Young Justice: The New Gods of Apokolips by Jerry Whitworth
While no further news has emerged regarding the return of the series Young Justice for a third season, with little doubt the New Gods of Apokolips will have a notable presence. Teased as an ally to the Light since the first season episode “Bereft” which introduced the character Sphere (a Super-Cycle from New Genesis), Young Justice would subsequently introduce Intergang (Apokolips’ Earth-based operatives), Desaad (Apokolips’ chief scientist), Glorious Godfrey (Apokolips’ propagandist), and inevitably Darkseid himself (ruler of Apokolips and its New Gods). Part of what is known as the Fourth World set of titles generated by Jack Kirby which maintained an affiliation with Superman via Jimmy Olsen, Darkseid and his minions would become the most significant gallery of villains to the cosmic aspect of DC Comics. Lets then take a look at the other notable members of the New Gods of Apokolips.
The eldest son of Darkseid, Kalibak the Cruel is the most loyal and physically powerful member of Darkseid’s Elite. Constantly trying to earn the admiration of his father, Kalibak is a bitter rival to his half-brother Orion. Kalibak and Orion were pitted against each other since youth where Orion would be given to Izaya the Highfather in exchange for Izaya’s son Scott Free as part of a peace treaty between Apokolips and New Genesis (sister worlds formed from the remnants of Urgrund and dual home to the New Gods). Orion came to be New Genesis’ greatest champion and lead the battle against Apokolips where Kalibak was Darkseid’s chief warrior in combat. However, despite Orion’s defiance, Darkseid came to respect Orion which would only infuriate the dim-witted Kalibak further. Kalibak lives to serve his father but almost equal to this is his desire to defeat and destroy Orion (who is destined to be the one that destroys Darkseid). When Apokolips’ conflict with Earth began, it would generally become Superman that combated its forces which many times meant facing Kalibak and the Parademons, Apokolips’ shock troops. While Kalibak would repeatedly prove to be a match physically for the Man of Steel, his impulsive nature and simple mind consistently proved to be his undoing. As with many of Darkseid’s followers, Kalibak is prone to failure against the forces of New Genesis and Earth but his father is more lenient toward his elder son (where even when he destroys Kalibak, he will generally resurrect him soon after).
Darkseid’s uncle and his most trusted military adviser, Steppenwolf is perhaps the most adept warrior on Apokolips. A master of weapons and expert hunter, Steppenwolf chiefly employs an electro-axe in combat (but is known to wield swords, whips, and spears as well) and acts as the field leader of Apokolips’ military with his own unit known as the Dog Cavalry who ride upon massive canine beasts. Likely, Steppenwolf is best known for being manipulated by Darkseid into killing Avia, wife of Darkseid’s rival Izaya the Inheritor (leader of New Genesis), sparking the two planets’ centuries long war. When it seemed Apokolips won the conflict thanks to the advent of Matter Threshold technology (precursor to the Boom Tube), Steppenwolf would be felled by Izaya halting their advance. Izaya subsequently became the Highfather and broker the peace treaty that saw he and Darkseid exchange sons. Darkseid resurrected Steppenwolf and returned him to his duties. While Kalibak often lead the advance guard for Darkseid, Steppenwolf would remain on Apokolips until summoned by his ruler for combat.
Operator of the Orphanage, Granny Goodness was a member of Apokolips’ peasant caste who trained to become one of Darkseid’s Hounds, his most elite soldiers. Impressing the despot, she would be given charge of the Orphanage, Apokolips’ soldier training facility which tortured and brainwashed children into sadistic, hateful agents of Darkseid (subsequently, Goodness would secretly operate other orphanages off-world looking for recruits for her dark lord). The top graduates of the Orphanage joined the Female Furies, an all-female band of warriors. Also in Goodness’ charge was Scott Free, son of Izaya the Highfather, who would be the first individual to ever escape the Orphanage but whose departure from Apokolips annulled the peace treaty with New Genesis (Free would later be joined by Big Barda, formerly the leader of the Furies who aided his escape). As the conflict with Earth escalated, Goodness’ Furies acted on Darkseid’s behalf on the planet while Goodness operated orphanages to recruit for Apokolips. Goodness came to align closely with Virman Vundabar, Kanto, and Doctor Bedlam especially against Mister Miracle.
The elite graduates of the Orphanage, the Female Furies are an all-female band of warriors in the service of Darkseid. Students of Granny Goodness, the greatest of the Furies and their one-time leader Big Barda defected to Earth where she joined with and married Highfather’s son Scott Free (who would adopt the mantle of escape artist Mister Miracle). Barda would be replaced as leader by Lashina, one of the founders of the Furies who was extremely powerful and a skilled fighter that wielded electrified razor whips in battle. Bernadeth, sister of Desaad, another Fury founder, and wielder of the Fahren-Knife, wanted the role of leader for herself. Toward this goal, Bernadeth abandoned Lashina on Earth where she would join the Suicide Squad as Duchess. Duchess/Lashina would return to Apokolips with the Squad where she killed Bernadeth only to be disintegrated by Darkseid for bringing outsiders to his world. Eventually, the dread despot resurrected Lashina and Bernadeth who co-lead the Female Furies. Other founding Furies include Stompa and Mad Harriet. Over the years, the Furies would take on many more members, most notably Gilotina. The first junior Female Fury, Gilotina was a highly skilled fighter able to cut through anything with her hands but who would eventually wield dual swords. For a time, Gilotina left the Furies only to return and lead them. Another Fury of note is Knockout who escaped the group and came to Earth where she partnered with Superboy. Later she would join the Secret Six and be the lover of the group’s leader Scandal Savage.
Youngest son of Darkseid, Grayven differs from his brothers in that Orion wishes to destroy their father and Kalibak wants to serve their father while Grayven wants to usurp their father. Toward this, Grayven amasses an army and tries to secure Zeta Beam technology to assault Apokolips in much the same manner Darkseid used Matter Threshold technology to attack New Genesis. Grayven’s plans were thwarted, however, by Green Lantern Kyle Rayner who largely became the New God’s nemesis. Eventually, Grayven would be forced into an alliance with his father to combat the threat of Imperiex. However, this partnership would be shortlived as Grayven fell under the sway of Brainiac-13 and battled his father and Superman. Defeated by the pair, Darkseid banished his youngest son to Earth who would subsequently align himself with the Sinestro Corps.
The daughter of Darkseid and the Amazon Myrina, Grail was born on Themyscira at the same moment as Diana (the future Wonder Woman). Foretold by the oracle Menalippe to be responsible for great destruction, Myrina fled with her daughter as the first Amazons to ever abandon Themyscira. Darkseid inevitably returned to claim his daughter only for Grail to align with the Anti-Monitor as his harbinger and declare war on her father. The Anti-Monitor would destroy Darkseid but Grail turned on her master and resurrected her father as her servant. The combined forces of the Justice League, Female Furies, and Myrina would then defeat the team of Grail and Darkseid.
Apokolips’ chief assassin, Kanto was a student of Granny Goodness named Iluthin who lived for a time on Earth around the Renaissance era. There, Iluthin fell in love with an Earth woman only for her to be murdered on their wedding day by Kanto 13, Darkseid’s chief assassin that Iluthin had earlier stolen from on Apokolips. Iluthin defeated the assassin in combat leading to Darkseid emerging to disintegrate Kanto 13 and have Iluthin replace him. During the invasion of Mars by Apokolips, Kanto befriended J’onn J’onzz only to later capture the Martian. Despite their friendship, Kanto claimed his loyalty to Darkseid was greater and tortured his friend. J’onn would lead an escape with his fellow Martians as Kanto was put in charge of re-capturing J’onn to no avail. When Mister Miracle returned to Apokolips, Kanto captured him and delivered him to Granny Goodness. Subsequently, Kanto would be tasked with eliminating Miracle leading to placing the escape artist in various death traps of Kanto’s design. When Miracle managed to escape every trap, he earned Kanto’s respect who allowed Miracle to walk away free. The assassin would later be sent to attack the Justice Society of America which brought him into conflict again with Martian Manhunter. Later, Kanto would be put in charge of Intergang which yet again pitted him against the Martian Manhunter.
A so-called “energy vampire,” Mantis led a colony of insectoids called Bugs from New Genesis to Apokolips to serve under Darkseid. Therein, Mantis came to be rewarded with vast power by his master and became the second most powerful being on Apokolips, next only to Darkseid himself. Always hungering for energy, Mantis rests in a cocoon-like power pod absorbing power until summoned into service. In battle, Mantis can feed on energy including magic and the discharge of power rings which he can turn against his foes. Darkseid would send Mantis to conquer Earth only to meet defeat at the hands of Infinity Man. Mantis then staged a revolt by the remaining Bugs on New Genesis and lead them against Earth only to be halted by Orion, Lightray, and Forager. When Darkseid planned to manipulate Earth’s super-villains into his service as the Secret Society of Super-Villains, the group would reject him leading to Mantis emerging to put them in line. Mantis defeated most of the group save Star Sapphire and Manhunter who sought aid to save their comrades. They would return and defeat the Bug. However, Green Lantern appeared and Mantis fed on his power ring energy. Drunk on the power, Mantis challenged Darkseid but was easily bested. Mantis later battled Jesse Quick, Argent, and the Favored.
One of Apokolips’ chief scientists and torturers (second in both regards only to Desaad), Doctor Bedlam was a New God that transcended his physical form into that of sentient psychic energy (able to physically inhabit drones known as Animates, capable of controlling up to six at once). Dedicated to the study of psychologically breaking minds, Bedlam was tasked with destroying Mister Miracle. Employing the Paranoid Pill, a capsule that releases a gas that causes terror, Bedlam would fail against Miracle becoming a frequent sparring partner for the hero. In this, Bedlam aligned with Granny Goodness, Virman Vundabar, and Kanto. Bedlam also constructed and controlled Macro-Man, a construct unleashed on Earth to implicate Captain Marvel for murder to further discredit Earth’s heroes. Later, Bedlam would change his name to Baron Bedlam and trouble Shilo Norman (the ward of the original Mister Miracle Thaddeus Brown, assistant to the second Miracle in Scott Free, and the third person to adopt the mantle of Miracle).
Loyal student and minion to Granny Goodness, Virman Vundabar became enamored with the Prussian empire on Earth and he modeled his dress and battle tactics around them. A brilliant strategist whose mind would lead to his becoming a lieutenant for Darkseid and joining his Elite, Vundabar was tasked with the destruction of Mister Miracle following the failure of Granny Goodness and Doctor Bedlam in this pursuit. Meeting with similar results, Vundabar aligned with Goodness, Bedlam, and Kanto against Miracle where they again came up short (subsequently, relations would sour between Vundabar and Kanto as the latter developed contempt for the former). When it later appeared Darkseid had grown weak, Vundabar attempted to assassinate him to usurp his throne. Darkseid, however, anticipated this development and feigned weakness to draw out Vundabar and made him an example by disintegrating him. Later, Darkseid would resurrect Vundabar.
With the emergence of the DNA Project (later known as Project Cadmus) on Earth, Darkseid desired his own such facility dedicated to making new, powerful slaves in his service and to explore aspects of the Anti-Life Equation on Earth. Mokkari and Simyan, brilliant geneticists in the service of Darkseid, founded the Evil Factory for him (their origin was later revised that they were creations of the Project). The facility produced a giant clone of Jimmy Olsen infused with Kryptonite radiation to kill Superman and destroy the Project. This would be the first in a line of creations to combat the Man of Steel and the Project (which became protected by a clone of the Guardian). Years later, Mokkari and Simyan aligned with the Agenda (a new rival to Cadmus led by Lex Luthor’s wife Contessa Erica Alexandra Del Portenza) in order to capture Cadmus and convert it into a new Evil Factory. Mokkari and Simyan later employed the Lump, a misshapen creature from Apokolips, to create an army of Batman clones only for Batman to the turn the tables on the villains.
Known as the Pursuer, Devilance was Darkseid’s most trusted hunter who sought his lord’s quarry across the cosmos and bring them before his feet. This, however, would change when Devilance was tasked with bringing the Forever People to Darkseid. Summoning Infinity Man, Devilance was seemingly destroyed only to return and menace Adam Strange, Animal Man, and Starfire years later. Capturing the trio, the group would escape and be pursued by the hunter. Devilance seemingly met his end a second time at the hands of the bounty hunter Lobo.
An aquatic-based strike force in the service of Darkseid, the Deep Six (Gole, Jaffar, Kurin, Shaligo, Slig, and Trok) were sent to Earth where they murdered the New God Seagrin. Angered at the death of his comrade, Orion hunted down the Six and killed them all. Unbeknownst to Orion, the group had the ability to eject spawns from their bodies where they re-spawned into an evolved form of their former self. Subsequent generations would go on to trouble Aquaman and the Supermen of America as well as join Alexander Luthor, Jr.’s Society.
See also: Himon, Bekka, Raker Qarrigat, Kraken, Sleez, Amazing Grace, Mortalla, Tigra, Brimstone, and Executioner.