On August 25, 1960, the first issue of Justice League of America shipped, introducing the world to the three eyed despot of an other-dimensional world, Despero! The villain only appeared once more in the 1960s, and twice again in the 1970s, always locked in combat with the League.
Despero started the '80s by kidnapping Martian Manhunter and running another losing gambit against his least favorite super-team. Blinded by hate and frustration, Despero turned both murderous and borderline suicidal, entering the Flame of Py'tar to be reborn. With massively enhanced powers and radically altered appearance, Despero took on the weakest and least respected incarnation of the League, and still managed to lose.
By 1990, Despero was a rampaging beast whose only reason for living was to kill super-heroes, and the fans liked it. In fact, DC briefly managed to turn Despero into an anti-hero under the control of artificial intelligence, but by the end of the decade, he was merely a disembodied spirit. That didn't stop Despero from being a pain in the neck for huge swaths of the DC Universe though, and most recently, the villain has been seen ruling his home planet of Kalanor and working with outer space agents to maintain the peace.
From object of ridicule to one of the best known DC villains, featured on cartoons and in toy lines, Despero has come a long way in half a century. While I plan to make this year's "December of Despero" the best yet, I felt the Idol-Head needed to belatedly observe the birthday of one of the greatest Martian Manhunter foes of all time this weekend. Presented here are two means of celebration:
When I created Martian Manhunter: The Rock of the JLA through my WebTV account, I had very limited resources. There was only a few megabits of storage space available, I didn't have an actual computer to produce scans, and I could only post a few pages to any given site address before I couldn't load the page myself. To deal with this, I built multiple connected sites, which existed at a variety of home pages. Despero's page had an off white background with a bunch of computer rendered floating eyeballs, a background shared by the original Vile Menagerie.
I was still figuring out what I was doing while I was drafting my initial posts on this blog, and at first I tried to organize my posts as I had done my WebTV material. Justice League Detroit was created as a storehouse for Martian Manhunter posts from the mid-80s, and only became a blog of its own as an afterthought. I did the same thing with another "secret" blog that's been around almost as long, The Flame of Py'tar: A Blog for Despero the Destroyer! The blog was intentionally garish and amateurish, intended to mirror the original look of The Idol-Head. To show how dated it is, there is a banner at the bottom of the page promoting Michael Netzer's crusade to save Martian Manhunter from death in Final Crisis, and a parody version advocating his murder that I'm not sure was ever used here. Anyway, that blog never quite came together, but I never had the heart to delete it either. I just updated it with every relevant Despero article from this blog, so if you'd like to easily page through everything we've done so far, check it out.
Alternately, here's a selection of what I feel are the best posts we've done about Despero in the last three years (almost to the day, actually,) and I'll try to add a few more in the next few days...
- 2009 Michael Netzer "December of Despero" Pin-Up
- Enemies of Despero: Jasonar
- 2007 Silver Age Despero Sketch by Chris Samnee
- 2009 Despero Custom Valentine Card
- The Top 10 Despero Covers
- The First Book of Despero
- The Second Book of Despero
- Manhunter from Mars #125 (February 1973)
- Justice League of America #133 (8/76)
- Justice League of America #134 (9/76)
- Manhunter from Mars #175 (February, 1979)
- The Fifth Book of Despero, the Reborn (Justice League of America #251, June 1986)
- The Sixth Book of Despero, the Reborn (July, 1986)
- The Seventh and Final Book of Despero, the Reborn (8-9/86)