Darkseid is the ultimate bad guy; he is, after all, the literal God of Evil. Since his creation by Jack Kirby in 1970, he’s been the scourge of the Justice League, Superman and pretty much every hero in the DC universe. Not only does he rule the planet Apokolips with an iron fist (wrapped in barbed wire), but he searches the universe for the Anti-Life Equation, which will allow him to control the minds of all living things. With Darkseid set to be the Big Bad of the DC Cinematic Universe (starting with the 2017 movie Justice League), it’s time we looked at some of the most important moments of the enemy of life and freedom.
We’ll be going over the 10 most horrible things Darkseid done, which could have been a list all by itself. It’s easy to list all the worst things Darkseid has done, after all, which is why CBR put its collective heads together and combed through the stacks to follow up with the six most heroic things Darkseid has done. Granted, “heroic” for Darkseid is a low bar, and what would be heroic for him might be the worst for someone else, but it still counts!! Get ready to see the darkest and brightest moments of the Lord of Apokolips.
16. HEINOUS: KILLED HIS CONCUBINE
Let’s start with what would be the worst thing for most people, but which is on the lighter side for Darkseid. Darkseid is known across Apokolips for his evil and wants to keep it that way. In 2007’s Countdown #40 (by Paul Dini, Tony Bedard, Keith Giffen and Manuel Garcia), one of his concubines noticed that Darkseid seemed distant. More than that, she saw emotion on his face. When she mentioned it, Darkseid admitted he was thinking of his sons.
She was shocked to find such tenderness in Darkseid, and he agreed that his people would find it shocking as well. That’s why he blasted her at point-blank range and ordered Desaad to have the throat cut out of all his future concubines to keep them from talking. The only thing more dangerous than finding weakness in Darkseid is talking about it.
15. HEINOUS: KILLED HIS BROTHER
It took a while after seeing him attack Earth, New Genesis and Apokolips before readers finally found out the origin of Darkseid. As you’d expect from such a powerful figure, his past is steeped in political upheaval, betrayal and gods punching each other.
In Jack Kirby’s Fourth World #4 by John Byrne, we learned that Darkseid was once Uxas, the prince of Apokolips, second in line for the throne. His firstborn brother Drax (no relation to the Guardian of the Galaxy over at Marvel) was trying to master the Omega Effect, a powerful energy no one had been able to tame, but that he wanted to use for good. During the ritual, Uxas killed his brother Drax to take the Omega Force and become Darkseid. That was pretty bad, but Darkseid later killed his mother, so it was just a day at the office for him.
14. HEINOUS: CORRUPTED DESAAD
Darkseid’s most trusted servant is Desaad, a cruel man who is also Darkseid’s chief torturer. Desaad carries out all his master’s orders, especially the most painful ones. You might wonder what could turn someone so awful, and the answer (of course) is Darkseid.
In 1993, Eclipso #10 (Robert Loren Fleming, Colleen Doran) had Darkseid explain how he once decided to corrupt a happy little boy who had a pet cat and bird. He made the boy think the cat had eaten the bird, and told him to bury the cat alive. Once the boy discovered the bird was still alive, he killed it in rage. That led the boy to commit worse crimes, later becoming Desaad. For him, it was a life-changing trauma, but for Darkseid, it was just a hobby.
13. HEINOUS: BARDA’S ADULT MOVIE
Action Comics #593 by John Byrne was one of the weirdest stories involving Darkseid that’s actually in canon. Mister Miracle was the son of New Genesis’ leader Highfather, but had to escape to Earth from the torture chambers of Apokolips with his true love, Barda. Their love story is one of the most famous in comic books, but they hit a major bump in the road here.
Barda and Superman were captured by Sleez, a god exiled from Apokolips with the power to control minds, and Sleez forced the two heroes to perform in an adult movie. Darkseid found out about it, and (instead of stopping it) sat himself down on Mister Miracle’s couch waiting for him to come home, and hand-delivered the videotape to Mister Miracle. That’s just how Darkseid rolls.
12. HEINOUS: RAISED DARK PHOENIX
In 1982, Marvel and DC were much friendlier than they are now, and were open to a crossover series called The Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans. Written by Chris Claremont with art by Walt Simonson, the miniseries brought the two teams together to face two of their greatest enemies: Darkseid and the Phoenix Force.
Dark Phoenix had the power to consume a star, and Darkseid wanted that power to conquer Earth and beyond. Darkseid tried to tap into the power of the mystical Source, and used memories of Dark Phoenix from the X-Men along with power from the Source to bring her back to life. The X-Men and the Teen Titans tried to stop him, but Darkseid had Deathstroke the Terminator on his side, leading to an epic battle. Only by appealing to Dark Phoenix’s humanity were the heroes able to stop them.
11. HEINOUS: ENSLAVED DAXAM
Next we’ll head for the Great Darkness Saga in 1982 (Paul Levitz, Keith Giffen, Larry Mahlstedt), a miniseries about the Legion of Superheroes up against a mysterious villain that turned out to be Darkseid. Set in the 30th Century, Darkseid had been forgotten, but really wasn’t gone. He made one of his biggest moves by getting enough power to switch the planet Apokolips and Daxam.
By putting Daxam around a yellow sun, the Daxamites were all given superpowers, making them an entire planet of Supermen and Superwomen. Darkseid next used his new power to control of the minds of everyone on the planet. By enslaving billions of Daxamites, Darkseid had an army of perfect soldiers to wage war across the Galaxy. The Legion managed to stop them, but it was a hard fight that destroyed countless worlds.
10. HEINOUS: KILLED AMAZONS
As we mentioned earlier, Darkseid isn’t afraid of any gods, and that includes the other gods of the DC universe. Wonder Woman and the Amazons have always been closely connected to Greek mythology, and Darkseid decided to use them to find Olympus and add the Greek pantheon’s power to his own. Unfortunately, that meant invading their island home, Themyscira.
Beginning in Wonder Woman #104 by John Byrne, Wonder Woman was kidnapped and tortured by Darkseid for the location of the gods. When she refused to give it to him, he sent his troops to destroy Themyscira. Even though the Amazons fought hard and well, when they finally forced out Darkseid’s armies, the battle left half their number dead. It was a genocide, and not Darkseid’s last.
9. HEINOUS: REPLACE NEW GENESIS
The opposite of Apokolips in the New Gods universe is New Genesis, as beautiful and peaceful as Apokolips is ugly and war-like. That’s probably why, in 1980’s Justice League of America #183 (Dick Dillin, Gerry Conway), Darkseid used it to hatch a new plot to conquer the universe. The Justice League was transported to New Genesis, where Darkseid had kidnapped and enslaved the entire population.
He traveled to Earth-2, the alternate reality and home of the World War II-era Justice Society. The Justice League discovered Darkseid has been building a huge machine that will transfer Apokolips to Earth-2, where there were no gods to oppose him. Of course, in the process, he would destroy Earth-2. Thanks to the Justice League, he was stopped, but at the cost of devastating the paradise world of New Genesis.
8. HEINOUS: USED ANTI-LIFE
Now let’s get to Darkseid’s most evil acts, and it all started after he was dead. After Darkseid was killed by his son Orion, Darkseid’s spirit (along with the spirits of the other New Gods) fell into new human bodies on Earth. In 2008’s Final Crisis (Grant Morrison, J.G. Jones), Darkseid revealed himself as a crime lord named Boss Dark Side who launched his final assault.
By sending the Anti-Life Equation like a virus through all communication around the world, Darkseid brought the entire planet under his control. His dream of controlling all was finally achieved on Earth, but he made plans to spread the Anti-Life to the rest of the universe. Only with the help of the Justice League, superheroes all over the world and a bullet sent through time could Darkseid’s reign be stopped.
7. HEINOUS: COLLAPSE REALITY
It probably goes without saying that the good guys won the Final Crisis, but it wasn’t easy. Even in death, Darkseid tried to cause pain and suffering. It turned out that his fall to Earth had caused cracks in the fabric of space and time, and when he was killed (again), the multiverse began to collapse into a black hole.
In his final moments, Darkseid tried to take everything with him. Ultimately, it was a murder-suicide, only stopped by Superman creating the ultimate weapon; a Miracle Machine that made his wish for a happy ending come true. That’s how truly evil Darkseid is. He wouldn’t let himself die without ending all of life in existence along with him. Can you get more evil than that? We don’t think so.
6. HEROIC: FOUGHT GALACTUS
Now we’re going into the times when Darkseid was a hero instead of a villain, although (again) hero is a relative term when we talk about Darkseid. We’ll start with 1995’s Darkseid vs. Galactus: The Hunger by John Byrne, another crossover between Marvel and DC. Set before the Silver Surfer’s first arrival on Earth, the Surfer was searching for a planet to feed his master Galactus and (despite the efforts of Orion and Darkseid’s Parademons) put Apokolips on the menu.
Instead of taking the first rocket off the planet to save his own skin, Darkseid stood up to Galactus with his Omega Beams. Unfortunately, Galactus just shrugged off the attack, but discovered Apokolips had no energy and was useless to him. The fact that Darkseid tried to fight for the safety of his world still made him the hero in that story.
5. HEROIC: FOUGHT DOOMSDAY
In Doomsday: Hunter/Prey, Darkseid once again had to defend Apokolips, this time from one of the worst enemies in the DC Universe. The three-issue miniseries in 1994 about the rematch between Superman and Doomsday also brought the two villains together. In the first issue by Dan Jurgens, a space freighter accidentally brought Doomsday’s to Apokolips, and the monster escaped to smash his way across the planet.
Once again, Darkseid didn’t call for help or try to escape. Darkseid let his armies fight Doomsday until he decided he had had enough and used his Omega Beams on the beast. He thought the fight was over, but was shocked when Doomsday survived and struck back. Darkseid was beaten, but still showed he was willing to fight to protect his world.
4. HEROIC: BATTLED IMPERIEX
In 2001’s “Our Worlds at War” crossover, Darkseid was forced to work with the other heroes of the DC universe to stop the cosmic force known as Imperiex. Imperiex planned to attack Earth, which would destroy the universe and replace it with a better one. If the universe was destroyed, that would destroy Darkseid, too, so in Action Comics #780 (Joe Kelly, Kano), he joined with Lex Luthor to command the universe’s forces.
It was an uneasy alliance with Darkseid and Superman fighting each other almost as much as they fought Imperiex, but Darkseid stayed on the right side. During the final battle, he used his boom tubes of Apokolips to send Imperiex’s energy back into the destroyed galaxies to keep them from starting a new Big Bang. Of course, after Imperiex was beaten, Darkseid went back to his old ways.
3. HEROIC: KILLED OLD GODS
In the New 52 reboot of the DC Universe, Darkseid was given a new origin that was revealed in 2013’s Justice League #23.1, also known as Darkseid #1 (Greg Pak, Paulo Siqueira). Uxas lived on a desolate world where gigantic gods roamed, trampling over people and homes for fun. Uxas was one of the few who refused to worship them and knew the Old Gods didn’t care about them.
One night, Darkseid climbed up to where the Old Gods slept and whispered in their ears to make them fight each other. As the war raged, Uxas discovered they were weak enough for him to kill and take their power, turning him into the New God Darkseid. Darkseid was driven by hate and greed, but the Old Gods did need to go, and he was the one who got rid of them.
2. HEROIC: FOUGHT ANTI-LIFE
Cosmic Odyssey was a miniseries published in 1988 by Jim Starlin and Mike Mignola where Darkseid was once again forced to work with the heroes to save himself. In the series, Metron’s attempts to find the Anti-Life Equation led him to discover the Equation was actually alive. Four “aspects” of the Equation went to Earth, Rann, Thanagar and Xanshi to destroy them. If the aspects destroyed any two of the planets, the Galaxy would collapse.
Darkseid organized and gave superheroes weapons to capture the aspects, and worked with the group to stop them. With the combined power of Dr. Fate, Darkseid and Etrigan, the heroes were able to destroy the Equation’s dimension and save the Galaxy. Darkseid fighting to stop the Anti-Life Equation… we never saw that coming.
1. HEROIC: LOVED SULI
In all of Darkseid’s dark life, there was only one person he truly loved, revealed in New Gods #8 in 1989 by Mark Evanier and Paris Cullins. Darkseid was groomed to rule by his mother Queen Hegra, but he fell in love with a sorceress named Suli. Heggra thought she would distract him from the goal of conquest, so he secretly married her and gave him his son, Kalibak.
Her love actually calmed Darkseid and made him want to give up his plans to rule the universe. When Heggra found out, she had Desaad poison her. Suli’s death enraged Darkseid and he forced Desaad to poison his mother in revenge, but he was left with a broken and cold heart. It’s sad to think Suli could have tamed him, and that (for a brief moment) he was a hero in her eyes.
What other heinous acts did Darkseid commit? What other heroism? Let us know in the comments!