It’s all about the Justice League’s first and most dangerous enemy in this look back at the origin of the mad god, Darkseid.
** This issue’s done been spoil’t **
In the New 52, Darkseid is the definitive enemy of the Justice League. Obviously there have been many, many other villains and threats over the years, but Darkseid is something special—in the most analytical way—not only because he’s the one that brought the original seven together, but also because he’s one of the only villains the League still fears.
There’s simply too much story to fit into a single issue. Thanos—the mad god who terrorizes Marvel’s cosmic characters—is almost a carbon copy of Darkseid, yet Marvel allowed Thanos his own five-part mini-series to flesh out the origins of the Son of Titan. Darkseid only gets one issue and it’s just not enough. Greg Pak is forced to compress Darkseid’s entire character history into 22 pages, which makes it feel rushed, underdeveloped, and unsatisfying.
How exactly did Uxas—Darkseid’s birth name—spread doubt and mistrust amongst the old gods when they thought mortals were worthless and stupid? Why would these gods listen to anything a lowly mortal like Uxas would have to say? How did Uxas eventually attain enough power to kill a god, let alone a dozen? Does Darkseid take power from each god he kills? Is that how he attains his incredible power or was there some other avenue? These are just some of the queries Pak glosses over. These are the questions that should have been answered because those answers would give readers much more insight into Darkseid’s psyche than an extended origin story ever could.
Even before the New 52, Darkseid was one of the most terrifying and remorseless villains in the entire DCU. Heck, go back and watch Superman: The Animated Series to see how menacing Darkseid can be even in a TV show aimed at kids. Justice League #23.1 could have been the perfect opportunity to really show why Darkseid hates happiness so much, but unfortunately, none of that terror or looming sense of doom comes across. I honestly like Darkseid less after reading this issue, and that’s a problem.
Justice League #23.1 is half-baked, which is unfortunate because Darkseid should be one of the most prominent and awe-inspiring villains in DC’s roster and as of right now, he’s not. Marvel has gone above and beyond to make Thanos a character to be feared. DC, on the other hand, seems content with letting Darkseid slip into B-list villain territory at a dangerous speed. We don’t even get to see Darkseid when he first uses his eye beams; it’s just Uxas one panel, then full-blown despot Darkseid the next, while more mundane details (like anything before he starts murdering gods) are dragged out to unnecessary lengths.