Aquaman. Wonder Woman. Batman. The Flash. The heroes who appear in the new Justice League movie are largely iconic household names that need little in the way of introduction. Even Cyborg, who might be perceived as the new kid on the block, has been in comics since 1980, starred in a Teen Titans cartoon in the early 2000s, and a buffoonish comedy version of him stars in the ongoing Teen Titans Go! show.
But where the heck did Steppenwolf and the Parademons come from? And what is their link to DC’s best villain (okay, maybe tied with Joker and Lex Luthor)? Read on, friends.
If you were an action-figure obsessed elementary school kid in the 1980s, maybe you recall Steppenwolf or the Parademons as part of Kenner’s Super Powers Collection, the second series. Steppenwolf was pretty cool; he had electro-axe chopping action. But the origin of these characters goes much farther back, to 1970, when Jack “King” Kirby, the legendary artist and co-creator of Marvel mainstays such as Captain America, the Fantastic Four, and the Avengers, jumped ship to DC to launch his own line of comics. These comics came to be known as Jack Kirby’s Fourth World.
The Fourth World comics largely concern a collection of beings called The New Gods. The heroic New Gods of New Genesis include Mister Miracle, Orion, Lightray, and Forager. The villainous New Gods of Apokolips? You have deranged teacher Granny Goodness, marketing wiz Glorious Godfrey, torture-master Desaad, along with military commander Steppenwolf, and their ever-present shock troops, the Parademons.
All exist to serve the dark overlord known as Darkseid.
Of the DC villains, Darkseid is perhaps the most out-and-out evil. The Joker is an examination of insanity, sure, and Luthor is a personification of out of control ego, wealth and intellect. But Darkseid? Man, he just wants to conquer everything, rule everything, and, to these ends, uncover the secret of the Anti-Life Equation. As imposing and powerful Darkseid is – with his zig-zagging Omega Beams and rock-like visage – Steppenwolf and the Parademons are likely just an appetizer for our heroes. Hopefully, the movie franchise will remain successful long enough that we get the main course.
How fitting that a major motion picture release has Jack Kirby creations front and center during the year of his 100th birthday!?
Images: DC Comics, Warner Bros., kennersuperpowers.com