Also found in: Wikipedia.
Is Despero a master strategist with a penchant for chess matches or a brutish hulk capable of pummeling the brawniest Justice Leaguers into submission? Both, as this DC Comics supervillain has, since his first appearance, experienced what might be called an extreme makeover. A squirrelly figure with magenta pigmentation, a scaly fin atop his bald pate, and a freakish third eye upon his forehead, Despero first appeared in Justice League of America #1 (1960), the fourth appearance of the JLA (after three try-out issues of The Brave and the Bold). The dictatorial ruler of the other-dimensional world of Kalanor, Despero uses his extra orb's hypnotic powers to enslave the heroes except for the Flash, whom he challenges to a rigged chess game with the other Justice Leaguers' fates at stake. With each wrong move, Flash inadvertently sentences his teammates to exile, Despero's “mystic mental powers” expelling them to inescapable planets. The last-minute intervention of JLA mascot Snapper Carr liberates the Leaguers from their deportation. Many readers assume that Despero was the creation of JLA writer Gardner Fox and artist Mike Sekowsky, but in a 2004 interview Murphy Anderson, who drew the cover to Justice League of America #1, revealed that he designed the alien's look based upon a brainstorming session with editor Julius Schwartz, who suggested the hero-versus-villain chess concept. That landmark cover has been recreated by other artists on a variety of occasions. After his capture in JLA #1, Despero was returned to his homeworld, where scientists neutralized his powers by surgically amputating his third eye. His eye regenerated, however, as did its mesmerizing attributes, and Despero returned for several additional clashes with the Justice League. In 1986, Justice League of America writer Gerry Conway initiated an evolution of the supervillain that has continued into the twenty-first century. Despero's powers were infinitely magnified upon his entering the Flame of Py'tar. Returning to Earth to exact revenge upon the Justice League, he unleashed a wave of terror including the destruction of the JLA's orbiting satellite headquarters, the torturing of Batman, and the murder of the family of JLAer Gypsy—clearly, this was no longer your father's Despero. In a 1990 battle, Manhattan was partially destroyed as Despero, now a superstrong juggernaut weighing nearly 300 pounds, nearly battered the Martian Manhunter to death. In subsequent adventures Despero has fought Supergirl, the Justice Society, and the junior JLA Young Justice, and his spirit was even exorcised and trapped inside the “Abyssal Plane”—a just fate for a supervillain who in his first outing made the Justice Leaguers intergalactic castaways. Despero remains one of the Justice League's most tenacious and terrifying adversaries, always managing to return from wherever he is banished. Voiced by Keith David, Despero appeared in the two-part “Hearts and Minds” episode of the Cartoon Network's Justice League (2001–2003). In his television incarnation he was purple-skinned with a goatee, but his fin head and third eye remained devilishly intact.
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.