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Vandal Savage(pop culture)
“I have seen empires bloom and wither and die,” intones the deathless conqueror Vandal Savage in DC One Million #1 (1998). “And, periodically, I have chosen to rule the Earth.” In Vandal Savage, countless superheroes have found an entrenched evil evocative of Lucifer and as old as humanity itself. Founder of the history-manipulating Illuminati and the author of the fall of Atlantis, Savage has played many pivotal roles in history: an ancient Sumerian king; the Egyptian pharaohs Khafre and Cheops; Julius Caesar; Genghis Khan; Vlad Dracul the Impaler; Jack the Ripper; and Josef Stalin. Savage has also worked behind the scenes for tyrants and conquerors such as Napoleon, Bismarck, and Hitler. The creation of science-fiction writer Alfred Bester (author of the seminal 1956 novel The Stars My Destination) and original Golden Age Green Lantern artist Martin Nodell in Green Lantern vol. 1 #10 (1943), Vandal Savage (originally Vandar Adg) was born some 50,000 years ago; overcome by mysterious meteorite radiation, he gains immortality, superhuman intellect, strength, and endurance, and the ability to access other dimensions. To maintain these magical powers, Savage must periodically drink his enemies' blood, and he later harvests transplant organs from his descendants. In the 1940s, Savage used the Axis powers to abet his own global domination plans. He tricked the U.S. government into appointing him America's war labor chief, only to run afoul of the original Green Lantern. Savage later co-founded the Injustice Society of the World, one of the earliest supervillain teams, which attacked the Justice Society of America in All Star Comics #37 (1947). Though Savage failed, he later got the JSA investigated by the U.S. Congress for subversive activities, thereby disbanding the era's premiere superhero cadre—and single-handedly ending the Golden Age of comics (as revealed in JLA: Year One #2, 1998). To maintain his suddenly waning powers, Savage tricked the original Flash (Jay Garrick) and Flash II (Barry Allen) into recovering the original meteor that created him (The Flash, vol. 1 #215, 1972). Savage subsequently sought world conquest through drug trafficking, only to be thwarted regularly by Wally West, the third Flash throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s. Over the years, Savage also tangled with Superman, Wonder Woman, various Justice League of America members, the Justice Society (revived in 1991 specifically to deal with Savage), Resurrection Man, and the Teen Titans. Despite numerous defeats, Savage lives on until the 853rd century or later, amid such trophies as the Holy Grail (Savage claims to have started the Grail myth), a signed copy of Mein Kampf, and even Pandora's box (DC Universe Villains Secret Files #1, 1999). Savage's daughter Scandal, a hard-edged combatant wearing wrist-mounted “Lamentation Blades,” was introduced in Villains United #1 (2005). Savage finally reached a mass audience in 2002 via several episodes of the Cartoon Network's popular Justice League animated television series (2001–2004). Voiced by Static Shock! and Kim Possible veteran Phil Morris, Savage exudes an air of menace and mystery and has become a key Justice League TV villain, though his “ancient immortal” aspect has given way to a more Blofeldesque persona, including Nehru-style apparel. Thus reinvented for television, a very long future may indeed await the immortal Vandal Savage.
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.