Villain Spotlight: Darkseid

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Darkseid, art credit Clayton Crain/DC Comics

Name: Prince Uxas              Alias: Darkseid

Profession: King of Apokolips           Powers: Super strength, Omega Beams

Equipment/Weapons: None

First Appearance: Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #134 (Cameo) /Forever People #1 (Full Appearance)

 

This month’s Villain Spotlight looks at one of the earliest introduced tyrannical rulers in superhero comic books, Darkseid. First designed by Jack Kirby, he appeared as the key villain in the ‘Fourth World’ storyline. Darkseid has been shown to be an enemy with powers to rival Superman, and his powers range to include incredible speed, intelligence, flight and the ability to change his own size.

His array of powers aside, Darkseid was inspired by numerous real life people in his reign of tyranny over his planet. Mark Evanier noted, in his biography of Jack Kirby, that Darkseid had been formed of an amalgamation of every power-mad tyrant Kirby had heard of. None had more impact on the character than the personality and ruling style of Adolf Hitler.

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Darkseid from Crisis on Infinite Earths, art credit George Perez/DC Comics

The planet of Apokolips, essentially Darkseid’s kingdom, was also based on the nation of Nazi Germany. Darkseid saw all of his people as an extension of himself and believed they should embody the same principles he held as vital, even attempting to indoctrinate the youth of his planet in a similar style to the Hitler Youth movement. The similarity would have, no doubt, been picked up by many of the readers of DC comics, as Darkseid first appeared in 1970, when the Cold War was in full swing and people were still living with the aftermath of World War II being fully understood and appreciated.

Darkseid’s despotism was obviously intended to immediately cast him as the core villain, and also clearly an effort to reassert the founding values of the Justice League and also reaffirm core American beliefs. This was also likely a move by the publication company to achieve a similar amount of success as they had in the late years of World War II and in its immediate wake, showing the holders of American values to be triumphant over the forces of evil.

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