“Oh, The Villainy!” Take One : “Darkseid” #1

Posted: September 9, 2013 in comics
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Okay, so it doesn’t exactly take the world’s greatest detective — whether that’s Batman or Sherlock Holmes I leave to you to argue amongst yourselves — to figure out that DC’s “Villains Month” is nothing but a hustle. After all, last years “Zero Month” was nothing but a hustle, and it’s becoming increasingly obvious with each passing month that the entire “New 52” relaunch is perhaps the biggest hustle of them all.

Still, to the extent that I was willing to part with twenty bucks of my hard-earned cash for five of these “Villains Month” books (yes, I bought the $3.99 holographic cover versions of each), it’s a hustle that I willingly fell for, if only to see how completely clueless the current DC “brain trust” is in terms of the approach they’re taking to “reimagining” classic characters.

“There came a time when the old gods died!” was the opening line to Jack Kirby’s New Gods #1, and frankly that’s all the more “origin” we ever needed for the literally hundreds of new characters and concepts that would usher forth from “The King”‘s imagination over the all-too-brief lifespan of his various and interconnected Fourth World titles. But apparently that wasn’t enough for Dan DiDio and Jim Lee, who have hired writer Greg Pak and artists Paulo Siquiera and Netho Diaz (wonder if DC pays the going page rate to their international talent now or if the old, racist “Filipino Rule” is still in place?) to “flesh out” Darkseid’s backstory over the course of 20 pages.

The thing is — “There came a time when the old gods died!” is not only a more succinct telling of the monarch of Apokolips’ beginnings, it’s also a better one. To wit : here we see some “mud-grubber” named Uxas on a faraway world some time in the past. He kills a couple of the “old gods.” His brother, Izaya, disagrees with his move. Uxas inherits the powers of his victims and is reborn as Darkseid. Izaya will eventually become Highfater, but there’s no mention of that here. Then we fast-forward to the present day. Darkseid fights Superman for a couple of pages for no reason. Then his attentions are lured away by an impish young prankster named Kaiyo who shows The Dark One that there are other dimensions he can travel to for plunder, conquest, and  to generally fuck with everyone who lives there in any way he chooses. So Dakseid decides to do that. The end.

Yeah, I liked “There came a time when the old gods died!” better myself. It was nice to see Kirby get a creator’s credit on the title page of this book — it’s more than Marvel gave him for The Avengers, a movie which took in over a billion dollars worldwide — but apart from that, Darkseid #1 (or maybe that should be Justice League #23.1, if we want to go by the “official” numbering) really has nothing to recommend for it. The art looks like bog-standard mid-90s WildStorm product, and the story is a discombobulated, poorly-scripted mess that does more to muddle Darkseid’s origins than anything else. In short, the book sucks and is a complete waste of money.

But take heart, dear reader! We haven’t hit rock bottom yet! Desaad #1 —which we’ll take a look at tomorrow —is, believe it or not,  even worse!

  1. Judith Johnson says:

    Ryan,   For God’s sakes! i don’t even know these characters and movies you write about, but I love to read what you write. You are such an excellent writer. I am not kidding.   Auntie Judy Johnson (I’m not really Ryan’s aunt)

    • trashfilmguru (Ryan C.) says:

      Not really my aunt, but honestly you might as well be for all intents and purposes. Hope you’re all doing well in the Johnson clan, tell your son to give me a call one of these years!

  2. Volker says:

    So they are retooling the origin that John Byrne gave him in the Orion book? I’m not THAT old and I can still remember it. Sad days indeed. I say, let Disney buy ’em.

    • trashfilmguru (Ryan C.) says:

      As bad as DC is at the moment, about the only thing that could make the situation there worse would be if Disney really did buy them!

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