All Hail Dread Darkseid!
If there’s one character that makes the whole DC Comics roster tremble in their brightly colored underwear, the one that almost always signifies that the foundation of their fictional universe is about to get shaken – which in real world terms means that DC Comics is about to pry that stinking nerd money right out of your unusually sweaty palms –, it is none other than Darkseid himself. Simply put, the dread lord of Apokolips is a prime cut villain that the publisher doesn’t shy away from using for their biggest line-wide events, or for their ensemble books at the least. And DC’s actually been doing a pretty good job at incorporating this dark, tyrannical new god into their superhero universe, so much so that Darkseid’s now become a legitimate A-list villain.
However, Darkseid is honestly pretty unusual for a top-tier villain in the DC universe when you look at its history. By that, I mean the character’s very own publication history than its fictional background. You see, Darkseid is one of those uncommon characters that were not necessarily created to be part of the DC superhero mythology unlike properties such as the Joker, Lex Luthor, or Wonder Woman’s own Cheetah. Granted, he was part of the DC universe to begin with, but the world he and the other characters within their franchise only had a very marginal relationship to DC’s main universe back then. As an aside, and to clarify, this particular trend is not really new, but I think it is indeed rather overlooked in nerd discussions both on and offline. Adding to that, don’t make the mistake that this only happens to DC; it’s actually pretty prevalent, most notably with Marvel. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that Marvel has achieved more success with incorporating otherwise separate franchises into their main universe than their rival publisher, what with characters like Groot and, perhaps their greatest achievement when it comes to this, Captain America.
Going back to Darkseid, this is a character that first existed in a universe that had minimal connection to the DC superheroes (if I’m not mistaken, I think it was called Earth-1 way back before DC decided to shove reboot after reboot down our throats). Created solely – I repeat, solely – by none other than the King himself, Jack Kirby, for his New Gods line, Darkseid first appeared on the pages of Forever People #1, but not before making cameos in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #133 and #134. You know, just so editorial would be happy. As such, the New Gods franchise is set apart from the affairs of the supermen and wonder women of DC’s publishing line. Whereas the main DC universe was populated by capes and tights, Jack Kirby’s New Gods universe starred these titular characters that are by all definitions, well, gods.
But, as the publication methods of mainstream superhero comic books go, these New Gods have now become a really big part of the DC universe as a whole, with its characters appearing frequently alongside the likes of Kal-El or Batman. Darkseid, however, could be seen as the breakout star of this merger.
If you think otherwise, then just wait for the Justice League movie to come out and see for yourself. Or, better yet, go and watch Batman v Superman again and watch out for that Bruce Wayne fever dream sequence.