Evil, conniving, sadistic, sinister, elegant, craven, weak and delusional Desaad, master of the Fear Machine and right-hand man to the Ruler of Apokolips!
The spindly creep, who revels in the torment of others and schemes to retain his position as his sire’s top lieutenant, is — during Desaad’s existence in the regime — the second most powerful player in Darkseid’s royal court, one who takes particular delight in torturing the greatest object of his fancy: The Forever People.
Our initial meeting with this mincing rat is in a brief glimpse during The Infinity Man’s battle with Mantis. Darkseid is using the insect god’s rampage to stir up anxiety among the citizens of Metropolis in the hopes of detecting the unwitting human who possesses the Anti-Life Equation in his or her mind. A portion of the city in flames, the Master of the Holocaust looks to the destruction with a growing satisfaction. In his company is a hooded miscreant with wild, sunken eyes and scraggly hair on his forehead. You’d swear this bounder has fangs, his mouth agape in delight! Within his hands is a nefarious-looking device, apparently placed on his jugular veins like some high-tech stethoscope. Both appear to be in a city park and standing behind the maniacal-looking fellow is the great villain of our saga, who asks:
Darkseid: What is the city’s fear quotient, now, Desaad!
Desaad: Spirally to a lovely high pitch, O Darkseid! I can feel them — like crashing surf — Wonderful waves of raw fear!
Then, after the defeat of Mantis, ever-pragmatic Darkseid mulls over his future designs. “Mantis fights hard — and fails hard — he cannot learn to plan! But Darkseid waits like a silent stone… waits and plans to flush his prize from its cover, Desaad — And, if you would wrest the secret from him — give him — to me!” Desaad passionately beholds his beloved sire with such an intensely insane look, we readers just know we’re going to see a lot more of this particular — and peculiar — bad guy.
And we do, as mostly in the pages of The Forever People, Desaad is the villain seen the most frequently in the Fourth World epic besides the Big Guy himself. But the next time we behold this human vermin, it is in the story of Orion, with Darkseid still on Earth seeking the Anti-Life Equation. After Brola and his Hand of Stone have failed to vanquish the fierce new god during the tussle in Orion ally Dave Lincoln’s apartment, Darkseid and henchman travel by Tele-Ray to “one of the secret bases established beneath the city.” Upon disciplining his “whipped Brola,” the leader turns his attention to a huge device of vile appearance being attended by a hooded man. “The battle is far from over — there is still the Fear Machine! How does it stand, Desaad?” asks Darkseid. “It waits only for your judgment, master!” answers Desaad. “I hasten to begin its initial test!” (Then, with apparent impudence, a minion says out loud, within earshot of the two, “Indeed he does! Cruel Desaad hungers like some parasite!” Some of these underlings have moxie!)
Darkseid approves. “Proceed then, Desaad! The Sonic-Stimuli cannot affect one such as myself!” Yet Desaad protests, “But I must have subjects, master! Allow me to summon those wretches in my keeping!” Then Darkseid specifically points to the opinionated servant, standing with cohorts, and says, “Time is short! There are your subjects!” The wretch begs, “No, master! We are in your service! Do not feed us to Desaad’s vile instruments!” (Except for his personal guards, Desaad does not to seem to inspire much loyalty among the folks of Apokolips, and for good reason!). The caption states, as Desaad is saturating the poor fellows, who suffer agonizing distress, “The pleas go unheeded, as invisible beams lash out and wring terror from their screaming targets!!” The victims implore, “Aaaaaa — Save us! Save us!” In stark contrast to the quivering crew, we see an ecstatic Desaad when he removes his mask.
Desaad: See, Darkseid! See how the emotion of fear is stimulated by the waves!
Darkseid: Very effective, Desaad! You’re a genius at your work! Emotional turmoil breaks the dikes of the mind — and releases the flood in which we must fish, Desaad! Perhaps in this very city is the mind which will yield the Anti-Life Equation! The ability to control all free will!
Desaad: Yes! Yes! This time we must strike among larger numbers — ever larger! I have a field model placed in a strategic point of the city! It waits for your approval, great Darkseid!
Darkseid: Strike then, Desaad! Strike fear among those massed minds!
Here we witness the unmitigated joy Darkseid’s old friend derives from inflicting pain and torment on others and how apt his name given, obviously a derivation of the Marquis de Sade, the French aristocrat who gave the world a new word for pleasure derived from the torturing of others: sadism. We do see shades of Goebbels in his appearance and certainly an aspect of Himmler in his methods, but the character does possess a strange and perverse charm, so eager and craven, so delighting and almost tender when attending his victims. In other words, a villain you just love to hate!
By the end of “O’ Deadly Darkseid” (on the cover of which Desaad rates an appearance behind his boss!), when Desaad’s device has failed to extract any hint of Darkseid’s quarry, he tells the ruler of Apokolips, “Orion thwarts us again! He might have tracked us here were it not for my protective shields!” Darkseid is impatient, telling his constant companion, “Forget Orion! It is your Fear Machine that yields nothing! Not the slightest trace of the thought waves we seek!”
It is here we see a fundamental aspect to the conflict between these two characters. Indeed, though Desaad mostly believes in his own hide, his conviction is all for Apokolips. But Darkseid (all too often, in Desaad’s estimations) allows familial concerns to intrude on the goal of final victory. Number two in the nightmare planet’s power elite begs:
Desaad: Orion has made a mockery of this test! When we capture him — give him to me!
Darkseid: You’re a fool, Desaad! Blinded by your own mania! We could never take one such as Orion captive! His kind dies in battle! And in death would look greater than a vermin like you!
Desaad: So! The great Darkseid rise quickly to the defense of an enemy!
Darkseid: Orion is an enemy to be respected!
Desaad: Yes, it is strange how very like us he is — in his fierceness and —
Darkseid: Silence, Desaad! Were Orion my own son — he would mean nothing to the purpose of our mission! And in that mission we must not fail!
In this argument is to be found the roots of Desaad’s fall from grace and ignoble fate, as we do eventually learn what is strongly hinted at here: Orion is the offspring of Darkseid and father and son are fated to fight to the death on the littered avenues of Armagetto on Apokolips… well, one is to die, anyway…
Desaad’s tour de force performance and most prominent role in the Fourth World series is as the great tormentor of The Forever People, and nowhere is he more deliciously vicious as during the “Happyland” story arc, when he gives special, customized treatment to each of the Super-Kids. At the conclusion of the “Life vs. Anti-Life” story, after Darkseid banishes The Infinity Man with beams shooting from his eyes which transforms the hero back into the quintet, the super-villain greets them: “Welcome back! The young of New Genesis will be easier to deal with!”
Mark Moonrider: Darkseid! Do your worst! We’re not afraid!
Darkseid: Of course not! It would pain me deeply to deal harshly with you! That is why I keep such as Desaad at my side!
Firing a device at the new-agers, Desaad cackles, “I don’t mind playing games in the slightest! Here! Try this toy! Fun, isn’t it? Ha! Ha! Ha! They yelped loudly before they collapsed! My Nerve Beams inspire such reactions!” Then Glorious Godfrey’s Justifiers gather up the unconscious team and load the bodies into an Aero-Van, one of them explaining, “We’re taking them where we took the others! To the Camp of the Damned!” The Aero-Van driver offers, “It is not the first of its kind seen on Earth! But Desaad is the master of this one! Even as Justifiers make a mockery of life — Desaad plays with death as if it were a fine art!” Another Justifier ponders aloud, “I wonder what sort of masterpieces he’ll make of these brats!”
(Although allusions certainly abound in copious portion, the Aero-Van driver’s comment (obviously about Nazi concentration camps), in combination with the Adolf Hitler quote at the beginning of this tale, are the only direct references to the Third Reich in the series, I believe. Astonishingly few mentions, methinks, considering the reams of inference we can extrapolate from the series about the Holocaust and Jack’s wartime experiences battling the German menace, never mind the overall eternal threat to mankind — and all life — from fascism! While, I think, Darkseid is no Hitler, ultimately a pathetic, self-hating runt who wielded monstrous power to exact revenge and impose will of the most vicious sort on a scale previously unimagined by mankind, his court is not dissimilar to the German High Command of that nightmare era.)
Watching the team being loaded for transport, the Master of the Holocaust comments, knowing his underling derives great pleasure from the act of torture and might forget the process is a means to an end, “I trust this Camp of yours is serving the purpose that overrides all others, Desaad!” The Ant-Life Equation remains the great quest. “If the mind you seek to contact is among those at my camp,” Desaad assures, “it shall soon give up its secret, great Darkseid!”
Upon Glorious Godfrey whining to Darkseid and the ruler — “The Revelation! The tiger-force at the core of all things!” — nods for Desaad to do his bidding. “Each to his own methods, eh, Desaad?” Godfrey complains, “You favor him always, great Darkseid! Think of what my Justifiers do in your cause!” Desaad, ever maneuvering for Darkseid’s constant good favor, interjects with a bow, “I beg to depart from this petty situation, sire,” and turning to Godfrey with a malevolent grin and furrowed brow, tells the minister, “You’re a loud, petulant bumpkin, Godfrey! Like all Revelationists, you’ve got imagination — but not finesse! But I, Good Godfrey, have both! I leave now for my ‘camp,’ which Darkseid knows is terror refined to perfection!”
The caption at the end of the tale reads:
Desaad is soon on his way — aboard the same Aero-Van that carries his captives — the young Forever People! But their destination is the most bizarre and terrifying structure ever seen by the eyes of man! It is Desaad’s own little domain on Earth — a pilot project of purgatory — where torment is computed — death is controlled — and escape impossible! Don’t miss — The Kingdom of the Damned!
Call it what you will: The Kingdom of the Damned, the Camp of the Damned, Happyland… This is Desaad’s great playground of evil, hiding in plain sight of or planet’s inhabitants. The opening caption reads, “The Kingdom of the Damned is not a far place! It’s not a hidden place! It’s in full view of us all! But, it has been rigged by a malignant force so that its tormented inmates are seen and heard — and ignored!!” The visual, of the true nature of this place, is of a mass of anguished, desperate prisoners screaming for help and mercy, banging on the curved glass window for release. Then, on the two-page spread that follows, we see the outside: a colorful, joyous looking amusement park emblazoned with the most duplicitous of names. Reads the caption:
And who among us would rush to aid the victims of this cruelty — when the sights we see and sounds we hear are bright and joyous? For are we not in “Happyland” — conceived in a world called Apokolips — and built on Earth by the subtle, the clever — the evil — Desaad?
We also see minions fulfilling their master’s command. Says one, “The Master ‘Scrambler’ is working smoothly! The fools trapped in that image little realize that we are distorting their cries into laughter!” And another, “Like us, these humans are serving the needs of Desaad! But I’m certain that he finds them more entertaining!”
Darkseid arrives and is greeted by one of Desaad’s corps, who says with a bow, “Our master, Desaad, awaits you, great Darkseid! He prepares a most interesting feat in your honor!” But the great leader does not share in Desaad’s predilection for base entertainment. “If this involves mere cruelty, I may not be amused!” Nearby, the revived team contemplate their captor: “Desaad!” exclaims Vykin, “We’re in the hands of Desaad! Darkseid has given us to that demon!” Mark Moonrider knows of the villain, as well, adding, “He worships torment! — Refines it to an art!”
The head of Desaad’s impressive security force comments, “I see that my master’s fame has spread to your world, New Genesis! — Or do you whelps call it Supertown, now?” And, when Serifan attempts to stun the guards, the hapless team is again rendered unconscious, this time courtesy of Vertigo Grenades. “They’re easier to handle now!” says a guard, “Desaad likes efficiency!” The security head clicks on an intercom, ordering, “Dispatch Unit! Send us transport! These new play toys are ready to be carted off for our master’s pleasure!” The dispatcher replies, “Fine! Desaad is in a frenzy for sport!” A guard speaks to the incapacitated Super-Kids, “Do you hear that, New Genesis dogs? Desaad will soon attend to you! And you would quail if you knew what keeps him busy right now!”
And next, in a horrendous sequence, we see Desaad in his element, accompanied by his master and a technician in a bizarre mask and even stranger devices on his hands which appear ready to penetrate The Forever People’s sentient computer. “The murder of a Mother Box!” thunders Darkseid. “I didn’t think you were foolish enough to attempt it, Desaad! This should prove amusing indeed!” Vykin’s most beloved possession is pinging in great distress. “Bear with me, great Darksied!” Desaad replies. “My technicians have labored feverishly to fashion the protective hood and killing gloves for my executioner! Now, the Mother Box is completely at my mercy — like its companions — The Forever People!”
The technician observes, “The thing reacts, master! — As if it registers fear! It does have a certain claim to — life! Listen to it, master! Even as the Electro-Spikes begin to pierce it — it screams!” But suddenly there’s an explosion and the technician is thrown onto the floor! Darkseid says, “The Mother Box has vanished! They always do that!” Desaad is incredulous, “No! It disintegrated! That’s it! I’ve made it commit suicide! Ha ha ha ha ha!”
And then we observe another moment in the complex relationship between the old acquaintances:
Darkseid: You crow too soon and too loudly, Desaad! Does the Mother Box vanish — or disintegrate? You don’t really know! Nor do I! A Mother Box is linked to the infinite! And made to plague us!
Desaad: Forgive me, great Darkseid! In my zeal to please you, I may have chosen the wrong subject! But I do hold The Forever People! Perhaps you might join in watching them thrash about in my net!
Darkseid: No, Desaad! I’m leaving! When one campaigns for control of all living creatures, he doesn’t stop to toy with a few!
The ruler of Apokolips then, for perhaps the only time in the series, walks among the inhabitants of Earth, a precious moment in the saga (which be related when the time comes, good friends!). Before he takes his stroll, his top sycophant gushes, “Like all great leaders, sire, you have the ‘common touch!’ Are they not your future slaves?” (I will reveal a telling thought the intergalactic gangster muses over while on his walk through the amusement park: “Darkseid is patient! He wields the power of Apokolips! Its vast resources have built ‘Happyland’ — to indulge vain Desaad! Perhaps even his cruel practices among the humans — will shake out the mind I seek!”)
Then the evil Desaad turns his attention to his colorful captives, first Mark Moonrider, encased in an “unbreakable, transparent cage.” The tormentor delights, “There! Look at Moonrider’s face! He’s beginning to break! Losing hope — ha ha ha –” and continuing, “He’s not ready yet to provide me with a proper show! He needs time to simmer — to feel his emotions tightening into a hard, squirming ball! It will be the moment before he loses all reason!”
Then it’s on to Big Bear, trapped in a “Shoot the Robot Bear” enclosure, desperately trying to escape. Desaad, unimpressed, raises a wine goblet and comments, “Until he’s reduced to a spirit-less wreck, he’s not worth watching! Forever People are rather difficult to deal with! But I shall wear them down!! Now for the girl!”
Here, we come to Desaad’s supreme moment in the series, a juxtaposition of tender loveliness and the most vile corruption. In a full-page panel, with Desaad delineated with exquisite detail, his lizard-like visage expertly drawn, the villain, one hand pressed preciously to his chest, the other wielding a riding crop that he delicately, sensually traces over Beautiful Dreamer’s paralyzed and curvaceous form, has saved his finest eloquence for this very moment. “Ahhhh — My vision of beauty! — And a beauty of visions, too, I might add! A mind so sensitive that it can make illusion seem like reality! What my scrambling machine must huff and puff to produce — Beautiful Dreamer can do by mere thought!”
Then, making sure she will will remain comatose throughout the coming tribulation, Desaad explains, “And now, my dear! As your automated couch moves into the next room, we shall play with illusions, eh? The couch stops! The wall rises! And what have we? Why, it’s a glass window! But what lurks beyond it, eh? Monsters! Yes, Monsters! Grotesque! Terrifying! Real! See them! Hear them! How eager they are for that window to open!”
Desaad exudes an incredibly creepy sexual interest in Beautiful Dreamer’s dilemma, seeming to look forward to watch the defenseless damsel’s ravishing by innumerable strangers: “Yes, now the window will open — and the monsters will swarm in — to whisper sweet nothings in her ear!” But the super-pervert’s pleasure is interrupted by one of his security corps. “No, master! The youngest of the captives will not cooperate! He’s the one called Serifan! We put him in the chair prepared for him! — But he struggles against us — and we have your orders not to discipline him!”
Indicating he might receive equal satisfaction by torturing boys as well as girls, instead of expressing disappointment at the abeyance, Desaad embraces his next assignment: “What? Touch that angelic boy? We mustn’t do that! Come! He will obey Desaad!” and he’s off to attend to the copy-cat cowboy’s excruciating situation. Serifan, ordered to push a foot pedal as he sits before a view screen, doesn’t understand why he is to perform for his captors.
Desaad: It will be like watching a Western movie, boy! You love Earth Western movies, don’t you? Well, in this one, you shall play the noble hero!
Serifan: W-what do you mean–?
Desaad: There! On the screen! Your good friend, Vykin, the Black sits trapped in the path of that onrushing roller coaster! It’s really happening! Quick! Now kick the foot pedal — or he dies!
Desaad: Good work, boy! That kick sent his trap-chair plunging down! Out of death’s path! You saved his life!
Serifan: But, look! His chair is rising once more! It’s happening again!
Desaad: And again — and again — and again! But never fear! You’ll be here, in this chair, boy — kicking the pedal to save his life! Just don’t get tired! It could be fatal to your friend!
This is Desaad in his element, crushing the spirits of innocent, loving youth, afflicting on them horrific nightmares and hoping to inflict the vilest of damage on their precious souls. This is the time of Desaad’s greatest triumph!
Then we are, in the following issue, exposed to another of Desaad’s beloved machines, introduced by one of his faithful as we see the terrified images of each of The Forever People’s faces, “Our honored guests, great Desaad! Each registered on the Psycho-Fuge!” Confirms Desaad: “And each registering his individual reaction to the little arrangements I’ve made for them here at Happyland! The Kingdom of the Damned is a subtle concept! Happyland, the amusement park, on the outside — and behind the facade –” His voice trails off.
Minion: Your reluctant guests, sire!! Your private amusements! As you ordered — I revolve the Psycho-Fuge!
Desaad: Fine! My sensitive “Fear Siphon” is honed and ready to “receive!” Yes! They’re filtering through! The heightened emotions forced out by jolting stress! To ride those waves is an exhilarating experience! Now, as the images of my prisoners merge, so do the waves of raw emotion!! The intensity mounts!
Suddenly, in the whirling pin-wheel of frenzied fear-waves, the images of Desaad’s other captives blend in to form a horrible, grotesque mass of unrecognizable stress visuals!!
A mind-bending scene is before Desaad, an acid trip gone terribly, terribly wrong, and the great sadist is beside himself with delight: “What can equal this for joy? I find it strange that Darkseid would shun this!” But Desaad’s bliss is shortlived, as Mother Box compels Sonny Sumo to save the fantastic five and, puzzling over the stethoscopic device in his playroom of horror, Desaad is alarmed: “Something’s wrong!! My ‘Fear-Siphon!’ — It isn’t functioning!”
Minion: Impossible, sire! To neglect its care would mean to risk your anger!
Other Minion: Master! Master! The “Psycho-Fuge” has come to a halt! Its screens have gone blank!
Desaad: What kind of madness is this? Check it! Re-check it! You fumbling dolts! What’s that sound? I hear a humming sound!
The next caption reads, “In the realm of Desaad’s kind, where forces of infinite variation are harnessed for many purposes — the meaning of this one is evident!”
Suddenly, with a bone-shattering “FWOMM!” the Psycho-Fuge is rendered to metal shards, with Desaad taking the full brunt of the explosion. (Interestingly, though in previous appearances we see him with a full head of hair, albeit with receding hairline, after this conflagration, his hood blown off, the villain is almost completely bald except for his scraggly forward-comb-over, revealing an even uglier face than before!) The servant of Darkseid looks pathetic, lying on the floor, squealing for assistance, “Guards! Guards! There’s an enemy among us! An enemy with a damnable Mother Box!” As his elite corps rush to obey and help him to his feet, Desaad is furious, muttering, “If I destroy the young Forever People — Mother Box will destruct!”
Mark Moonrider and the kids, with the aid of Sonny Sumo and Mother Box, rescue Beautiful Dreamer. Her boyfriend tells her, “Only a psychotic like Desaad would subject you to the stress of facing endless fright and horror!” And the professional wrestler, who combined with Mother Box possesses the much-coveted Anti-Life Equation, defeats Desaad’s massive corps of faithful servants with a mere word. Desaad’s murderous playground of evil is finished. And, suddenly, he is very afraid.
In “The Omega Effect,” after the group have destroyed Happyland, and Beautiful Dreamer worries aloud, “Desaad is almost as dangerous as Darkseid!!” and Sonny and Mother Box has immobilized Desaad’s horde, Darkseid cooly contemplates, “Fascinating!! Those young hotbloods of New Genesis have found a way to outwit us, Desaad!” Then Desaad sputters a reply, “Sumo without mind stimulation from the Mother Box can’t use the Anti-Life Equation!! But if they confront us at this moment — even we can become its victims!!! Stop them, sire!!!”
Darkseid: I shall, Desaad!! I shall! But don’t think I shall overlook your cowardice!! Then, all tormentors are notorious for that trait!!
Desaad: How can you say that, noble Darkseid!! My powers are vast, but — but they’re in the realm of technology! Sumo wields the ultimate weapon!!!
Darkseid: Boldness, Desaad!! Risk!! The raw meat of existence!!! I shall strike with these!! — and the Omega Effect!!!“
The Master of the Holocaust proceeds to zap the team, Sumo included, but leaves the youngest member untouched, much to his henchman’s dismay. “And now the youngest, Darkseid! Now him!” The ruler is unmoved. “No need!! The threat to us — has passed!!” Desaad is aghast, screaming in his leader’s face, “What!!?? You would leave such a dramatic experience incomplete? No, sire, no!”
Darkseid: I regret to say this, Desaad!! But I don’t have the stomach for your kind of pursuits!!
Desaad: But Serifan should share the fate of the others!! And they no longer exist!!! — Ugh!!
With that audacity, Desaad is literally slapped down to the floor by Darkseid, calmly telling the victim of his open hand, “I do no more than what has to be done!!” And, standing amongst the ruins of an inflamed Happyland, Darkseid seeks to comfort his longtime ally. “Don’t fret, Desaad! We’ll attain our goals without complete victories — or defeats!! See what a fine spectacle misfortune provides for us!! Have we truly lost, Desaad — when the power and resources of Apokolips are barely scratched!!”
Desaad: When great Darkseid finally attains the true Anti-Life Equation — and commands all life with a word — he will not forget the trials of poor Desaad!!!
Darkseid: On that day, old friend — a million slaves shall build a thousand more Happylands for you to play in!!
With that promise of glorious distractions to come, Desaad ends his run as the central villain in the Forever People saga, though he does appear again in “The Power” and in the team’s final story. And in the former tale, Desaad still tempts his master, telling Darkseid after they masqueraded as “The Sect” and, yet again, the heroes’ escape, “But somehow I feel you’ve spared The Forever People again!” Darkseid shrugs, “Greatness does not come from killing the young! I’m willing to wait until they grow!!”
Rest assured, though, Desaad is witness to Darkseid’s final victory over The Forever People, as he observes the team’s permanent exile to the planet Adon. No doubt Desaad would have preferred a more slow and agonizing ending for the new-agers but they are now out of his sparse hair for good. When next we find mention of Desaad, it is in Mister Miracle, where we are introduced to a Female Fury with a striking resemblance to Darkseid’s right-hand man: Desaad’s sister Bernadeth, wielder of the lethal Fahren-Knife, which cooks her prey on the inside! Hot stuff!
In the seminal “origin” story, “The Pact,” Desaad may not rate an appearance, but mention is made as a weapons-maker and personality. After Darkseid appears to inflict a killing touch on Izaya the Inheritor courtesy of the Desaad-designed Killing Glove, uncle Steppenwolf tells the ambitious godling: “It appears strange to me that this friend of yours, who thrives on living victims — would produce a device which kills with such speed!! I don’t trust you, nephew! — or your bizarre companions!”
Call it a showdown, if you’d like, as “Darkseid and Sons,” the final issue of the regular New Gods series culminates not only in the death of one of Darkseid’s offspring but also in an old friend’s demise. It is, in this story, when we learn of the connection between Kalibak, Orion and Darkseid. Fretting over his boys’ rivalry, the Master of the Holocaust bemoans, “But destiny has always kept one from killing the other! However — in the event of destiny’s failure, Darkseid shall intervene!” Again — yet again — Desaad is spontaneously impudent, oblivious to the depths of his boss’s consternation: “But why, sire? If Kalibak proves the stronger, we are rid of that wolf Orion! Yet this logic doesn’t seem to please you! Somehow, the thought of Orion’s death stirs your fear and anger!”
Darkseid: Silence, Desaad! You go too far! Darkseid explains his motives to no one!
Then Darkseid explains the backstory of the half-brothers and, turning controlled wrath on Desaad. he gives the chief torturer a taste of his power, zapping Desaad with eye-beams: “And that little potent Omega Blast is to remind you that I know who poisoned [Darkseid’s beloved first wife] Suli! — At the Queen’s command!!” Whines Desaad as his leader stands on his chest, “I couldn’t disobey, sire! The Queen Mother disapproved of Suli! It was her decision!”
Then we learn son Darkseid had his own mother, Queen Heggra, poisoned in retaliation (and to ascend the throne of Apokolips) by Desaad, who protests, “I — I don’t like to remember it, sire — ! — How I carried your plans — for her–!”
In the titanic battle between half-brothers that transpires, Darkseid is suspicious of the origin of Kalibak’s newly-acquired powers, which appear to get the best of the fierce Orion. Rising from his chair, Darkseid says aloud to himself, “While I’ve watched this battle between combatants of equal strength, another has manipulated it for his own fiendish purposes.” Pulling apart a curtained entryway, Darkseid finds his old friend in ecstatic repose, the Fear-Siphon adhered to his throat. The King of Evil sneers, “I see you’ve enjoyed the battle, Desaad! — At the expense of the warriors!”
Desaad: I — I couldn’t help it, sire! The opportunity of absorbing the emotions of Orion and Kalibak through this siphon — was too tempting!
Darkseid: I’ve tolerated you and your twisted mind too long! This time you’ve turned it against my own kin!
Desaad: I strengthened Kalibak, sire! You will glory in his victory for Apokolips! As for Orion –”
Darkseid: Orion may be dying! — Crushed by your meddling, scheming brain! — And his final agonies are coursing through you — feeding your cursed needs — ! Then feed on the greatest fear of all! — The Omega Effect! The Total Wipeout! Feed on this! — Your own last experience!!
Desaad: No, sire! No –!
The next caption reads: “Where the Omega Beams strike, there’s no life — no death — no sign of previous existence! Desaad doesn’t even have time to scream!!”
Darkseid: And this is what you are now! A small, fading patch of light — soon to vanish from sight! Farewell, Desaad!
Thus the angels of New Genesis rejoice! For Desaad is dead, fittingly at the hands of his beloved master. But Darkseid remains fond of his late companion — why? Who the heck knows! — and many years later, in the events of “Even The Gods Must Die,” the ruler of Apokolips laments for a simpler time when flesh ruled machines and not, in the new age of the Micro-Mark, the way it has become, as personality is losing dominance over technology. Illustrating a forlorn-looking Master of the Holocaust, a caption reads: “The eyes of Darkseid betray his strange discontent. He turns to hide his scarred ego! The ultimate flesh challenged by the ultimate metal… and yet, his approval has brought this situation into being.”
Colonel: “Change” is a combustible state, sire! It affects all on Apokolips! It stirs the lower ranks to violence. In your eyes, sire, if I may be forgiven, I see a touch of pain… or is it… loneliness?
Darkseid: I could use a friend. Desaad, perhaps. He was a strange one, but he had the gift of finding humor… where none should thrive!
Colonel: That could be a noble experiment for our machines, sire!
The colonel hands his ruler a high-tech helmet device.
Darkseid: What is that thing?
Colonel: It’s a “Brain Scanner,” great Darkseid. In your brain cells is an accurate image of Desaad! Wear this, sire, and we can track down his atoms… And, though you disintegrated Desaad in a fit of anger, I believe our machines can…
Darkseid: Silence, fool! How easily you forget the power of Darkseid! What I snuffed out… I can rekindle!
The King of Evil transmits his eye-beams to the floor.
Darkseid: See the flames of atomic life gather and expand… and busily boil to achieve “biologic symmetry”! It’s a bit of an ugly process, I admit, Colonel. Well?
Bubbling, oozing like a puddle of putrid muck, a shapeless blob starts to take form until it becomes a resurrected Desaad.
Colonel: I-if that’s your opinion, sire… I would definitely agree! If you would permit an observation, sire…
Darkseid: Yes, yes! Go on!
Colonel: Had you fed our machines the correct data…
Darkseid: I know! He would have “popped out” like fresh candy! It’s humiliating to contemplate it! Rise, Desaad!
Yes, Desaad lives again.
Desaad: I-I-I am y-your servant, great Darkseid!
Darkseid: Welcome back, old friend.
Desaad: Your powers are omnipotent indeed, sire!
Sycophantic as ever, but this is not the same Desaad, for his true essence has apparently gone to The Source and he remains a virtually empty shell of the conniving, devious, perverse master of torture he once was.