Darkseid – A Man Versus The Abyss

Art by Matt Digges

Art by Matt Digges

 

THERE CAME A TIME WHEN THE BATMAN DIED!

WHEN THE CAPED CRUSADER WAS PITTED AGAINST THE GOD OF EVIL

THE DARK KNIGHT DETECTIVE VERSUS 

D – A – R – K – S – E – I – D

OH MIGHTY DARKSEID, WHOSE VERY GAZE MEANS DEATH!

FACED WITH THE HORROR OF THE IMPOSSIBLE, OUR HERO PULLED…THE TRIGGER!

Darkseid was created by Jack Kirby. He first appeared, briefly, in a 1970 issue of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen.

Resembling a living cliff face, Darkseid was based visually on Jack Palance and spiritually modeled on Adolf Hitler.

Historically, Darkseid has been a long-time foe of Orion and his fellow heroic New Gods as well as Superman and the Justice League.

Darkseid is a god, a tyrant, a brutal, living force of nature.

Despite only appearing together in a small handful of notable stories, Darkseid is one of Batman’s greatest villains.

Under Grant Morrison’s pen, Batman and Darkseid are arch-enemies.

In Grant Morrison’s JLA story-arc “Rock of Ages”, we’re shown an alternate future where Darkseid and his minions have successfully taken over Earth. 60% of the population has been converted into his inhuman soldier-force or unwitting slaves.

It’s an aged Batman who escapes and overcomes torture to lead one last desperate assault against Darkseid.

After sending a group of time-displaced Justice Leaguers back to our present to set things right, Batman cradles a dead Wonder Woman in his arms. Darkseid doesn’t even recognize Batman when he sets his deadly “Omega Effect” beams on him.

HOW SMALL YOU ARE, YET…YOU HAVE HURT ME. I RESPECT THAT. THEREFORE, LET ME SHOW YOU MERCY. THOSE ARE MERELY THE ‘FINDER BEAMS.’ NEXT COMES THE OMEGA EFFECT.

YOU WANT TO KNOW WHY YOU’RE SURROUNDED BY ALL THESE ‘MAGGOTS’, DARKSEID? BECAUSE YOU DID WHAT YOU SAID YOU’D DO; YOU RECREATED THE WHOLE WORLD IN YOUR IMAGE. …AND WHAT YOU SEE IN THEM IS YOUR OWN UGLY FAAAA-

Batman dies but Darkseid lives only long enough to be destroyed by others.

Flash forward a decade, Morrison pits Batman and Darkseid against each other once more in the climax of his seminal super-hero story, Final Crisis.

Again we see a Batman, this time from the present, kidnapped and tortured by Darkseid’s minions while the God of Evil attempts to crush humanity’s spirit under his boot heel. When Batman escapes (because Batman always escapes), he once again confronts Darkseid, who has been waiting for him.

“I WONDERED WHEN YOU WOULD SHOW YOURSELF. STOP SKULKING IN THE SHADOWS. ACCEPT THAT THE EQUATION IS PROVEN. COME OUT. EMBRACE ANTI-LIFE AND BE WHOLE.

(Does he somehow remember their last encounter? Darkseid is a god, after all.)

Batman reveals his secret weapon: a gun and a bullet. A bullet designed to kill a god, originally fired by Darkseid himself.

I MADE A VERY SOLEMN VOW ABOUT FIREARMS. BUT FOR YOU, I’M MAKING A ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME EXCEPTION.

Visibly upset, Batman shoots and mortally wounds Darkseid as the dark god unleashes “Omega Sanction” upon him. With a gutteral “Hh”, Batman is seemingly destroyed.

The takeaway from these two scenes, several year apart, is this: Darkseid is Batman’s ultimate foe because they are so perfectly diametrically opposed. Darkseid seeks to control all life through the idea of “Anti-Life”, which is not death but rather the absence of free will. Batman is a mortal man who made himself into what he is through pure willpower, a man who will never bend. A man who has chosen to embrace and defend life no matter the cost.

And if Batman is what Darkseid fears, then Darkseid is what Batman fears: the abstract evil that can’t be merely thrown in jail or rehabilitated. The *idea* of uncaring evil, made manifest in ashen flesh. What is Batman fighting when he goes out on patrol every night if not a cruel and merciless darkness that, say, robs a child of his parents. Batman has been fighting Darkseid since he put on the mask, he just never knew it.

In a sense, the fact that a “cosmic” DC creation like Darkseid is not really considered a member of Batman’s largely street-level rogues gallery is precisely why he’s such a fitting antagonist. Grant Morrison, in placing them together under extraordinary circumstances, reveals to us how they beautifully they compliment and counter each other:

Freedom vs. slavery, Face vs. Boot, David vs. Goliath.

Batman vs. Darkseid.

Matt Digges is a comics creator living in Los Angeles best known for his work on Awesome Hospital. You can find more of his work online at his tumblr or follow his incoherent ramblings on Twitter.

Click HERE for more on A Long Halloween, our month-long series of Batman essays and art.

Post By Max Robinson (105 Posts)

Deadshirt staff writer. Conceived by the unholy union of Zeus (in the guise of a corn dog) and ED-209. Has written for City Paper, Courthouse News. Twitter famous.

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