Darkseid. The very mention of his name is enough to send shivers down Superman’s back and raise the hair on his arms. Darkseid is the quintessential DC villain. He’s powerful, intelligent, and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Don’t get me wrong…it isn’t as though DC’s other villains aren’t good. It’s just they’re not Darkseid.
Darkseid was created by Jack Kirby. If you don’t know that name, you probably should.
Jack Kirby is often called the King of Comics…and for good reason. He’s responsible for some of the most well-known characters in existence and universally regarded as one of the most influential comic book creators of all time. Think about him this way. Jack Kirby is responsible for the likes of the X-Men, Hulk, Thor, Black Panther, Silver Surfer, and the Fantastic Four. Sure, all the above are Marvel properties but that isn’t the point. Jack Kirby is as timeless as these characters.
Darkseid mysteriously first appeared in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #134 back in 1970. While the book didn’t do too much to explain who Darkseid was, it did make it very apparent that he wasn’t to be taken lightly. Shortly after the release of Superman’s Pal, DC and Kirby would further elaborate on the Darkseid character.
Darkseid is a New God who first appeared alongside the other New Gods. As it’s told, the New Gods and Old Gods were interlocked in battle. At the battle’s conclusion, the New Gods emerged victorious, the Old Gods dead, and the home planet of the two destroyed. All wasn’t lost, however, as the debris from the planet reformed as two new planets, New Genesis and Apokolips.
The two planets, while coming from the same debris, were as different as imaginable. New Genesis was a lush utopian-like haven filled with wildlife and scenery good enough for a computer screensaver. Apokolips, well, Apokolips was not. Rather than being a planet filled with beauty, Apokolips was a lifeless Hell. And on that lifeless Hell ruled Darkseid. What’s important to known of the two planets is that New Genesis housed the Life Equation, or the DC equivalent for all that gives life throughout the Universe. Because Darkseid and Apokolips are the opposite of New Genesis and the New Gods, Darkseid made it his life’s mission to attain the Anti-Life Equation. The Anti-Life Equation, as you’ve probably guessed, takes life away.
In continuity, the New Gods are often considered the “good guys”. While this is mostly true, it isn’t completely true. They are ruled by Highfather, a leader who seeks truth and justice. Highfather and his New Gods are more than willing to go to war with the inhabitants of Apokolips if such measure are called for. This, however, doesn’t mean that they seek war. It’s actually quite the opposite.
The New Gods are technologically advanced having items such as Motherboxes and the Mobius Chair at their disposal. You may remember them from 2017‘s Justice League movie? Motherboxes aren’t entirely understood. What we do know is that they can and have been used as a weapon, a method to heal their users, equipment that can transport beings dimensionally, and more. The Mobius Chair is a giant throne often sat on by Metron. Metron is neither good or bad (although if called upon, he will typically side with good) and simply acts as an observer in DC’s Universe. His goal is to watch over the Universe and collect information, all of which is held inside the chair. Lastly, of the New Gods, Highfather is able to communicate with a wall of energy that holds together all that is known in the world. This makes his knowledge near limitless.
Unlike the New Gods who wish for peace and harmony, Darkseid wishes to create a world without free-will. In short, he wants a world that leaps to his every request. To do this, Darkseid travels from world to world brutalizing them into submission until they are left with no choice but to obey him.
Just look at Apokolips.
Apokolips is a destitute hellhole because Darkseid beat the want of freedom from its creatures and beings. Each creature that calls Apokolips home, lives only to serve its ruler. To paraphrase a famous analogy…Darkseid tells his world to jump and they ask how high.
Darkseid as a villain
I’ve often thought about the importance of Darkseid to DC. There are hundreds of characters who could do what he has done, yet, none do it. There are more powerful beings, capable of much worse, but it’s Darkseid who is the definition of evil. But what is it about the character that makes him so compelling? This very thought has kept me up at night, caused my wife to roll her eyes while she listens to me stammer my way through logic, and so much more.
And then it finally hit me…the importance of Darkseid to DC is simple…
Darkseid is the very thought that keeps the world at peace with itself. His presence is a reminder of past tragedies and what happened during and because of them. If this sounds confusing, don’t worry. Let me explain.
Darkseid doesn’t just want to rule the Universe, he wants to rule it all-the-while being cheered by those whom he subjugates. Let me put it this way…Darkseid is a mirror perfectly reflecting back our own fears. He reminds us that freedom and the pressures of it don’t come without cost and that captivity is a place better suited for us.
At his heart, Darkseid is a megalomaniac bent on proving that the world is better off with him than without him. If this sounds screwed up, it’s because it kind of is.
For context, a megalomaniac is a person who believes themselves to be all–powerful and in some instances. even omnipotent. They believe that the world is meant for them to rule and will stop at nothing to get that which they believe.
History repeats itself
A quick search of histories most well-known megalomaniacs will lead you to finding a list of real–world Darkseid’s.
- Kim Jong Il
- Idi Amin Dada
- Nicolae Ceausescu
- Mao Zedong
- Saddam Hussein
This list explains precisely the importance of Darkseid.
Let me explain.
Darkseid perfectly plays to our own inhibitions and fears. He reminds us of what happens when the wrong person gets into power. He shows what can happen if leadership becomes a dictatorship. And worst of all, he is proof that history does repeat itself. Like Hitler who decimated an entire race, Stalin who starved the Ukraine, and Hussein who invaded Kuwait for oil, Darkseid is willing to have all those around him suffer for his own gain.
Just look at this…
Hitler rose to power after capitalizing on political and democratic frustration. The 1930s brought about troubled times for the world. The Great Depression, as it hs come to be called, caused heartache, starvation, and financial fragility all over the world. Of all the countries affected by it, few were as worse off as Germany.
By the end of the First World War, Germany was left as a fragment of its former self. It had signed an armistice to end the fighting. Shortly after signing the document, the Imperial Government began to collapse. This, coupled with civil unrest in the country, caused major political parties to join in hopes that their unity could suppress the uprising.
As a result of Germany agreeing to the peace treaty, they had to accept full responsibility for the war. This also meant that they would be, in some regard, held financially responsible. For a country who had just come off war, this decision crippled their already frail economy. What’s worse is that nationalists, military members and the like felt betrayed. They believed that the war could’ve been won had it not been for the interference of the politicians. These views became the focal point of Hitler’s rise to power. He became vocal of the happenings and pinned blame on the Jewish. Hitler wrongfully claimed that the success of the Jewish population was a result of war profiteering and subversion. Over time, he would spread fear of a communist uprising…one that only he could stop. By the time he solidified his spot at the head of Germany, the press that spoke against him was silenced and anti-Jewish laws passed.
Hitler as a speaker
What’s remarkable about Adolf Hitler is that although the people were oppressed, he didn’t require that they be. Instead, he used his speeches, those in which he’s become famous for, to cause excitement through fear in the Germans. He foretold of a world in which the people were afraid of. Because of this, he promised that if they followed him, that world would not happen. That is, he carefully crafted a message that saw the people give up their freedom all-the-while living under the constraints of his “perfect world”.
This is exactly what Darkseid does.
Hitler’s claims had no merit and instead were born from bigotry, anger, hate, and, of course, fear. Hitler used the emotions of his targets (the German people) to push himself into power. He played, just as Darkseid plays, on the notion that freedom and the pressures it brings doesn’t come without a cost. Just like Hitler, he tells the world’s that he conquers that captivity is a better and a safer place where they cannot be hurt.
I’d even go as far as to say that, in a sense, Darkseid is DC’s Hitler. That’s right…the importance of Darkseid kind of lies in the fact that he’s DC’s Hitler.
Think about it.
Although much more physically imposing than Hitler, Darkseid and the way he operates is eerily similar to him. Darkseid doesn’t rely solely on his stature to achieve his goals. Sure, he possesses superhuman strength, speed, durability, is nearly invulnerable, and immortal, but that doesn’t mean he needs any of it.
Not even close. The importance of Darkseid lies in something outside of his physical form.
Words as a mechanism
No different from Hitler, he understands that getting what you want is easier if you convince those around you that they want it too. This cannot be done through brute force. Getting what you want is achieved through words…carefully constructed words. And words come from only one place…the mind.
Darkseid is one of the smartest villains in all of DC. His intelligence is so great that he’s considered one of the pre-eminent minds in the Universe.
And for good reason.
Darkseid, along with the other New Gods live outside the normal realm of time and space. They reside in a place called the Fourth World and due to its close quarters with The Source, have evolved into beings of near perfection. This means that along with the already mentioned abilities, Darkseid’s intelligence is vastly superior to anything you’d find on Earth. He’s a thinker and that’s precisely what makes him most dangerous.
Rather than forcing his will from the frontlines, he often does so from the background. In fact, he rarely does battle with his enemies and only does so against opponents who he deems worthy. Instead, he sends his armies to fight his battles for him. This, as I’m sure you realize, is very similar to all of the other megalomaniacs in history. This characteristic plays into exactly why, when he shows up, he works so well. Readers know that when Darkseid appears big things happen.
All of this adds to up to the fact that Darkseid is completely different from so many other villains. He is, for good reason, one of the most terrifying villains in comics. Just as Hitler unleashed a reign of terror on the Earth, Darkseid unleashes it on the Universe. He is evil personified and will forever go down as DC’s most brutal leader. As such, the importance of Darkseid cannot be understated.
Scratch that. The importance of Darkseid can be stated because I just did it.