Darkseid: Who is the Lord of Apokolips?

Darkseid of the Moon

Glorious Godfrey:On your knees for the master! The hour has come. HE has come! Who is beyond good and evil? Who is the Prophet of Anti-Life? Who is the Rock, the Chain, and the Lightning? All powerful! All conquering! All unforgiving! WHO IS YOUR NEW GOD, NOW AND FOREVER?!
Darkseid: “Darkseid is.”

Justice League: Rock of Ages

You’ve really screwed up this time. You were part of a rebellion trying to overthrow the Lord of Apokolips’ regime. The rebellion launched an attack, but they were betrayed. Most of your comrades lay dead. A handful of survivors escaped. You were one of the unlucky few to be captured.

A parademon drags you through a hallway. You see most of the prisoners being used as targets for live fire training. Agonizing screams pierce the air as you pass a torture chamber. Your worst nightmares would be merciful compared to what’s being done in there.

You finally reach your destination and the parademon hurls you into the throne room. You try to stand, but your legs are broken. Looking up, you see your foe. He is a blue-clad figure with a face carved from stone and eyes burning like the fires of Hell. Before you can speak, beams shoot from those eyes and vaporize you. He smirks and you reappear, only to die again. It will be a long time until Darkseid allows you to stay dead.

Darkseid is the greatest threat in the DC Universe. Originally a foe of the New Gods, he has begun a reign of terror throughout the DC Universe. So who is he? Where did he come from? What is the Anti-Life Equation? Let’s find out.

Apokolips Now: Darkseid’s Backstory

Darkseid: Do not concern yourself with what I have done; rather tremble at the thought of what I am about to do.

Justice League: Heroes

Darkseid debuted in The Forever People #1 in 1971. He was created by Jack Kirby to be the ultimate villain of his epic, The Fourth World. Darkseid’s design was based on actor Jack Palance with a personality inspired by Richard Nixon and Adolf Hitler.

A child named Uxas was born on the hellish world of Apokolips. Prince Uxas was the son of the king and queen and younger brother to prince Drax. No, not the one from Guardians of the Galaxy. When the king died, Drax prepared to absorb a power source called the Omega Effect that would make him the new king. Uxas murdered his brother and stole the Omega Effect, emerging as a monster called Darkseid.

Darkseid followed in his father’s footsteps and ruled Apokolips as a tyrant. He soon fell in love with a sorceress named Suli. They secretly married, but Darkseid’s mother thought she was a weakness and had Suli killed. Her death destroyed whatever good was left in Darkseid’s heart, and he avenged his wife by murdering his mother.

Darkseid later publicly married a woman named Tigra so that she could bear heirs to the throne. Darkseid was approached by Apokolips’ eternal enemy, the gods of New Genesis, and offered a treaty. New Genesis and Apokolips would have peace and a non-interference policy, but a prince from each world would be held hostage to ensure there would be no double cross. Darkseid accepted, giving them his son Orion and accepting Scott Free, later known as the hero Mister Miracle.

While traveling the universe, Darkseid learned of a Martian philosophy called the Life Equation. The Martians claimed there was a psychic “equation” that could mathematically prove life is worth living. Darkseid postulated there must be an opposite Anti-Life Equation proving that life is meaningless. He became obsessed with the Anti-Life Equation and searched the cosmos for it, eventually finding his way to Earth.

Alpha and Omega: Darkseid’s History

Darkseid: “Think of it, Superman. The power you have now, it’s nothing compared with what I’m offering you.
Superman: “You know I can’t do that.
Darkseid: “Pity. Still, if you won’t be my knight, you will be my pawn.

Superman: the Animated Series “Apokolips… Now!” (Season 2, Episode 25)

Darkseid discovered that the Anti-Life Equation was on Earth, split into several fragments and embedded into several humans. He invaded Earth to obtain the pieces, but was fought off by the Justice League. Superman in particular proved to be a thorn in his side, being equally powerful and completely opposed to Darkseid’s ideals.

The invasion ended when Orion appeared, claiming Earth as his home. Darkseid had to end the invasion or risk a war on two fronts with Earth and New Genesis. Readers also learned that Orion was prophesied to kill him. Darkseid began sending infiltrators and agents to do his will on Earth.

After years of trying, Darkseid managed to learn the full Anti Life Equation. Orion appeared before he could use it and fought his father to the death. Orion managed to fulfill the prophecy by killing Darkseid, but was also killed soon after. Darkseid’s soul began wandering Earth, searching for a host to return him to life.

Final Crisis: Darkseid’s Modern Stories

[Half of humanity speaks in unison]
Darkseid: “You turned your back and I wrecked your world. I robbed your people of their powers, their hopes, their futures… and themselves. What will you do when your friends, your enemies, your lover, are all Darkseid? When there is one body. One mind. One will. One life that is Darkseid. Will you be the enemy of all existence, then? What irony that will be, Son of Krypton.

Final Crisis

Darkseid’s soul possessed a mob boss, allowing him to reestablish contact with his forces. He ordered them to prepare for a full invasion of Earth while he manipulated events as “Boss Dark Side.” When the time was right, he activated the Anti-Life Equation, which allowed him to mind control half of humanity.

While the remaining free humans fought the Apokoliptian army, Superman went on a quest to find a way to kill Darkseid. Superman learned that the monster he knew was only an avatar of the true Darkseid, an all-powerful god of tyranny. With the true threat revealed, Superman traveled to the future to obtain the Miracle Machine, a reality warping superweapon and the only thing that could hope to kill Darkseid.

Darkseid’s death made Rasputin’s look merciful. Batman shot him with a poisoned bullet. The Flash and Kid Flash destroyed his body. Wonder Woman bound Darkseid’s soul with the Lasso of Truth. And finally, Superman annihilated Darkseid’s essence with the Miracle Machine.

The Omega Sanction: Darkseid’s Powers and Personality

Darkseid:I am many things, Kal-El. But here, I am God.

Superman the Animated Series “Legacy” (Season 3, Episode 12)

Darkseid is one of the strongest characters in the DC Universe. He’s able to fight two fully powered Kryptonians at the same time, can survive blows that would destroy worlds, and is one of the smartest beings in the universe.

The Omega Effect is the source of his powers. He can fire Omega Beams, eye lasers that can track their target and vaporize anything they touch. Darkseid is able to resurrect those killed by Omega Beams, letting him torture a foe as much as he wants. If Darkseid is feeling really mean, he uses the even more powerful Omega Sanction. This forces the victim to experience countless horrible lives, each worse than the last.

The true Darkseid is a being that exists in another realm of reality. It manifests as a giant being that is capable of holding planets in its hand. Even worse, it is immune to the DC Universe’s frequent retcons because it exists outside of the DC Universe. This means that Darkseid can remember events that are no longer canon and use them to his advantage. How are the heroes supposed to win again?

As you may have guessed, Darkseid isn’t a nice guy. He is often portrayed as the God of Tyranny, obsessed with rebuilding the world in his own image. He is cruel, cunning, and will kill anyone who opposes him. Darkseid pretends to be honorable, but only to get what he wants. All of his schemes and self control go out the window when he has a chance to obtain the Anti Life Equation.

So what is this danged equation anyway?

loneliness + alienation + fear + despair + self-worth
÷ mockery ÷ condemnation ÷ misunderstanding
× guilt × shame × failure × judgment
n=y where y=hope and n=folly,
love=lies, life=death, self=Darkseid.”

The Actors who play Darkseid

Frank Welker – Super Friends
Michael Ironside – Superman: the Animated Series, Justice League, Justice League: Unlimited, Harley Quinn
Michael-Leon Wooley – Batman: the Brave and the Bold, Young Justice
Jonathon Adoms – Justice League Action
Ray Porter – Zack Snyder’s Justice League
“Weird Al” Yankovic – Teen Titans Go

Didya get all that?

DC’s greatest villain.

Photograph courtesy HBO Max

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