Justice League of America #254 (9/86)

Despero: "...you've underestimated the sheer hatred I feel for you and your companions in the Justice League. Allow me to make myself clear."

Batman: "He is the Batman, the Darknight Detective, legend among legends, leader of the new Justice League of America. Not for the first time in his life, but perhaps for the last, he wonders what it will feel like to die." Standing before Despero as he bathed in the Flame of Py'tar, the Caped Crusader thought, "He's growing. No doubt about it... that flame... feeding his alien metabolism at an astonishing rate. Must be at least nine feet tall-- and he's coming out. This is it. All the places I've been, all the things I've done... it all comes down to this moment. Face-to-face with an alien being... in a battle I can't hope to win. No problem. I've been facing the same lousy odds all my life." The Batman proved a minor distraction, and was easily recaptured. However, he still claimed a victory of sorts. "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 lo--AAAHHH!" The Batman was eventually freed and rejoined the battle.

Vixen: Revived her teammates and explained the gameplan. "The Flame's a nuclear plasma. Whatever enters it is either destroyed... or reborn... Now he's got the power to manipulate matter... like Firestorm, I guess, but on a greater scale. He's even created a duplicate of the Py'tar Flame to recharge himself with... like Green Lantern's power battery. He calls himself a god." Well, he was a god laid low when Mari rammed into the back of his knee with the force of a buffalo. "Woman, your death will be long and painful." Freed the Batman and joined him in fighting hoards of stone demons.

Elongated Man: Caught Vixen and Batman before they could be injured in a fall. Encircled by stone monstrosities of Despero's creation, followed his leader's order to "Fight like hell!" Not so much the order to target the flame, as Vixen stated they needed a bigger distraction, and Ralph chided, "If we win this one, Bats, you can slap our wrists. And if we don't win-- it won't much matter, will it?" Carried out the wounded Steel in the aftermath.

Steel: Hit the hardest by Despero's earthquake, Hank had to be helped to his feet by J'Onn J'Onzz and Gypsy, and propped up from then on. However, when Vibe belittled himself and the team in the event of a renewed assault, Steel, through clenched teeth and in obvious pain, set him straight. "Hey Vibe... if that's what you think you are, then that's all you'll ever be. Maybe we're not the best League that ever was... but we're here... and we've got a job to do. So let's do it." Steel got in one good punch to the base of Despero's spine, but nearly fell over after and had to be rescued by Gypsy. Was struck by a jet of magma and had his back scalded. Carried out by J'Onn and Ralph.

Gypsy: Stuck by Steel, even when he asked her to save herself. Used her chameleon powers to conceal them from demons and Despero. Became enraged when Despero burnt Steel. "Hiding isn't the only trick I know, you scaly-skinned-son-of-a-- CHEW ON THIS!" Despero knows he isn't being flung into a solar corona, but he can't fend off the illusory sensation that "sears his skin, worse than the Flame of Py'tar, eating him alive... and he screams!"

Martian Manhunter: The first to rise at Vixen beckoning. Saw the wisdom in Batman's plan. "Now, while Despero is occupied fending off the others, we strike... Martians weaken in the presence of fire, but I do not intend to approach the Flame of Py'tar, Vibe. Despero will have set defences to protect the flame... I will deal with them, while you deal with the flame. Your shockwave power may be the one force we have strong enough to disrupt the flame. If anything can."

Vibe: Wanted his team to bug out of Gotham and let the Navy bomb the city flat. "Look around you, man... look at us! I know what people been saying... I've got ears. We're a joke... What've we got here? A Chicano from Detroit, a big green bald guy, a human rubber band, a no-name teenage girl who can make herself disappear-- some trick-- an ex-fashion model, and a redheaded tin woodsman. Where're the power players, man? We're strictly second string! We can't do it. Despero wiped the rug with us once already. Next time, he'll kill us. Losers, that's all we are." His team refused to quit though, and he damned himself for joining them. Under the Manhunter's direction, Vibe waited for the opportune moment to strike at the flame, but had his own demons to fend off until the Batman gave him the order. Like a candle being blown out, the flame was no more, and without the outside power source Despero's body "consumes himself" into seeming nothingness.

"Finally-- it is over."
"Thanks to Vibe."
"Guess I'm not such a loser after all, huh, Bats?"
"You never were, in my book."

The Creators: Luke McDonnell clearly relished drawing the Batman, and everyone kept busy, even if the ending was slightly anticlimactic.

J’Onn J’Onzz’s Nicknames of the Issue: "Big Green" -Vibe
"J'Onn" -Vixen
Most Embarrassing Vibe Quote of the Issue: "Aw-right. Does this mean we're buddies? Like, can we double date?"


Justice League of America #253 (8/86)

Martian Manhunter: "For him the nearby flames are more than a source of heat and smoky light; they are a threat as deadly to the Martian as hard radiation to an Earthman; but J'Onn J'Onzz forgets the fire, concerned instead with the threat to his comrades that looms before him."

Despero: "How gratifying to be remembered, J'Onn J'Onzz... especially by you. I hoped you'd come when you heard of my attack on Gotham City, and my capture of your leader, the Batman. As you see, I stand before you transformed. No longer am I the Despero you humiliated and imprisoned..." Origin told for the first time.

Elongated Man: Turned his body into a slingshot.

Steel: The most proactive member in the face of this horror. When Despero created a Winged Lorka of Kalanor (essentially a fire-breathing dragon) out of a skyscraper, Steel shoved a metal sign into its mouth. Next, he joined J'Onn J'Onzz and Ralph Dibney in launching a boulder through the dragon. The beast exploded into fragments, causing Despero tremendous pain through psychic feedback. In response, Despero ripped the Gotham street our heroes trod upon with a fiery explosion.

Vibe: Fretted and failed to make any lasting impact beyond briefly holding back the winged Loka.

Gypsy: Used her illusion powers to cause the Loka to believe it was underwater, buying her teammates the time to destroy it.

Batman: Taunted Despero to learn his origins and plans. "Despero needs the Flame of Py'tar to continuously re-create himself, Vixen. He told us as much himself. Without the flame, he no longer exists... If we can destroy the flame, here in this re-created temple... there's a... slim possibility... we might also destroy Despero." Freed himself and Mari.

Vixen: Spent most of the issue in bondage, but any negative karma was balanced out by having the Batman as her co-captive. In spite of herself, shivered as Despero rained havok on her team. Sent by Batman to explain the plan to their team while he remained to distract Despero. "New as I am to this, I probably wouldn't last ten seconds, and he knows it. Damn." Shocked to find her Detroit League lying deathly still in a roadside mound.

Zatanna: No time for subplots...

Sue Dibney: ...or supporting characters.

The Creators: Still bringing the game and career highs.

J’Onn J’Onzz’s Nicknames of the Issue: "Big Green" -Steel

Most Embarrassing Vibe Quote of the Issue: "Gyp, you crazy? Haul your bottom outta here!"


Justice League of America #252 (7/86)

Vixen: Went on a date in Gotham in her civilian identity with Bruce Wayne, who surprisingly made no off-hand comments about wearing a latex mask to impersonate Wayne, or somesuch nonsense. A groundswell explosion shooting continuous flame hundreds of feet into the air broke up the intimacy. Investigating, Vixen was nearly killed by a flame directed by Despero, until she called on the Tantu Totem to fly to safety.

Batman: Dated Mari McCabe, to whom he revealed, "I've had lovers, but sooner or later, he always comes between us... The Batman." Despite his protests, Vixen detected the eagerness in him when trouble struck. "A wolf scenting its prey.. He was right. The Batman is real... Bruce Wayne... just a shadow." Evaded Despero's initial salvo with his usual skill, hoping things would go better for himself and Mari next time. Despero responded, "Ignorant fool, there will be no next time... not for you, or your world!

Martian Manhunter: Outside Metropolis, at the Secret Sanctuary, the Martian Marvel gathered alongside the other Leaguers, fearing this was no meer test. "The League teleport link to Gotham City is dead, and our computer reports all communication lines to the city have been cut." The League arrived via helicopter, hovering near the wall of flame now surrounding Gotham. Humans transformed by unknown power into the visage of demons ran the streets. "...indeed, Zatanna is sorely missed. Nonetheless... my Martian Vision reveals an intense vibratory field preventing passage." Had Vibe use his powers against the force, but deduced "...it was too easy. We are expected."

Despero: "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 Creators: Luke McDonnell and Bill Wray draw explosions and infernal things really well, and Gene D'Angelo colored the lava but good.


Despero in JLA/Avengers

The original Despero was part of a villain team (with the Construct and Amazo) that overwhelmed Thor. He was himself defeated by the L-Ron/Despero that stood with the Justice League Task Force. The heroic Despero was also among the Justice League of America membership masses that appeared on the cover of #3.