred inside the black hole. It was Darkseid's Omega Sanction, where Shilo believed that he had returned to Earth and encountered Earth-born avatars of the evil gods. His therapist was Dr. Dezard (Desaad). He also encountered the Female Furies and the Black Racer — who challenged him to escape death itself. (Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle #1) Darkseid whispered the Anti-Life Equation into Shilo's ear (#2) and Shilo proved that he could overcome its effects. Darkseid responded with another wave which subjected Norman to an ever-worsening series of "lives." (#3) Mister Miracle grew strong enough to recognize the Omega trap and escape from it. Metron congratulated Shilo on surviving this initiation into the mysteries of the New Gods. (#4)

The ending makes it seem like Shilo's experience was a sort of dream. Readers at this time had yet to learn about the death of the New Gods. But it was Grant Morrison's intent to suggest that the New Gods had warred, Darkseid won, and the dark gods were reemerging on Earth in human form. Further, Darkseid had fallen back through time, from the Final Crisis in the future. So, yes: the New God avatars existed simultaneously with their regular selves. Metron helped Shilo but it was unclear whether he also traveled back in time to do this (which was within his power to do).

It was also strange that Shilo behaved as if he had no knowledge of the New Gods despite his time spent with the original Mister Miracle and Big Barda.

After seven days in the black hole, Mister Miracle had gained a so-called "god sight" and he confronted Darkseid. Darkseid killed Shilo straight away. Shilo's family visited his grave and soon Mister Miracle would prove the ultimate trick by escaping from his own grave! (Seven Soldiers Special #1)

Death of the New Gods

Scott discovers Barda's death. From Death of the New Gods #1 (2007); art by Jim Starlin.
Top: Mister Miracle adopts the colors of mourning. Below: Scott's Anti-Life is bigger than Darkseid's. From Death of the New Gods #2 and 3 (2007–08); art by Jim Starlin.
Takion and Himon (the god killer in disguise) discover the second Source Wall storing souls of the dead. From Death of the New Gods #3 (2008); art by Jim Starlin.
Scott Free manifesting and using the Anti-Life. From Death of the New Gods #3 (2008); art by Jim Starlin.
Metron meets his maker, the Source, who explains its plan. From Death of the New Gods #5 (2008); art by Jim Starlin.
Scott battles the Source's agent, the Infinity Man. From Death of the New Gods #7 (2008); art by Jim Starlin.
The battle between Scott and the Infinity Man destroys the original Source Wall. From Death of the New Gods #7 (2008); art by Jim Starlin.
The Source is recombined with its dark half and takes a new form, then takes Mister Miracle's life. From Death of the New Gods #7 (2008); art by Jim Starlin.
Darkseid surprises the Source with power of his own. From Death of the New Gods #8 (2008); art by Jim Starlin.
Orion finally kills Darkseid. From Countdown to Final Crisis #2 (2008); art by Scott Kolins.

Suddenly in the pages of Countdown, and elsewhere, natives of the Fourth World were turning up dead with gaping holes in their chests. A mysterious "god killer" spared none and evaded all attempts to discover his identity. Metron uncovered the truth by following the trail of dead into the far distant past. He learned that the Source itself was culling the New Gods as part of a plan to "start over" and create the Fifth World. Long ago, during the time of the Old Gods, the heads of three pantheons (including Odin and Zeus) conspired against their creator, the Source. Their efforts split the Source into dark and light halves. The dark half was banished to an unreachable dimension and the light half was incapacitated for a time, which allowed the Old Gods to reign. When the Source recovered its powers, it destroyed the Old Gods of Asgard and created the Fourth World.

In time the Source concluded that its New Gods were imperfect, but to remake them again would require its full might —  a reunion with its dark half. Cosmic upheavals such as the first Crisis hindered that by walling the halves off from one another, so the Source plotted for years to influence events that would recreate the multiverse (the Infinite Crisis). The Source deputized the Infinity Man to become its assassin and the souls of the New Gods would serve as the raw material for rebirth. The souls of the dead were stored in a second Source Wall. (Death of the New Gods #5)

The Infinity Man worked in secret lest the New Gods mobilize their forces against the Source. Lightray was the first casualty discovered. He fell from the sky in Metropolis and just before breathing his last, uttered "infinity" to Jimmy Olsen. (Countdown #48) Olsen was also present when the god killer took Sleez. (#46) One early victim was the Black Racer, who posed the danger of interfering with the plan. But the death of Big Barda was a turning point. Her husband, Mister Miracle (Scott Free) went nearly mad with grief and embraced his power of the Anti-Life Equation in the hunt for her killer. By this time Darkseid was also in limited control of the Anti-Life Equation, and he plotted against the Source to preserve himself. (Death of the New Gods #1)

As the casualties mounted, Takion, Scott, and Orion's suspicions centered on the Forever People, who were missing. On Apokolips, Desaad deduced that the gods' souls were being ripped from their bodies — something even Darkseid could not do. Scott, Orion, and Superman sought an audience with Darkseid while Himon (the Infinity Man in disguise) and Takion inspected the Source Wall. There they discovered the second wall storing the souls of the dead. (#2) Takion was killed there before he could reveal his discoveries to the others. (#3)

The Forever People were found on Earth, dead for two months. Scott used his power to reanimate them and extract information, but even in death they would not give up the name of their killer. (#4)

The collected souls of the gods would not be enough for the Source to recombine. It needed the power of Scott Free to destroy the original Source Wall and allow the Source entity to traverse the Bleed and find its dark half. Elsewhere, Orion challenged the god killer to single combat. They crashed into one another and Orion perished in the explosion. (#6) When Superman unmasked Himon as the Infinity Man, Scott tried to destroy him. The Force of Mister Miracle's power shattered the Wall and the reunification of the Source was accomplished. The Source fashioned a new half light/half dark form and Scott asked it for death. This was granted to him and also to Metron, who thanked the Source for showing him the workings of the universe. Metron wanted to see the Fifth World, but admitted that he did not feel it held a place for him. Superman came upon their corpses and also verified that New Genesis was now a mass graveyard. (#7)

On Apokolips, both Superman and the Source learned that Darkseid had found a way to tap into the power of the New Gods' souls. Long ago, Darkseid had concluded that their souls were like no others; their greatest strength lay in godly bonding. This was demonstrated by the Forever People, whose combined souls unleashed the Infinity Man — a god whose makeup was more to the Source's liking. Superman watched and listened and ultimately decided to oppose Darkseid in this fight. The Source summoned the soul of Orion to battle his father as had always been foretold. Apokolips and New Genesis crashed into one another and created a single planet once again and Darkseid managed to retreat. The Source told Superman that Orion would be dispatched to take care of Darkseid, and the Man of Steel was left as the final witness to the barren Fourth World. (#8)

Darkseid had been storing the Source's souls in a human vessel — Jimmy Olsen. But by the time Darkseid came to reclaim the power, it had made Jimmy into a worthy opponent. (Countdown to Final Crisis #3) During their battle, the Atom ventured inside Jimmy's body and removed Darkseid's power collector and the souls were dispersed. A Boom Tube brought Orion to the scene and he killed his father by reaching into Darkseid's chest and removing his "heart." (#2) The female Forager (of the "Insect Legion") survived the death of the New Gods, even though her people on New Genesis were taken by the Source. During this affair, she had allied with Jimmy Olsen on Earth. (#1) Orion was the last New God left standing — but not for long.

Note: In Final Crisis Secret Files, Grant Morrison's summary of the Anti-Life contradicts Jim Starlin's premises. It stated: "Since the Source contains within it Life and Anti-Life, good and evil … all at once, it must be regarded as an ultimate concept which cannot be halved or divided or contained." If that was true, then it would invalidate the nature of the Source put forth in Death of the New Gods.

Chronology of Deaths:
  • Lightray, (Countdown #48, July 2007) Sleez, (#46) the Deep Six (#38, Oct. 2007)
  • Knockout (Birds of Prey #109, Oct. 2007)
  • Speed Queen (Outsiders: Five of a Kind — Martian Manhunter/Thunder, Oct. 2007)
  • Power Boy (Titans East Special #1, Jan. 2008)
  • Bloody Mary (Wonder Girl #5, Jan. 2008)
  • Bernadeth, (Countdown #19, Feb. 2008) Granny Goodness (#10)
  • Big Barda, Black Racer, Doctor Bedlam, Magnar, (Death of the New Gods #1, Dec. 2007) Lonar, Fastbak, Justeen, (#2) Takion, Mortalla, Kanto, (#3) the Forever People, Prime One, All-Widow, the Insect Legion, (#4) Kalibak, Mantis, (#5) Himon, Mister Miracle, Metron, the remainder of New Genesis, (#7) the remainder of Apokolips (#8)
  • Darkseid (Countdown #2, June 2008)
  • Orion (Final Crisis #1, July 2008)

Rebirth: Final Crisis

Shilo Norman meets the (poorly researched) avatars of the gods of New Genesis. From Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle #2 (2006); art by Billy Dallas Patton.
At the Dark Side Club, Misfit gives New Granny her wish. From Birds of Prey #118 (2008); art by Nicola Scott and Doug Hazlewood.
The new Clock King consolidates power at the Dark Side Club; with Bernadeth, Desaad, and Lashina. From Terror Titans #3 (2009); art by Joe Bennett and Jack Jadson.
Orion falls to Earth and is found by Dan Turpin. From Final Crisis #1 (2008); art by J. G. Jones.
Kalibak is recreated. From Final Crisis #3 (2008); art by J. G. Jones.
Darkseid takes over the body of Dan Turpin. From Final Crisis #3 (2008); art by J. G. Jones.
Batman fires the radion bullet into Darkseid just before the Omega Sanction strikes him and sends him into the distant past. From Final Crisis #6 (2009); art by J. G. Jones.
The Gods of New Genesis are reborn in the Earth-51 universe, which is also the home of Kamandi and refugees from Darkseid's experiments with Simyan and Mokkari. From Final Crisis #6 (2009); art by J. G. Jones.

After the gods were culled by the Source, there was a "war in heaven" — and evil won. In death, Darkseid somehow finally attained the secret of the Anti-Life Equation and the gods of New Genesis were forced into dormancy. To conquer the universe, Darkseid now required a body, and agents to spread the Equation's influence on Earth. Darkseid guided his evil New Gods into new human hosts (avatars), but he also set Simyan and Mokkari about the task of engineering their ideal hosts, from candidates on Earth fitting certain profiles.

Years before, they Darkseid was the patron of Libra (Justin Ballantine) a promising scientist who stole the plans for Starman's Cosmic Rod from his professor, Ted Knight. Glorious Godfrey provided Libra with an orbiting satellite, from which he assembled the Injustice Gang. When the gods died, Libra was a key ally because he was one of the few who could traverse the multiverse without a Boom Tube. He acted willingly on Darkseid's behalf and recruited Earth's villains to destabilize the planet. (Final Crisis Secret Files)

The dark gods returned to Earth clothed in human disguises and Darkseid became the proprietor of the Dark Side Club, (where Kalibak and Kanto were bouncers). He and Granny Goodness used the Club to exercise the Anti-Life on young super-heroes, breaking their wills and forcing them into gladiator-style combat. (Final Crisis #1) Various members of the Teen Titans were captured by Granny's minions, the Terror Titans. (Teen Titans #59-60) Black Alice, a powerful young mystic, took the power of Etrigan the Demon and teleported away, causing Granny to explode. (Birds of Prey #118) As they were, the "gods" were as vulnerable as any human, and exhibited no real super-powers. The young Clock King, leader of Darkseid's Terror Titans, took over the Dark Side Club once Darkseid's new host body was prepared. (Terror Titans #2)

The fight to stop Darkseid was waged on several fronts. Batman would devise a way to kill Darkseid; Shilo Norman returned to fight the effects of the Anti-Life; Earth's free heroes fought the growing number of mindless slaves; and Superman would learn how to undo Darkseid's grand scheme.

Orion fell to Earth, where he died and was discovered by Dan Turpin. Turpin alerted Green Lantern and the death of this god was great enough to incite the Guardians of the Universe to investigate the crime. (Final Crisis #1) But the Guardians' chief investigator, Alpha Lantern Kraken, had already been taken over by Granny Goodness. Batman discovered the truth too late and he was captured. (#2) Granny attempted to steal the Green Lanterns' central power battery but was defeated. (#4-5) Note: Grant Morrison explained, "Orion's appearance on the docks and the Guardians' response in Final Crisis #1  was written and drawn first. Jim Starlin then created Orion's death scene in Death Of The New Gods  to lead into the war god's appearance in  Final Crisis #1."

Turpin then followed a trail of disappearing children right to the door of "Boss Dark Side." (Final Crisis #1) In Blüdhaven, Turpin found Reverend Goode (Glorious Godfrey) and Darkseid's laboratory — where he was seized as the intended vessel of Darkseid's rebirth. (#2) Turpin fought for days as his body was transformed and was ultimately overtaken by Darkseid. The lab also created a tiger/man body for Kalibak. And Wonder Woman was possessed by a Female Furie and spread her infection to Batwoman, Catwoman, and Giganta. (#3-4)

In Japan, Shilo Norman had returned from the dead (he climbed out of his grave after three days) with the only remaining Mother Box (aka Motherboxxx). He recruited Super-Sumo (the Sonny Sumo of a parallel Earth) and the Super Young Team. (#2-3) Shilo said that the god war had broken time and space. He discovered that a "letter," or symbol, from the Fourth World could grant immunity to the Anti-Life. (#6) They joined up with other free heroes to apply it, and the Ray used his powers to write the Life symbol across face of the planet. (#7)

Darkseid's forces were failing just as he had become whole again. Mister Tawky Tawny killed Kalibak. Telepaths helped purge the Anti-Life from people's minds. Luthor and Sivana created a device to counter the Equation. And Metron — the sole god of New Genesis — was awakened on Earth and helped guide their victory. In final battle, Darkseid faced Batman, who had saved the radion bullet that killed Orion. Each fired at the other; the bullet struck Darkseid and his Omega beams struck Batman. Batman was banished to the "living death," and tumbled back in time. (#6) Note: The radion weapon was first seen in The New Gods #1 (1971), though spelled "radian." A radion bolt was used by Steppenwolf to kill Highfather's wife, Avia, in The New Gods #7.

The Black Racer took Darkseid once again unto death but despite the heroes' successes, Darkseid's machinations had destabilized Earth-0. It was tumbling towards destruction and Superman set about creating a super-computer based on the Miracle Machine (given to him by Brainiac 5 in the future). This machine was essentially a Mother Box capable of a single operation, calculating the Life Equation. To power it, he took the X-Element from Metron's Mobius Chair, and the multiverse was corrected. During the crisis, refugees from Earth-0 were shepherded to Earth-51. Along with Kamandi, these people repopulated that dead world. The gods of New Genesis were reborn and also made their home in that universe. (#7)

Issue Writer Artist Characters
Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle
#1 (Nov. 2005) Grant Morrison Pasqual Ferry Mister Miracle II, Metron, Highfather, Desaad (Dr. Dezard), Darkseid (Boss Dark Side), Granny Goodness, Lashina, Wunda, Bernadeth, Mad Harriet, Black Racer
#2 (Feb. 2006) Billy Dallas Patton & Freddie Williams II Mister Miracle II, Metron, Desaad (Dr. Dezard), Darkseid (Boss Dark Side), Black Racer, Highfather, Orion, Lightray, Big Bear, Beautiful Dreamer, Fastbak, Doctor/Baron Bedlam
#3 (Mar. 2006) Freddie Williams II Mister Miracle II, Desaad (Dr. Dezard), Darkseid (Boss Dark Side), Doctor/Baron Bedlam, Lashina, Granny Goodness, Kalibak, Kanto
#4 (May 2006) Mister Miracle II, Metron
Seven Soldiers Special #1 (Dec. 2006) J. H. Williams III Mister Miracle II, Darkseid
Death of the New Gods
#1 (Early Dec. 2007) Jim Starlin Darkseid, Desaad, Kalibak, Virman Vundabar, Kanto, Granny Goodness, Metron, Highfather, Takion, Orion, Himon, Serifan, Mister Miracle, Big Barda, Black Racer, Doctor Bedlam
#2 (Late Dec. 2007) Darkseid, Desaad, Kalibak, Virman Vundabar, Kanto, Granny Goodness, Metron, Highfather, Takion, Orion, Himon, Mister Miracle, the Commander, Teledar, Jezebel
#3 (Jan. 2008) Darkseid, Kanto, Granny Goodness, Metron, Takion, Orion, Himon, Mister Miracle, Kalibak, the Commander, Teledar, Mantis
#4 (Feb. 2008) Darkseid, Desaad, Metron, Orion, Himon, Mister Miracle, Kalibak, Mantis, the Commander, Teledar, the Source, Mark Moonrider, Beautiful Dreamer, Big Bear, Vykin, Serifan
#5 (Mar. 2008) Darkseid, Metron, Orion, Himon, Mister Miracle, Kalibak, Mantis, the Commander, Teledar, the Source, the Anti-Life Entity
#6 (Apr. 2008) Darkseid, Metron, Orion, Himon, Mister Miracle, the Commander, Teledar, the Source, the Anti-Life Entity
#7 (May 2008) Darkseid, Metron, Orion, Infinity Man, Mister Miracle, the Source, the Anti-Life Entity
#8 (June 2008) Darkseid, Orion, the Source
Final Crisis
#1 (July 2008) Grant Morrison J.G. Jones Darkseid, Metron, Orion, Glorious Godfrey, Kalibak, Kanto
#2 (Aug. 2008) Darkseid, Mister Miracle II, Sonny Sumo II, Granny Goodness, Glorious Godfrey, Simyan, Mokkari, Black Racer
#3 (Sept. 2008) Mister Miracle II, Sonny Sumo II, Granny Goodness, Mokkari, Black Racer, Orion, Female Furies
#4 (Nov. 2008) J.G. Jones & Carlos Pacheco Kalibak, Glorious Godfrey, Simyan, Mokkari, Female Furies, Darkseid, Mister Miracle II, Sonny Sumo II
#5 (Dec. 2008) Granny Goodness, Darkseid, Mister Miracle II, Sonny Sumo II, Glorious Godfrey, Simyan, Mokkari, Female Furies, Kalibak, Metron
#6 (Jan. 2009) J.G. Jones, Carlos Pacheco & Doug Mahnke Kalibak, Mister Miracle II, Sonny Sumo II, Female Furies, Black Racer, Darkseid, Metron
#7 (Mar. 2009) Doug Mahnke Darkseid, Black Racer, Mister Miracle II, Sonny Sumo II, Female Furies, Mister Miracle, Highfather, Lightray, Big Barda

Special thanks to Stephen Michael Menendian

Continue to Part 6: New 52…