Silver Age Despero Sketch by Chris Samnee (2007)

If you run a Google image search for "Despero Sketch," the only relevant image that appears is CHRIS SAMNEE: Silver Age Despero. This fellow does mighty fine work at incredible speeds, and it seems to be keeping his busy in the field (most recently on "Checkmate.") Do check out his blog and comments on the piece. He reminds me a lot of the underappreciated Peter Snejberg of "The Sandman" not-quite-fame.


The Seventh and Final Book of Despero, the Reborn (Aug.-Sep. 1986)

"On my homeworld of Kalanor, I experienced pain and purification in the Flame of Py'tar. Now I possess a power beyond description. At a whim, I change matter to energy and energy to matter. I am like unto a god. No... not like a god...

Despero created a fire-breathing dragon from the stone of Gotham City, and launched it at the five standing members of the Justice League of America. "Enjoying yourself, Despero," asked Batman, before calling him a madman. "I hope your other friends show up soon... Superman, the Flash, Green Lantern. I've a special treat prepared for them... Mad or sane, who are you to judge such as me? See what I've accomplished already? As my will extends outward from this central point, I alter reality to fit my desire... remaking first Gotham City, and soon the entire planet in an extending circle, like ripples spreading in a pond. Earth is my world now. My... plaything... to do as I please... until at last I tire of the novelty, and crush it like an unwanted toy."

The League defeated the dragon, which in turn caused Despero great pain, and from there, great anger. The city block the team stood upon exploded, toppling them. In the peace that followed, Despero discussed his origins with Batman, then stepped back into his terrestrial facimilie of Py'tar. "Once I have renewed myself in the embrace of this ember of the true flame, then shall I begin to play in earnest." Batman of course escaped, and freed Vixen to aid the League. The Dark Knight himself disrupred Despero's renewal process, raising his ire. "You've made an unfortunate mistake, little man. For the last time, you have underestimated the power I gain from immersing myself in the Flame of Py'tar. And as well, you've underestimated the sheer hatred I feel for you and your companions in the Justice League. Allow me to make myself clear." Despero recaptured and began torturing the Caped Crusader, but Batman asserted, "Destroying me isn't enough for you. You won't be satisfied till I beg. I won't give you that satisfaction. So no matter what you do to me now, Despero... I win. For all your power, you're a loser. A pathetic little..." but his words were cut shorted by an eyebeam blast.

Vixen came to the rescue, though by this point Despero had grown in stature, so that she ran headlong into the back of his knee. "Woman, your death will be long and painful." The rest of the League continued the offensive. The most effect in direct approach was Gypsy, responding to painful injury inflicted upon her crush Steel. "In his mind, he knows this isn't happening. It's a trick by the girl who calls herself Gypsy, as much an illusion as the chameleon effect by which she hides herself at will. But in his heart, he knows only panic as the Solar Corona sears his skin, worse than the Flame of Py'tar, eating him alive... and he screams!"

Through information passed from Batman, Martian Manhunter employed Vibe to attack the source of Despero's new might, the terrestrial Flame of Py'tar, while he ran defensive against stone demons. "Like some enormous candlewick struck by an errant breeze, the Flame of Py'tar...blows out. For Despero, he who named himself the Destroyer, the effect is instantaneous and dramatic. Without an outside power source to feed on, he consumes himself. The next half second is really quite spectacular. And when it's over, it's over."


The Sixth Book of Despero, the Reborn (July 1986)

An unidentified and undetected molten mass "hot enough to vaporize flesh and blood" struck Maine near the Canadian, "as if guided by some invisible force." It lay in its woodland berth until late the next day, "its one passenger waits... and broods... and dreams." A hunter and his dog wandered near, only to be grievously assaulted by forces physical, mental, and perhaps even spiritual. "Where... are... they? Answer, and I will let you die. Where... is... the Justice League? Fear and pain block your thoughts. I must know what is in your brain. I will take your mind." The hunter was shattered in every sense and absorbed into Despero. "So. I see. The League that helped banish me to the prison planet of Takron-Galtos... is no more. But there is a new League... led by an old enemy. Through them, I will find and destroy those who dared oppose my dream of conquest. And they shall be but the first to die..."

Soon, Despero caused an inferno to erupt where Gotham City once stood. Human beings were transformed into demonic shapes and persuasions. The city itself was reconfigured into a wretched vision. Batman would not stand for such an offense, if he had any choice in the matter. "Around him, the air is furnace-hot. The sky a tortured crimson. He ignores the heat, ignores too the pain of raining lava against his costumed flesh, and charges the vaguely humanoid figure at the heart of the madness. Laughing, forehead agleam with alien energy, the figure gestures... and the madness explodes." Despero's form distorted into a horror, then the Dark Knight was charged by a molten mammoth and collapsed.

"The Batman, isn't it? Yes, I thought so. I remember that this was your city. I saw it, once, in your mind. Have you summoned your friends? Yes, I see you have. Good. We'll await them, you and I, and I'll speak of the changes that have occured to me since last we met."

The Dark Knight struck Despero in the face, with Vixen following in the belly, forcing the despot into the blaze of his making. Batman collapsed from his injuries, while Vixen looked on as Despero emerged unscathed. "Pathetic humans... don't you yet understand? I survived the Flames of Py'tar... and in that sacred pyre, all that I was, stripped away. No longer am I flesh as you know flesh; I am energy and hate incarnate. What is molten rock to such as me? Non-organic... non-living... I AM A NEW BREED OF BEING. I AM DESPERO THE REBORN!

A flare of power exploded across the city. Hell had come to Earth, drawing the rest of the Justice League to Gotham. The Martian Manhunter, instrumental in Despero's last defeat, was at the fore, and recognized his handiwork.

"How perceptive. As always, Martian, you are a keen observer of the obvious. I owe you special consideration, for your part in my imprisonment. I shall save your destruction for last." The Manhunter's features sank to reveal his dispair in the face of this horror. From atop a cathedral, Batman and Vixen chained to his left and right, a declaration was made:


The Fifth Book of Despero, the Reborn (Justice League of America #251, June 1986)

Despero flew through space in a golden craft vaguely resembling a grasshopper, heading toward a massive amorphous blob of violet and green...

"Rage seethes inside him, as constant as a heartbeat. Since the agony of his transformation, he has had but one desire, one goal, one plan: He will destroy the Justice League. In pursuit of this end, Despero the Reborn will allow nothing to stand in his way.

The Torq grew to maturity a billion years ago, on a giant gas planet orbiting a star in the galactic core. For more than thirty million years, it has wandered this arm of the galaxy, thoughtful and at peace, a silent, wondering observer of the universe. The Torq is the very definition of innocent bystander. Even the warlike Psions would alter their course, rather than harm such a harmless creature."

Despero's craft erupted through the Torq, spray purple ectoplasm into the void.

"The thought never crosses the hunter's mind. A billion years of wonderment are snuffed out in an instant. He has places to go, things to do. People to kill. Nothing can stop him now."

Further on, Despero spied the former Justice League Satellite, still hovering 22,300 miles above Earth. As was said, nothing would stop Despero, as he plowed his spacecraft headlong into the vessel. "Where are you, my enemies? Show yourselves, that I may destroy you!"

"Beneath his booted feet, the skeletal satellite shifts and sways, knocked from its orbit by the impact of his starship. Already, he could feel it drifting Earthward... but what he sees about him makes all other considerations unimportant. They are not here. Their satellite headquarters is empty... a ruin... abandoned. The thought is a hot blade twisting in his skull. THEY... ARE... NOT... HERE!"


Despero vented his fury audibly and through energy beams emitted from his eyes.

"There is only one place where they could be. Under his feet, the satellite's movement is more pronounced now; and he feels the first whispers of atmosphere rushing past like a distant wind. Earth. They are below him... somewhere... on the Earth. Then that is where he will join them. Atmosphere shrieks about him; the heat of re-entry is incandescent, but no more incandescent than the raging fury in his heart. He survived the Flames of Py'tar, and came forth reborn; this too shall he survive. Nothing will stop him now. He is Despero. He is destiny."


Desperately Seeking Despero in June '08

Written by Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz
Art and cover by Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund

In order to correct the past and save the future, Booster Gold faces a startling reality - someone from his past must live and someone must die! Can the greatest hero the world has never known do what must be done to save all of time?
On sale June 11 o 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

The best-selling action figure line continues with its sixth set of figures, this time based on the popular story arc Enemies Among Us, illustrated by Ethan Van Sciver!

Each figure features multiple points of articulation and a base.
Clamshell 4/C blister card packaging.
Advance-solicited; on sale November 5, 2008 * Action Figures * PI

Figures included:
Batman o 6.75" h
Superman o 6.75" h
Green Lantern o 6.75" h
Despero o 7.25" h
Another reason why running the Flame of Py'tar last week would have been perfect was that Ron at the JLA Satellite blog could have been concurrently running a quasi-Third Book of Despero with his coverage of his two appearances in 1976. As this is a light post day, why not check his synopsis for Justice League of America #133 and Justice League of America #134?


The Second Book of Despero (Justice League of America #26, March 1964)

Just a few months later, Despero would attempt his revenge. "The last time that you saw me, Snapper, I was the defeated one, being taken by Jasonar back to my dimensional world for punishment... That ‘punishment’ took the form of a rehabilitation program during which my third eye-- the hypnotic one that gave me all my powers-- was surgically removed. I was a model citizen for a while. But what Jasonar-- and no one else knew-- was that my body possessed regenerative powers! Because of my high mental rating, I was assigned to a scientific research laboratory--where I "honestly" did a good day’s work---while my third eye kept developing..."

Despero had camouflaged his third eye to escape detection during this time. "It was simple to fake an explosion--after which the only trace of me ever found was my belt..." Despero then secretly made his way to Earth, where he caused several Justice Leaguers to age rapidly through radiation, while the rest he trapped in individual hourglasses. "I could never have captured any of you super-heroes without the use of the unusual energies you all possess!" Though he had chronal energy enough to set the dominoes falling with Snapper Carr, the energy he stole from the various heroes using their powers in turn provided the fuel for his traps.

The Leaguers confined under glass were further traumatized by having their bodies convert to sand. "Even now I have created three alternate earths of which reptilian life-- insect life-- marine life-- have evolved into the dominant life-forms! ...Though my Kalanor nature will not permit me to slay you, I’ve arranged for you to travel to these chronal worlds... but---on these worlds you will be even more helpless than you are on your own world---for you shall no longer have your super-powers! Though you have changed to chronosand, you still possess enough life-force to understand the completeness of my victory! Your failure will be as bitter ashes in your mouths for the rest of your futile lives!"

There should be some doubt about Despero’s "creation" of these worlds, not only because he lacked the power, but because three parallel Desperos sought to conquer these planets. One was defeated by Flash, another by Green Lantern (despite this Despero having stolen and wielded Jordan's power ring,) and a third by the Aquaman/Manhunter team (all aided by friendly natives, naturally.) On each earth, Despero had failed to reckon with the inhabitant’s ability to replicate the heroes’ former powers when in physical contact with them.

In a bid to salvage his scheme, Despero cast the illusion of himself as a withered Superman to imprison the Leaguers at the Sanctuary. Wonder Woman wasn’t convinced though, knowing Superman could only be affected by magic or kryptonite, not chronal energy. She bound him in her lasso, forcing the restoration of the League. Flash questioned, "Now the problem is--what do we do with Despero?"

“Four Worlds To Conquer!” was written by Gardner Fox and drawn by Mike Sekowsky with Bernard Sachs.


The First Book of Despero (Justice League of America #1, Nov.1960)

Blank-eyed heroes sat at their meeting room table, surrounding the standing chairperson of the proceedings. As their judge thumped a gavel, his decree was made. "Members of the Justice League of America, you are gathered here to deal with the menace of Despero! But I--Despero himself--am taking over! Since I have defeated you all, I now declare this meeting adjourned... forever!"

Their involvement began earlier, when Barry Allen’s car lost all power while travelling a lonely country road. The Flash made his way to a farmhouse, where he was surprised to spy a green-haired alien girl and her elderly father. She feared he was one of Despero’s hunters, but father explained, "No, Saranna! He’s an earth-being! I can read his thoughts!" Saranna enlisted Flash’s assistance by describing the circumstances of their presence on his planet.

"We come from a dimensional world called Kalanor! There a three-eyed tyrant called Despero--has seized control and made slaves of our people! Some days ago my father--Jasonar--and I fled from Kalanor in a dimensional traveler, hoping to find asylum on Earth where we could perfect an anti-weapon... Then Despero’s super-energy weapons would be useless---as was your four-wheeled vehicle---and our people will be able to overthrow the tyrant!" Jasonar continued, "Even now he’s searching for us! If he finds us, he’ll drag us back to Kalanor and our people will never be free!"

Flash sent a call out to the Justice League, but upon arriving was faced with the grim scene previously described. "Come in, Flash! I, Despero of Kalanor---have been expecting you! Don’t bother to look to your friends for help or information, Flash! Only I can release them from this trance, which is why you won’t dare attack me!" Despero kidnapped Saranna and then launched his surprise attack via teleport beam. "...My mystic mental powers overwhelmed all the members but you, Flash! You are still protected by that blue glow you absorbed," radiation from Jasonar’s lab. "Being a sportsman, I have decided to play a simple game with you! Win---and I will release your fellow JLA members and go back to Kalanor, freeing Saranna and giving up my pursuit of her father and his anti-weapon device!" Despero then described a game that bore a passing resemblance to poker and chess, with each Leaguer represented by a game piece. As explained, the odds were overwhelmingly in Flash's favor. "If you place your piece on a single disaster square, your fellow member will be teleported instantly into a dimensional world---from which I’ll make sure he can never return!"

Flash agreed to play, only to lose piece after piece to his shock and horror. With his entire team wiped out, Flash was led to a rocket ship to be sent off world, as the rads that protected him from Despero’s mind-control also prevented him from being teleported. One thing they didn’t guard against was sensory manipulation. "Flash didn’t realize my third eye was causing a change in the number of every card he chose---blanking out the right number and causing the disaster square number to appear!"

Despero continued his pursuit of Jasonar, but was distracted by Snapper Carr. "Rash youth! Do you think you can match mental powers with Despero?" The League mascot pretended to be effected by Despero’s telepathy, though actually protected through exposure to Jasonar’s equipment. "Now to punish you for defying me, Jasonar..." With his back turned, Despero didn’t catch Snapper reaching for Jasonar’s energy-absorbing machine, which was turned against his very person! "I saw how you worked this gizmo before! I’ll leave Despero just enough energy, like to barely stay alive..." An ignominious end to the inaugural appearance of what would become Martian Manhunter’s greatest foe. Moments after the League’s return to Earth, Jasonar departed for Kalanor to reunite with his daughter, the helpless Despero and his anti-energy weapon in tow.

“The World of No Return!” was written by Gardner Fox and drawn by Mike Sekowsky with Bernard Sachs.


Fourth Book of Despero, the Reborn: Justice League of America #250 (5/86)

On the planet Kalanor, atop a narrow spire leading to garbed aliens standing before an enormous pyre... "Hail, O Master... You have braved the cleansing, transforming Flame of Py'tar... and no longer are you the creature you were when you welcomed that all-consuming embrace. In form, in substance, you are reborn. What is your will, Walker In The Flame?"

"My will... is vengeance against mine enemies. My desire... is the destruction of the Justice League. And when I tread their bloody remains beneath my booted feet, I wish only one reward: let them whisper my name in horror...


Unaware on Earth, Gypsy dreamt of an idealized version of her suburban home life before running away, which turned into a nightmare pitting her against her teammates. Her Manhunter taunted, "We are your family! ... Now and evermore," prompting Gypsy to push him away, but instead caved in his chest. She awoke, encircled by former League members. Martian Manhunter was a passive lump for most of the issue, until talk of recalling veteran Leaguers to service came up. He approached the distant Batman, saying "Old friend, I've been told you left the League... unhappily. I cannot judge the right or wrong of that leaving. Nonetheless, today's events prove this is where you belong. You should lead the League, not I."