Darkseid on the Justice League?
At the recent WonderCon, held in Anaheim, DC Comics presented a “DC Universe” panel with a number of their current creative talent. On the stage was Mitch Gerads, Joshua Williamson, and sister writing team Shawna and Julie Benson. During Williamson’s turn, the panel cover the upcoming “Justice League: Odyssey” series. The discussion was pretty vague due to its connection to the current Metal
event and the upcoming Justice League: No Justice
story. However, in discussion of a new space-based offshoot of the Justice League, it was casually mentioned that one of the members would be Darkseid. What?!? Yes, in addition to team leader Cyborg and members Starfire, Green Lantern (Jessica Cruz), Azrael, one of the “members” is Darkseid –and this doesn’t appear to be an “alternate universe” version -- even though he does have a new visual design/costume. Instead, the story is that something out there is such a threat to both the Justice League and Darkseid, that they agree to put aside their differences to battle the common enemy. So is this an interesting move or a bridge too far?
In general, I’m not a big fan of the “reverse heel turn” (the “heel turn” is a trope stemming from professional wrestling in which a hero turns heel, or bad). It has been done frequently throughout the history of DC and Marvel. Perhaps the most notable example is when Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver left the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants to join the Avengers. Magneto not only stopped fighting the X-Men, but in fact led both the New Mutants and X-Men for a time. Some other examples of villains who have gone good include Dr. Doom, Juggernaut, Sandman, Mystique, Carnage, and recently Loki. In DC Comics, Lex Luthor has switched to the side of good on a few occasions. There is the Riddler and many others who have been good for a time. There are even antiheroes, like Catwoman, who switch sides quite frequently. The Suicide Squad is, in my opinion, slightly different. They are usually entirely a team of criminals who are coerced into fighting for good, not villains with a change of heart.
My issue in general with the reverse heel turn type of maneuvers is that it requires readers to believe that the heroes and/or public have willingly overlook huge careers of crime – at times violent crime, including murder. So the worse a criminal, the harder it is to buy the villain as a hero. Darkseid seems to be one of those examples. He has battled heroes for the fate of the universe. In Final Crisis
, he appeared to kill Batman (of course, this was temporary, but it did last for a while). In spite of all of this, I think Darkseid on the Justice League could be an interest move, and here’s why.
Firstly, I’m skeptical of how much Darkseid will be “on” the League’s team. I could be wrong, but I’m guessing he’s not going to be bunking and having team meetings with the rest of the Justice League’s space squad. Rather, I believe the relationship will be sort of an uneasy alliance. Darkseid and the League face a force that is substantial and that neither can defeat on their own. So they are foregoing past conflicts for a time to fight “side by side.” In other words, I think the relationship between Darkseid and the Justice League will be one of mild cooperation rather than genuine teamwork.
Williamson said a few things at WonderCon that lends credence to this interpretation. Of Darkseid, he said, “Can you really trust him?” In explaining the teaming, Williamson said, “Space is changing, but Darkseid has been around for so long that he knows certain bits of information… Darkseid has this mission that is going to go on, and he needs them. He needs the Justice League, just as much as they oddly need him.”
If I had to predict, I believe this alliance will be temporary and at times quite strained. I wouldn’t be shocked if there is trickery or betrayal by Darkseid at the end of things, either. The way this would go wrong, to me, would be if DC tried to legitimately rehabilitate Darkseid. It would strain credibility. More importantly, Darkseid is one of DC’s greatest villains ever. Making him into a real hero, even temporarily, neuters him and wastes an important asset. You never say never – and perhaps there could be a way to make it work for Darkseid to be a real hero, but it would be very tough. Still, in terms of surprising and intriguing twists, Darkseid with the Justice League (even if he is not on the team properly) is a pretty clever move.