After much noise, the acclaimed Snyder Cut of League of Justice (read Noah Levine’s review) premieres on HBO Max today, March 18. While superhero fans are divided on the potential of the filmHorror fans have reason to be interested in this remake of DC Comics’ greatest heroes. Instead of Steppenwolf, Darkseid will be the main villain of the film.
Simply put, Darkseid is not only the greatest villain in comic book history; it is the scariest monster in popular fiction. More than an antagonist who does bad things, Darkseid is a corrupt god who seeks to destroy all free will in the universe. Initially developed as part of the Fourth world Franchises, a collection of DC Comics miniseries featuring psychedelic super myths created by legendary artist Jack Kirby, Darkseid is the ruler of Apokolips, the war-torn sister planet of the Edenic New Genesis and its ruler Highfather.
While Darkseid does normal villain things like trying to destroy Superman or attempting to conquer New Genesis, his true goal is the eradication of free will. He tirelessly searches for the Anti-Life Equation, a mysterious force that would give him control over the thoughts and feelings of everyone in the universe. Darkseid’s goals make him more than just a bad boy. Instead, he is the epitome of hopelessness and depression; the avatar of every nihilistic thought you’ve ever had; the living confirmation that all is lost and nothing matters. What supervillain, what movie monster could I compare?
These six stories will give you the best overview of Darkseid horror.
The eternal people (1971)
Darkseid first appears on the last page of Superman’s friend Jimmy Olsen # 134 and serves as the main antagonist of all Fourth world Serie. But the unlikely title The eternal people offers the best example of Darkseid’s wickedness. The title of the comic refers to a group of teenage hippies from New Genesis who hang out on earth and oppose the forces of Apokolips by spreading peace and love, or combining their essences to form the superhero Infinity Man.
Yes, that sounds a bit cheesy, without the greatness of the confrontations between Darkseid and his son Orion, who is separated, that propels the main one. New gods comic. But Forever People refocuses Darkseid’s goals in a way that simple superhero books don’t quite capture. Darkseid isn’t just doing bad things that Forever People wants to stop. Rather, he wants to destroy Forever People because they represent free will and free thought, the two things he wants to destroy. You are not simply interested in committing crimes. Instead, he wants to rid the world of all vestiges of joy and love, even when a group of hippies celebrate them.
“The great saga of darkness” (1982)
Outside of Fourth world comics, Darkseid first became an enemy in the DC universe in the pages of The Legion of Superheroes. Set 1000 years in the future, the Legion of Super-Heroes is a team of costumed teenagers who model themselves as Superboy and other heroes of our time. A largely optimistic book, the Legion took a turn when they were attacked by corrupted versions of Orion, a Guardian of the Universe, and Superman himself. The legionnaires trace the attacks to the remains of Apokolips, where Darkseid wants to manifest once more in our dimension.
From Paul Levitz, Keith Giffen and Larry Mahlstedt, “The Great Darkness Saga” stands as the greatest epic in the Legion’s 60-year history, bringing together every member of the team’s extensive roster, along with nearly every other heroes that have appeared in the series. The sheer scale of the story reveals that Darkseid is far bigger than any bad boy. Even literal legions of heroes cannot defeat Darkseid, relying instead on Highfather and Orion to return and bring him back to Apokolips.
Where “The Great Darkness Saga” brought the Fourth world In the larger DC Universe Legends brought them to the present and established Darkseid as the main antagonist of the publisher’s heroes. A surprisingly small-scale story, Legends presents Darkseid’s plan to turn Earth against its heroes by displaying propaganda from the manipulator Glorious Godfrey (operating under the name G. Gordon Godfrey, a reference to a certain conservative radio host and Watergate conspirator).
Although the story feels more like a starting point for late ’80s DC Comics titles, which include Suicide squad other Justice League International, also envisioned a different kind of enemy for the heroes of the universe. As people’s faith in superheroes waned, Darkseid enacted a plan that couldn’t be defeated by Superman’s fists or Batman’s bat-a-rangs. Instead, it showed Darkseid attacking people’s hopes and beliefs, corrupting the very feelings that heroes are supposed to inspire.
“Rock of Ages” (1998)
Darkseid remained a major villain throughout the 90s, appearing at all major events, but mostly acting as a generic villain. That was until Scottish writer Grant Morrison took over the reins of DC’s flagship book. Justice League of America (now titled JLA). Morrison reinvented the Justice League as a pantheon of supergods that stopped reality-altering threats, including geniuses and sentient suns. With that kind of scope, Darkseid had to make an appearance.
Darkseid appears only in two of the six parts of the “Rock of Ages” story (JLA # 10-15), which primarily focuses on Lex Luthor leading an Injustice Gang of arch-enemies against the JLA. But when Superman destroys the Philosopher’s Stone, he inadvertently sets events in motion that lead Darkseid to discover the Anti-Life Equation and conquer the universe. Although the League eventually undoes its mistake and prevents this terrible future, those two problems give us a glimpse of humanity and its heroes under Darkseid’s thumb, reduced to mindless nothingness, living in squalor for no reason to exist.
Final crisis (2008)
After stretching familiarizing himself with the Fourth world on the pages of JLA and during his ambitious Seven soldiers crossover, Grant Morrison offered his definitive version of the New Gods with the epic Final crisis. Final crisis it narrates the end of the Fourth World and the death of the New Gods, and the beginning of the Fifth World, in which the gods manifest in the bodies of humans. Although gods, both good and bad, take the form of everything from Japanese superheroes to television preachers, the book focuses primarily on Darkseid’s arrival in the body of serious Metropolis cop Dan Turpin.
Told through Turpin’s perspective as Darkseid’s mind invades his, we see the utter horror of Anti-Life. Turpin spends the first half of the series trying to remind himself of the good in the world, its harshness, and the possibility of justice. But by the time Apokolips’ henchmen bombard him with Anti-Life, Turpin has succumbed to hopelessness. “The choice is simple,” he states in an inner monologue: “Because here, in the end, there is no choice at all. Only Apokolips and Darkseid, forever.” The transformation ends with a presentation page showing Turpin as Darkseid looking at the reader with his thumb pointing down. The legend of the final thought says: “Give up.”
Mr miracle (2018-2019)
Darkseid Is. Those two words perfectly express Darkseid’s spirit. With that short sentence, Darkseid declares to the world that no hope or fight can defeat him. No resistance will overcome the erosion of your will. There is no escape from the nonsense of life. In the end, you will succumb to the inevitable fact, Darkseid is.
That phrase has been around for decades, but it was never applied as effectively as in Tom King and Mitch Gerads. Mr miracle 12-issue maxi-series about super escape artist Mister Miracle, Highfather’s son who fled Apokolips prisons with his wife Big Barda. With the Anti-Life Equation finally in his possession, Darkseid slowly strips Mister Miracle of the will to live, a process illustrated by pages of nine panels interrupted by white text on a black background that declares, “Darkseid is.” In those 12 issues, King and Gerads perfectly capture the appeal of the New Gods and Darkseid in particular.
And that’s good news for comic book movie fans, as King has been working with director Ava DuVernay to write his next movie. New gods movie (as the world’s greatest defender of a wrinkle in time, This makes me very happy).
So even if Snyder League of Justice fails to capture all of Darkseid’s horror, there is reason to expect it to adequately dominate movie theaters in the future … if “hope” were a word we could apply to Darkseid.