Monday, September 13, 2010

The Source Wall

Creation and Inspiration
The wall itself was not created or depicted by Jack Kirby although he did refer to 'a final barrier' before the Source and described the imprisoned giants around it. It was first shown in the Teen Titans/X-Men cross-over and was created by Walt Simonson and Chris Claremont. Simonson provided this account in a post on Comic Book Resources:

"The Source Wall as it is currently understood visually in the DCU first appeared in the X/Titans crossover. [...] the Wall as such did not appear in Kirby's New Gods.

What did appear was a four page introductory sequence in NEW GODS #5 in which Metron, using his Mobius Chair, explores the 'Final Barrier'. "And somewhere beyond--lies the Source: the greatest of mysteries." An additional description suggests that this is the Promethian Galaxy--a place of giants--where "all roads to the Source come to an end--". Visually, there's a double page shot of a giant strapped to an enormous piece of Kirby debris. There's another panel with a large head of a female who tried to achieve "the maximum state". And failed. And, in the text, Metron notes that 'beyond all the knowledge and sweeping concept at our command, the mystery of the Source lies--serene---omnipotent--all-wise.

There is, however, no shot of a 'Source Wall' as such. No final visual barrier beyond which an entity may not venture. No wall full of entities who tried to breach the final barrier and failed and became subsumed within the Wall.

Chris and I invented that notion--and its visualization--for the X/Titans book, clearly extrapolating from what Jack had done.

The neatest part of the invention is that apparently, the notion of the Wall and its execution were such a perfect fit for the existing New Gods mythology that folks don't really remember exactly where it came from."[1]

According to Jack Kirby at a San Diego Comic-Con appearance in the late 1980s, the inspiration for the size of the Wall comes from "Rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham", a religious song that contains the lyrics "so high you can't get over it/so low you can't get under it/so wide you can't get around it/you gotta go through the door".

Fictional History

One of the few known persons to have entered the Source was an amalgam of Zeus, Odin, Ares, Jove, and Highfather. Five others are known also to have passed the Source Wall, Barry Allen (in Super Team Family #15), Spectre (Hal Jordan), Metron working with Swamp Thing (in Swamp Thing #62), and Lucifer Morningstar. Highfather and Darkseid together have managed to destroy the source wall before. The Flash went into the source for a cure for Orion of the New Gods, but didn't remember anything from his time within. When Jordan was the Spectre for a time, he passed it and had a conversation with the Old-Timer, formerly one of the Guardians of the Universe, and saw a giant Green Lantern battery. While talking with the Old-Timer, he asked him "Is this The Source?" The Old-Timer replied "It is Your Understanding of it." The Old-Timer then brought Jordan into the battery and explained to him that without any positive or negative charge, there would be no energy or life. After leaving The Source, Jordan felt as though a part of himself was still in the Source. When Lucifer went past the Source Wall he saw what looked like a huge yellowish man made of rock. Lucifer then stood on its shoulder while looking for Michael in the DC Universe. Whether or not this is what The Source really looks like or is how Lucifer views The Source is left unknown. It seems that humans and other beings such as angels when they pass the Source Wall view The Source differently.

In Countdown, it is revealed the 52 universes are each surrounded by a source wall, with the Bleed between the source walls of the various universes. The Monitors refer to an impending disaster if they don't act to stop travel between the 52 universes, and in issue #38 of Countdown, they finally reveal that each time a being passes between universes, they break a little of each universes' source wall. If a source wall is breached too many times, it will collapse and lead to chaos and the destruction of its universe. In Countdown #23, Superman-Prime operates out of a cave within the Source Wall itself, specifically a section bordering Earth-15. He mentions its deterioration and later blasts it with his heat vision, causing a devastating chain-reaction which seemingly obliterated the 15th universe.

Darkseid's connection to the Source Wall is very notable because he has not only been attached to it, but removed from the wall multiple times. In Jeph Loeb's run of Superman/Batman, Darkseid is thrown on to the wall by Superman and later removed from it because of a deal brokered with an alternate version of the villain. Throughout Darkseid's rule of Apokolips and reign as a new god, he has made it one of his primary goals to breach the Source Wall.

Darkseid's father, Yuga Khan once attempted to unravel the unknowable mystery of the Source as well. However, like so many before him, Khan was made part of the great wall. One of Darkseid's attempts to breach the wall freed Yuga, but his own insatiable hunger for the secrets of the Source returned him to the imprisonment of the Source Wall.

Death of the New Gods
The Death of the New Gods miniseries features The Source Wall extensively, and updates a number of elements in regards to it. In addition to a second Source Wall being created to store the souls of the slain New Gods, the Source itself reveals that it has never truly resided behind the wall, and that only the Bleed rests beyond the wall. The wall is one aspect of the universe that is preventing the Source from merging with its "other half" that was split in to the Anti-Life entity after an attack by the Old Gods. It ultimately conspires to destroy the Source wall, allowing the Anti Life entity to fully enter our universe and the Source to merge with it, becoming whole once again. At the end of Countdown, a battered Source wall is shown, with chunks of the wall floating in space. In Superman/Batman Torment, Superman is imprisoned within the Source while Desaad controls High Father's staff. However Batman is able to take control of High Father's staff. Superman uses the staff as an anchor and pulls himself through the source wall and out of the Source.

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