REVIEW: DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS COLLECT-AND-CONNECT DARKSEID
The Collect-and-Connect figure for Series 12 of Mattel's excellent DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS line of action figures is definitely a long-awaited character for the line, and is certainly one of the best-known and most powerful and dangerous villains in the DC Universe. His name is -- DARKSEID!
Wave 12 of the DC Universe Classics figures is an interesting assortment, and quite diverse. It features Mary Marvel (Batson), Dr. Mid-Nite, Eclipso, Copperhead, Metal Man Iron, Desaad, and The Spectre. Curiously, the only one in the assortment that doesn't come with a Darkseid part is Darkseid's main lackey, Desaad, who comes with a display base. Do we chalk that one up to irony?
For those needing information on Darkseid, I present the following, thanks to some online research.
Oddly enough, Darkseid, a creation of the legendary Jack Kirby, first appeared in Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #134 (Nov. 1970). Interesting place for this legendary villain to get his start...
Darkseid has appeared in over four decades of DC Comics publications, featuring prominently in the New Gods titles and limited series as the recurring nemesis of the New Gods and Superman. The character has also appeared in associated DC Comics merchandise including animated television series; toys; trading cards and video games.
The son of Yuga Khan and Queen Heggra, Prince Uxas, second in line to the throne of Apokolips, plotted to seize power over the planet. When his brother, Drax, attempted to claim the fabled Omega Force, Uxas murdered him and took the power for himself; transforming him into a rock-like creature, and taking a new name: Darkseid. At some point, he fell in love with an Apokoliptian scientist named Suli, with whom he had a son, Kalibak; however Suli was poisoned by Desaad on Heggra's behalf, who believed that Suli was corrupting her son.
Following Suli's death, Darkseid's heart grew even colder, and had Desaad poison Heggra, finally becoming the supreme monarch of Apokolips. Darkseid had briefly been forced by his mother to marry Tigra, with whom he also had a son; after murdering his mother, Darkseid had both Tigra and their son, Orion, banished from Apokolips.
The destructive war between the rival planet, New Genesis, was stopped only with a diplomatic exchange of the sons of Highfather and Darkseid. Darkseid's second born son was surrendered to Highfather, while Darkseid receives Scott Free, who later became the master escape artist Mister Miracle. This eventually turned out to be a setback for Darkseid, with his biological son growing up to value and defend the ideals of New Genesis in opposition to his father; it was foretold that Darkseid would meet his final defeat at the hands of his son in a cataclysmic battle in the fiery Armaghetto of Apokolips.
Darkseid's goal was to eliminate all free will from the universe and reshape it into his own image. To this end, he sought to unravel the mysterious Anti-Life Equation, which gives its user complete control over the thoughts and emotions of all living beings in the universe. Darkseid had tried on several other occasions to achieve dominance of the universe through other methods, most notably through his minion Glorious Godfrey, who could control people's minds with his voice. He had a special interest in Earth, as he believed humans possess collectively within their minds most, if not all, fragments of the Anti-Life Equation. Darkseid intended to probe the minds of every human in order to piece together the Equation. This has caused him to clash with many superheroes of the DC Universe, notably, the Kryptonian Superman.
Darkseid is among the most powerful New Gods, sometimes depicted with a variety of god-like abilities at his disposal. His main power, the Omega Effect, is a form of energy that he fires from his eyes as either concussive force or beams of disintegration, capable of transmuting or erasing most living objects and organisms from existence as well as to reform or resurrect them. Anything Darkseid disintegrates with the Omega Effect can be brought back at any time by him, and he often uses this as a form of punishment. Darkseid has pinpoint control over his Omega Beams, and his unerring aim allows them to travel in straight lines, bend, twist, or curve around corners, and can pass through matter and energy. The Omega Effect can also be used to teleport Darkseid or others through time and space. Darkseid can also project the Omega Effect as energy blasts from his hands. Another type of Omega Effect is the Omega Sanction, that traps the organism in a series of alternate realities, each worse than the previous one.
In addition, Darkseid possesses superhuman strength, stamina, and durability equivalent to the corresponding traits of Superman and Orion. He also, despite his great size, possesses great speed, agility, and reflexes as he has been able to startle Superman with his speed and it has been stated he can react in microseconds. He sometimes possesses the ability to increase his size. Darkseid possesses the powers of telepathy and telekinesis, and has also shown the ability to create psionic avatars. He is even able to open boom tubes under his own power, and can travel through time, space, and even other dimensions with ease. Darkseid is also, being a god, virtually immortal. He has lived for several hundred thousand years at the very least.
Despite his great might, Darkseid generally does not rely on physical combat, despite being a highly trained Apokoliptian warrior; he is a master schemer and strategist possessing a superhuman intellect. Darkseid has also shown some form of godly sense, capable of sensing the death of his son Orion and the fluctuations of the energy of the "Godwave". Darkseid commands all the vast military and technological resources of Apokolips.
Darkseid has hardly been limited to the comic books. He became the main adversary in the ever-developing Super Friends series when it became "Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show, as Super Friends decided to tie itself in to the Super Powers action figure line being produced at the time, which turned out the first action figure ever of Darkseid.
Darkseid later turned up occasionally in the Superman Animated Series, and subsequently in both Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, including the series finale. Throughout, he was voiced by Michael Ironside, well-known for his role of Ham Tyler in the original "V", who certainly had an excellent voice for the role of Darkseid. Darkseid has also been in a number of DC-based video games.
No basic outline of Darkseid can really do justice to the impact the character has had. Mention his name in the DC Universe and the heroes know they're in for a fight. He was a fairly major player in Crisis on Infinite Earths, and was even suspected of being the main villain until the Anti-Monitor showed his ugly head. He's even proven to be a threat in the future, as the "Great Darkness Saga" is still regarded as a legendary story for the Legion of Super-Heroes. In an alternate timeline, he successfully took over the world in the pages of JLA, and reduced the population of Earth to mindless drones.
He's even gone up against some of Marvel Comics' most powerful characters. He is one of the main villains in the X-Men/Teen Titans crossover, and successfully, if temporarily, resurrects Dark Phoenix. Darkseid is one of the main villains in a follow-up mini-series to the mid-90's "DC vs. Marvel" series. In this, he merges some of his minions with Marvel's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. In a one-shot called "Darkseid vs. Galactus", we see what happens when Marvel's planet-devouring Galactus tries to chow down on Darkseid's Apokolips. And in the remarkable JLA-Avengers crossover, some heroes from both universes are sent to Apokolips to retrieve an object of massive power -- the Infinity Gauntlet, from the Marvel Universe, has been found in the possession of Darkseid, whom Hawkeye comments looks even worse than Thanos, a character not too dissimilar from Darkseid in some respects. Fortunately for all parties concerned, the Infinity Gauntlet, an object that can affect all reality in the universe, doesn't work in the DC Universe.
Basically, it comes down to this -- Darkseid is one of the most powerful and dangerous beings in the DC Universe. And he's given enough grief to the Marvel Universe so that they're probably just as glad he doesn't hang out there regularly. If confronted by him, your best options are to run, faint, hide, pray, and/or hope that the entire Justice League of America is standing by your side, and that they've brought all their friends.
Fortunately, the figure is somewhat less dangerous than the real thing. It doesn't really look any less threatening, however. So -- how's the figure? Excellent, really.
Technically speaking, this isn't the first time Darkseid has turned up in Mattel's DC-based figure lines. There was a Darkseid figure in the precursor to DC Universe Classics, the DC Universe Super-Heroes line, but most parties have been agreed for some time that while that figure was reasonably impressive, it was nowhere near big enough. Although Darkseid's height has been open to artistic interpretation for pretty much all of Darkseid's 40-year history, it's pretty well assured that Darkseid is a big guy, distinctly above average. The earlier Darkseid figure was apparently not much larger than anyone else.
With the advent of the "Collect-and-Connect" concept in DC Universe Classics, and with increasingly large figures turning up, such as Solomon Grundy, Giganta, Atom Smasher, and others, there was a growing rumble in the fan community. Darkseid would be a perfect fit for this, and could finally be made in an appropriately impressive size. So more and more fans were saying, "Darkseid... Darkseid... Darkseid..." And that sort of chanting is exactly the sort of thing that Darkseid himself would doubtless approve.
Darkseid is one of those Collect-and-Connect figures that is best assembled in a certain orderly procedure. Especially notable is that it is best to attach his legs to his lower torso FIRST, and then secure the lower torso and legs assembly to the upper torso, tucked under the tunic.
Darkseid is not the tallest Collect-and-Connect figure in the line. That honor still belongs to Giganta, and Darkseid is still topped by Atom Smasher, Kilowog, and a couple of others. However, at slightly over 8-1/2" in height, he is still significantly taller than the average 6-3/4" height of most DC Universe Classics figures, and he has the powerful build to go with it.
Except for a few "Elseworlds" and animated appearances, Darkseid's basic look has never changed all that extensively, and for a Kirby creation, is surprisingly straight-forward. Kirby liked to go for lots of ornate and complicated details whenever he could, especially on machines and gadgetry, but he could also readily apply it to uniforms and costumes, as well. But that's not really the case with Darkseid. Apokolips can be a pretty highly-detailed place -- depending on who's drawing it -- but one sort of gets the impression that when Jack Kirby first envisioned Darkseid, he might have had in mind coming up with someone who was so dangerous and so powerful, as well as certainly master-of-all-he-surveyed in his own environment, that he didn't really need to go all out in the ornamentation department.
I've always found it interesting that the Super Powers figure of Darkseid has a large cape, complete with a plastic insignia with an ornate letter "D" on it. This was clearly an affectation for the toy, doubtless to make it look more imposing. I don't recall Darkseid wearing a cape in the comics. It's not part of his standard repertoire, anyway.
The DC Universe Classics Darkseid is appropriately capeless. Darkseid's skin, which is apparent on the face, arms, and legs, is, as described earlier in the online details, rather rock-like. But we're not talking Benjamin J. Grimm here. Darkseid's skin looks more like it was carved out of a solid wall of rock, given human form, with a few cracks here and there from erosion or stress fractures or some such. It's dark grey in color, and rather intimidating in and of itself.
Darkseid's face is more or less human. He has, notably, a jutting brow and a relatively small nose. His facial expression, hardly surprisingly, is a scowl. A fair portion of his head, from the top of his head, down the sides and back, and sweeping forward under his jaw, is encased in a dark blue helmet. If Darkseid has any hair (doubtful) or visible ears (possible), they are covered by this helmet.
His eyes are red. The Super Powers figure went to the trouble of creating a light-absorbing/reflective area on the back of his head to make it look like his eyes were glowing. The DC Universe Classics figure does not do this -- fortunately, since while it's not a bad effect, it can be a little obvious. However, Darkseid's eyes are a fairly bright red set up against a very dark gray that's painted even a little darker around the eyes, so they almost look like they're glowing.
Darkseid has a powerful and broad build relative to his height. He has a massive torso, and powerful arms and legs. Even if he were scaled down in height to the same size as most of the other figures, he'd still look distinctly more powerful than them. Darkseid is wearing a dark blue tunic which is form-fitting on his upper torso, and extends below his waist. His legs are bare, but the assembly indicates that he does wear blue trunks. He wears fairly high boots that come up to knee level, and have flares in the front that come up further than that, almost to the base of the tunic. He is also wearing dark blue gloves of a fairly conventional appearance. His tunic, gloves, and boots have a certain amount of black trim, but it's all in the form of thin black raised ridged lined around seam and hem points.
His face, arms, and legs not only have a "cracked stone" appearance, but the cracks have been highlighted with darker gray. Normally I consider this sort of thing unnecessary, in part because sometimes it doesn't work very well in the painting, but in Dakrseid's case it looks good, makes him look somewhat more menacing , and it worked out very nicely in the production.
The bottoms of Darkseid's boots are quite fancy, with some Kirby-esque lines, circles, and sculpted detail, including a few points that are painted copper. Several of the "New Gods" type characters have this sort of underfoot detailing, including Mister Miracle. As to its specific purpose on Darkseid, I really don't know. It's an interesting bit of detailing, anyway.
Darkseid's most ornate uniform point, other than the bottoms of his boots, is his belt, which is silver and has three ridges, occasionally separated by a vertical ridge and some rivets that are painted in blue. There's a removable Kirby-esque device on the back of his belt. Again, I am not really well-versed enough in the intricacies of the Fourth World to be certain what this device is. It seems unlikely that Darkseid would be carrying around a Mother Box, a type of sophisticated computer used by the inhabitants of New Genesis. Maybe it's the Apokoliptian version of an iPod? In any case, it's superbly well detailed and painted, mostly silver in color with metallic blue and copper highlights.
The Darkseid figure, once you have all of his parts rounded up, has an additional accessory, although really, it's more of an interchangeable part. It's an alternate right hand, wearing what's been described as his Killing Glove. The term seems self-explanatory enough, but I think it may be capable of more than just that. I seem to recall it being used in the X-Men/Teen Titans crossover, when Darkseid was using it to scan the memories of the sleeping X-Men to dredge up what data he could about Phoenix. He scared the tar out of Kitty Pryde when she woke up, too.
Still, better a Killing Glove than the Infinity Gauntlet, I suppose. Another very Kirby-looking thing, it's metallic gold in color, with all sorts of widgets and gizmos and such sculpted into its design, painted in silver, copper, and metallic blue. The fingertips are open holes, like the ends of gun barrels or some such. It's a cool-looking device, but I'll admit I prefer Darkseid sans hardware, so I am grateful that a "standard" hand was included. For whatever reason, although the Killing Glove attaches and detaches fairly easily, the standard glove hand was not easy to secure in place. Your results may vary, of course.
Naturally, the Darkseid figure is superbly well articulated. He is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, glove tops (substituting for wrists), mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, a swivel just below the knees (which is really pretty uncommon!), and ankles. I was very pleased at how sturdy the figure was once I had him fully assembled. Additionally, the tunic is not really a significant hindrance to leg movement. It's molded from a very flexible plastic.
So, what's my final word here? Regardless of what happened to Darkseid and the rest of the New Gods as a result of the Final Crisis/Death of the New Gods storyline (a mistake by DC in my book), Darkseid remains one of the most powerful and legendary villains that DC has ever created. He has turned up in any number of formats, and has been a menace to the heroes in all of them. And he certainly deserved a figure in this DC Universe Classics line that spoke to his proportionate impact in the DC Universe. This is that figure, and I'm sincerely pleased we finally have him, and sincerely pleased to have him in my collection.
This is a truly amazing Darkseid figure, and the individual figures in Wave 12 of DC Universe Classics, while a somewhat unusual cast of characters, are all very cool in their own respective ways as well. They're well worth bringing in on their own merits, and certainly for the sake of building Darkseid!
The DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS "Collect-and-Connect" figure of DARKSEID definitely has my highest recommendation!