Warning: The following contains spoilers for Justice League Incarnate #3, on sale now from DC Comics.
Darkseid's pursuit of the multiverse's power is halted when he encounters the Annihilator, DC's amalgamated version of Image Comics' demonic Violator. Supercharged by a power outside of the multiverse, the Annihilator lays waste to this world's superhero teams and even manages to subdue the ultimate version of Darkseid.
In Justice League Incarnate #3 (by Joshua Williamson, Dennis Culver, Ariel Olivetti, Nik Virella, Todd Nauck, Mikel Janin, Andrei Bressan, Tom Napolitano and Hi-Fi), Darkseid lays the perfect trap, waiting to ensnare them as a DC editor. The world Doctor Multiverse and President Superman find themselves in resembles our own, so to return the scattered JLI members, the two must craft a story where they can bring them back from their various worlds. The two stumble upon Darkseid's disguise as Ulrich Saxman, a seemingly made-up DC editor for this issue entirely.
Early in the issue, greeted by the Nimrod Squad (an amalgamation of Youngblood members and DC heroes), Captain Carrot is quickly drawn into battle with Earth-41s Annihilator. Earth-41 is a universe designed by Grant Morrison to resemble the WildStorm Universe and 1990s Image Comics. Featuring Spore, a mash-up of Spawn and Swamp Thing, most of the characters from Earth-41 are amalgamations of DC and Image characters.
The chief nemesis of Nimrod Squad is the Annihilator, a twisted version of Spawn’s arch-rival Violator. His whole goal is to bring Earth-41 into the Black, the name for the Rot in that world. Possessing the multiversal crack, this Annihilator is supercharged, easily defeating everyone fighting it. Ramped up by the power of the multiversal crack, the Annihilator appears unstoppable. Even the arrival of Darkseid, President Superman, Doctor Multiverse, and the Flash do little to restrain him.
Darkseid throws off the JLI members but finds himself surprisingly immobilized by the Annihilator, who moves to eliminate Darkseid only to have Doctor Multiverse grasp the crack and finally close it, trapping the Flash forever on the other side. This version of Darkseid is the culmination of all of his multiversal selves, the prime Darkseid for which there is no other version in any other universe, meaning he is perhaps the most powerful version to date. When confronted by Earth-8s Tartarus (DCs version of Marvel's Thanos), Darkseid referred to that prior version as a lesser Darkseid. Over and over, Darkseid has faced the big bads of the multiverse and dominated them with ease. Yet, empowered by the multiversal crack, the Annihilator is more than a match for Darkseid.
Not only does this suggest that the Violator pastiche is an exceptionally good conduit for multiversal power, it also may prove the energy beyond that crack might just be the most powerful force in DC comics. However, the crack’s location is unstable, shifting across the multiverse, and what's beyond it -- known only as The Great Darkness -- is more powerful. It's probably safe to assume this isn't Spawn's truly most powerful villain, the devil Malebolgia, as amazing as that would be, but Darkseid is heading toward a confrontation with it that may lay waste to the Multiverse.
Still, it speaks volumes that DC's ultimate version of Darkseid was easily restrained by a version of the '90s Spawn villain Violator, charged by just a crack in the multiverse. It's incredible that DC would even suggest that anything outside its homegrown crop of characters could even make a scratch on the perpetually "more powerful than anyone" Darkseid. What other mysteries may appear in this series -- be they power sources or universe-hopping villains -- remains to be seen, but for now, it was amazing to see the most powerful New God of all getting so badly violated.
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