Saturday, June 05, 2010


Comic Art

Every self-respecting comic universe needs a bad guy so powerful, amoral and narcissistic that he/she sort of hovers over everything as the ever present force for evil. Someone who is so maniacal and their plots so intricate that when Batman follows the clues trail from a simple mugging it is discovered that the mugging was intended to set into place the final stone in a plot of cosmic significance that will change the very nature of existence and ending in a battle involving every super-hero you have ever heard of and a number you have not.

This week, we look at the DC version of just such a villain - Darkseid (pronounced "darkside" - get it?) There is a Marvel Universe parallel that we will consider next week.

The first thing you must do when considering Darkseid is dispense with the various animated versions of him - they do not do justice to the power or malevolence of which this character is capable. A TV cartoon about a guy this dark would result in kids peeing themselves- not gonna happen. Hannibal Lecter is a reasonable parallel - polite, polished, even with a strange code of honor, but horrifically, horrifically dangerous.

Darkseid, as the scion of the evil world of the New Gods, is the creation of the master Jack Kirby. Kirby never bothered to try and explain this guy's evil - he just was evil embodied. Of course, his odd code of honor has mandated that from time-to-time he do something honorable, but even that is because in some fashion it is a means to his own malevolent ends.

The only problem with a character this dark is that it is easy for him to move into caricature. There is an art to writing Darkseid and the line has been crossed many times, often with unintentionally hilarious results - and sometimes intentionally - but when done well Darkseid is a bad guy's bad guy.

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