Who's DeSaad?

Who's This? A master torturer.

The facts: Darkseid's second banana first appeared in Forever People #2 (May 1971) and from then on has been in the Fourth World cast, scoring more than 200 appearances, often just toadying up to his master, but sometimes showing too much imitative and getting Omega Beamed out of existence until once again needed. If the New Gods have domains like Earth gods, he's the God of Cruelty and Pain. An origin for him was attempted in Eclipso #10 (August 1993) which had him as a boy on New Genesis until Darkseid corrupted him. Later greatest hits include his being bonded to Orion and putting the latter on a dark path, stealing the Firestorm mantle by torturing it out of Professor Stein, and "possessing" Mary Marvel during Final Crisis.
How you could have heard of him: The Fourth World has been used on television and movies, and DeSaad was usually tapped for inclusion. For kids of my generation, he was in the last version of the Super Friends cartoon (voiced by René Auberjonois!). He would later be included in the Animated Superman/Justice League Fourth World sequences as well as other cartoon shows. The Snyder Cut of Justice League introduces him in like action, but as a CG goat man like Steppenwolf. It won't and shouldn't stick.
Example story: Forever People #4 (August-September 1971) "The Kingdom of the Damned" by Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta
With all the cosmic shenanigans associated with the Fourth World, the fact that they staked a claim on Earth in those early days is easy to forget. DeSaad, for example, had Happyland - a theme park designed to capture and torture people (who knew he was a carnie at heart?). The man loves to turn pleasure into pain (he's got the name for it), hope into despair.
Darkseid has arrived for an inspection. It Happyland is just about cruelty for its own sake, he'll brand DeSaad a time-wasting hobbyist and probably Omega Beam him to the void. So the presentation better be good. And it might be! See, the Forever People were recently captured by Happyland and DeSaad wants to do something objectionable to their Mother Box.
His technician makes it feel pain, so much pain that it appears to commit suicide by disintegrating itself. But Darkseid admonishes him for counting his parademons before they hatch. Mother Boxes can do that sort of thing, might it not have simply escaped? Well, maybe Darkseid will like what he's prepared for the Forever People better.
I think maybe if DeSaad has a fatal flaw, it's that he over-promises. And you of all the people to over-promise to, Darkseid must be the worst. So what DOES DeSaad have reserved for the Space Hippies? Well, how about caging them in funhouses and making people see them as monsters?
Big Bear is actually a target the locals are shooting at in one of those carnival games. His designs on Beautiful Dreamer are more icky still.
Can someone call the Comics Code Authority, please?! The immobile Dreamer is then used as an exhibit, under glass, asking people to whisper at her the magic words that will awaken the princess. But she sees them as terrifying monsters hissing and growling. But perhaps the most anxiety has been reserved for the youngest of the Forever People, Serifan!
That's some Saw-level torture porn, right there! DeSaad is pure evil, yo! The tables will turn in the next issue, what with the Mother Box appearing to Johnny Sumo. But our look at Darkseid's master torturer ends here, and he didn't even get disintegrated!

There's not all gonna be good days like this...

Who's Next? The man with the third eye.


ten-cent media said…
Another Kirby and Colletta classic but the inking style doesn't look at all like Thor. Very versatile inker to be able to change styles like that.
Siskoid said…
Well, I think it's mostly Kirby whose style had evolved by then.