Despero is a fictional character, a supervillain in comic books published by DC Comics. Created by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky, he first appeared in Justice League of America #1 (October 1960).

Publication history

In his early appearances, he appeared of normal build. His current bulked-up look is a result of having bathed in the Flame of Py'tar, a power-giving flame from his native planet Kalanor, which he enslaved and conquered with his psychic abilities. In his first appearance the Justice League liberated the planet from his rule, and he has sworn vengeance ever since.

Fictional character biography

Despero has gone through virtually as many transformations as the League itself. Initially conceived as a physically weak, mind-controlling tyrant with a penchant for playing chess for the fates of his enemies, he was later redesigned to be a physical powerhouse fueled by his burning, all-consuming hatred of the Justice League.


His most famous battle against the Justice League came in Justice League America #38-42, which established the character as being driven by his utter and all-burning hatred for the Justice League, to the point that his hatred allowed for him to survive death and regenerate his body through sheer willpower. He attacked the Justice League as he had known it (previous incarnation - "Justice League Detroit" ) and then sought them out, eventually battling at the United Nations building (New York); he even donned the United Nations flag as a cape during the battle. The battle ended only through Martian Manhunter employing a one-time, never before seen application of his telepathy to trick Despero into thinking he had successfully killed not only the Justice League, but all life on Earth, causing him to let go of his hatred and regressing to the form of a fetus. The fetus Despero was then given to Manga Khan in exchange for his robotic man-servant L-Ron.


During the "Breakdowns" story (which ran through Justice League America/Justice League Europe titles), Despero was aged back into adulthood and escaped back to Earth to continue his vendetta against the JLA. Despero attacked both the American and European Justice League teams and the murderous bounty-hunter Lobo (who had been hired to retrieve Despero for Khan) in Times Square, New York. Despero could only be stopped once again through desperate means; the robot L-Ron used the slave collar Despero wore to switch bodies with Despero, gaining his monstrous form while trapping him into L-Ron's powerful, if small, robotic form. Attacking the Justice League, Despero was defeated by an unlikely source, a duck hunter who shot him by mistake, destroying his robot body in the process. L-Ron then went into outer space with his new body before returning to Earth and joining the Justice League Task Force.

Although he was seemingly killed when L-Ron's body was destroyed, his mind somehow ended up returning to his body, where it was shown to be battling L-Ron for control of his original body. L-Ron succeeded in casting him out after Despero briefly regained control over his body, at which point he once again became a "free floating evil essence", able to possess innocent people. In this state, he confronted Young Justice, currently attempting to prove their maturity by tackling a crisis on their own; he initially sought to possess Superboy, seeing him as the most powerful host available- Robin was merely mortal and he could barely comprehend Impulse's chaotic mind-, but eventually managed to take control of the Martian Manhunter, who had been watching the fight in case the teens required assistance. Using J'onn's primal fear of fire, they drove Despero out of his body, and he was subsequently banished to another dimension by Secret, although he apparently escaped.

During JLA/JSA: Virtue and Vice, he had joined forces with Johnny Sorrow in a plan to destroy the League and the Justice Society. He possessed President Lex Luthor, but was cast out of the President by Johnny Sorrow's own gaze and apparently returned to corporeal form. Despero defeats several teams of JSA/JLA and takes on Superman, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, Manhunter, Power Girl, and Hourman at the same time, allowing the next wave of Green Lanterns Kyle Rayner and Alan Scott, Firestorm, Captain Atom, and Zatanna to attack using their full powers right after the psychical attack. Despero withstood all of that and more before eventually falling to the stare of Johnny Sorrow.

Years later, in the wake of Identity Crisis, the JLA was attacked by a reformed Secret Society of Super Villains that once again knew the heroes' alter-egos. The Martian Manhunter discovered Despero was responsible for the restoration of the Society's memory. After a telepathic battle with both Martian Manhunter and Aquaman, Despero takes control of them as well as Batman, but not before Catwoman can summon the Justice League.

In the ensuing battle, Despero mentally takes control of the Green Arrow, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), and the Black Canary. After Despero nearly takes control of Superman, Red Tornado arrives and saves Superman. As Despero moves to attack Tornado with the members of the League he has taken control of, Zatanna arrives and stops him. After he was defeated, Despero was taken by Hal Jordan into Oa's custody.


He would come back from Oa however, in Superman/Batman, in order to bring with him a race of aliens that only took planets from those they deemed unworthy. He ended up turning almost all of Earth's alien heroes against Earth, and Superman, due to his power, was ready to kill Batman. In the end, Earth was saved when Superman, broken free of Despero's power, convinced the aliens that not all humans are horrible, and Batman confirmed it, by not blowing up their ship. It is currently unknown what was done with Despero after the fight.

A version of Despero resembling the character's original appearance appears in Justice League of America vol. 2 #9. He is shown in Metropolis at some point in the future, conspiring with Per Degaton and the Ultra-Humanite. The trio returns in the 2007 Booster Gold series, members of "The Time Stealers", a time travelling conspiracy to alter the past of the current DCU.

On the cover of Justice League of America #13 (Vol.2), it shows Despero as a member of the new Injustice League, though this was not corroborated by the story.

He next appears in Trinity #4, in a premonitionary dream by the mystic Tarot. Morgaine Le Fey and Enigma have made plans to convince him to join them.

Powers and abilities

Despero is a powerful villain. The Flame of Py'tar gave Despero great physical strength that has been shown in one storyline to be superior to Superman and Captain Marvel, being able to simultaneously defeat both, along with Wonder Woman and Power Girl. His durability, while always high, varies in intensity: at one point he was able to easily withstand simultaneous physical attacks by the combined forces of the JLA and JSA, on another occasion Aquaman was strong enough to throw a piece of steel rebar into his shoulder, as well as having a group of sharks bite into him, causing the villain to bleed.

Also very intelligent, he is skilled as both a warrior and tyrant. His hypnotic third eye is directly connected to his brain, giving him telepathic powers that on one occasion have been depicted as surpassing those of the Martian Manhunter. It is also capable of projecting realistic illusions and entrancing virtually any sentient being. It can also project beams of telekinetic energy enabling the teleportation of matter anywhere in the universe. In his "spirit" form, Despero can possess any living being, granting the victim the strength and telepathic abilities of his own body.

In his first appearance, Despero used a teleportation machine which resembled a chess set. It used pieces shaped like the Leaguers to move them to different locations. The machine was subsequently shown to be in the possession of the Weapon Master.

Other media

  • Despero has appeared in the 2000s animated Justice League television show, voiced by Keith David in the episode "Hearts and Minds". In this incarnation, Despero was a cult leader on the harsh desert planet of Kalanor. Born with a third eye, he had been an outcast until encountering the Flame of Py'tar, which enhanced his mental powers and enabled him to brainwash and empower others. He built up an army of followers, defeated several members of the Green Lantern Corps, and threatened to spread his fanatical crusade across the galaxy. Despero was defeated when Py'tar, actually the dormant life-force of Kalanor, briefly took willing possession of the Martian Manhunter and appealed to the people of Kalanor to reject Despero's ways and accept it as the living soul of the planet, which they did. The Py'tar then spread its power across Kalanor, seeding it with lush vegetation in the form of gigantic trees and transforming all of Despero's followers in space into trees as well. It then claimed Despero himself, pulling him deep underground into the planet's core, never to be seen again; his last words in the series were, "Oh Py'tar, now I see... paradise!". This iteration of the character has powers similar to those of a Green Lantern.
  • Despero has also appeared in the Justice League Task Force video game for the SNES and Sega Genesis consoles.

Other versions

  • Despero has appeared in the Justice League Unlimited spin-off comic book. His appearances are in issues #1


External links

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