Superman: Our Worlds At War Secret Files & Origins #1 (8/01)

As part of the Superman Family’s never-ending battle to prove that the Man of Tomorrow is the most powerful and important being in creation this side of God Almighty, the Last Son of Krypton faced not just a transparent Galactus analogue, but an army of them. Instead of devouring one world at a time though, the forces of Imperiex made a years-long push to spread destruction and ultimate entropy through the universe. That’s really all the set-up you need for our comparatively brief review of Our Worlds At War, considering the 500+ page trade paperback blew off collecting numerous non-Superman Our Worlds At War specials and tie-ins that would have bumped the page count closer to 1,000.

Among the worlds and peoples destroyed by the OWAW onslaught were the citizens and planet of Kalanor, birthplace of Despero. A probable victim, after hearing one of many cries to flee, answered, "Flee to where? When Imperiex comes, there is no answer save death!" Next on the list for stakes-raising planets of Asparagus People* were Almerac and the Gordanian homeworld Karna (at least the second dispossession of surviving Thanagarians, to boot.) Whole worlds that joined in the defense against Imperiex included Daxam, Apokolips and Rann. As one might expect, Darkseid, his son Grayven, Maxima, Adam Strange and Starfire spearheaded the defensive, along with the unfortunately named Massacre and the unfortunately conceived Mongal.

*Since this is a DC blog, I’ll note this is a reference to the Dark Phoenix Sage from Uncanny X-Men. Marvel Zombies should not only get the joke, but assert that their proper name was the D’Bari, which was also a franchised Martian salad bar Pre-Crisis.


The Krill

Albon and Nordon were the self-proclaimed last survivors of an ancient alien race called the Krill. Their people having vanished eons prior, the pair were all that remained. Their long life bred incredible boredom, so they took to spying on others sentients from their vast alien space-station. Happening upon the Justice League of America and the despotic Despero, the Krill used their Spacial-Disruptor to emit a crystal light which teleported all parties into their mobile home. The Krill then encouraged Despero to battle the heroes in pairs, across various locations, and with weapons they provided. The Krill were ecstatic from the sensations these bouts instilled in them, and they intended to exploit their abductees indefinitely. However, Albon and Nordon were duped into fighting one another, allowing everyone else to escape.

The Krill stood several stories tall, and their space-station was filled with extraordinary devices. From their Space-Time Observation Point, they could use a gleaming crystalline device to view the past on their triangular-jewel video-screen. They provided Despero with a rifle that could solidify air, as well as a force field that could withstand blows from Supergirl. The Krill could seemingly teleport most anything at will, and could control the minds of others. Their present whereabouts are unknown.

The Krills' first and final appearance was in Justice League of America #134 (9/76.)


2005 Despero: Master of the Third Eye VS CCG Card

I never played the Upper Deck VS System collectible card games, so no lengthy explanations like I gave for Overpower. Instead, I'll note that the painted art is by Arthur Suydam, who included every JLA founder but Martian Manhunter here. Grr! It was released in November 2005 as part of the Justice League of America expansion.


Gigant #1 (Semic, 1979)

Gigant was a series of thick DC Comics reprint collections published several times a year and distributed throughout Europe. The choice of material was seemingly random, presumably whatever was seen as the most commercial prospects for various markets. Early on, their emphasis was on big guns like Superman and the JLofA, but by the end more obscure material reigned. This included Wein/Wrightson Swamp Thing, Vigilante, Camelot 3000, and most surprisingly, Jemm: Son of Saturn.

Most of the time, U.S. covers were just cropped or otherwise rejiggered for foreign release, but especially in the 1970s, new cover images were produced. Such is the case here, as Ernie Chan's cover for Justice League of America #134 was redrawn from a different perspective by an unknown artist. Presumably, the sellable figures on the original piece were too tiny, or the overall image too crowded. Elongated Man and Wonder Woman were excluded in the new image, while Superman and Batman's profiles were greatly expanded.

Both chapters of the third Despero story were reprinted, along with a Pasko/Grell Ray Palmer Atom back-up from Action Comics #442, the entirety of O'Neil/Adams' Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76, and a two page profile on Wonder Woman.

Oh, and in case you're curious, Despero translates as "Despero," so nothing gets lost in translation.


Justice League of America #134 (9/76)

Despero had defeated the real Superman and an imitation Justice League in the previous issue. The despot next left his just-conquered planet Sirkus with these captives along with him (in suspended animation) on the journey to invade Earth. It just so happened his spacecraft was on a collision course with a Thanagarian star-ship in search of Superman containing Supergirl, Batman, Wonder Woman, Elongated Man, the Atom and of course Hawkman. From a third vehicle, the voyeuristic aliens Albon and Nordon watched. These last surviving Krill chose to intercept both vessels for their own good, as well as for their personal enjoyment. As he was teleported away while at the controls of his ship, Despero exclaimed "By the many moons of Mandigor! A ray-- hitting me-- making me fade away!"

The six questing heroes were just as shocked to find themselves whisked off to a hall also containing one of the JLofA's oldest foes. Elongated Man wasn't around for Despero's first or second assaults on the team, but his nose could smell the stink of villainy, and launched an offensive! Despero thought, "Eh...? The other Justice Leaguers? And-- Wonder Woman? How could that amazon have escaped? She-- eh? Who is this foolhardy freak attacking me--?"

Despero greeted Elongated Man with his third eye: "No one assaults Despero! Mine is the power of the mind unleashed-- a power that can punish, by causing your malleable molecules to stretch out of control-- or a power which can destroy!" E-Man let out a "EEEYOW" before Supergirl could fly his mishandled frame to a safe distance from Despero's wrath. Batman asked, "Is Elongated Man okay, Supergirl?" She cradled his limp but normalizing frame while answering, "I think so, Batman!"

After his devastation of an ersatz Justice League that included a faux-Wonder Woman, Despero was more cocky that ever... even when the true Amazing Amazon lunged at him, wanting answers! "Your question is irrelevant, female! The Kryptonian is indeed my captive now-- just as you have been!" While the Amazon Princess displayed incredible gymnastic maneuvers to evade destructive blasts from his third eye, Despero began to question just who were those super-heroes on ice back on his spaceship. "Obviously, either she or you is the impostor! For the sake of my ego-- I prefer to believe the impostor is youuuuuhh!" Wonder Woman tumbled into Despero, sweeping his legs out from under him. Disoriented and under too much pressure to think straight, he chose to avoid an interrogation from the Dark Knight. "On the contrary, detective... now is the time-- for escape!" With that, Despero vanished in the blink of an eye.

The Kalinorian ran through the vast alien space-station of the surviving Krill. "There must be someone aboard here-- unless it's fully automated! If I can find that someone, I can control him with my third eye-- then force him to explain the purpose behind-- eh? Unless I'm greatly mistaken, this is some sort of weapons chamber-- and the object on that pedestal-- a weapon!"

Just then, Albon and Nordon materialized two super-heroes into the room. "Batman-- and Hawkman! No time to learn the details of this device-- only time-- to use it! How perfectly ingenious! This weapon solidifies air-- making it a gluey mud! Fight your way out of that, you over-rated clowns! Now, while you're both helpless-- I'll destroy you, as I destroyed your comrades on Sirkus! I've always hated you Justice Leaguers with a special passion-- and I'm particularly going to enjoy-- hmmm?! What in the name of sanity is happening to me--? I'm vanishing-- again?"

Such quick work had been made of the Caped Crusader and Winged Wonder, Albon and Nordon were disappointed. "Obviously, this Despero is too powerful to battle these heroes with our weapons." They remotely disabled Despero's gun, and sent him to a desert to face Wonder Woman and the Atom, who encouraged Diana to "Hit 'im-- and hit 'im hard!" The Krill were similarly enthused. "Yes, female-- yes! Strike the scaled man!-- Strike him hard! Never have I felt such-- such ecstasy, Nordon!" The Tiny Titan dealt his own damage-- dive-bombing Despero's hypnotic eye. However, a lasso-produced sandstorm made it clear the flailing Atom had not disabled the orb. "You forgot my power of mental control, Atom! Through my third eye, Wonder Woman is now my slave-- and so she shall remain-- till the Justice League is destroyed!"

Five of our heroes had fallen before the extraterrestrial tyrant. "It's just like your Terran nursery rhyme-- about 'Ten Little Indians'-- being picked off one by one! There's so much about your world I enjoy, Wonder Woman... Perhaps that's why I wish to conquer it! I've often wondered about my little obsession... this craving I have to own the planet Earth! I imagine it has something to do with my childhood... not that it matters! I think I'll teleport us back to the alien space-station now! One of the other abilities of my third eye: I can move myself through space at will! Believe me... it's quite convenient!"

"The would-be kingpin from Kalanor" arrived at an observation deck alone. "Eh? Where is Wonder Woman?" The interloping Krill had struck again, changing Despero's company to that of the Elongated Man. "I wouldn't know, Three-Eyes-- Suppose you tell us? This is one situation where I don't feel like playing detective! Ralph entangled the Kalanorian despot, while his partner Supergirl snared Despero's feet. All three were then transported to a whole other, icy environ as they tumbled. The heroes were disoriented, with Supergirl asking how this came to be. "I always used to love a mystery, Supergirl-- but not when the prisoner is escaping!"

The Maid of Might blew Despero to the ground. Fatigued, Despero refused to carry on, but the mysterious aliens somehow turned his mind toward pure blood lust against Supergirl. "I'm sorry... I'm sorry, but I can't go on! Whenever I turn around, something happens... something I don't understand! I can't possibly fight under these conditions, you see-- I-- I-- I-- I must FIGHT! --I must KILL!"
"Now what? Has Despero gone insane?"
"Trying to choke an invincible girl like you? He's gotta be crackers! Might as well knock the guy out of his misery! Huh? One of my best punches-- and he's still moving?"

"Fight! Must-- FIGHT!" Despero's suddenly superior strength tapped Elongated Man out with a left hook. Supergirl repeatedly batted the deranged despot away, only for him to shrug off her blows, rising again and again! "Great Krypton-- this is getting monotonous!" Supergirl finally spotted Albon and Nordon watching in the distance, which shouldn't have been much trouble, since they stood several stories tall. Supergirl determined the aliens were getting their jollies off the violent bouts, and offered, "A suggestion, Krill! If you want real excitement-- why don't you each choose sides?" Obviously not a good judge, seeing as Supergirl was comically holding back Despero's swinging fists with her palm to his brow, Nordon bet on the Kalinorian. "Don't be an idiot! Despero can't possibly lose-- not with the force-field we've given him!"

Well... "I've thrown Despero hard enough to put him into orbit!" Then... "I'm counting on a force-field, my alien friend! Nothing else could explain Despero's invulnerability! Unfortunately, not even the best" could withstand one of Supergirl's fiercest blows. However, either Nordon got so excited he forgot who he'd championed, or else scripter Gerry Conway did, since he proclaimed himself victorious. This provoked Albon to sock him in the kisser, and the last two Krill became enemies.

The Justice League escaped the Krill in Hawkman's ship, along with Superman, and a Despero bound by Elongated Man in tow. While all ended well enough, Supergirl felt guilty. "After all, we did introduce the last survivors of an ancient race to war!" Wonder Woman chimed, "And that's a curse I wouldn't even wish on Despero!"

"The Battle at the Edge of Forever!" was created by Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin & Frank McLaughlin. It seems like Gerry Conway wrote the first script, then a month later the second, based only on a vague recollection of the first. Issue #133 really only features one actual League member, and while it was interesting to watch Despero tear the fake batch apart, it was ultimately pointless. Then in #134, only a random sampling of League members from the first chapter appear, and the only elements of the previous chapter carried over in a significant way were Superman as a captive and the presence of Despero. Speaking of which, Despero's accomplishments were mostly due to the alien interlopers, whose story is wrapped in slapdash fashion, and by a non-Leaguer to boot! A bit of a mess, this one was. Dick Dillin & Frank McLaughlin are better on the art front, though their hearts always seemed to belong more to the look of newspaper romance comics than sci-fi super shenanigans.



Sirkus is a planet "some 400 light-years away" from Earth which orbited a vast blue star. While its inhabitants include Flamebirds and Eel-Creatures, the term "Sirkian" has been specifically applied to an all-female terran race. These Sirkians were fairly tall, very lean, had only one centered eye, and no mouth. They communicated through telepathy, and often invoked the hallowed name of Cormak. According to a Sirkian leader, "It's been so long since we've had a war on Sirkus, we have no skill in fighting!"

Superman was unwittingly drawn to Sirkus to defend these people from the diabolical Despero, alongside an ersatz Justice League. Despero sought the surrender of their Cosmic Cannon, and threatened to destroy the world if he had to take it by force. Located ten miles south of the capital, Mushroom City, the Cosmic Cannon rested inside a conical tower within a tropical swamp. Although Despero was kept from acquiring the Cosmic Cannon at first, after the defeat of Sirkus' borrowed champions it is assumed it came into his possession. Though Despero promised and Sirkus' people feared an ultimate sanction, the despot's last word on the world's fate was his intention to enslave them. However, Despero soon departed Sirkus in a ship also containing Superman and the Sirkian Justice League. Presumably, the Sirkians were returned to their home after Despero was defeated by the actual League.

Sirkus' only appearance to date was in Justice League of America #133 (8/76).


Director Ergon & Governor Kwim

Director Ergon was a scientist and strategist from the planet Sirkus. She employed a Travel-Beam consisting of ethereal energy that could draw a single being toward it at a speeds several multiples greater than light. When Sirkus found itself under siege by Despero, a Travel-Beam was sent to retrieve Superman. Since the Travel-Beam could only transport one being at a time, Ergon was unable to call the entire Justice League of America. Instead, she devised "The Scenario," in which she outfitted members of her single-gender race with gadgets and disguises to appear as though they were the JLA, complete with simulated powers. However, the plan failed, as "My women are actresses, not heroes. Most of them are confused-- playing the unfamiliar roles of men-- men with super-powers!"

Like Director Ergon, Governor Kwim operated out of the Mushroom City. Though possessed of official power over Ergon, Kwim was unaware of "The Scenario" until after it went into effect, and highly critical of it from that point onward. "Excuses! Don't you realize what will happen if Despero captures the Cosmic Cannon? He could use it to reduce our world to a cinder! I'm sorry, Ergon-- but since your plan failed, we must turn to mine! We must use the Cosmic Cannon-- and burn Despero out of the sky!" However, a blast intended for Despero's Super-Ship instead struck Superman, though the aggressor's craft was downed by an imitation Wonder Woman. Ultimately, Kwim came to the conclusion that the fault in "The Scenario" was not the "actress-heroes," whose courage overcame their lack of real powers, but in its misleading Superman...

"We created our substitute JLA because we feared Superman would be too upset about his missing friends to help us! But our impostors can't battle like the originals-- and so they're being smashed! --and it's thoroughly demoralizing the Man of Steel!" The Kryptonian was felled by Despero, who stated his intention to enslave Sirkus.

When last seen, a despondent Governor Kwim moaned, "We've failed... and now we're doomed!" Director Ergon was more hopeful. "Not yet, Governor! There's still a chance... a slim chance... if only we can reach the real Justice League...! Cormak help us-- to reach them-- in time!"

First and final appearance of both was in Justice League of America #133 (8/76)


Justice League of America #133 (8/76)

"The deadliest foe of the... Justice League of America... is back... and he's more dangerous than ever! His name's Despero, and on a world hundreds of light-years from our own, he's managed to defeat and destroy the JLA!"

22,300 miles above the Earth, in the JLA Satellite, were the concerned heroes Aquaman, Elongated Man, Green Arrow, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Flash, Wonder Woman, Black Canary, the Atom and Hawkman. Joining them was Supergirl, who fretted over her missing cousin...

Superman was "some 400 light-years away, above the planet Sirkus," which he had been drawn to defend by Director Ergon & Governor Kwim. Before the Sirkians could revive the Man of Steel, they were attacked by Flamebirds at the order of Despero. However, Ergon had outfitted members of her species as imitation members of the Justice League of America, who turned back the Flamebirds at the cost of their Flash. An "understudy" stepped in as a new Scarlet Speedster almost immediately. The Man of Steel was then duped by Ergon and Kwim into believing these were his teammates, all of whom having been summoned to combat Despero's forces.

"Attention, Sirkians... This is your new master, mercifully providing you with one last ultimatum! Surrender your Cosmic Cannon to me at once-- or suffer total destruction when I take it by force! This demand is non-negotiable!"

"Despero-- possibly the most dangerous would-be conqueror in the universe-- who began his galaxy-spanning career on his home world of Kalanor!"

Launching an attack meant to seize the Cosmic Cannon, Despero piloted his Super-Ship and thought, "The fools have refused my command-- as I expected! Because of their impudence, they must die-- DIE!" Despero was surprised by "Superman-- and the Justice League!? What in the name of Kalanor's second sun!?" The Man of Tomorrow responded "It must be kismet, Despero-- but we always seem drawn together somehow! You try to take over a world-- and we always stop you!"

"Not this time, Kryptonian! This time-- I stop YOU!"

While his Super-Ship fended off Superman, Despero's mental powers grounded a faux Green Lantern Hal Jordan. "Hah! In the years since we last fought, I've developed the power of my Third Eye-- increasing it to undreamed of levels! You're doomed-- all of you!"

While Superman was taken out of the battle by a misfired Cosmic Cannon, Despero's paralyzing hypnotic blast rendered all the soldiers responsible for the cannon unconscious. The phony Wonder Woman and replacement Flash managed to breach the Super-Ship, but the latter soon veered out of control and through an open window. "Is there no end to your suicidal courage? Haven't you a single ounce of self-preservation? ...The mighty Flash--skidding like a sports-car out of control!"

The Sirkian actress playing Wonder Woman blamed Despero for Flash's plight, and swore he'd pay. "Such violent threats from a peace-loving woman? Your behavior is odd, Amazon! Come to think of it, so is the behavior of your fellow-Leaguers!" As he pinned the "princess" down, Despero continued, "Tell me-- when did the Flash gain the ability to fly? And why is the great Wonder Woman suddenly so--weak?"

While pondering this distraction, Despero's Super-Ship crash landed, and only the despot rose from the wreckage. "Something's wrong here... some kind of trickery...! It may be my Kalanorian intuition, but I've the strange notion I'm not fighting the real Justice League!" Just then, Flash recovered, only to belly-flop after a "shattering hypnotic blast!" The true Superman followed, disbelieving that he'd just seen the fastest man alive taken like a rookie. "You'd better believe it, Superman! He isn't the first Leaguer I've crushed-- and he won't be the last!" Despero then burrowed to freedom into the earth, thanks to an unseen "device."

An hour later, "Wonder Woman" was in the hospital, and the Last Son of Krypton was on to Director Ergon's ruse. "When Despero first attacked us, we probed his mind telepathically-- and learned how much he hated you... and how much he feared you! That's why we brought you here! The battle against our planet is merely practice for him-- before he tackles your world, the Earth!" Superman swore to hold the line at Sirkus, just as Despero launched an attack via jetboat while commanding Eel-Creatures! "It's Despero again-- and this time he means business!"

The ersatz Emerald Gladiator was first to engage Despero. "Arrogant whelp! Do you think to defeat me with an emerald laser beam? You'll pay for your stupidity-- with your life!" The Strange Visitor from Another World was aghast as he watched Despero kill "Green Lantern" with his mind. "That's how I deal with inferiors, Superman! And while you're catching your dear-departed-comrade-- I'll turn my attention to your other friend-- Aquaman!" The Sea King was next to die!

Filled with a "sudden white-hot rage," Kal-El charged in without thinking. "Superman forgets the nature of my mental power-- how I can hypnotize instantly, as well as destroy! I have to time this carefully-- and strike-- NOW!"

"Mind-stunning mental energy hits the raging Superman-- and in an instant, turns his rage against him-- with the force of a solar explosion!"

"Justice League-- or pathetic impostors-- I've destroyed you! And with your destruction-- I'm free to enslave this world!"

"Missing--One Man of Steel!" by Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin & Frank McLaughlin.


Despero Custom Valentine Card

For those in search of that most elusive of Valentine's Day sentiments...


For your love, I am DESPERO!

My bishop will take your queen, placing you in check!

Your people will succumb to my HYPNOTIC POWERS!

Your resistance will crumble at the sight of my THIRD EYE!