In 1995, DC launched a new New Gods ongoing series, joined about half a year later by a new Mister Miracle ongoing, and two months after that by a new ongoing titled Takion, starring a new character connected to the Source.
It was an ambitious plan. Prior relaunches had included New Gods and Mister Miracle. But the addition of Takion made the Fourth World family of titles consist of three series for the first time since Kirby’s original run. The subject of Takion also suggested that DC was letting the Fourth World continue to evolve.
It wouldn’t last long, however. The three new titles (especially New Gods) were defined by a mid-1990s, post-Image-Comics aesthetic that, while not uncommon at DC at the time, rarely succeeded critically or commercially. The Justice League family of titles had a similar aesthetic, and they were being cancelled at this time to make way for Grant Morrison’s (far more successful) JLA.
The story was also disappointing. In the first two issues, Orion killed Darkseid, only to contaminate the Source and himself in the process. This spurred the various gods to go mad. Orion was clearly harboring some surviving element of Darkseid, and Darkseid popped out of Orion in the sixth issue. Lightray claimed the throne of New Genesis and waged war on his own population. Highfather, apparently trying to stem the madness, had a mental asylum created on New Genesis (after visiting Arkham Asylum!) — and then locked only himself up in it. With the Source contaminated, an ancient leviathan named S’ivaa rose from the depths. Then New Genesis and Apokolips were combined into a single planet. The pace was fast, but the story was uncontrolled, filled with dramatic events that didn’t carry the narrative weight they should’ve.
The three titles also didn’t coordinate well with one another. The early issues of Mister Miracle saw him being installed as Highfather’s replacement (presumably after Highfather imprisoned himself in his new mental asylum), despite Lightray’s madness making him want to rule. Worse, Orion and Lightray seemed to be getting alone, despite Orion gunning for Lightray in the pages of New Gods. Meanwhile, Highfather created Takion (in Takion) because of the Source’s corruption — yet this wasn’t part of his plans as shown in New Gods. Highfather’s appearances in Takion are hard to place between issues of New Gods.
John Byrne took over New Gods (with issue #12), taking it in a different direction with a very different aesthetic. During his four issues on the title, both Mister Miracle and Takion came to an end with issue #7. And with Byrne’s four issues concluded, DC brought New Gods to an end as well, relaunching the series as Jack Kirby’s Fourth World.
Overall, this era of New Gods history is a bit of a mess. But it’s also an interesting artifact of mid-1990s comics. Tellingly, this era’s highlights don’t fit this mold. Keith Giffen’s art for New Gods Vol. #9 makes the issue fascinating, recasting everything into a kind of fun and stylized Kirby pastiche. The final four issues by Bryne (especially #12, which is simply a well-told tale) are another highlight. Takion isn’t great and misses some opportunities (why did it matter that the protagonist was blind before he got his powers?), but it’s based on an interesting concept (essentially a Source elemental) and certainly has its moments. It also managed to explain the plot of New Gods better than that title did.