SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Mister Miracle #6 by Tom King, Mitch Gerads and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
Darkseid Is. It’s a saying that we’ve heard a lot throughout the first half of Mister Miracle, but now we can say that Darkseid is here. Mister Miracle #6 ended with Scott Free finding the dead body of his “brother” Orion and Darkseid say in the throne of New Genesis, responsible for the murder of his own son. It’s a one panel appearance, but in that one panel the creative team have proven that they understand Darkseid in a way that most comic creators often don’t. Their Darkseid is cold, unflinching and unmoved. He’s a force of nature you can’t stop, and most of the time in superhero comics that translates to “good at punching” but that misses the point of the character all together. Darkseid is so much more than another big bad that the Justice League needs to rally together and defeat through force, Darkseid is referred to as the God of All Evil for a reason, because he’s so much more of a concept than a character.
Here’s the thing everyone gets wrong about Darkseid: He’s not Thanos, he’s not Doomsday, and he’s not Doctor Doom, although he’s usually written as a combination of the three. Yeah, he’s big and imposing, he looks like he’s made of stone and he can go toe-to-toe with Superman if wants to, but the important thing is, he doesn’t. He doesn’t because he doesn’t need to.
King and Gerads’ Mister Miracle has hammered this point home throughout these six issues with the black “Darkseid is.” panels — a phrase first used in Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s JLA story “Rock of Ages” — because there’s nothing you can do to stop Darkseid, the same way there’s nothing you can do to stop bigotry, hatred and violence. Darkseid is a concept bigger than a mortal shell; he is the revelation, the tiger force at the core of all things. When you cry out in your dreams, it is Darkseid that you see.
Darkseid doesn’t need to fight, because in his mind, he’s already won. His quest for the Anti-Life Equation is his quest for mathematical proof Darkseid is the most powerful force in the universe. He doesn’t need to invade Earth with an army of Parademons, he can just sit on Apokolips and let other people do that for him. Darkseid’s greatest power isn’t his Omega Beams, its his effective delegation; he has Kalibak to lead his armies into war, he has Desaad to torture his prisoners, he has Granny Goodness to break the will of the innocent, he has Kanto as his personal assassin. Darkseid’s got better things to do than get in a dust-up with superheroes because they’re so far below his notice that they’re not worth his time.
Grant Morrison understood what Kirby was going for, and put his own spin on the concept by literally making Darkseid a concept bigger than a mortal shell in Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle and Final Crisis. In these stories, Darkseid is forced to inhabit human hosts but his pure evil rots them from the inside, slowly killing them until he’s forced to find another host. When he’s not inhabiting a physical body, he’s depicted as something incomprehensible, a pattern beyond the understanding of mortal minds, something you can’t defeat by punching it a lot of times before it leaves to lick its wounds. When Superman and Darkseid finally face off in Final Crisis, Darkseid is ultimately defeated by music, something that represents creativity and hope, everything that Darkseid isn’t.