Darkseid's Recurring 'Couch Gag' Only Makes Him More Terrifying

The New God Darkseid is one of DC Comics' most powerful and dangerous villains; the ruler of the hellish world of Apokolips and the embodiment of tyranny itself, set on enslaving the entire universe. Despite that, Darkseid is sometimes portrayed in unlikely situations, and multiple stories have featured him surprising people who arrive home to find him sitting on their couch. This running joke started with Darkseid's creator, Jack Kirby, who in New Gods #2 portrayed Darkseid waiting in his rebellious son Orion's apartment, sitting in his chair. Future stories and fan artists emphasized the juxtaposition of the god of evil and such a domestic setting, but while this image is often treated as a gag, it actually has serious implications that make Darkseid even scarier.

Created by the legendary Jack Kirby along with the rest of the New Gods of the Fourth World, Darkseid quickly grew to become the major villain of the DC universe. The denizens of Apokolips and New Genesis have evolved towards godhood due to their proximity to the Source, the great energy of creation from which all life is born. Darkseid, however, is obsessed with the Source's dark opposite, the Anti-Life Equation, a transcendental mathematical formula that allows him to dominate the will of every sentient being in the universe. This is the main difference between the ruler of Apokolips and other villains: his purpose is not destruction, or death (as in the case of his Marvel equivalent, Thanos), but enslavement in its purest form. Darkseid loathes free will and wants to extend his control over all of creation.

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Like all the New Gods, Darkseid is a conceptual being that exists outside the physical universe. Even if he has been called the "god of evil," what Darkseid actually embodies is tyranny, control, and ultimate egotism, and this is why the couch gag is scarier than it looks. Surely, finding a dangerous and near-omnipotent villain waiting on your couch is frightening, as it relates to the "home invasion" horror tropes: people usually believe their domestic environment to be a safe place, so seeing it violated provokes an instinctive response of revulsion. This has been used in comics to great effect in the past, for example in Alan Moore's famous The Killing Joke sequence in which the Joker shows up at Barbara Gordon's door. However, the presence of Darkseid in the domestic space does not represent a physical threat, as would be for the Joker, but rather is a metaphor for his presence in every mind and life.

Darkseid is the physical embodiment of concepts that already exist in every life: self-interest, the drive to overcome others, the abuse that the powerful perpetrate against the powerless. People experience this every day, from a tyrannical boss at work to hearing the latest news about tragedies going on around the world. It's human nature to pretend these things do not exist, especially in the warm comfort of the home, and that's where the presence of Darkseid acts as a shocking reminder. He isn't just waiting; he was always there. He is everything that is wrong with the world, and now that he's made his presence known, there is no more escaping and no more pretending.

Tom King's Mister Miracle subverted the Darkseid couch gag, by showing Scott Free playing with his child on the sofa while Darkseid is sitting on the other end. The great weight of evil in the world is still there in some form, but the other aspects of his life don't need to be subordinate to that fact. What is often seen as a running joke, showing Darkseid, one of DC Comics' scariest villains, nonchalantly sitting on a couch, is actually a powerful and scary metaphor of all the things people don't want to look at but which can still influence their lives.

Next: Darkseid's Version of Kryptonite Is Even Deadlier Than Superman's

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