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The Many Looks of Darkseid, from Kirby to Lee & Beyond

The New Gods were brought back from comic book limbo in 1st Issue Special #13, and Mike Vosburg was very free with the costume re-designs, including a shockingly different look for Orion, who now looks like a very traditional superhero, even rocking a giant O on his chest. However, in a move that will look quite familiar over the years, everyone looked at Kirby's original design for Darkseid and said, "Eh, who can improve on this?" So it remained the same...

Even when the New Gods got their own series again, the costume remained the same. The only even slight difference came in New Gods #19 (by Don Newton and Dan Adkins), when Darkseid rocked a cape again....

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Heck, even in a thousand years into the future, in the pages of the classic Legion of Super-Heroes epic, "The Great Darkness Saga," Keith Giffen and Larry Mahlstadt kept the costume the same as Kirby had in the past in Legion of Super-Heroes #293...

Honestly, by this point, the costume seems to have become as iconic as the character itself. People would go out of their way to not change it. All the other New Gods characters would routinely receive makeovers, but not Darkseid.

The first real makeover of Darkseid came for a very good reason. When Jack Kirby signed with DC Comics, the deal was the same one he had at Marvel Comics. In other words, he was strictly a freelancer. So he did not own any rights to the Fourth World characters that he invented. In the early 1980s, however, the higher-ups at DC felt bad about the fact that he didn't get paid anything extra for those characters by having him re-design all of his Fourth World characters for their Super Powers action figures. Kirby would then be paid an extra fee for the new designs and the fees were substantial. The best part about it was that Kirby did not even have to dramatically alter the designs for DC to count it as a "new" design, since they were specifically looking at this as a way to get Kirby some extra money. So his Darkseid re-design was basically "add a gold medallion to his chest with a cape."

That new design showed up in the third Super Powers miniseries in 1986...

In that same miniseries, Darkseid lost his powers and ended up on Earth where he was forced to steal some human clothes to get around...

Later, he had his entire body transformed so that he could infiltrate the heroes as a new hero by the name of Janus...

That plot was never actually resolved. He ends the series still looking like Janus. I guess we can just assume Crisis on Infinite Earths wiped those stories away (if they were ever in continuity to begin with, actually) and so after Crisis, he popped up in his same old school Jack Kirby design in Action Comics #586 (John Byrne seemed to love drawing Darkseid, but he always made sure to stick with the original Kirby design)...

When Mike Mignola drew the New Gods characters in the classic miniseries, Cosmic Odyssey, he gave his own unique spin on the designs, but he still kept the basic Kirby design for Darkseid, just Mignola-fied...

Another trip to the future, however, saw a notable change for Darkseid when Keith Giffen and Al Gordon did a sequel to "The Great Darkness Saga" with "The Quiet Darkness Saga," as Darkseid has grown tired of his long life and now wants to die. Mopey, emo Darkseid rocks a brand new ensemble in Legion of Super-Heroes #22...

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