Jack Kirby was a man of ideas - his mind was the fertile ground from which giants sprung. The problem is that he had so many ideas, they often overlapped and contradicted. Even the King didn't know where things were going until he actually sat down to draw the story, so with no clear goal in mind, a lot of his creations quickly stagnated after he left them. Perhaps none so much as the New Gods and their enemy, Darkseid.
The powerful lord of Apokolips hopes to turn Supergirl into his most powerful agent,
he twists her mind and then sends her to battle to kill the Man of Steel.
Darkseid has become entirely stagnant since Kirby left, because nobody wants to be the one to actually attempt to fulfill the King's legacy, and DC doesn't want to lose one of their biggest villains - like many gods, Darkseid's twilight is already written, and it involves a fight to the death with his son Orion in the slums of Apokolips' Armaghetto. It was the Bruce Timm Superman cartoon that hit upon the idea of rescuing Darkseid from his own little convoluted world and turning him into a foe for Supes because, like he said, "the regular Superman villains are pretty uninteresting and most of them are 50-year-old fat guys in suits." The greatest hero in existence, and one of his worst foes is the Toyman? Wow, suck. The comics picked up on the idea of pitting Superman and Darkseid against one another, which is why we've now gotten a figure of the big evil guy in Superman/Batman Series 2.
S/B Series 2 comes on a large blister card with a yellow and black logo base (rather than the red and black of Series 1). The colors are really very nice, and these figures look really nice while they're still on their cards. Unfotunately, it's all downhill from there.
Darkseid's skin is rough and cracked.
He doesn't look rocky, like Ben Grimm, but he still looks like stone, if that makes sense. The Thing is a pile of small stones - walking gravel. Darkseid looks like a single block of granite that's been sheared by time and geological forces. Michaelangelo carved statues that were choppier than this guy. Yes, there are pits all over the surface of the figure, but the kind formed by the ceaseless fall of rain upon an ageless block of stone. His features have been exaggerated by Turner - he's got huge eyebrows and a pointy chin that weren't in the original designs, which is really the only thing about him that looks wrong. His feet are too small for him, but only slightly.
The paint is good, with a gunmetal grey for his skin and a midnight blue costume. It always looked like Darkseid was wearing a one-piece swimsuit, but Turner gave him a minor redesign that makes him look more... dignified. His eyes are golden, which isn't exactly comic-accurate, but it still looks good.
No accessories for Darky: he's 8 3/4" tall, so size is all he needs.
He's a bit under-articulated, to tell the truth: balljointed neck and shoulders, pin elbows and knees, and pegged hips and thighs. He has no ankles, but the fact that he moves at the bottom of his trunks ensures that you'll be able to get his tiny, tiny feet flat on the ground. The total lack of any joint to allow you to re-pose his hands is disappointing, however. No wrists? No glove tops? We're used to the lack of a waist by now, but come on!
Mattel is releasing a Darkseid of their own in their DC Superheroes line, and hopefully it will correct some of the errors with this figure. But if Joker, Bane and Doomsday are any indication, one thing that this DCD version will have over Mattel is proper size. If Mattel drops a 6" figure on us, all the articulation in the world won't make up for it. Darkseid is supposed to be a huge, imposing badass; and just like in real life, size matters.
The Superman/Batman line is an artist specific one: Series 1, "Public Enemies," was all Ed McGuinness; the figures in this series are based on the artwork of Michael Turner's "The Supergirl From Krypton" arc. And for some reason, they're all phenomenally ugly. This is a five-figure series, and four of them look like utter ass. Well, actually all five, but we can forgive Darkseid, because he's supposed to be brutish.
Superman, Batman and both versions of Supergirl were sculpted by a guy known as Big Chief, and... well, the nicest way we we can say it is that he's no Tim Bruckner. It's not that Michael Turner's artwork is impossible to adapt to three dimensions - MAC did it beautifully years ago with their Witchblade and Fathom figures. It's not even that Big Chief is a bad sculptor. He's worked for a lot of companies, including making Ms. Bitters and Super Beaker for Palisades. So why are these figures so terrible? No idea. But really, they are. Very, very bad. Stay far away.
Sorry for the digression, but we're not going to be looking at any of the other figures in this wave and that needed to be out there. Darkseid is the only figure in this series sculpted by Ray Villafane, who did the big Urizen in the McToys box set. And while Darkseid doesn't look perfect, at least he isn't as eye-gougingly awful as the four he's teamed with. Get Darkseid if you like, but don't worry about any of the others.
Do you think DC would have the balls to write Darkseid out permanently? Do you think they should? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.