Darkseid (pronounced ‘Dark-side’) is undoubtedly one of the most fearsome and popular villains in the DC Comics canon. A tyrannical alien overlord, he rules over the terrifying hellworld of Apokolips and commands an army of monstrous Parademons. He has been a mainstay in DCU comic books for over 40 years, and has appeared in numerous media adaptations, including a host of animated TV shows and movies, as well as countless video games. Some villains threaten the hero on a personal level, or on a citywide scale; Darkseid regularly threatens the entire galaxy with his evil schemes, which is why it regularly takes the combined might of the Justice League to take him down. He was voted number 6 in IGN’s list of the Top 100 Comic Book villains (beaten only by Galactus, Lex Luthor, Doctor Doom, The Joker, and Magneto).
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the character is that, despite his immense physical strength and litany of superpowers, he often prefers to manipulate events from the shadows while allowing his minions to do his bidding. He is a master strategist in the art of war, and this combination of brute strength and fierce intelligence is arguably what has kept the character fresh and engaging for so long.
This article will look at 15 things you might not know about Darkseid. Read on!
15. His First Appearance Was In Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #134
Given that Darkseid is one of the most terrifying villains in the DC Universe, and tends to appear in massive-scale cosmic storylines, it would be a fair assumption to imagine that the character debuted in one of DC’s top-tier titles. You know, something like Justice League Of America. Or Superman. Or maybe even Green Lantern. But that is not the case. Oh no!
Darkseid, in fact, made his first appearance in a Jimmy Olsen comic book. Yes, the Jimmy Olsen that works at the Daily Planet as a photographer. The Jimmy Olsen who is classically depicted as a nerdy, red-headed dweeb.
It’s surprising enough that Jimmy Olsen was the star of his own monthly comic book, let alone that it was in his title that Darkseid first showed his ugly mug. What’s even more surprising is that Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen ran for a whopping 164 issues, across a span of 20 years! Who knew?!
14. Darkseid Was Modelled After Adolf Hitler… And Actor Jack Palance
Darkseid is the tyrannical ruler of the planet Apokolips, and his ultimate goal is to conquer the universe and eliminate all free will. A huge inspiration for the creation of the character was an all-too-real dictator: Adolf Hitler. Like Hitler, Darkseid is a fascist megalomaniac, obsessed with war and dominance. Society on Apokolips is extremely militaristic, like Nazi Germany, and children go through a process of indoctrination from a young age to be unquestioningly loyal to Darkseid.
Kirby was Jewish, and therefore likely had a deeper spiritual resonance with the Holocaust, especially when exposed to the aftermath of the Nazi program during the Nuremberg trials. He was able to channel this pain into his work, and created one of the most enduring villains in all of comics.
On a lighter note, Kirby also modelled Darkseid’s visage after a screen icon of the day: Jack Palance, the imposing presence who would go on to star as Boss Carl Grissom in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman movie!
13. Darkseid’s Brother Is Named Drax (A Completely Different Character From Drax In Guardians Of The Galaxy)
Both the Marvel and DC Universes have had similarly themed characters over the many, many years of their publication. Both universes have an archer, for example (Hawkeye and Green Arrow). Both universes have an underwater character (Namor and Aquaman). Hell, both universes even have a character named Captain Marvel. So maybe it’s not that much of a surprise that both have featured a cosmic character named Drax! Marvel’s is currently very famous, thanks to former WWE star Dave Bautista’s hilarious performance in Guardians Of The Galaxy, whereas DC’s is much more obscure.
DC’s Drax is also known as Infinity-Man, and he is Darkseid’s brother! Oh, and he was murdered by Darkseid. Kind of. Allow us to explain (briefly).
Darkseid (then known as Prince Uxas), was second in line to the throne of Apokolips. He schemed to seize power over the war planet, and when his brother Drax attempted to use the Omega Force, Uxas murdered him and took the power for himself. The Omega Force then transformed Uxas into the dastardly Darkseid, the villain we know and love today! Drax (who was actually badly burned but not dead), was rescued and nursed back to health by Astorr, a powerful warrior from another planet who passed on his role as Infinity-Man to Drax.
12. Darkseid Was Once Reincarnated As The Newborn Child Of Superwoman
In 2016, DC Comics’ Chief Creative Officer and writer of the main Justice League title Geoff Johns was ending his 5 year run on the title. Determined to go out with a bang, he and artist Jason Fabok crafted The Darkseid War, an epic story featuring the ultimate battle between Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor, with the Justice League caught in the middle.
The Anti-Monitor was revealed to have once been known as Mobius, the creator of the Mobius Chair, a time and space travelling interdimensional vehicle. He sought the knowledge of the creation of the universe, but was cursed with the Anti-Life Equation and was banished to the Anti-Matter universe. When he returned to Earth, he taunted Darkseid that he had the one thing the dark lord had been searching for: he was bonded with the Anti-Life Equation. The Anti-Monitor killed Darkseid, but the League pondered if a God could truly die. It turned out pretty quickly that he couldn’t, as Superwoman gave birth to her baby and used it to drain the Omega Effect, which resurrected Darkseid (somehow), though he was now under the control of his daughter Grail.
11. One Of Darkseid’s Main Weapons Is Mathematics: The Anti-Life Equation
Darkseid has many superpowers that he uses as offensive weapons. He has the Omega Beam, a form of energy that he fires from his eyes or hands. It can used as a concussive force or as a disintegrating energy. He can teleport himself (or others) through time and space. He is immensely strong, has incredibly quick reaction times, can increase his physical size at will, is telepathic and telekinetic, and is also immortal.
So, yeah. Dude has all the powers.
But, his ultimate weapon has nothing to do with superpowers or physical force. It’s mathematics. The Anti-Life Equation is a formula for total control over the minds of sentient beings; generally, it is accepted that the equation is mathematical proof of the pointless futility of living. In Grant Morrison’s 2008 miniseries Final Crisis, the formula is revealed. It’s very, very long, but we’ll give you a snippet of it: ‘Loneliness + Alienation + Fear + Despair + Self-Worth -Mockery – Condemnation’. Well, you get the picture!
10. Darkseid’s Son Orion Has Twice Been A Member Of The Justice League
Orion is the second son of Darkseid, and as a child he was traded with Scott Free (Mister Miracle) in an effort to forge peace between the warring planets of New Genesis and Apokolips. He wasn’t raised by Darkseid, but was instead raised as the son of Highfather Izaya and was taught to control his rage and anger, becoming the most powerful warrior either planet had ever known. Given his heritage, however, Orion’s anger has always proved difficult to keep at bay; he boils with the same rage and brutality as his father.
Orion has been a member of two different Justice League teams. In 1990, he joined the team for a short time during a run by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis that was characterized by its humour. Then, in the late 1990s, he and Big Barda (another warrior from Apokolips) joined the team during Scottish comics legend Grant Morrison’s run. Morrison is well known to be a die-hard Jack Kirby fan, and has used the Fourth World characters many times over the course of his career.
9. Darkseid Once ‘Killed’ Batman With The Omega Beam
Almost every major superhero in both the DC and Marvel Universes has died and come back to life on at least one occasion. It’s par for the course due to the serialized, never-ending nature of superhero storytelling. It creates drama and intrigue, and boosts the sales of the comics in question, even though the fans and creators all know that the hero will be brought back to life sooner or later. Fittingly, Batman has ‘died’ a number of times. And one of those times involved our pal Darkseid!
In Final Crisis (again), Batman shot Darkseid with the radion bullet that had also killed his son Orion (in a moment that truly showed how desperate a situation it was for the Dark Knight, who normally abhors guns of any description). Simultaneously, Darkseid blasted Batman with the Omega Sanction, ‘killing’ him. Or, it at least looked to everyone else like Batman was dead, when in fact the Omega energy caused him to time travel back to Prehistoric times! He then had to go on a wacky time-travelling adventure for a six-issue miniseries, before returning to the present and taking up the mantle of Batman again!
8. A DC/Marvel Crossover, Darkseid vs. Galactus: The Hunger, Was Released In 1995
In the 1990s, DC and Marvel shocked fans by producing a series of crossover comics. There was the huge DC vs. Marvel event, which featured battles fanboys had previously only dreamed of but never thought would happen: Superman vs. The Hulk, Batman vs. Captain America, Green Lantern vs. Silver Surfer, and many more. But the companies also produced several one-shot specials in which their characters traversed universes. One of these was Darkseid vs. Galactus: The Hunger, which was written and drawn by industry titan John Byrne.
The story here was fairly simple: Darkseid is the embodiment of evil, the dark lord of the hellish Apokolips and one of the most feared beings in the galaxy. Galactus is the Devourer of Worlds and the most feared being in the universe. When Galactus decides that he wants to consume Apokolips, Darkseid will not go down without a fight! Cosmic war ensued, with Orion and Silver Surfer engaging in battle as well!
7. He Once Died And Was Reborn As ‘Boss Dark Side’, Leader Of A Cult Of Religious Fanatics
We’re in Grant Morrison territory again for this entry. Well, we did tell you he’s always been a Kirby fanatic…
In the run-up to Final Crisis, Orion battled Darkseid, killing his father by tearing out his heart. Ouch. However, Darkseid’s corrupt life essence lived on, even after his physical body was dead. The essence fell backwards through time, and he was reborn as Boss Dark Side. He led a fanatical cult whose will had been broken by the Anti-Life Equation, and ran the Dark Side Club, where one of the main attractions was watching brainwashed superhumans fight to the death!
He then lured Detective Dan Turpin to the Dark Side Club, where he became Darkseid’s ‘final host’. He needed a new host body, you see, because his Boss Dark Side body had begun to mummify due to Darkseid’s overwhelmingly evil spirit. Of course.
6. He Was The Main Villain Of The Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe Video Game
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe was an awesome crossover fighting video game, released in 2008. Fans could put together matches they’d never dreamed of before: The Joker vs. Sub-Zero. The Flash vs. Raiden. Wonder Woman vs. Scorpion. And aside from this obvious appeal to fanboys, the game also had a top notch story written by comics industry veterans Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti.
The game opened with Darkseid being defeated by Superman. He then attempted to flee via a Boom Tube, but was struck by Superman’s heat vision. At the same time, in another reality, Raiden was blasting Shao Khan with lightning as the villain attempted to flee in a portal. These two events merged the realities, with Darkseid and Shao Khan also merging to become one ultimate evil entity: Dark Kahn!
5. Marvel’s Thanos, The Avengers Villain, Was Inspired Heavily By Darkseid
Thanos is likely mostly known these days for being the big scary purple guy who has cameoed in a few Avengers films and Guardians Of The Galaxy. He is a supreme cosmic supervillain and one of the most powerful entities in the Marvel Universe, and is being set up as the main antagonist of the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War movie. In case any of this description sounded familiar…well, it should’ve. Because Thanos’ creation was heavily inspired by Darkseid!
Legendary writer/artist Jim Starlin originally conceived of Thanos during his college psychology classes, but his first appearance in the comics wasn’t until 1973’s Iron Man #55. Starlin said that he had loved what Kirby was doing over at DC with the New Gods/Fourth World, and he then came up with some things that were inspired by that. He says in his first drawings of Thanos, he was much thinner and looked more like Metron (another Kirby Fourth World character). His editor, however, took one look at the character and said ‘Beef him up! If you’re going to steal one of the New Gods, at least rip off Darkseid, the really good one!’
4. He Is Rumoured For An Appearance In The Upcoming Justice League Movie
In November 2017, Zack Snyder’s Justice League film will hit theatres the world over, and DC Comics/Warner Brothers executives will collectively hold their breath. Snyder’s previous two entries in the DC Extended Universe were, to put it mildly, not very well received critically and from certain areas of the fanbase. Last year’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice was particularly savaged. Considering it also featured Wonder Woman in the first time the ‘Trinity’ had ever been on the big screen together, this might be a bad sign for the fate of Justice League. Warners has staked a lot of money on the idea that their heroes coming together on-screen will excite audiences in the same way The Avengers did for Marvel, but perhaps this won’t be the case?
Either way, the movie will feature Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg battling Steppenwolf, the military leader of Apokolips and Darkseid’s uncle. The movie will also feature Parademons, the monstrous shock troops used by Darkseid to maintain order on Apokolips. It would therefore make sense that this movie is paving the way for Darkseid to menace the League, and rumour has it that he might make an appearance in this movie, rather than waiting until the inevitable sequel to make his bow.
3. Jack Kirby Initially Created Darkseid As The Villain Of His Fourth World Saga
Jack ‘King’ Kirby is one of the most legendary figures in American comic book history. He was widely regarded as one of the medium’s greatest innovators, as well as one of its most influential and prolific creators. It was Kirby’s collaboration with Stan Lee that effectively yielded the Marvel Universe as we know it today; the two men co-created X-Men, Fantastic Four, Hulk, Thor and Iron Man. That’s a hell of a CV!
In 1970, however, Kirby left Marvel after feeling mistreated. He crossed over to their Distinguished Competition: DC Comics, who gave him free rein to do whatever he wanted. He produced a series of interlinked titles, under the overall banner of ‘The Fourth World’: New Gods, Mister Miracle and The Forever People.
Darkseid was the central villain of the Fourth World, and in the years following Kirby’s eventual departure from DC, the characters were all incorporated into the DCU. Darkseid went on to become one of the main antagonists of Superman and the Justice League.
2. Darkseid Was Considered To Appear In The Scrapped Superman Returns Sequel
Released the year after Batman Begins, Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns was nowhere near as well-received as Christopher Nolan’s reboot of the Bat. It fizzled at the box-office and fans viewed it as overlong, dull, and lacking in the action department. In a 2016 interview with Empire magazine, Singer (X-Men, The Usual Suspects) discussed the perceived failure of the movie and admitted that if he was given the option of making it again, he would “lop the first quarter off and start the movie a bit more aggressively”. He admitted that he “could have grabbed the audience a little more quickly”.
He then opened up about the ideas that had been kicked around for the sequel that wound up never happening: “We did explore it a little. Just hammering out ideas. I think Darkseid was going to be the villain. It was pretty world-destroying, actually.” The idea of Superman vs. Darkseid on the big screen is very exciting, and it would’ve been interesting to see what Singer could’ve come up with. And hey, maybe he wound up making his superhero film with a Darkseid-esque villain anyway? It was called X-Men: Apocalypse.
1. Batman Once Fought Darkseid On Apokolips While On A Quest To Resurrect Robin
Damian Wayne, the current Robin and Bruce Wayne’s 13-year-old biological son, is an immensely popular character. Created in a lab, Damian was raised by his mother Talia and grandfather Ra’s Al Ghul and was trained from a young age to be a killer by the League Of Assassins. He eventually rebelled against his upbringing and joined his father in his war on crime. Fans love Damian because he is arrogant, self-important and sarcastic; but, most of all, he kicks ass. Lots of ass.
At one point, like all heroes, Damian was killed in the line of duty. His body was stolen by Ra’s, and Batman pursued him as he didn’t trust Ra’s when he said he wanted to resurrect Damian. Eventually, Damian’s body was transported to Apokolips, as Ra’s had hidden the Chaos Shard (a powerful crystal that once belonged to Darkseid) inside his sarcophagus! Batman donned his Hellbat armour, an experimental exosuit, and teleported himself to Apokolips to do battle with Darkseid himself. Because Batman is awesome.