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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #287

Today’s featured villain is the baddest dude in the universe. (Archive is.)

10/14/07

287. Darkseid

Darkseid 1.jpg

O Deadly Darkseid is probably the greatest villain in the DC Universe, because he is the purest evil around. After all, Darkseid’s life goal is nothing less than the complete and total subjugation of the universe. He aims high. Also, he is not afraid to wear a skirt.

The ever-brilliant Jack Kirby was Darkseid’s creator, introducing him in a small cameo in Superman‘s Pal Jimmy Olsen, of all series. Said Darkseid went on to become the Big Bad of Jack’s Fourth World saga, achieving more popularity than any other character in the franchise. When you need the biggest, baddest bad guy for a big epic story, you turn to Darkseid. In that way, he’s become overexposed and less effective, which is a shame.

Anyway, for those not in the know, Darkseid is the dread ruler of Apokolips, the scariest planet in the cosmos. He’s an extremely powerful and horrible tyrant. He’s constantly locked in battle with the denizens of New Genesis, Apokolips’ cheerier twin planet. His arch-foe is his son Orion, born on Apokolips but raised on New Genesis. Darkseid’s most fearsome power is his Omega Beams, eye-beams of doom that either annihilate or transport. He seeks the Anti-Life Equation, a mysterious power that gives the bearer complete control over the will of others. With it, he plans to conquer the universe and remake it in his own image.

Darkseid 2.jpgDarkseid 3.jpg
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Big evil dude on a scary planet thingie who is the father of his main antagonist? Hmm… sounds kinda like Darth Vader. Yes, I’m fully convinced that George Lucas lifted some of his favorite bits from Jack Kirby’s Fourth World to create Star Wars. I am also fully convinced that Darkseid would completely destroy Darth Vader in combat.

Kirby’s stories were amazing, turning Darkseid into a giant, mythic force of evil. Over time, Darkseid’s been watered down and absorbed into the DC Universe. He fights Superman and the Justice League a lot, and usually loses. Most creators don’t use him very well. For every Kirby run or Great Darkness Saga or Walt Simonson‘s Orion series, there’s a dozen lame stories. In the animated DC Universe, Darkseid was brought in as the ultimate villain, and he was used pretty darn well. Michael Ironside was the perfect actor for it. So at least there’s that.

I guess I’ve run out of things to say. I’ve always felt Darkseid was a truly terrific villain, and easily one of the best in comics– but then, that’s Jack Kirby for you. He brings it, and he brings it big. Darkseid’s a super-fascist from outer space who keeps coming really darn close to taking over the universe. Can’t beat that!

For more on the granite-faced god king, hit up the Wiki. And remember kids: Darkseid is.

Any other suggestions for Villain Week? I’m especially looking for oddball ones, or even baddies not from the Big Two. Bring ‘em on!

23 Comments

And yet you don’t like Dr. Doom?

I’ve mentioned this on the board recently, but it bears pointing out again.

Not counting Hunger Dogs, the original Kirby “4th World” cycle ends with a panel of Darkseid standing and laughing. ‘Bout as close to a “win” as evil ever GOT in superhero books, up ’till that point.

Also: 9 Jack 9! Notorious Norbert the Narc! Doctor Beaky! The Spook!

Villain suggestion: Tricky Prickears from the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers

You should do an entry on the greatest villain of all time… The Spot (Unless he’s already come up and I’ve forgotten)

Stephane Savoie

October 15, 2007 at 5:51 am

Great but weird villains?
Well, the way Mr Freeze was reimagined in the Batman Animated series was stupendous.
Dr Bong is always a favorite.
The Morrison Mirror Master is abit overexposed, but was pretty sweet initially.
I think you already did the Brotherhood of Dada.

Folks go on about Kirby’s genius so much that it’s easy to gloss over it. For educated fans, not the adolescent, drooling fanboys who buy what the big 2 tell them is cool, anything or anyone who is hyped constantly can be easily overlooked. Darksied could easily be one example of Kirby’s creative genius being overlooked.

He was only at DC for, what… 3-4 years? Not very long in camparison. To downplay it a bit, he only did one thing for DC that stuck: The New Gods. It doesn’t sound like much in the grand scheme of the DCU, especially for those who came to comics in the 80′s 90′s, or even the 00′s.

Now step back and look at the big picture.

Kirby jumped over to DC and immediately created one of the most powerful, cosmic level, galactic threats there is. He created an entire mythology around this one central figure: Darkseid. Full backstory, supporting cast, fringe groups, and an array of protagonists. Then he left.

All Jack Kirby did was create amazing things wherever he went. Jump to DC, drop (in my opinion) THE major background evil into the company’s lap, then book it back to Marvel.

As amazing as the New Gods group was, imagine how much better it could have been if DC had insisted on giving him someone to keep him focused, like he had with Joe Simon & Stan Lee.

Oddball + Evil = Herr Starr.

But if you really want to go for an oddball choice, how about God? He’s made great villainy appearances in Savage Dragon and Preacher and I’m sure there’s more.

My first exposure to Darkseid was in the X-Men/Teen Titans cross-over…I didn’t know the DC side, but knew the X-Men…and throughout the pages of the book, he’s in shadow, unseen, unnamed, until he summons forth Dark Phoenix and stands face to face giving nothing to her.
Claremont’s writing and Simonson’s art just sold him as being just someone of awesome power and badness.

Also, he is not afraid to wear a skirt.

To quote Scrooge McDuck, “It’s not a skirt, it’s a kilt!” :)

Anyway, I am a HUGE fan of the New Gods. It took me a little while to get used to Kirby’s particular narrative voice in his scripting for those books. Once I did, I really came to enjoy them. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve re-read those issues.

Here’s my li’l New Gods website:

http://www.geocities.com/newgods2000/

Well, since you asked, two of my favorite Bat-villains are Kite-Man and Calendar Man. Captain Boomerang had a glorious Silver Age followed by stealing the show in Suicide Squad. For groups, I have always admired the Frightful Four. And for guys who should be thriving in the modern age, there’s the Tattooed Man.

I would also have suggested Vulture, but you showed your appreciation for the art of villainy by already honoring him.

A skirt is acceptable…but let us forget the time he faced off against a nascent Green Lantern Corps wearing bright yellow.

Would it be too much to ask to bring forth Achebe from Priest’s Black Panther run? And don’t forget Daki!

How about Chairface Chippendale?

The Corinthian from the Sandman is an awesome villain.

I’d nominate the Terror over Chairface Chippendale.

Mojo Jojo of the Powerpuff Girls is up there (I’ve got two daughters–it’s either PPGs or Winx Club).

Possibly enterys on rouges gallerys.

Batman and the savage Dragon have two of the best filled with villans that may not be able to flesh out a whole reason to love comics but combined have the power.

For Batman

Clayface
Killer Croc
Poison Ivy
Harly Quinn
and more

For the Dragon

Powerhouse
Dung
Mako
and much much more

Think top five of the rest

Future villain: Ned Packer, president of Godcorp.

From Kirby’s last Mr Miracle issue, Darkseid appears in the middle of a storm just after Scott and Barda have married and left. Mylo, asks him:

-Have you seen that storm, sir?
-I am the storm.

Yeah, that last page of Mister Miracle #18 was one of the best uses of Darkseid by Kirby. It’s on the understated side, which is why I think it works so well.

An important point: If you actually look at the original Kirby issues, Darkseid does not make all that many appearances. He is usually manipulating events from off-screen (or off-page, to be more accurate), invisibly pulling the strings of his pawns, who make frequent mention of him in ominous, fearful tones. And when he does show up, he’s typically on the sidelines, offering up his commentary on the action taking place.

I think this was a *very* effective strategy by Kirby, under-utilizing his main villian, to the point that when Darkseid *did* show up, it packed an incredibly dramatic punch. I really wish that creators after Kirby had recognized that. Darkseid should not be getting into fistfights with Superman every other month. I think that John Byrne and Walter Simonson were the only two writers who really knew how to use Darkseid well.

Good entry.

Godland is a reason to love comics, and includes Basil Cronus and Friedrich Nickelhead, two lovable villians.

Good points, Ben. When Kirby’s use of Darkseid was excellently infrequent, and you’re right, he’s been really ill-used by many subsequent writers. Sort of like Galactus.

I too love that line from Mister Miracle, but my favorite Darkseid (and fourth world) moment of all comes at the end of Mister Miracle #9…

Young Scott Free has escaped para-demons and dog soldiers to find a way out of Apokolips, a boom tube created by Metron and Himon. Mass-gravity atoms are used to crush him to the ground but still he crawls forward towards the escape.
Scott calls to young Barda, fallen behind him “I’ll crawl to freedom–! Come–with–me–”
Barda calls back “Not-yet-Scott! I-I’m not ready—perhaps–someday!–keep going!”
Then mighty Darkseid himself appears in a crackle of cosmic force, and says of Scott and the boom tube “He can take it! I’ll not stop him now! If courage and bravery took him here!–Some of it was mine!”
Darkseid then reaches a hand to the crawling prince of New Genesis and shouts “Stay, Warrior! Let me complete the destruction of Scott Free– so that you may live with the majesty that is Darkseid!”
But Scott laboriously crawls away. Darkseid says “The young fool goes on! He struggles to rise! If he leaves Darkseid, he’ll still find death!” And Himon answers “If he leaves Apokolips, he’ll find the universe!!!”

Scott Free raises his head and shouts “Let me be Scott Free — and find myself!”
And he leaps into the boom tube and is free.

Yeah.
That’s the good stuff.

Weird villains?
Look no further than Batman’s rogue gallery…..
Personally I think the Joker is trash compared to:
Ra’s Al Ghul:A terrorist who knows Batman’s identity & whose daughter loves the Batman in the very first appearance….masterstroke!
Clayfaces
Hugo Strange:I lose track of the number of times he’s returned from the dead
Two face:probably the most original villain ever made
The scarecrow
Cornelius Stirk
Zsasz
The Ventriloquist & Scarface

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