Despero

Introduction

Cryptic Crossword Clue: The Justice League number one villain adopting an off-red pose. (7)

When it came time to give the Justice League their own comic book, there was only one villain up to the task of taking them on. Sadly, Darkseid hadn’t been invented yet, and would have to wait for the New 52 reboot. So instead they went with Despero.

Despero in the Comics

Justice League of America – Issue 1

Flash with classic GL Sacrifice opening gambit
Flash with classic GL Sacrifice opening gambit

What kids in the Silver Age of comics loved most of all was seeing their favourite superheroes play chess against goofy red villains. So that’s what Gardner Fox delivered in the very first issue of the Justice League’s own book. The Flash – long renowned as the Scarlet Fischer – must play Despero in chess to save his team-mates from the interdimensional peril in which the villainous alien has placed them.

Some of the rules are kinda flakey, but needless to say, Garry Flashparov eventually gets the job done and the Justice League defeat Despero.

Availability: This story can be found in the Justice League Omnibus, Volume 1 from Amazon.com

Justice League of America – Issues 133 and 134

Despero has to fight the JLA again after Sirkus people poke their nose in his business
Despero has to fight the JLA again after Sirkus people poke their nose in his business

Despero returned in issue 133. Unlike most damn fool villains, he had the good sense to not take on the Justice League again, instead attacking the planet of Sirkus (named after Andy Serkis). Unluckily for Despero, however, the leader of the Sirkus people (the ringmaster, presumably), kidnaps Superman and teams him up with some actors disguised as the rest of the Justice League. This obviously doesn’t work at all, and Despero wins.

So it’s a darn good thing that Supergirl shows up with the proper Justice League in the next issue to sort it all out.

Availability: Not available in a collection.

Justice League of America – Issues 177 and 178

Despero's back. And this time he's about against J'onn, who's always been more of a backgammon man
Despero’s back. And this time he’s about against J’onn, who’s always been more of a backgammon man

When Despero next returns, he’s back to his chess playing ways. This time against Martian Manhunter. How do the rest of the Justice League find out about this information? When people they’re fighting and/or assisting suddenly start turning into giant chess pieces. Yeah, J’onn. Thanks for the heads up.

Except, it turns out, J’onn has given them a heads up, but secretly locked away in the computer memory banks, deep inside Firestorm’s porn folder. So with that information, the other JLA members save the day yet again.

Availability: Not available in a collection.

Justice League of America – Issues 251 to 254

Despero vs the might of Justice League Detroit
Despero vs the might of Justice League Detroit

After a few previous issues of subplot nonsense where he escaped from Takron-Galtos, revisited Kalanor and levelled up bit time, Despero returns to fight the Justice League in issue 251. He’s pretty annoyed that he’s not fighting the proper Justice League and has to instead settle for the Justice League Detroit nobodies. Testify, Despero!

It turns out that part of Despero’s level-up allows him to will whatever he wants into existence. Handy. Which, of course makes it ultimately all the more disappointing when he’s defeated by Vibe, for Heaven’s sake.

Availability: Not available in a collection.

Justice League America – Issues 38 to 40

Despero's notoriously terrible sense of humour brings him undone
Despero’s notoriously terrible sense of humour brings him undone

Despero returns in the ‘Bwa-ha-ha’ era of the Justice League and gets right into the spirit of things by killing the comatose Steel. His attempt to follow this hilarious murder up with a comical slaughter of Gypsy and her family ends when J’onn shows up for some fisticuffs. Needless to say, the whole fight escalates, with Despero butchering everybody he can get his hands on.

Despero, dude. I remember when you were just a chess-playing red alien. You’ve changed, man.

Availability: Not available in a collection.

Justice League America – Issues 57 and 58 and Justice League Europe 33 and 34

Despero's back. Again.
Despero’s back. Again.

Despero stubbornly returns yet again. Dude doesn’t know when to give up. At least this time he fits more into the vibe of the book, what with the Bwa-Ha-Ha team going through their Breakdowns arc where everything that could possibly go wrong does so.

Example: Lobo also shows up to fight Despero. Who among us needed that?

Ultimately, at the end of the Breakdowns story, Despero finds himself trapped inside L-Ron’s body.

Availability: Not available in a collection.

JLA – Issues 115 to 119

Despero back to working behind the scenes. Good move, Despero
Despero back to working behind the scenes. Good move, Despero

Despero shows up one last time to get some of that sweet, sweet pre-Infinite Crisis action. He gets himself all muddled up in the Crisis of Conscience storyline as the JLA members are coming to terms with Zatanna’s mind-wipe. He has a fight with Martian Manhunter for old times’ sake. In the process, he reveals that he’s responsible for restoring the memories of the Secret Society of Super-Villains.

Despero starts mind-controlling the criminy out of all the Justice League heroes until finally Zatanna has had enough and puts him in his place. Don’t make Z mad, Despero.

Availability: Available as part of JLA Crisis of Conscience, in Trade Paperback or Kindle from Amazon.com