Tagged: Darkseid

Marc Alan Fishman: Five Super-Villains I’d Prefer Over Trump

If anyone is living under a rock these days, good for you. There are some of us who aren’t – and we’re living in a perpetual state of fear, revulsion, and panic. Why? Well, not to get too political, but the President of the United States of America is a lying, xenophobic, narcissist with tendencies to say whatever floats past his KFC-soaked brainstem. Over the last one hundred plus days in office, Donald Trump has tried to ban aliens from our welcoming shores, offended our allies, kissed up to our enemies, spent millions of dollars to fire off some weapons, and if you’ve been paying attention lately… obstructing the investigation that could link his campaign to Russia.

It’s comical at this point, if only because as a comic book fan, for once, I now know what it’s like to live under the reign of a super villain. But c’mon. This is America, damnit. And if we’re going to live under the rule of a megalomaniac…  we could do better. My proof:

  1. President Lex Luthor

Under President Luthor, it’s most likely he’d get far better than a Muslim ban passed. Luthor, with his actual fortune, and actual genius-level intellect would easily figure out a way to draft a bill and grease the right palms to ensure all aliens (be they foreign or Kryptonian) be held at the shores of their homelands – impossibly tethered to any nation but Lexmerica. Beyond holding sway over all xenophobes… I mean nationalists… President Luthor would also be a boon to the billionaire class. Sweeping tax cuts and promises of trickle-down economics would be bolstered by stories of how Lexcorp hires hundreds of thousands of people and has cultivated a workforce of go-getters. A few executive orders later and Bernie Sanders would be living in the South Pacific, shouting at the heavens in protest as the .001% soon own 99.99% of the country.

  1. President Norman Osborn

When you think about it, Norman Osborn isn’t all that different from Trump. Crazy hair? Check. Short temper? Checkity-check. Rumors of mafia ties and a fortune built on the backs of the little people crushed back into the dirt? Check-check-1-2-check. But where Norman differs lay at the ground of all who look at us cock-eyed. Trump is a bit of a warhawk. Norman makes Trump look like a dove on an olive branch. President Osborn – gliding across Pennsylvania Avenue on his newest rocket-propelled death-machine – would shoot first, and never ask questions. All in the name of our country’s safety, mind you. North Korea? Smoldering ash. Russia? Newly minted as “America’s Gas Station.” The Middle East? Rebranded as Glassville, as one of the countries (President Osborne doesn’t recall which) looked at him cockeyed, so he ordered it all be nuked until he could see himself smile.

  1. President Magneto

OK, this one might seem odd because President Magneto actually is 100% pro-choice. 100% for universal health care. He taxes the rich and gives it directly to the poor. He welcomes literally any alien seeking help. With his impenetrable magnetic dampening field generators attached to our warships and border, our country is armored against any attack! Sounds good, right?

Well, you’re not a mutant, so I hate to be the bearer of bad news; please go get on the cattle car outside. You’re due at the internment camps for muggles in two hours.

  1. President Darkseid

Look, let’s get this out of the way immediately. Yes, the all-powerful despot doesn’t technically meet the established standards to become President. He wasn’t born on American soil. We’re not even sure if he has parents. And he definitely declined to even apply for citizenship. But on the plus side? It didn’t matter after he used his Omega beams to obliterate Congress, the courts, and… well… all the government buildings and people who worked in it. With that in mind? Life isn’t so bad now, is it? We’re all getting totally ripped working in the salt mines every day. Thanks to the newly added firepits, every day is a blustery 102 degrees – but it’s totally a dry heat. There’s no more debt, save for our miserable lives which we owe to our dark lord and ruler, of course. Say what you will, but at very least? I like that President Darkseid actually drained the swamp.

  1. President Negan

You can call President Negan a bully. I mean, you might as well, he put it on the back of the new $20. But you can’t deny his results. After taking Secretary of Offense, Lucille, to all those folks overseas? We now enjoy half of the world’s supplies! I mean, it was only fair that they give them to us, right? President Negan protects all of us from the zombies. Sure, I’ve never exactly seen one in person, per say. But who needs to, when I know that all the work I’m doing now serves the greater good! With the Cabinet of Saviors in place, we’re all living within our means. And it’s great how forward the nation is with the LGBTQ community. I mean, it’s OK now to be whoever you were meant to be. So long as you don’t rape anyone? You’re totes kewl brah. I sure do miss Glenn though.

And you know what? Any one of these downright bastards would be a welcome change from he who calls themselves our leader today.

Mike Gold: Darkseid’s Downside

There are two types of comic book characters that are nearly impossible to sustain: the omnipotent hero, and the omnipotent villain.

Whereas both feed nicely into the mythic environment, both suffer the same problem. If they can do anything, what can they do next?

Many decades ago, Michael Moorcock more-or-less tackled this question in his “Dancers at The End of Time” series of novels. Those who lived in the pocket universe of Moorcock’s creation could create, recreate, and alter any aspect of “reality” at any time. But this series was much more fantasy than heroic fantasy, even as contained within the author’s dark worldview. Characters are omnipotent, but they remain individuals with their own unique flaws and predilections.

In contemporary superhero stories, in comics and in the sundry external media, we do not have the luxury of controlling our landscape. We work in collaborative environments with a nearly infinite number of characters, and it seems damn near as many creators. So if one creator had something very specific in mind, in short order diverse hands will interpret it, reinterpret it, mold it or simply ignore it in order to fit the needs of the present story.

Let’s take Darkseid as an example. When Jack Kirby created him, he maintained complete control of the character. Nobody else in the DC universe deployed him for use in their storylines. One could argue that much of the DCU at the time could have used a massive Kirby infusion; then again, one could argue that such appropriation would have pissed Jack off the way it did when he was creating magic at Marvel.

Jack’s Darkseid was about as omnipotent as a character could be. I had the impression that when one of his well-populated schemes was near defeat, the stone-faced guy simply found it … interesting. He would note the results, evaluate the efforts of his lackeys, and move on to the next scheme. “Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger,” or, at least, wiser. It would have been interesting to see how far Kirby could have taken that.

After he left DC, others picked up the characters and the mythology and slowly but surely incorporated it into the DCU. Some – many – of these writers and artists were among the best working in the genre at the time. But by expanding Darkseid’s story turf, they had to weaken the guy slowly but surely. He remained the most evil of the bad guys, but he was just that: the badist of a well-known and growingly tiresome bunch. The more he was around the more he was defeated, and he couldn’t continue to simply walk off-panel with his arms behind his back nonchalantly voicing philosophical folderol.

Overuse undermines the uniqueness of the character. Just ask The Joker.

So how do you stop the unstoppable, or, as Superman editor Mort Weisinger said (frequently), “What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?” Well, what could happen is, you get one hell of a good superhero story.

The first time.

After that, such characters get weakened or get tiresome or both. There’s no suspense in repeatedly observing the adventures of a being that is both unstoppable and immovable. You can bring the character back after a significant period – something superhero comics seem incapable of doing – when and only when you have a story that is worthy of its cast.

Redundancy undermines uniqueness, and uniqueness becomes tedious.

John Ostrander: Jack Kirby is Still King!

I may have told this story before but I’m at an age where you repeat yourself a lot. And it’s germane to this column.

Years ago, when I was still somewhat new to the industry, I was working the First Comics booth at a Chicago Con along with my lovely wife, Kim Yale. A group of pros walked past me that included Julie Schwartz, the legendary DC editor, and Roz and Jack Kirby.

My jaw dropped and I started hyperventilating. Kim gave me a strange look.

“Pssst! Julie!” I whispered. I knew Julie from DC, at least somewhat. Ever affable, Julie came to the table.

“Whatcha want, kid?”

“Introduce me to the King!” Julie gave me a strange look.

“Whattaya talking about? It‘s just Jack. Come over and say hello.”

“No no no no no! I can’t! Don’t you understand?! He’s the King! Help a guy out, wouldja?”

Julie looked at me like I was demented, which I probably was. He just shook his head and said, “C’mon, kid.” I was still young enough to be called a kid… comparatively speaking.

Julie took me over to the group and made the intro and Jack Kirby shook my hand and said “Hi. Howareya.” I made noises resembling words. I think my voice cracked. Kim would later tell me that she watched her husband turn into a 14-year old boy, complete with zits a-poppin’.

I freely admit it. Jack Kirby was the King and, despite making my living in comics, I was still the fan-nerd I had always been.

And still am.

Many of you out there will know all about Jack Kirby and will need no explanation, but some of you might.

Jack Kirby (1917-1994) was born in Brooklyn as Jacob Kurtzberg and got into the comics biz in the Thirties which was the dawn of comics. He took out time for World War II and then came back and worked for a number of different publishers.

What makes Jack Kirby the King? For me, it’s this.

  1. Imagination – The word “prodigious” comes to mind. So many concepts, so many characters, bear his mark. So many styles of stories. From the spires of Asgard to the weird distortions of the Negative Zone to the brutal cityscapes of Apokolips, to Ego the Living Planet, no one could top his visuals.
  2. Storytelling – His figures leaped off the page. The panels couldn’t contain the events on them. Even standing still, they vibrated with potential power. There was energy to burn on his pages. You felt them as much as you read them. You couldn’t read the story fast enough and when one issue was done you wanted the next one right now.
  3. Artistry – Okay, his anatomy was not always perfect. And every woman’s face looked the same. He was still one of the best ARTISTS that ever drew a comic because comics are about storytelling and no one beat Kirby as a storyteller.

He and the other titans of his era invented comic books, for cryin’ out loud! Without the King, there is no Marvel Universe, let alone the Marvel Movie Universe! He created or co-created Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man, Nick Fury, the Howling Commandos, S.H.I.E.L.D., the Avengers, Black Panther, the X-Men, the Inhumans, the Fantastic Four, Doctor Doom, Magneto, Loki, and the Hulk – among so many others… including Groot! At DC he created Darkseid, the whole New Gods, OMAC, Etrigan the Demon, Challengers of the Unknown (only one of the great titles in DC history), the Boy Commandos, The Guardian and gobs of others! And he did a whole posse of Westerns and co-created the genre of romance comics! He turned out three or more penciled books a month plus the occasional oversized Annual! My brain explodes!!!

(I don’t know if you can talk about Jack Kirby without using exclamation points!)

So here’s to the King! I did eventually wash the hand that you shook; Kim insisted. However, you were and are one of my comic book heroes and I’m glad I had the chance to meet you.

Martha Thomases: Apokolips Now


As I do so often in uncertain times, I turn to comics. Specifically, DC superhero comics.

Because I do, I have some idea what it will be like to live in a world run by an enormous, self-centered creature who considers himself to be a god. This is a world where every aspect of life is devoted to praising a being who expects complete and total adoration, who expects his every utterance to be praised and obeyed. He runs his world based on his whims, turning his attention from one perceived slight to another.

His inner circle schemes to see who can flatter him the most. They do this to empower themselves, but also to stay alive. Those who displease him are banished to an eternity of suffering.

The people on this world toil endlessly in darkness. No matter how much they praise their lord, he pays them no attention. And they’re better off for it, because his attention arrives with his anger.

Everyone works really hard, every single day. Most of this is physical labor, the kind that combines intense exertion with soul-crushing tedium. The best to which they could aspire was a lifetime of this. There were no wages, or rewards, or respites of peace.

Perhaps this set-up satisfied the god for a few millennia. It’s no longer enough. Now he wants to conquer more worlds, more universes, more alternate realities. When he gets them, he is not satisfied, because he will never ever be sated.

When everything is about you, you can never be sated.

I suppose it’s possible that, for some people trapped in this world, there are moments that are better than others. Perhaps, before they fall asleep, they share a moment of camaraderie with a friend, or a moment of tenderness with a lover. In those moments, they might imagine a better world. They might try to find a way to make their own world better.

Because this world is so hellish, these people never get much farther than that. They don’t have the numbers, or they start to squabble with each other. They’re people, and they’re flawed, and too often, they put their own individual passions and opinions ahead of effective action.

In these comic book stories, there is sometimes a superhero to save them. There is a superhero who can defeat the dark lord, and in doing so, debase him in the eyes of his subjects. If they see him as fallible, they might be able to fight against him more effectively.

Here in our reality, where these stories only exist in comic books and folklore, we don’t have any superheroes. No one person is going to come in and save the day.

In fact, that kind of thinking is what gives power to the dark lord. Instead, we have to find common ground with each other. My priorities will be different from yours. The things that hurt me and make me feel helpless will be different from those things that affect you. This should not make us enemies. We should be able to take our individual, unique experiences and find common ground and common cause. There will be plenty of time to split hairs and determine who was most oppressed when we are all free.

If it helps, we can wear capes, too.

Marc Alan Fishman’s Ten Easy Steps To Make Justice League Great



Welcome to LinkBait 2016, kiddos! After last week, I was left wandering the streets thinking “How can Warner Brothers make Justice League not just good but completely balls-out awesomesauce?” Well, here I am stuck in New York City (day job, baybae!) with nothing better to do than listicle my way towards freedom. Let’s break it down:

  1. Be Funny.
    If the teaser trailer thing they tossed at us via SDCC was any indication, this one may be in the bag. Between Batfleck’s quips to the angry Aquaman and the Flash’s quips to Bats… I laughed more in two minutes of footage than I did after watching all of the DC films combined.
  2. Stop Brooding.
    Can we just state the obvious? Batman v. Superman and Man of Steel were chores to survive through. With rain and darkness and death and crying and smoke and ashes and pain and lasers, we’ve now sat through about five hours of tragedy shaded by angst. Simply put, we don’t need any more of it.
  3. Open up After Effects and turn off all filters.
    Forgive my insincerity to any of the directors of photography, art directors, and cinematographers who worked on the previous films. They were ugly brown-blue nightmare-scapes. For the love of Rao, please just up that saturation. Want a guide? Open up a comic book. I realize the brands need some consistency. But when your competition can level a city in broad daylight, and still have bright blue skies, it proves you don’t need to muck up the screen just because there’s a fight going on.
  4. Remember: Nothing is truly ever solved by punching.
    Listen, I don’t want to keep beating the “Marvel’s doing it better” tree too often, but I need to call a spade a spade. The Avengers? The day was saved by sacrifice. Civil War? A stalemate and respect for common sense. Heck! Guardians of the Galaxy? Friggen friendship, love, and having Kurt Russel alien-DNA. Consider it your blueprint: the Justice League needs to beat whatever villainy that arises with their wit, their courage, and their unwavering compassion for humanity. Simply put, only martial arts movies get away with winning by using better punching.
  5. In Media Res… Love It.
    We don’t need anyone’s secret origin. Not anymore. The movie-going public has been well-versed now by a decade’s worth of them. Start us ready to assemble… err… gather the League and save the day.
  6. Aquaman will be cool if you play it cool.
    We all know Aquaman is a pop-culture icon for morty hero-dom. But what makes him awesome isn’t the tattoos, Samoan looks, angry grit, or massive pecs. It’s his confidence. It’s his heroism. It’s his humanity. It’s clear that Momoa’s Arthur Curry is an intense individual. That’s fine. But he need not be a snarling snarky shark-man to garner favor with the lowest common denominator.
  7. No one believes Superman is dead.
    Well, you sorta’ let that cat outta the bag quickly, didn’t you? So be clear, and to the point. Bring him back. Spare us the mullet and/or black costume and give us the big blue boy scout America has been begging for.
  8. Wonder Woman must be the force to be reckoned with.
    Up until now, Black Widow has been the super hero little girls are looking up to. But she’s a complicated character who’s been buried behind the bigger toys in the toybox over at Club Mickey. DC has the opportunity to steal the title of best female hero and bury Marvel in that respect. Wonder Woman stole every scene she was in back in Sadman v. Badman. While we know she’ll soon get her own solo flick to flood the cinemas with aspiration. But in the team setting, she’s set to break out and be the biggest, baddest bitch of the bunch.
  9. The villain needs to matter.
    To date, Marvel’s malevolent mad men have been shallow at best, save only – perhaps – for the lukewarm Loki. DC’s rogues frankly spank Marvel’s ne’er-do-wells on paper. It’s about time they proved it. It looks like Darkseid may be the big baddie. And all it takes is boning up on how he was portrayed in Justice League: Unlimited and Superman: The Animated Series. Simply put? Darkseid is the better Thanos. DC has the opportunity to spare us seventeen ten-second teasers to get to a true villain. Roll out the parademons and a few Apokolyptian lieutenants for larger fight scenes, and you’re golden as a Kirby panel.
  10. Go ahead and tell us this is a multi-verse.
    There’s no better way to make all the fanboys lose their minds then to say Arrow, Flash, Supergirl and (to a much lesser degree) Gotham could exist and travel into the movies, and vice versa. With all the goodwill being built on the CW thus far… those whoops, hollers, and rounds of applause will come if people got the notion Grant Gustin and Ezra Miller would ever run across one another.

So, ComicMixers… what would you tell DC and WB to do to make Justice League a movie you’ll crave seeing?

Mike Gold: Lex Luthor, Fiend or Foe?

Lex Luthor

Batman’s got The Joker. Spider-Man has Doctor Octopus. The Flash has an entire rogue’s gallery. The Fantastic Four used to have Doctor Doom, but now that Marvel’s banished the Fox-Four from their universe Doom’s annoying everybody, without priority.

Superman has a bald businessman/scientist with a severe ego problem.

I never thought Lex Luthor was much of a villain. In fact, when I was in my teens I was pretty certain I could take him. Evidently, from time to time the folks at DC must have felt the same way. He’s been put into super-power-bestowing armor, he’s been given super-powers and he’s hired or co-opted powered super-villains to do his dirty work.

Lex has been an evil scientist, an evil businessman, an evil president, an outer-world hero, and a domestic hero. He’s been a picker, a grinner, a lover and a sinner.

But Lex Luthor is just a guy. He might be smarter than your average bear, but Lex is a lightweight compared to Michael Holt, Ray Palmer, Will Magnus, Rip Hunter, Ted Kord, Professor Ivo, probably Doctor Sivana… and most likely Bruce Wayne, if Bruce wasn’t burdened with the worst case of OCD in comics history. From time to time we’re told he’s the smartest guy around, but there’s very little evidence to support this claim. If I had to choose my Family Feud team, Lex wouldn’t make it.

At the very least you’d think that if Luthor was so damn smart, he’d have a better reason for hating Superman. Jealousy is not much of a reason. A smart person would realize its limits. But even a stupid person would realize that, after taking on Superman a zillion times and ultimately losing each time, further confrontation would be without purpose. Taking on and losing to the Man of Steel for three-quarters of a century is the very definition of insanity.

Curiously, his sundry movie and television appearances have been more threatening. The one thing that Lex Luthor has in common with Gene Hackman, Michael Rosenbaum, Kevin Spacey, John Shea, and Lyle Talbot is that all of them are human beings (more or less) who, clearly, all love playing evil villains. But the fact is, on the 1950’s Adventures of Superman teevee show, where the budget was lower than a temperature gauge at the South Pole, they never used the character. Superman editor Mort Weisinger was the story editor of the show; he knew all about the guy. Put him in a suit or a lab coat and you’ve got yourself an evildoer that doesn’t stretch the budget. Lex just isn’t worthy.

I have always felt Superman deserved a better arch-enemy. And he has them. Brainiac, Zod, the Parasite, and Darkseid – particularly Darkseid – are quite capable of being worthy of our most famous costumed superhero.

As a villain, Luthor would serve better as a behind-the-scenes manipulator, pulling the strings and making advantageous things happen. It should take Superman years to discover his presence and find him.

Lex Luthor should be the DC Universe’s answer to Sheldon Adelson.