Darkseid: Where Do I Start?

Originally created during Jack Kirby’s much-heralded tenure at DC in the early 70s, in the end it was the villain, Darkseid, that became the most enduring and epic contribution to the DC Universe. Ranked #6 in IGN’s poll of the top 100 comic villains of all time, Darkseid has become one of the main antagonists in the DC comics as well as animated stories and even the final season of Smallville. Currently he’s being trumpeting as the main antagonist in the newly relaunched Justice League series by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, but it’s been a long road for the power-mad tyrant as he quests for the game-changing Anti-Life Equation and mastery of the universe.

Legion of Super-Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga: Considered by a large contingent of Legion of Super-Heroes fans as the definitive LoSH story, it also is a Grade-A Darkseid story that was one of the first to really expand the threat that Darkseid poses, not just to the Young Gods, but existence itself. In the 30th Century, Darkseid orchestrates the mental hijacking of a race of all-powerful aliens to finally rule over the universe. The Legion digs deep and dusts off every Legion ring ever issued, and even then falling short. Truly ahead of its time during its original publication in 1982, it still stands as a classic cosmic story showing Darkseid doing what he does best — dominate.

The Uncanny X-Men and The New Teen Titans: Darkseid has always been one of the best when it comes to schemes and diabolical plans to reach his goals, but using Deathstroke to resurrect the Dark Phoenix? Genius. Done by the masterful team of Chris Claremont and Walt Simonson, this extra-sized one-shot brought together the Big Two’s two big teen books at the time to fight each other before fighting their respective foes. All while still leaving some time for some inter-personal touchy-feely between Kitty Pryde and Changeling. I admit this one is a tough comic to find because it’s rarely reprinted, but definitely worth the effort.

The Hunger Dogs: Sometimes villains are just as amazing in their defeat as their rise to power. This finale by creator Jack Kirby sought to bring a close the long-delayed Fourth World saga and put the heroes in a place where they could be integrated into the DCU later on down the road. What Kirby delivered was a sweeping epic full of history and fight scenes that barrel through the cosmos. It’s a little disjointed at times, but in the end it’s a worthwhile story showing Jack Kirby coming to terms with his creation and showing Darkseid as a tragic figure.

JLA: Rock Of Ages: Although Grant Morrison’s most well-known take on Darkseid lay inside Final Crisis, I prefer this earlier story-arc in JLA to see how the writer handles the overlord of Apokolips. In some ways a prequel to Final Crisis, it finds the JLAers transported 15 years into the future to find Darkseid ruling over Earth thanks to his acquisition of the Anti-Life Equation. In the end it’s up to the unlikely duo of the Atom and Green Arrow to stop him — trick arrows and all.

Cosmic Odyssey: When it came to cosmic stories, Marvel’s Jim Starlin had the market cornered. Pair him with a then-new artist named Mike Mignola in 1988, and you’ve got something special. This duo show Darkseid actually partnering with the New Gods in order to save the universe; after all, what’s the fun in ruling if there’s nothing left to rule? Starlin assembles a classic team of JLAers along with some surprising additions (Starfire! Etrigan!) that bumble their way into the situation before learning that Darkseid isn’t the big bad, and ultimately results in some inspired team-ups to get the job done. If you’re a Mignola fan from his Hellboy work, it’d do you good to check this out as an early example of why he’s so good.


  1. JLA Rock of Ages was my first comic. Great story 🙂

  2. JLA: Rock of Ages does rule but, in a weird way, the best place to start with Darkseid is in the Superman: Animated Series two parter Apocalypse…Now!

  3. To this day, I still haven’t read Cosmic Odyssey. What the hell is wrong with me?

    • im smackn’ myself on the forehead wondering the same thing. mignola AND starlin. im hunting it down tomarrow

    • When that first came out, I remember hating Mignola’s art. Then later on, I was like, his art is way cool, what was I thinking.

      But when I did read it, it wasn’t great. Pretty good, not great.

  4. I think that the X-Men/ Teen Titans cross over is being reprinted in February. DC is releasing something called the DC/Marvel Crossover Omnibus Vol. 1 that month and it may contain that story. Here’s hoping.

  5. The X-Men/Teen Titans crossover is absolutely awesome.
    Both teams at the hieght of their popularity and brilliantly written.
    I had no idea who Darksied was when I first read this as a kid but it was clear that he was a patient, unflappable and immensely powerful villian.
    The splash page of he and Dark Phoenix facing each other for the first time ranks as one of my favorite pages.

  6. Honourary mention for Jimmy Olsen 134 for the bizarrest cameo 1st appearance for the enemy who would soon become DCs biggest of bads!

  7. Holy crap, I have/had that Xmen/Titans one shot!!! Shoot, I gotta see if I still do… for some reason, I dont think I do.

  8. Great suggestions. I have a confession of sorts. Darkseid the Lunch Lady in Tiny Titans is a ton of fun.

  9. This article just reminds me how badly I need to read Jack Kirby’s Fourth World, too bad the Omnibuses are kind of expensive… maybe for x-mas

  10. Kirby’s entire fourth world saga is the best starting point for comics fullstop in my opinion!

  11. No Final Crisis? ouch…

  12. Why on earth is the original New Gods series not the first thing on this list? Baffling. Hunger Gods is absolutely dire by comparison…Kirby had lost most of his mojo by then.