Darkseid's Elite


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Darkseid, Desaad, and Kalibak vs. Firestorm and Superman. From Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show (1984).

Darkseid's Elite

(pop culture)
Apokolips, the abominable DC Comics world created in 1970 by writer/artist Jack Kirby for his cosmic “Fourth World” saga (four comic-book titles, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, The Forever People, The New Gods, and Mister Miracle), is populated by downtrodden masses, the “Lowlies,” many of whom are refugees from other planets, who cower under the tyranny of the heartless overlord Darkseid. An army of shocktroopers, the airborne Parademons (Para-demons in the original texts), police the streets, ensnaring “para-cables” their primary weapon. (One of the Parademons joined the Secret Six, the supervillain coalition opposing Lex Luthor's Society, in the 2005 miniseries Villains United, giving his life to save his teammates in its sixth and final issue.) An inner circle of inquisitors and warriors introduced in 1971 and 1972, including Darkseid's bestial son Kalibak and armed guard the Female Furies, inflict malice in Darkseid's name. The purple- cloaked, unctuous Desaad, first seen in Forever People vol. 1 #1 (1971), is a duplicitous sadist who has created numerous combat weapons and tools of persecution. Darkseid's chief counselor, Desaad has been punished and even murdered (but later revived) by the evil god for his treachery. Mister Miracle vol. 1 #2 (1971) introduced the stout matron Granny Goodness, headmistress of Apokolips' forbidding orphanages, hellholes where abuse is a way of life. She delights in torturing her “children” and forces them to beg for more from their “loving” Granny. The power-mad, insect-like Mantis was the first of Darkseid's agents to swarm to Earth, and with his range of fearsome abilities—an antimatter touch, plus heat and ice generation—he has on occasion challenged Darkseid's authority, only to be chastened by his master. Dr. Bedlam is Apokolips' version of the mad scientist, a terrifying tinkerer known for unspeakable experiments on subjects' minds. He abandoned his physical body long ago to become an energy being, but when it is necessary for him to interact with others he does so by inhabiting one or more of his “animates,” faceless androids he can control six at a time. Glorious Godfrey is a handsome, silver-tongued persuader who often seduces victims into Darkseid's corner. During the 1986–1987 crossover Legends, he masqueraded as pop psychologist G. Gordon Godfrey and spearheaded a media campaign to impugn the reputation of Earth's superheroes. Superman writer/artist John Byrne added Godfrey's sister, the equally convictive Amazing Grace, to the Fourth World canon in 1987. Two of Darkseid's Elite are students of the history of Earth warfare. The officious Virmin Vunderbarr, a strategist who demands nothing short of perfection, is festooned like a nineteenth-century Prussian officer, including a monocle worn more for show than necessity. With sixteenth-century deceivers Lucrezia and Cesare Borgia as his inspiration, the flamboyant Kanto is one of Darkseid's chief assassins. An expert tactician and weapons master, Kanto possesses a deep respect for worthy opponents. Darkseid's uncle Steppenwolf was born to be wild. One of Apokolips' most brutal military commandants, he has slain opponents in war and for recreation, using a deadly arsenal including his “electro-ax.” Steppenwolf's battle steed is a gargantuan, ferocious dog. He was once killed in battle but was later resurrected by Darkseid. Other minions, including the aquatic Deep Six, have served Darkseid, and many have been added to the canon in later decades by writers other than Kirby, such as the fire-beast Infernus, the destructive giant Brimstone, the reanimator Necromina, the four-armed fighter Rip Roar, and Mortalla, the woman with the death-touch. Their malignant methods may vary, but all of Darkseid's Elite share one commonality: a fear of their master. As the normally brazen Granny Goodness once quivered, “Darkseid is total power—! He can strike us down or toy with us at will!” (Mister Miracle vol. 1 #18, 1974). Darkseid, Kalibak, and Desaad were chief among the villains in the ABC cartoon The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians (1986–1987); Kenner's Super Powers toy line included action figures of the trio as well as Steppenwolf, Mantis, and a Parademon. Darkseid's Elite have also appeared on Superman (1996–2000), Justice League (2001–2004), and Justice League Unlimited (2004–present); Rene Auberjonois' serpentlike voice portrayal of Desaad has graced each of these animated programs.