the Darker Seid of Life

By all means we at Monitor Duty should have written dozens of histories and recaps and essays about DC Comics’ vile Kirby demon, the evil New God Darkseid.  By now there should be hundreds of references and odes of love.  If kicked we might see it happen in the future, but I do not care to do that now.

Recently when I should have been working I googled for Grant Morrison interviews about Darkseid.  To tell you the truth I do not think that Mr. Morrison has anything profound  or unusual to say about the character but I like the way he puts together words and descriptions.   He puts together ideas that are not necessarily new or great in ways that are interesting and entertaining.  Honestly that is a good thing.  It does not matter whether the ideas are his or not.  His 52 co-writers claim that his virtue is not his creativity but his fearlessness.  He will go where his fellows will not and that seems like a strength to me (and a burden to editors and marketing staff).

Grant Morrison successfully delivers upon the marketing and communication of old ideas mixed together in way that editors would not let less experienced writers attempt.  That is the only reason I bother looking for his interviews.  I like his words; Ienjoy good poetry.  I do not care to give him credit for new meanings or new ideas.

Here is a quick Darkseid link dump.  It might be nice if, in the future, Monitor Duty has the greatest and most authoritative Darkseid link directory.  Let us leave that for the future.

  • Marc Singer, who is not the Beastmaster, writes a defense of Darkseid against the Howling Curmudgeon, in that he declares why the character is a good one, but insists the biggest injury upon the character is its overuse.  They agree on the character’s three best stories but alos there are moe good stories with the character.  The most profound note is that the character is used best in stories where he seems to die a permanent death.  I think that the character is not made better by having no inner conflict, but to have the character have an inner conflict is to write him out of character.  Most good characters have inner struggles; to an extent it easier to see the super-villain in this case as a plot device.  In this light most villains are plot devices more than characters.  I can think of exceptions like Lex Luthor (depending on the writer, of course) and Doctor Doom, both of whom are self-realized as Darkseid is.  Yet Luthor (again depending on the writer) has a character arc involving his own jealousy, need for attention, his place in the world, and possibly friendship with Superman.  Doom struggles with vanity above all.  Darkseid has not issues.  He merely is.  He will never grow and he will never learn.  He will simply act, conquer, enslave, and at the end of the story arc in question he will die.  Occasionally he gets trapped in the Source Wall or something.
  • A lot of this comes from a September calling for Darkseid essays.  Who has the time?  The point is that Darkseid “is a person” and I cannot say it is wrong because I sadly have read less Kirby New Gods material than I should, due to cost constraints.  As it is, what I declared in the point above is that recently Darkseid is a more a plot device, an abstract menace (as Galactus has almost always been) because while he may have been a person with a personality most writers simply treat him as an abstract personification of a dark ethos.
  • The best response is this: by Keith Giffen in his Ambush Bug mini-series.
  • Andrew Hickey insists that Darkseid’s desire to seize control of all life, the universe, and the entirety of creation and existence is borne out of fear of death.  Mr. Miracle is the logical counterpoint and the arch-enemy of Darkseid because as an escapological archetype he is positioned outside of the constraints of control.  Yet Scott Free himself is still not a direct and successful contrast because Darkseid name him and set his purpose.  That is Mr. Hickey’s point anyway and I am not certain I buy into it.  This plays all into ideas of “degrees of freedom” but as a Liberal Democrat (in the UK political sense) Mr Hickey’s views about what is acceptable as a definition or execution, application of freedom is suspect.
  • The first Darkseid story I ever read was not the entire story but the final chapter of a JLA/JSA team-up story.  As was the the fashion at the time the occasional/formal meeting between the League and the Society finds it self linked to a third super-team, in this instance the New Gods.  I remember Justice League of American #184 (and here is the cover) because the New Gods were not only definitely super-heroes in this incarnation (and there is nothing wrong with that) but Darkseid has a personality, he is a villain with motivations and relationships.  In point of fact the bulk of the story is about relationships as well as a rise to power.  Upon his return from his most recent death in the New Gods strip from Adventure Comics, Darkseid punishes the Injustice Society for accosting his son Orion, clearly with a view of propreitry and seeing Orion as a creature, a prince, someone whose fate is more tied to Darkseid’s whim than mere encounters with bad guys.  Orion’s group consists of a Leaguer and a Society member.  All the split-groups  (I love how they follow the Gardner Fox tradition) consist of such a configuration.  For isntance Batman’s group has Mr. Miracle and the Huntress because both are versions of him in the different worlds of the different teams.  At this point each team resides in a different dimension of the DC Comics storytelling.   Because Darkseid has his relationship with the New Gods he seeks to teleport Apokolips to the spot where Earth-2 resides, destroying Earth-2 and thus landing his domain inside a universe where there would be no heroes, and no heroic New Gods.
  • OAFE assesses/contrasts two Darkseid action figures making his size and sculpt major emphasis.  The Mattel version, which is the one really looked at, comes with a Mother Box as his accessory, and despite being smaller than the DC Direct Darkseid figure, is apparently just better.  Of course there is a brief history asserting that Darkseid only recently became a Superman villain despite that his first appearance was in a Superman comic.  He also discusses Grant Morrison’s formulation of the Anti-Life Equation.

I think there is something to be said that properly written the villain is a character but this applies to every character.  It is also important to note that the ending of the story as well as how often the character appears has serious impact for story quality.

About Chris Arndt

Writer, philosopher, New Media Specialist, and Sociopolitical Love Prophet. Underestimate him at your peril. Runs a store in Charlotte, MI
This entry was posted in Animation, DC Comics, Reviews - Comics, Television, Toys, Games and Fun and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to "the Darker Seid of Life"