Superman and Batman, in their various animated forms, have had some great villains. Whether adapted from the comicbooks, like Two-Face and the Parasite, or created specifically for the show, like the Clock King and Live Wire, the villains have been there to give the heroes a run for their money.
Well, they're been there in animated form, at least. Getting toys of those bad guys has been almost as hard as trying to defeat them.
Lord and ruler of Apokolips, this New God seeks to dominate the Earth and to discover the formula for the fabled Anti-Life Equation. Choosing to operate behind the scenes, Darkseid acts through human agents and organizations, such as through the Metropolis-based crime syndicate Intergang, in order to achieve his ends. He is himself a formidable threat, able to defeat the strongest of opponents with the Omega Effect - beams of destructive energy released from his eyes - and with his formidable strength.
Darkseid was never specifically a "Superman villain" in the comics; he was more of a cosmic-scale threat, like Thanos is in the Marvel Universe. Putting him in the cartoon was an interesting move, giving him a personal interest in the Man of Steel and a simplified version of Jack Kirby's rather nebulous concepts. It could have worked out poorly (and was headed that direction at the end), but ultimately that move has been reflected in the printed adventures quite a bit.
For the first time since the animated series began, the related toys are receiving more than just the Big Five in articulation. Darkseid is one of the new, more mobile figures, with movement at the neck, shoulders, elbows, waist, hips and knees. While the big, blocky joints look out of place on the smaller animated-style characters, Darkseid's got the bulk to make it look good.
He stands 5 1/2" tall, bigger than the rest of the Justice League toys, and is painted all in dark tones: black clothes and dark grey skin. His face has that look of supreme self-confidence and barely restrained power that has been with the character since his origins, hidden behind the crags of his stony visage.
Embarrassing admission time: until he showed up on the cartoon, I always thought Darkseid's name was pronounced dark "seed," not dark "side." I still think of it that way, and like it better: one sounds like some inherent evil; the other can't help but remind me of Star Wars.
Articulation isn't the only new addition to the Justice League toys - they're also getting accessories at last. The newest waves feature "Mission Vision" gear, which basically amounts to snap-on armor and little lenticular motion screens. Darkseid's got shoulder pads, a missile launcher and a heavyweight championship belt. The belt and missile are molded from translucent orange plastic, and his armor actually doesn't look too bad on him.
There are two versions of Darkseid available: the one shown here, and an early variant with lighter skin. Neither one is really very easy to find, and the dark version is closer to what was seen on the show, so make up your own mind about which version you like better.
Darkseid is only the second villain in the Justice League line, only the sixth at all in the animated style and one of only nine that Mattel has given us at all in any of their DC Comics lines, and that's pretty pathetic. The character was handled well and the toy is great, but thanks to traditional conservative stupidity, good luck finding him.
How surprised were you that Mattel released such a good Darkseid? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.