Darkseid In Animation - A Retrospective

Stu

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With the release of Zack Synder's Justice League and Superman: The Animated Series coming to HBO Max today, I thought now would be a perfect time to look over Darkseid's previous appearances in animation. Images, as always, appear courtesy of The World's Finest. Enjoy!

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Darkseid: You're a magnificent opponent Superman... but even you must realise its hopeless.
Superman: Darkseid.
Darkseid: I could easily destroy you now... and once you're gone, the pathetic beings of this planet won't have the will to resist me... the few who survive, that is.

However, if you join me as my loyal vassal, I could guarantee a modicum of... restraint. Think of it Superman... the power you have now, its nothing compared with what I'm offering you.
Superman: You know I can't do that.
Darkseid: Pity. Still, if you won't be my knight, you will be my pawn.

_____


Making his debut in Superman’s Pal: Jimmy Olson (no really, Jack ‘King’ Kirby used to write/draw Olson’s own ongoing comic), Darkseid has gone onto become the true big bad of the DC Universe since his debut in the 70s. I would argue Darkseid has become Kirby’s legacy from DC following his departure from Marvel and his co-creating Captain America, The Fantastic Four, The Silver Surfer, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man and a whole host of multi-billion dollar properties for which he was never fairly compensated. It’s a shame he never got to see his Marvel creations make it to the big screen, as I imagined he would’ve loved to see the MCU and how many of his creations have become pop culture icons, but alas, Kirby passed in 1994, long before Marvel made any big screen headway.

Darkseid was the main villain of Kirby's New Gods comic book series, but Darkseid has surpassed The New Gods in terms of popularity and relevance to the DC Universe. Having never read a single issue of New Gods/Mister Miracle/The Forever People and knowing little about them beyond their animated appearances, I couldn’t tell you much of Darkseid’s actual origins, or how he came to power. A New Gods movie is apparently in development, but whether or not we’ll see it in our lifetime is anyone’s guess. Since nothing has been announced other than Ava Devernuy's role as writer/director years ago, with no cast or release date in place, I imagine this is just yet another DC property that will sit in limbo, to add to the embarrassing list of characters Warner Bros. DC movies that will simply never get beyond a script.

Darkseid’s status as the big bad goes back decades, from his original animated appearances in the various Superfriends cartoons which I have never seen, beyond the odd clip. Frank Welker has an awesome scary Darkseid voice in the show, but I couldn’t tell you of the shows quality, so will not be covering it here. Darkseid has appeared in various video games and will today make his live action movie debut in Zack Synder’s Justice League, after being cut from the theatrical release (more on that later.) His motivation throughout the decades is to discover the secret of the Anti-Life equation... I’m not sure Kirby or anyone else has bothered to really explain what this is, but Darkseid’s all consuming path is to use it to recreate the world in his own image, under his complete rule.


Finally, this brings us to his more recent animated appearances covered on this forum, starting with the superlative Superman: The Animated Series, which is now available on HBO Max in HD for those of you who have access to it. It's very much a good use of your time.

Superman debuted on Kids WB! on September 6th 1996, following the end of The Adventures of Batman and Robin on Fox Kids. With some of the crew moving from Batman to Freakazoid, Superman was greenlit to tie in the then in development live action Superman 5/Superman Lives movie that Warner Bros, of course, never actually filmed. The show aired on the newly formed Kids WB! network. Managing to maintain a lot of the same crew behind Batman’s success, producer Bruce Timm originally envisioned the show as something akin to Superman and His Amazing Friends with Superman teaming up with various other DC superheroes/Justice League members (look for some very cool pre production models of the proposed team in Timm's Modern Masters book, which is also worth a ourchase) before executive producer Jean MacCurdy asked Timm to do what he did with Superman what he did with Batman and create a traditional, straight up Superman show.

Timm apparently considered doing a straight up 40s Superman show, before eventually settling on a new ‘Bruce Timm’ style, with more angular designs than his previous Batman show that in theory, would animate better. In the first season of Superman it’s hard to argue, every episode looks gorgeous and the animation rarely falters. It’s not quite as nice to look at as the original Batman: The Animated Series, as there is no beautiful dark deco here, but of course, this would not be at all appropriate for the bright and futuristic Metropolis and the simplicity of the designs so not flourish as much as they did in the better looking episodes of Batman but all in all, Superman is easily one of the better looking shows once the era. Kirby is clearly an influence here, as Timm told TwoMorrows

“We knew exactly what we wanted to do with Batman-you know, the Film Noir/Art Deco kind of look on it. When the time came to do Superman, we really didn't know what to do that would make it visually different from Batman but at the same time just as cool. We didn't wanna go back and make it look just like the Fleischer cartoons; I didn't want anybody to put our show up against Fleischer's and say, "Well look, they're doing the Fleischers, just not as well." One of the things we wanted to do with Superman was to kind of "Marvelize" Superman a little bit. That's why the police don't just carry handguns, but these Kirby-like weapons. All of the science-fictional elements in this series-whether it's a tank or something from outer space-has a kind of Kirby feel to it, or at least we try to.”

Batman stalwarts Alan Burnett and Paul Dini also returned from Batman and served as producers once again, and unlike Batman, the writers found their footing straight away. There were no disagreements with the Story Editors who wanted a recycling bin in the Batcave here, the first season of Superman is chock full of top quality episodes from start to finish. Episodes 1-13 are all outstanding in their own way, script, animation, performances, Superman hit the ground running from the word go. The show started with Superman’s origin with a three part story with each episode taking place in Superman’s traditional three acts, on Krypton, Smallville and Metropolis. It took some balls to have the first full episode take place on Krypton and focus on Jor El’s final hours... I can’t imagine that was an easy pitch, especially when the main character, Jor El, meets his demise at its conclusion. There was no Marlon Brando style influence here either as the show doesn’t really play too much from the Christopher Reeve movies... full credit to Kids WB! for allowing such a ballsy episode to air. By the 2000s this certainly wouldn’t happen on Kids WB!... they’d probably try to make him a teenager and Jor-El would be his high school guidance councillor or something equally baffling.

The show did a more than stellar job of transforming Superman’s somewhat tepid rouges gallery from middle aged men in suits to visually appealing supervillains with interesting physiological motivations. With Lex Luthor playing the recurring big bad in his skinny Kingpin role, along with introductions to the likes of Metallo, Toyman and The Parasite, the show was going a grand job of creating worthy adversaries for The Man of Steel and a wonderful version of Lois Lane, voiced by the always awesome Dana Delaney. Lane features here tremendously well in a supporting role but this is far more of a Superman show than a Clark show. I assume a straight up Lois and Clark romance was forbidden due to Kids WB! having no time for romance, so the traditional love triangle isn’t here, and Clark is not the bumbling pre-Crisis version of the character I enjoy, nor does he take any cues from Christopher Reeve’s unforgettable performances... I might be alone in thinking this, but this version of Clark, while perfectly likeable is sort of just... there. He doesn’t seem to appear too often in the episodes, but they compensated for this by having an awesome version of Superman. I will be forever biased towards Reeve’s Superman, but nevertheless, this show did a excellent job with Superman himself and his villains... And no villain was better than Darkseid.

The Lord of Apokolips would make his debut in the final scene of the season one finale, Tools Of The Trade, revealed as the mastermind behind the scenes who is supplying Bruno Mannheim with the futuristic weaponry to equip Intergang. His debut is only a brief cameo at the end of the episode in which he introduces himself to Mannheim as his new lord and master. I imagine this was utterly thrilling for fans of the character, whereas it was expertly done for none fans who instantly learned that Darkseid was not one to be trifled with.


This is the first we see of Apokolips, which looks of course to be heavy influenced by Kirby’s visuals, as a planet clearly taking its cues from Hell itself. As said above, Timm is clearly a fan of Kirby and his influence is all over Superman: The Animated Series especially, without attempting to ape it. The Silver Surfer cartoon would later attempt that and fail badly, visually. Influence over adaptation any day of the week, for me. No animator will be able to draw as well as Jack Kirby, and it was foolish for them to even try, in my opinion.

The character model has a presence here. He is naturally huge, as most of the characters in this show were. It breaks the traditional mould found in Superman and he was clearly meant to be a scary looking character. I especially like his stoic posing, as he rarely moves from his chair, with his arms folded behind his back. One fears for his company whenever they are in the presence of Darkseid... visually, Darkseid was a 100% triumph.

Darkseid would return in Father’s Day in which we see that Superman has a massive part to play in his master plan, but Kalibak, attempts to win his Father’s approval by travelling to Earth to kill Superman. After a second and most of the third act Smackdown, Darkseid travels to Earth to retrieve his son and introduces himself to Superman by blasting him with his Omega Laser. One could tell these appearances were simply teasing us to build to something bigger, even for those uneducated as to who exactly Darkseid was. One must remember this was long before Wikipedia or even before most of Kirby’s work was collected in trade paperback form... newer fans of Superman undoubtedly were introduced to Darkseid and the other supporting characters via this television show. I personally has this a bit backwards, I saw most of the Justice League show long before Superman, due to Superman never airing past season one here in the UK.

This show seemed to be building towards something bigger, despite being a fairly standalone villain of the week show from its inception. This carried in with Apokolips...Now! which sees Bruno Mannheim once again return to Earth with Apokolpitic weaponry before Orion travels from New Genesis to warn Superman that Darkseid is coming. Now on Earth, we learn of Darkseid’s backstory and how he physiologically feeds on the despair and misery of others and how he longs for the Anti-Life Equation, following his planet essentially splitting in two, Apokolips, which Darkseid rules, and New Genesis, the peaceful world of The New Gods ruled by Highfather. The two have waged war for decades, with a truce being reached by exchanging their infant sons. The show does not shy away from the planets being metaphors for Heaven and Hell, and the widescreen approach to the flashbacks from Orions’ Motherbox is expertly done. The Motherbox is essentially an all powerful iPhone capable of teleportation, if he they were both alive at present time I think Steve Jobs would owe Mr Kirby a few quid, personally.

The opening of the episode is a fight scene from obviously Kirby inspired space ships and tanks which almost made me wish the show was made 10 years earlier, as we would’ve no doubt got incredibly cool action figures vehicle playsets of these beasts, rather than the pitiful toyline Kenner made for Superman. Given their influence over the shows, it’s frustrating as hell to see what a lazy, cheap effort they made for The New Batman/Superman Adventures and Batman Beyond... these toylines should’ve been so much cooler.


Apokolips...Now! is arguably the peak of Superman: The Animated Series and has shocking moments in both parts, Superman is beaten and bloodied in each episode, which may seem tame compared to the recent DC Direct to Video features, but back in the day, blood in a superhero cartoon was a strict no no. Even more shocking is the death of Bruno Mannheim in a nuclear explosion, in Part One after Darkseid enlists him to turn the reactor’s core off.

Bruno: You promised you’d make me a King!
Darkseid: And so you are; a King of fools.


It gets more shocking in Part Two as General Steppenwolf and the Parademons attack Metropolis as Darkseid himself returns to Earth and easily beats Superman before showcasing his defeat in front of the people of Metropolis to earn their fear as he feeds upon them.

His plan backfires when Dan Turpins tells him where to shove his offer to be merciful towards Earth should they surrender, which immediately makes his plan to feed of their despair to see their hero beaten and broken moot, before New Genesis’ army turns up and declares that Earth is under their protection, and taking over the planet would be a violation of their agreement. The bully then uses the old excuse of I don’t really care when he’s about to lose, before he delivers one final FU to Superman by murdering Dan Turpin with his Omega Beams.

Murdering. On a Saturday morning cartoon. On screen - no shadow trucks, no camera cut aways, no audience recreations, a straight up disintegration before the viewers eyes.

This just didn’t happen in those days. No one saw that coming! It was a major shocking moment that wasn’t glossed over, as we also see a Funeral for Turpin (the original airing actually had cameos from Marvel characters Kirby created, but they were removed for future airings/DVDs) and, furthermore he wasn’t brought back to life: this death stuck. A Jewish funeral was also shown in homage to Kirby, which was also a no no at the time, many networks decided Religion simply had no place in animation, full stop.


It adds further prose to it when one learns that Turpin’s character mode is actually based on Jack Kirby himself, who passed away a few years before the show began. Part Two was arguably the most memorable episode the show did, which is an achievement in itself, as this is the episode in which Superman loses and loses badly. This one punched one right in the feels... especially when Darkseid really rubs it in

Darkseid: “Savour your moment of triumph Superman... but remember, victory has its price.”

The music in this episode is also incredibly well done, even to the lofty standards of the DC animated shows. I rarely give the musicians the credit the deserve in these pieces, but Apokolips...Now Part 2 is probably my favourite Superman score.

Now would be a good time to mention the incomparable Michael Ironside who voices Darkseid throughout the DCU. He is magnificent, a true treasure in the sea of exceptional casting that was Andrea Beaumont’s DCU shows. From the opening episode of Batman: The Animated Series right through to the finale of Justice League Unlimited, there wasn’t a miscast voice or half arsed performance to be found. Mrs Beaumont is richly deserving of her universal praise and more. Ironside added a massive gravitas to his performances and helps give Darkseid a presence in each of his appearances... a true, well spoken, bad ass villian, easily one of the very best in the DCU. He is still my favourite Darkseid voice all these years later. Superman himself, Tim Daly also gives one of his performances as The Man of Steel here - from script to storyboard to performance, everyone was on their A game here.

It was clear from the “Not the End!” in the credits before it’s dedication to the late great Jack ‘King’ Kirby that this was... well, not the end, and an inevitable rematch with Darkseid was on the cards.

I didn’t expect to see it in the following story, Little Girl Lost, which introduces Supergirl, a character I admit to not being terribly fond of, however watching the episode on DVD (I’d say I’m showing my age, but the long awaited Blu Ray for this show hasn’t been announced yet, pull your finger out Warner Home Video!) but I did enjoy watching this story again this afternoon, having not seen it in years. I seem to recall thinking it was far too early for another Darkseid appearance when I originally watched it, but I did enjoy his pettiness of if he cannot rule over Earth, he will destroy it, and his plan shows, a meteor crashing into Earth, shows no evidence of interference on his behalf and therefore does not break his agreement with New Genesis. Darkseid is playing chess while the rest of us are playing Checkers here. It also highlighted many of the supporting characters from Apokolips including the Female Furies and Granny Goodness, wonderfully voiced by the forever fantastic Ed Asner. Having Asner essentially portray her as a man in drag is an utterly genius idea, and Asner nails it. It is odd to hear my childhood J Jonah Jameson voicing a woman, but I’ll tell you now, it works terrifically.


Darkseid would return in the shows finale, Legacy. Timm and Dini would mention on the DVD commentary that the original plan was for Darkseid to manipulate Superman into attach the Earth was the season opener and have Superman work to regain the Earth’s trust over the course of the season but this was scrapped to end the show with instead. It’s another shocking 2 part story which starts with a shocking twist of Superman attacking the Earth, but how/why he is doing so is not explained until Part Two. With Superman now evil, Luthor and General Eiling now have the excuse they were looking for to finally kill him on their terms without looking like the villains they truly are.

As an aside? Clancy Brown is never less than tremendous and his Lex Luthor is no exception to this. He has the perfect blend of intelligence, smugness and anger when required whether playing suave businessman, mad scientist or clear crackpot throughout the DCU. Interestingly he initially auditioned for Superman himself, and cracked a joke about always being cast as a villain when Timm asked him to audition for Luthor. Another solid A+ casting effort here.

Part One essentially shows Darkseid manipulating Superman as he attacks a random planet, and how Granny hypnotised Superman into thinking it was Darkseid who took Kal El in when Krypton exploded and his ship crash landed on Apokolips rather than Earth and Darkseid raised him as his own and shared his vision of a balanced and disciplined universe before finally allowing Kal to ruin his own planet, Earth. The episode also features some clever flashbacks to The Last Son of Krypton.

Part two gets things moving after Superman comes to and travels to Apokolips to essentially finish Darkseid and his Apokolips goons off once and for all. There is a fantastic vindication scene in which an powerless Superman smacks Luthor in the face and breaks his jaw before we get to the final fight with Darkseid. It’s vicious, nasty and worthy of the build up it received, and once again delivers a shocking ending as despite losing the fight, Darkseid, magnificent bastard that he is, wins the war after finally defeating Darkseid and telling the people of Apokolips they are free now, they rush to the aid of their master, as he had clearly wiped out any hope they have of not living under his rule.


Excellent action aside, it’s also filled with some incredible quotes from Darkseid, the best of which is actually after he is defeated

“I am many things Kal El, but here, I am God.”

Even with the show now ending (thank you Jamie Kellnar), it was clear this feud wasn’t over. Another season of Superman earning the public’s trust again could’ve been extraordinary, but alas it was not to be.

A Darkseid rematch was on the cards, however...

Next: Loser.
 

Raider969

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Great retrospective, but there are two mistakes I noticed. It was Andrea Romano who was the voice director, not Andrea Beaumont. Also, in Legacy, it was General Hardcastle not General Elling, just letting you know.
 

Stu

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Great retrospective, but there are two mistakes I noticed. It was Andrea Romano who was the voice director, not Andrea Beaumont. Also, in Legacy, it was General Hardcastle not General Elling, just letting you know.
I forever mistype Romano for Beaumont and visa versa. Interesting trivia, Phantasm's alter ego is actually based on how Kevin Conroy would make Romano crack up by how he would utter her name with emotion when he was warming up before a recording session.

My apologies on the General correction - if I remember Hardcastle was the hard ass in Legacy and Eiling eventually became The Shaggyman in Patriot Act in JLU with JK Simmons voicing him?

Frontier said:
Michael Ironside is still the Darkseid voice as far as I'm concerned, and the Harley Quinn cartoon proved he hasn't missed a beat :).

Ah, I didn't know he reprised his role for Harley Quinn, I haven't seen season 2 yet. Very cool!
 

Yojimbo

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My apologies on the General correction - if I remember Hardcastle was the hard ass in Legacy and Eiling eventually became The Shaggyman in Patriot Act in JLU with JK Simmons voicing him?
Correct. Hardcastle, voiced by Charles Napier (who I will always remember as Murdock in Rambo and Tucker McElroy in Blues Brothers), was in Prometheon and the Legacy 2 parter then was the guy killed in the cabin on JLU's Fearful Symmtery. Eiling was the general voiced by JK Simmons who showed up in Dark Heart, then was revealed to be a member of Project Cadmus and his last appearance was in Patriot Act, becoming The General (in JLU it was a super soldier serum that turned him into a hairless behemoth whereas in the comics, he transplanted his brain into a Shaggy Man body).
 

Stu

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Following the cancellation of The New Batman/Superman Adventures, we were treated to Batman Beyond. Sadly Kids WB’s animation quota was solely about syndication in those days, so once a show reached episode 52, regardless of popularity, profitability and fan outrage, it rarely made it to episode 53 or beyond. Add this to the passive aggressive attitude WB had to the creative team towards Batman Beyond in its 3rd season, the writing was clearly on the wall - no forth season for you. I am not certain if the failure of the toyline added to their decision, but given how abysmal the toyline was, and it was essentially Batman Beyond in name only, Kenner have no one to blame but themselves there.

With producers Bruce Timm and James Tucker's attempts to reach an agreement with Kids WB! for a Justice League show not working out, Timm called the head of Cartoon Network and sold the show over the phone. Cartoon Network was essentially a rerun station in those days, so getting their own original programming was considered quite a hit at the time. Even more curiously was that it had little to do with tying into a live action Justice League or DC property, it seemed Cartoon Network wanted Justice League because they... thought people would watch a great show, as they’d done previously with Batman/Superman/Batman Beyond. Seems almost baffling, does it? There wasn’t even a toyline at the time, I recall it took forever for Justice League figures to actually be released, compared to when I was a child and I often had the action figure of the villains from Spider-Man/Batman long before they debuted in the show. As an aside? The original Justice League toyline sucked. Mountains of repaints of poorly designed figures, with very few villains. Back in the glory days, fans and collectors moaned long and hard about how difficult it was to even find a Hawkgirl figure.


Alas, I recall I should be speaking about Darkseid. He was entirely absent from the first season, which was not met with the same rave reviews as Batman/Superman/Beyond, which I personally agreed with. I thought the majority of the first season of Justice League was slow, plodding, one note and most surprisingly of all, not very exciting to look at.

Digital colouring was in its infancy at this stage of the game, and the colouring seems to flatten whatever was on screen. Superman doesn’t have his optimistic red and blue, Batman does not look stealthy in his black and grey, Green Lantern looks especially muted for a character who power is literally to make bright green glowy object is... I could go on.

Alas, the creative team took the criticism/feedback to heart for season two, with Timm advising “good enough isn’t good enough”.

In the Commentary to Twilight Part 2 Timm and Tucker commented that the show had the kid gloves and the show lost the edge that was found in excess in their previous shows. They joke that they really needed to “ring the bell” and really go for it, without holding back. I am very thankful for it, as season two is infinitely better then season one. Constructive criticism is fair game in my opinion, as long as it's directed towards the work, not the person, plus at this time, the main competition for Timm and co was themselves and their previous work, none of the other superhero shows of the time were anywhere close to The New Batman/Superman Adventures, everything decent Marvel tried in those days had long since been cancelled and Marvel's animation standards were pitiful towards the end of the 90s. Spider-Man: Unlimited, The Silver Surfer and Avengers: United They Stand were simply never worth watching, sadly.

Deciding to open with a bang, Darkseid returns in the opening episode of season two. Each story is broke up into two parts, which doesn’t really help with the number of pacing problems a lot of the episodes have. Originally hesitant at the idea of having not one but two big time Superman villains in the story, Timm decided that Twilight, even after numerous drafts from Rich Fogel didn't have the punch he was looking for and rewrote both parts himself. From Fogel's previous episodes, I have found a lot of his stories to be fair to middling - none of them really stand out as exceptional episodes, and they often feel rushed. Moreso on Batman than Superman, but some of the should've been bigger The New Batman Adventures episodes fell a bit flat for me.

Twilight was clearly a step in the right direction and the improvements were immediately noticeable following the episodes conclusion. The animation looked better, the models were tweaked slightly (mainly Superman and Wonder Woman's cumbersome jawlines), and even in terms of scope, things were a lot bigger. Brainiac's ship, in particular, was impressively sized and well designed and gave on the sense the League were actually in a real battle here.


There are a few odd blemishes in the episode... some of the dialogue in Part one is jilted and corny but Twilight is easily better than anything season one had to offer.

Darkseid doesn't quite have the same presence he did in the Superman show, which is probably just me nit picking. I like the idea of Darkseid barely ever walking, and travelling on his floating disc thing, arms behind his back or sat in his throne... seeing him on the Watchtower felt a little alien to me. I suppose this was done to show Darkseid in a position of weakness, asking the League for help, only to naturally have the upper hand later on when he deceives Brainiac.

His design was slightly tweaked to make it more Kirby esquire in the face, which I originally believed to be scarring from Superman blowing his face up at the end of Legacy... both reasons work.

Thankfully Michael Ironside returns to voice him once again... recasting him would've been heartbreaker, and I was personally thankful to here him again, as much as I like Kevin Michael Richardson, I did not think it was a successful recast in his brief turn as DCU's Darkseid, but thankfully, Ironside was able to return for Justice League.


Getting to the story itself, Twlight seems Brainiac attack Apokolips so he may drain it of it's knowledge and then destroy it, as he did Krypton and countless other planets. With his army depleted at the hands of his ongoing war with New Genesis in his ever continuing search for the Anti-Life Equation, Darkseid asks the Justice League for help to stop Brainiac. Superman initially refuses, but gets his ass chewed out by Batman in some actual tension between the characters, sorely missing from the first season.

[

Naturally, it builds to a Superman/Darkseid battle, which isn't quite up there with their Legacy fight, but is filled with a couple of very cool moments, the main one being Superman burning a whole in Darkseid's foot as he stamps on his face. The trash talking at the beginning of the fight is probably better than the fight itself, but this stuff was world's better than anything found in the opening season.

Darkseid: You really are a glutton for punishment. Time and again I've beaten you, humbled you. What makes you think today will be any different?
Superman: Because this time I won't stop until you're just a greasy smear on my fist. Let's go.


Superman actually beats Darkseid again this time, but is denied the chance to finish him as Brainac's ship blows up, with Batman using the Boom Tube to teleport them and Orion away from the ship as Darkseid lay under rubble. The Lord of Apokolips does get one final dig in before his death, simply calling Superman a loser before he perishes in the explosion.

It must be said, throughout his appearances, Darkseid had all of the best lines. For me, he was easily the best villain over the two Justice League shows.

Twilight certainly started the season with a bang, and a plethora of great stories would follow, Tabulsa Rasa, Only A Dream, A Better World, The Secret Society, Wild Cards and finally Starcrossed - there is little denying it, Justice League season two kicked ass.

And it only got better...

Next: But let the universe howl in despair, for I have returned!
 

Raider969

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Great retrospective again. I noticed a little bit of grammer mistakes, but it is alright. Also, I noticed in this retrospective and your Joker retrospective that you criticize season 1 of Justice League. I know people criticized season 1 of Justice League, but I thought it was a good season. Of course the previous DCAU shows and Season 2 of Justice League and Justice League Unlimited were better, but I thought season 1 of Justice League was good.
 

Otaku-sempai

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Darkseid’s status as the big bad goes back decades, from his original animated appearances in the various Superfriends cartoons which I have never seen, beyond the odd clip. Frank Welker has an awesome scary Darkseid voice in the show, but I couldn’t tell you of the shows quality, so will not be covering it here. Darkseid has appeared in various video games and will today make his live action movie debut in Zack Synder’s Justice League, after being cut from the theatrical release (more on that later.) His motivation throughout the decades is to discover the secret of the Anti-Life equation... I’m not sure Kirby or anyone else has bothered to really explain what this is, but Darkseid’s all consuming path is to use it to recreate the world in his own image, under his complete rule.

Darkseid made his animated premiere on the seventh season of Super Friends (The Legendary Super Powers Show). This was also the season where Alan Burnett (Batman: The Animated Series) joined the crew of the show.

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Stu

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Great retrospective again. I noticed a little bit of grammer mistakes, but it is alright. Also, I noticed in this retrospective and your Joker retrospective that you criticize season 1 of Justice League. I know people criticized season 1 of Justice League, but I thought it was a good season. Of course the previous DCAU shows and Season 2 of Justice League and Justice League Unlimited were better, but I thought season 1 of Justice League was good.

Apologies! One of the first rules of my retrospectives is to prepare yourself for terrible grammar and spelling. Some of this is due to Yorkshiremen like I typing the same way in which we speak, but also... just general bad grammar :D

I thought the first season of Justice League was pretty weak. I found it to be too one note for each character, the stories were slow and plodding and the show was sugarless, visual wise. Things improved in season two and even moreso in Justice League Unlimited, for me.
Darkseid made his animated premiere on the seventh season of Super Friends (The Legendary Super Powers Show). This was also the season where Alan Burnett (Batman: The Animated Series) joined the crew of the show.

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Ah, I have never actually seen any of the Superfriends show. While they seem to be a staple of American Saturday morning cartoons, I don't ever recall seeing it air here in the UK, ever. I had some of the figures that were rereleased around Batman 89, (despite having no idea who Aquaman, The Flash or Green Lantern even where) but Darkseid was a complete mystery to me in my youth.
Yep! Darkseid wanted to make Wonder Woman his queen!
Well... wow.
 

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Starcrossed saw Justice League season two finish with a bang and with Warner Bros. Animation rarely taking any show past episode 52, but with so much more life left in the League, a new show was commissioned in the name of Justice League Unlimited, a nod to the future Justice League team we saw in Batman Beyond.

I cannot recall hearing either way whether or not Cartoon Network passed on a traditional Justice League season three, or if the revamped increased roster of Justice League Unlimited was pitched to them as an all new show, or if the toy companies had a say in things and requested a much larger roster (which, in a superhero toyline, is the Holy Grail, all of their Christmas' coming at once!), but regardless, Justice League Unlimited was commissioned for 26 episodes, with Cartoon Network requesting that the episodes no longer become two part stories, which I was personally thankful for, I felt the pacing issues of the original show were resolved with the new mandate, and single episodes allowed more characters to be featured.

The original seven bar "traitor" Hawkgirl all returned in the show (she would, of course return as plain old Shayera later on), and would be joined by an utter plethora of other DC heroes. Some appeared only briefly and occasionally silently, but significant development was given to Green Arrow, Black Canary, Vixen, The Huntress, Captain Atom, The Atom, The Question and a few others whereas other characters got the occasional episode to shine such as Shining Knight, Vigilante, Stargirl and S.T.R.I.PE., Zatanna and Boster Gold and some of them just stayed as more or less silent background characters. A DTV to bridge between Justice League and Justice League Unlimited was scripted and then shelved, later to be turned into the fantastic Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths feature, following a minor rewrite.

While the opening episodes seemed to take a short while to find their footing, and a few fans complained of too many comedy episodes and an absence of The Flash, who seemed to be relegated to background character while the crew figured out how to reboot/refresh him, when it got there, Justice League Unlimited reached peak superhero cartoon levels. With new story editors Dwayne McDuffie and Matt Wayne replacing Rich Fogel, the show was an outstanding mix of continuity strong stories, much richer and improved visuals and frequently very funny Whedon-Verse inspired humour. As a fan of Angel and Buffy, it was always cool to hear the cast from those respective shows sometimes make their way over to the recording booth for JLU, and later on, the DC DVD features.


As a man in my late teens/20s at the time, I was not considered to be the key demographic of Justice League Unlimited, which seems odd writing it, because it fit me perfectly. It followed on tremendously from The New Batman/Superman Adventures I loved in my youth, had enough adult orientated action scenes that to me, have only been met by the standards of The Spectacular Spider-Man since, had interesting romances that were probably of little interest to the toy buying crowd the show was aimed at demographically, and as a comic book fan? It has every DC hero I could think of and a few dozen I couldn't. It was a blast seeing these characters I knew so little about and showcasing them in such a fantastic way... who'd have ever thought The Question would become as popular as he did? I didn't even know who he was before JLU started airing. The show even managed to stick not one but two Batman Beyond crossovers in there, seemingly confirming that the show was aimed solely at me and my kind. I had a blast moderating this very forum in those times (when people eventually started shutting up about The Batman embargo)... this show was easily the peak of my DC fandom, and I still miss it to this day. While I greatly enjoy the new DTDVDs, they could stop those for me tomorrow if it meant my beloved Justice League Unlimited would return.

Alas, all good things must come to end. By the time season three began airing, Cartoon Network clearly had enough of Justice League Unlimited, despite it continuing to pull very strong ratings and having a very strong fan base. This seemed to be the first act of many self sabotaging actions of Cartoon Network, sadly. There was definatly still a market for the show, the toyline alone continued on for years after the final episode aired. I also have little doubt, ugly as DC's recent action figures have been, if a new Justice League Unlimited toyline was commissioned, it would sell tremendously well.

The main character of season three was Lex Luthor, as he joined, and then eventually lead the new Secret Society (or The Legion of Doom, as everyone but DC Comics called them) in his attempt to reconstitute Brainiac and attain Godhood as he did in Divided We Fall.



Finally, we came to Alive! in which Luthor finally figures out how to resurrect Brainiac. There were rumours that Darkseid would return, but Timm is usually very careful about resurrecting characters as it's a widely known cheap ploy, but this one made perfect sense. As soon as the floating... Darth Vader head (I know it probably has some Superfriends inspired name, but I've no idea what the Legion of Doom call their lair) ventured into space to find Brainiac's destroyed ship, I remember asking my brother"...Are they bringing Darkseid back?" and an excited fanboy look came over his face. Timm and McDuffie were very weary of spoilers in those days, to my eternal gratefullness. If I'd have known Darkseid was returning, Alive! wouldn't have been half as cool as it was.

Even the log lines make no mention of anything close to Darkseid;

"In a knock-down drag out battle on Earth and in space, the power moving behind the scenes of the villains is revealed leading to the most unexpected team-up in Justice League history."

and people in those days were quite as spoiler happy jerks as they are these days. Kudos for not leaking spoilers!

It was staged so beautifully too, with Lex's hope about reconstituting Brainiac turning to sheer fear as Darkseid stepped out of the portal, with omnipotent music blaring and then;



The finale had to be Darkseid. He was easily the biggest villain in the DCU and I doubt there was a single fan who tutted at his return. An all villain episode of JLU was certainly a ballsy one, and this was so well crafted. I wonder if any other rouge was even considered?

The follow up, Destroyer! is much more of a balls to the walls smackdown one had come to expect from Justice League Unlimited, with every hero, supporting or otherwise getting a brief chance to shine as Darkseid, having (successfully?) attacked New Genesis, then sets his sights to Earth for revenge, to ensure Superman dies slowly, taking his adopted world with him.

The majority of the episode is a fight scene between the various members of the League and Parademons, and Batman, Luthor and Superman taking on Darkseid himself. The Superman/Darkseid is one of the best Joquain Dos Santos ever did, which is an achievement in itself. The directors really turned up the volume on JLU and there were some utterly glorious fight scenes to be had, especially when Superman appeared. The show was firing on all cylinders, there was still life in it for me, but Cartoon Network apparently knew better...

I especially liked Superman and Darkseid finally facing off once again, with Darkseid issuing a call back to their last fight in Twilight with "Let's Go."

Darkseid is once again redesigned, with his resurrection being an opportunity to pay tribute to KISS! I originally thought it was a merging between he and Brainiac as Luthor did in Panic In The Sky/Divided We Fall but Timm advised on this very forum that this is his KISS! costume... I think it's bad ass either way, and naturally, Michael Ironside returns to voice him once again. No disappointments here.

The ending is something of a Deus Ex Machina, with Luthor learning the secret to the Anti-Life Equation from the Source Wall (look for a clever cameo from Galactus within said wall) and he and Darkseid both vanishing, as if deceased, upon touching it. Where did they go? The afterlife? Was Luthor simply tricking Darkseid into thinking he actually had the Anti-Life Equation and stranding him somewhere? There's no explanation, and no reason I could see as to why Luthor would apparently commit suicide to kill Darkseid, but Batman, The Flash and Wonder Woman believe they both did not meet their demise and they would be ready for their return.


And that was that. Following an awesome full team musical send off, Justice League Unlimited concluded. Despite fan protests, it never returned for another season, and it took over a decade for a Direct to Blu ray movie, The Fatal Five, to be commissioned which was very popular at the time of it's release, and I only seemed to believe it was nowhere near as good as the TV show, despite the joy I received in seeing these designs/actors return, even if I don't really care in the slightest about The Legion of Superheroes.

Overall, Darkseid was probably the best villain in the DCAU. Any misgivings one could find about him were nitpicking, he appeared often enough to make his truly massive presence felt, but not too often to feel overdone. Much like Mr Freeze, every appearance seemed to matter, as using Darkseid as a villain of the week is surely simply wasteful. As far as an introduction to the character and his surroundings, the DCAU simply excelled itself with Darkseid.

Next: Apocalypse
 
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Pfeiffer-Pfan

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We can't forget Stan Berkowitz. An excellent writer/story editor that played just as important a role as McDuffie plotting out the Cadmus arc. His contributions to the DCAU are often overlooked.

And if we're being honest, deserves more credit for the success of JLU than Matt Wayne who came on board at the 11th hour with a show fully formed.
 

Fone Bone

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We can't forget Stan Berkowitz. An excellent writer/story editor that played just as important a role as McDuffie plotting out the Cadmus arc. His contributions to the DCAU are often overlooked.

And if we're being honest, deserves more credit for the success of JLU than Matt Wayne who came on board at the 11th hour with a show fully formed.
Matt Wayne wrote some incredible episodes though. Way more incredible than the average newbie. He deserves the props for that.
 

Neo Ultra Mike

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and people in those days were quite as spoiler happy jerks as they are these days. Kudos for not leaking spoilers!

Luckily no one saw the episodes ahead of time for there to really be any leaks. Honestly those were more a thing with movies then with cartoons anyway as yeah a lot of later DC animated shows with major story bits didn't really have to worry about big "could ruin the plot if you knew about it ahead of time" leaks like Darkseid's reveal in "Alive"

The show was firing on all cylinders, there was still life in it for me, but Cartoon Network apparently knew better...

This was at a time where Cartoon Network did have a more firm limit of how many episodes a show will have that honestly was really only broken by Adventure Time a decade after JLU ended. Though it should be noted that the DCAU crew actually did plan to have the show end here. Heck they thought "Epilogue" would of been the finale of JLU season 2 thus homaged how BTAS began to you know parallel the birth and end of the DCAU but CN ordered another season. I'm pretty sure they would of done more if asked but the team were fine stepping down to work on other projects (like the animated DC Films) so it's not like the show was forced to end or anything like that. Which has been the case for certain CN shows (there's conflicting reports on whether or not that was the case for Teen Titans but certain originals did have to end early like OK KO) but not really here.

I have to say as cool as Darkseid was in STAS (him killing Dan Turpine like that is one of the most shocking "wow they really did that" moments I remember from a kids show when I was a kid) I think he was done more Justice in JL/JLU because having him as this big league threat then just on Superman really fit his scale and they obviously still did a lot with his relationship with Kal El. I really loved his and Supes fight in "Twilight" (the team in the commentary for that episode BTW admit they were shocked they could get away with that "greasy smear on my fist" line as originally they just had Superman show up yell "murderer" and then fight him but... how they handled it in the actual show was way better) and then yeah the epic brawl in "Destroyer" was good too. As JLU was done before Final Crisis which showed the full effects of the Anti Life Equation I do think there could be potential for at least a revival movie showing maybe Darkseid and Luthor having worked together to take over most the heroes and villains mind and a small resistance against that homaging Final Crisis but yeah still satisifed with his performance on the show. And Michael Ironside is just an awesome commanding presence in the role and esasily the best Darkseid and so glad to see him return for the role in well stuff you're going to get in time Stu heh heh.
 

Stu

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We can't forget Stan Berkowitz. An excellent writer/story editor that played just as important a role as McDuffie plotting out the Cadmus arc. His contributions to the DCAU are often overlooked.

And if we're being honest, deserves more credit for the success of JLU than Matt Wayne who came on board at the 11th hour with a show fully formed.
You are not wrong, I apologise for my oversite. I have long admired Berkowitz's work, and have fond memories of interviewing him about his work on the various DC (and Spider-Man) shows he worked on. Hell of a guy, and a great writer.

Luckily no one saw the episodes ahead of time for there to really be any leaks. Honestly those were more a thing with movies then with cartoons anyway as yeah a lot of later DC animated shows with major story bits didn't really have to worry about big "could ruin the plot if you knew about it ahead of time" leaks like Darkseid's reveal in "Alive"



This was at a time where Cartoon Network did have a more firm limit of how many episodes a show will have that honestly was really only broken by Adventure Time a decade after JLU ended. Though it should be noted that the DCAU crew actually did plan to have the show end here. Heck they thought "Epilogue" would of been the finale of JLU season 2 thus homaged how BTAS began to you know parallel the birth and end of the DCAU but CN ordered another season. I'm pretty sure they would of done more if asked but the team were fine stepping down to work on other projects (like the animated DC Films) so it's not like the show was forced to end or anything like that. Which has been the case for certain CN shows (there's conflicting reports on whether or not that was the case for Teen Titans but certain originals did have to end early like OK KO) but not really here.

I have to say as cool as Darkseid was in STAS (him killing Dan Turpine like that is one of the most shocking "wow they really did that" moments I remember from a kids show when I was a kid) I think he was done more Justice in JL/JLU because having him as this big league threat then just on Superman really fit his scale and they obviously still did a lot with his relationship with Kal El. I really loved his and Supes fight in "Twilight" (the team in the commentary for that episode BTW admit they were shocked they could get away with that "greasy smear on my fist" line as originally they just had Superman show up yell "murderer" and then fight him but... how they handled it in the actual show was way better) and then yeah the epic brawl in "Destroyer" was good too. As JLU was done before Final Crisis which showed the full effects of the Anti Life Equation I do think there could be potential for at least a revival movie showing maybe Darkseid and Luthor having worked together to take over most the heroes and villains mind and a small resistance against that homaging Final Crisis but yeah still satisifed with his performance on the show. And Michael Ironside is just an awesome commanding presence in the role and esasily the best Darkseid and so glad to see him return for the role in well stuff you're going to get in time Stu heh heh.
Indeed, I remember most of season two of Justice League had been spoiled as it aired in Hong Kong long before the US and even much longer before I saw it here in the UK.

I still think there was life left in the show, I just don't think Cartoon Network agreed. I am not sure if it's budgetary, political, or even ego related (none would surprise me) but given it's timeslot for it's final season, the writing was on the wall long before Destroyer aired.
 

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With Cartoon Network essentially calling time on the DCU, Warner Bros. Animation weren’t so foolish in assessing their audiences demands. Realising there was still a fan base for animated versions of DC’s characters and the Direct to DVD market was still highly profitable for niche films such as these, an entire series of self contained animated movies based on various DC Comics was commissioned. They began with Superman: Doomsday, a retelling of The Death and Return of Superman, DC’s highest selling and therefore favourite title, and continued with Justice League: The New Frontier, Batman: Gotham Knight, Wonder Woman Green Lantern: First Flight and Superman/Batman: Public Enemies.

With Wonder Woman and Green Lantern apparently underperforming (despite the actual sales figures looking quite healthy) sequels to their films were dismissed. I haven’t even actually seen Wonder Woman, but did greatly enjoy First Flight tremendously (it is worlds better than the live action effort.) Public Enemies sold well enough to consider a sequel, and it once again was based on a Jeph Loeb story from his Superman/Batman comic book run, this time his Supergirl story, which reintroduces Supergirl into the mainstream comic books.

I remember reading Public Enemies when it first came out, and to be honest, I thought it was lousy fan fiction. When the original creative team of Loeb/Ed McGuiness was announced, I remember being very excited for the book as McGuiness certainly knew how to draw colourful superheroes, and Loeb wrote incredible respective Batman and Superman stories, including The Long Halloween, Dark Victory and For All Seasons in his now legendary collaborators with Tim Sale.


However... sadly, by the time Superman/Batman was released, Loeb was a shell of his former self. Public Enemies was clearly designed to look amazing and possibly to develop a line of very cool looking action figures from DC Direct, because the plot was dumb. I wasn’t reading the Superman books at the time, but I imagine longtime Superman readers would have been pissed at such a poor conclusion to the long running President Luthor storyline. It seemed to be there simply for us to see Ed draw these characters, with Batman and Superman disagreeing with each other in their thought captions, because apparently that's what they do. The rest of the characters were just there for Ed to draw... I remember being especially baffled that John Stewart would try to cash in on the bounty on their head, even teaming with supervillains to do so. How the editors let Loeb get away with this I do not know, but he had the same stroke at Marvel and essentially brought about the end of the highly profitable and popular Ultimate line of comic books, when any editor worth their salt should've dismissed his Ultimatum arc as utter bollocks.

Back to DC, as mediocre as Public Enemies was, I thought the follow up, Supergirl, was even worse. I (apparently alone in the universe) didn't especially care for the artwork of the late Michael Turner and most described the writing as fan fictional drivel, one of Loeb's worst in a CV that was falling like the grains in an hour glass. I was therefore very surprised that it was chosen as the 2nd Superman/Batman DVD, but, these animated movies did at the time, tend to be based upon those writers were popular at DC Comics Publishing office at the time (Jeph Loeb, Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns etc - I image if the Green Lantern movies sold better, we would've seen a lot more of John's Green Lantern works adapted, and I am still surprised we haven't see Batman RIP animated yet.) Despite the lukewarm response The New 52 received, many films were based upon this, but more on those later.

Anyway, you're here to read about Darkseid. He was the central antagonist of Apocalypse, after discovering that a Kyptonian had crashed landed in Gotham Harbour, he decides she would be a perfect fit for his female furies. The plot of the film essentially involves 4 characters deciding what's best for Kara, and all being especially bull headed in doing so, while the main character, who comes across as bratty most of the time, whines throughout the feature. This is where it is difficult to review these films, as it's a very faithful adaptation of the book, which deserves credit, but the book itself is filled with idiot plot moments, which if one removed... the film then receives criticism for not following said book, regardless of how bad the book was. It's a lose lose situation.

The main issue about Kara's integration into Earth could've been resolved with a simple conversation between Clark, Bruce and Diana and rather than create an interesting Civil War style conversation about who is right, the fight scene in the park, comically left field as it was, simply showed to me that Batman was right, Superman was being naïve, and Kara is too dangerous and immature to live among fragile Earthlings... quite why Wonder Woman and her Amazons, a tribe of Peaceful warriors decided to attack and unsuspecting teenager reeks of the illogical, story wise, its simply used as an excuse to get another fight scene in the movie. It makes Superman look like an idiot, Wonder Woman as a violence seeking jack ass, and Batman comes across a bit of a ******, essentially for saying the right thing, but doing so in a way that makes him seem more arrogant than advisory. There's no hook to the arguments, because the story did not play out as if they are both correct and both wrong at the same time. It could've even used a Ship of Theseus argument ala the excellent Wandavision, but alas, neither the book nor the film is smart enough to do that - they seemed more inclined to just have people punch each other as much as possible. Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman must have conflict, even if it makes the characters look like idiots.


Eventually Kara is sent to Paradise Island to train with Wonder Woman's warrior sisters. Living on a female only island is not a sound way to integrate her to man's world, this seemed like a way to learn how to control her temper and the only thing we see her do here is fight, fight, fight... even knowing as little as I do about Wonder Woman, I wondered if Loeb even knew who Wonder Woman was before writing this book? All I saw was angry, bloodthirsty brute, not someone who offers their hand before raising their fist.

I watched the film for the first time since my Superman retrospective this week. Knowing I thought little to this film first and second time around, I found it much more enjoyable on my third viewing, knowing that the best way to enjoy this was to turn my brain off. The fight scenes are well done, and staged and Apocalypse itself has a fantastic, hot as hell atmosphere to it, one could feel the characters sweating when they arrived. The middle drags slightly, as the fight on Paraside Island with the army of Doomsday clones was fan fiction writing at it's worse... if one can kill Superman, 50 Doomsdays should've made short work of the Big 3 and hundreds of Amazons. I know Doomsday is not exactly a massively popular character in the populous, but more respect to his character was needed. The immense heat vision blast was especially weak... why didn't Superman just do that straight away? He already knows Doomsday is a mindless creature... from the last time he killed him.

Design wise, I admit I was not a fan of Michael Turner's work... he always seemed like he needed a much better inker than whoever he worked with. The Superman model is fantastic, but Batman is among the worst I've seen and Darkseid looks more comical than scary, because as soon as I saw him I thought he looked like a pet hamster. I couldn't get the image out of my head as soon as I saw it... Hamster head does not make for a threatening overlord. The physique and the posing and such is well done, but that head... a villain of Darkseid's presence should not look comedic.


Casting wise, Andre Braugher has certainly grown on me. I initially thought him to be a casting blunder, but my third watch through, he has a reserved anger to him, until he finally lets loose on Batman on Apokolips and Superman/Kara on the fight at the Kent Farm (the funniest moment in the film is the silent cameo of Ma and Pa Kent, credit to whoever wrote that!). Whether or not Braugher has grown on me because I love him so much in his utterly fantastic portrayal as Captain Raymond Holt in the brilliant Brooklyn 99 I am not sure, but again, one must consider that I enjoyed it because it was perhaps better than I remember it, not because it was necessarily good.

This is one of the odder DC DTV pieces, as it's clearly a victim of the original story itself, and makes one wonder why such a critically panned story was selected for an animated adaptation... even looking through the other stories in this volume of Superman/Batman, there were much, much better stories to tell. One must also consider, given the sheer number of films on the schedule and how quickly they come out, we can't win them all. I would hope that the film was not chosen to simply serve the ego of the original writer, but honestly? There are much, much better Batman/Superman stories that could've been told.

Next: That's not something you see everyday.
 

Stu

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The Brave and The Bold. A show I initially disregarded as demographic grabbing junk, but eventually returned to with more open eyes (and mind, to be frank) following a second viewing and then upon finally losing the show, I felt an unexpected sense of heartache. Make no mistake, whether one likes their Gotham Knight dark or bright, The Brave and The Bold had heart in abundance. This was not the same networking pleasing show cookie cutter show I was expecting, great care and love clearly went into Batman: The Brave and The Bold from all involved.

Realising I had not seen Batman: The Brave and The Bold in years and in need of a rewatch for my The Joker retrospective (I offer no apologies for the shameless plugs, these things take hours to write!) I bought the full set on Blu ray last year, and with little else to do beyond work, watch TV and (neglect!) exercise last year due to Covid 19 crisis, I upgraded to Blu ray and thoroughly enjoyed my binge, to the point where I was dreading watching Mitefall, as this meant it would all be over. (As an aside, if you don't get a lump in your throat listening to Batman's speech at the end of the finale, donate your heart to medical science as you clearly don't need it!)

For those of you who have not seen the show, each episode features a stinger prologue and the main brunt of the story, with Batman usually teaming up with a different DC Hero in each of them. It's more Silver Age fun than the darkness found in the DC Comics at the time, but one cannot deny it is fun, it has enough action and laughs for older audiences, while featuring the kind of high adrenaline super heroics expected for the younger crowd. To me, it's one of the pinnacle all ages Superhero shows. If I showed my young Godkids Under The Red Hood or The Dark Knight Returns movies, their Mother might flip out, but they'd love The Brave And The Bold. They've seen the recent Avengers, Spider-Man and Guardians of The Galaxy cartoons and they don't hold their interest, because frankly, they simply aren't very good, despite the kids being in the key (or in this case, only) demographic. So while it often goes against the very core of what I enjoy about Batman, I cannot hide my love for this version of Batman and his superfriends.

Regardless, I am supposed to be speaking about Darkseid, Lord of Apokolips. He would make sadly his only appearance in Darkseid Descending!, the second season finale. It was refreshing to see Cartoon Network UK get this show fairly early compared to the usual long delay we had to wait to get these shows, so I was fairly spoiler free by the time they aired over here. Indeed, I didn't even know Darkseid would be appearing on the show until I saw the title screen. As someone who avoids reading synopsis', watching trailers and interviews until I've seen said subject, sitting down each time and having no idea who was going to appear/what was going to happen was such a refreshing change, it's something I think is greatly underappreciated by audiences.



The episode sees Batman and Aquaman forming the Justice League International, following how badly things went with the Justice League of America, and the team's first mission (after a humorous B plot of Martian Manhunter and Skeets struggling to fix the Watchtower's Air Conditioning) is to stop Darkseid from invading the Earth. Darkseid himself doesn't show up until the middle of the second act and there is no cameo/story/inclusion from New Genesis or The New Gods here, Darkseid simply arrives on Earth to destroy it. It works. Given the single episode available, there wasn't any need to elaborate further. "What I cannot have, I destroy" still works, even if it is in an entirely different cartoon.

He unquestionably has a great presence here, and the jokes come from the incompetence of the JLI rather than Darkseid and his minions here. Kalibak and the Parademons are present here, and once again, credit must go to the staging and designing of Darkseid's ship. It is a Jack Kirby drawing brought to life on the screen, and the sheer scope along on Darkseid's entrance is very impressive.

Realising he is hopelessly outmatched by a God, Batman goads Darkseid in fighting him without his super abilities. Darkseid actually relishes this, and easily smacks Batman around (which was rarely, if ever, done on this show) and there is an accompanying sense of dread for our cunning Caped Crusader as he is easily outfought by the Dark God. As this is a JLI episode, none of the heavy hitting power houses who could match fists with Darkseid such as Superman, Captain Marvel or Captain Atom are present here.

Michael Leon Wooley voices Darkseid this time around and does a fantastic job. He sounds like one expects Darkseid to, and doesn't play it for laughs. He has the correct amount of stern, arrogance and authority. It is a memorable appearance, despite only being featured onscreen for 5 or so minutes. Following Michael Ironside cannot have been an easy task, but Andrea Romano manages to fantastically recast so many old favourites without making them just soundalikes, she continually impresses over and over again. With many fans (correctly!) praising Kevin Conroy as the perfect Batman, and we fans not being fond of old favourites being replaced, she has masterfully recast Batman over and over again, with critically acclaimed new actors coming in to voice The Dark Knight with glowing reviews, such as Bruce Greenwood, Peter Weller and the main man in this show, the ever awesome Diedrich Bader.



Darkseid's appearance is also well done, it reminds me of his Superman: The Animated Series model, but doesn't look out of place in the world of Batman: The Brave and The Bold. Tucker is clearly a fan of Kirby, and the design reflects this. Given how (intentionally) goofy some of the models in this show are, I am glad they resisted the urge to play this one for laughs and gave Darkseid the presence a villain of his stature demands. The episode is certainly one of the better looking ones from the show's run, especially in scope and tone, which the creative team deserves credit for. It cannot have been a simple task to introduce such a dominant villain without reducing him to a comedy for, while at the same time, not losing the show's sense of humour. (The best gag of the episode is the newly formed JLI being defeated offscreen after such a heroic battle cry worthy pep talk.)

Darkseid's defeat is something of a let down, as The Question, who went missing on Apokolips in a stinger to a previous episode, simply reverses the polarity of the Boom Tubes and sends the Apokolipites back to Apokolips. Quite why they simply wouldn't boom back is never discussed, but it tidied the episode up, without making Darkseid look like a chump would be beaten by a lacklustre team such as the JLI.

Overall I found it to be yet another enjoyable episode of Batman: The Brave and The Bold and rewatching the episode again for this piece made me miss it even more so. If you haven't already, go buy the Blu Rays, you won't regret it.

Next: Business as usual.
 

Stu

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Young Justice: Invasion was a bitter ending to swallow. By the time Endgame, the season's finale aired, the show had already been cancelled. Despite a very strong fan backlash against the network for reducing the episode order and cancelling a terrific show, Cartoon Network dug their heels in. The toy company behind Young Justice, Mattel, cancelled the toyline and effectively pulled the funding for the show from under it, citing poor sales. Having seen images of these toys online, I think they look like cheaply made, poorly articulated figures and better DC figures were available to buy at the time. This is another shame in itself, the show had beautiful models and the vast number of characters could've made for an outstanding toyline. Alas, Mattel made the decision to go cheap and cheerful and essentially blamed the show on it's own shortcomings. Until someone finds an alternative method to successfully fund animation without a toyline, this type of thing will continue to happen. I have hope that streaming services will pick up some slack here, otherwise we'll be suffering cheaply made cartoons with action figures in mind for a long time yet. The cancellation of The Spectacular Spider-Man was still a heartbreaker, and Young Justice did a lot to fill that whole. I am sure many of you share my frustration that in a fairly short period, we lost quality shows such as the aforementioned Spectacular Spider-Man, Wolverine And The X-Men, The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Batman: The Brave and The Bold, Beware The Batman, Green Lantern and then Young Justice... first rate superhero shows seem to come and then be snatched away so fast, Young Justice was just another to add to the list.



Cartoon Network did not see the profit in continuing the show without the funds from the toy company, and that was that, as far as they were concerned. A massive campaign to save the show fell deaf to their ears, and Netflix binges were organised to show the streamer that there was still an audience for the show, and a Twitter campaign #SaveYoungJusice did make some headway but ultimately, not enough traction was gathered to save the show via Netflix (although rumour is that reviving the show was under strong consideration from the streaming giant.)

Enter the DC Universe app. Devised as a steaming service to host all DC Properties, it never really took off as well as it could've, for a multitude of reasons. Here are but a few;

The old school library. It hyped itself as having the full DC live action and animation content, which it never did. It also rather foolishly added and subtracted new content at random... if your content is not formidable, do not remove what little there is to entice people. It didn't even have the new Arrowverse shows, which is a staggering omission giving their streaming popularity. The foundations were weak upon this idea... quality and quantity are required when asking people to part with their cash for streaming services.

The availability. Foreign markets complained that the app wasn't available to them, with the only response from the app being "Coming soon". There was no evidence of this ever being true... given the popularity of streaming, they missed out on a potentially massive paying audience, and never explained why. (As as an aside, Titans, Swamp Thing and Doom Patrol later became available on Netflix and Amazon here in the UK. Young Justice has still not made it over here. Business as usual when trying to support this show from these fine shores!) Even for their core American customers, getting access to the app was a disaster. This should've been available on all streaming services before they even thought about launching... a very, very simple rule of business is being need to be able to actually buy your product. This app was a disaster from day 1 in that respect... it needed to be on Firesticks, consoles and every smart TV from the word go. "Coming soon" is not a phrase customers want to hear... they will simply spend their money elsewhere.

The original content - There simply wasn't enough of this. From a price comparison standpoint, viewers (streamers?) would get a ridiculous amount more content for their buck with Amazon/Netflix for cheaper than the DC app... 4 original shows, with as little as one new episode a week in some instances, was simply not enough to convince the casual fan to add yet another streaming service to their already growing list. Titans was laughably mediocre (this was before that utterly stupid season one cliff hanger fiasco), Swamp Thing was cancelled before the season even ended, which left one with the impression of "Don't get too attached to this", even if they did actually watch it. I admit I've not seen Doom Patrol (I hear good things about it... I'm not paying for yet another UK streaming service to watch it though). We also later, of course, got the tremendous Harley Quinn animated series but by then it seemed to be too little too late for DC.

Which finally brings us to the best thing to come out of the DC app - Young Justice: Outsiders. With DC now having their own app and budget and having no need for network of licensing partners, they wisely greenlit a third season of one of their most popular shows and thankfully, managed to retain the same creative team who were allowed to continue their story.



Season two ended with the Justice League merging with The Team, as Vandall Savage, the big bad in both seasons of Young Justice met with Darkseid on Apokolips and declared that things were "business as usual" between them. Apokolips had a presence throughout the show's run, including Bruno Mannheim being gifted Apokoloptic technology, Sphere and The New Gods appearing and of course, old G Gordon Godfrey appearing throughout the Invasion storyline.

With the tragic passing of the great Miguel Ferrar, I was expecting Darkseid to replace Vandall Savage as the principal foil for season three, and was pleasantly surprised when this was not the case and the story seemed to continue as originally planned (and credit to David Kaye, who did a tremendous job filling Ferrer's mighty shoes.) As far as I can recall, Darkseid only speaks in one of the episodes, which is essentially an origin story for Savage, but his presence is felt throughout. Upon attempting to overthrow the Earth, Darkseid is impressed with Savage (then going by the name Genghis Khan) efforts in battle and the two agree a Jim and Dwight style Alliance from The Office - they are to aid each other in taking over the rest of the Universe until they are undisputed rulers between them, and then they shall battle for the title of absolute ruler of the universe.

Weisman and Vietti seem to be doing a long, long build for Darkseid and I hope it won't be spoiled by the time I get to see it on Blu Ray, as naturally, we don't have HBO Max here in the UK, so again find myself at the mercy of spoilers as we Prepare For The Anti Life-Equation.

So while his appearances are brief and fleeting, his presence is frequently felt in Young Justice and one of the main storylines in season three was of course the use of Granny Goodness. I feel that with Darkseid, the best is yet to come. Hopefully we will be appreciating further appearances from Darkseid for many, many more seasons to come.

Next: Teen Titans Go... away?
 

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Found this from Reddit. Had to trim the original a bit. And yeah the guy in the 2nd half of this is the new Sokka actor.
20 years ago today, Apple released Mac OS 9.2.2, the very last version of their classic operating system. It would be available on computers as late as mid-2003, whilst Mac OS X (now macOS) up to 10.4.11 had Classic Environment for computers released before the Intel switch in 2006.
Asa
Today would've been the 120th birthday of Walt Disney.
Man I love how progressively insane Jojo gets

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