The Great Darkness Saga
|"The Great Darkness Saga"|
Cover of Legion of Super-Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga TPB (1989). Art by Keith Giffen.
|Publication date||August – December 1982|
|Title(s)||Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 2, #290-294|
|Main character(s)||Legion of Super-Heroes
|The Legion of Super-Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga HC||ISBN 978-1-4012-2961-0|
|The Legion of Super-Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga TPB||ISBN 0930289439|
"The Great Darkness Saga" is a five-issue American comic book story arc featuring the Legion of Super-Heroes. It was written by Paul Levitz, with art by Keith Giffen and Larry Mahlstedt. Published by DC Comics in 1982, the arc first appears in Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 2, #290-294. It is notable for featuring appearances by virtually every living past and present Legionnaire as of 1982, as well as most of the team's 30th-century allies, including the Legion of Substitute Heroes, the Wanderers, the Heroes of Lallor, and the 20th-century Kryptonian refugee Dev-Em. The heroes battle an immensely powerful being shrouded in darkness, ultimately revealed to be the ancient ruler of Apokolips, Darkseid.
In the 30th century, Legion of Super-Heroes co-founder Cosmic Boy leads a group of Legionnaires to investigate attacks on the Museum of the Mystic Arts and the Tower of London, both located on Earth. Included in the squad is 20th-century member Superboy (the legendary Superman as a teenager) and the latest addition to the team—Jacques Foccart, the new Invisible Kid. At each site they are attacked by beings of great power, both of whom are shrouded in darkness and mention that they are servants of their "Master" who controls the "Great Darkness". Through the use of a teleportation warp, the beings escape with two stolen items: a mystical wand from the museum and the sword Excalibur from the Tower of London. When a third Servant attempts to steal the Orb of Orthanax from the Institute of Parapsychological Phenomena of Talok VIII, she is captured. However, a fourth Servant appears via another teleportation warp and absconds with the Orb. At his unknown base of operations, the Master absorbs the power contained within each of the stolen artifacts. The captured Servant is taken back to Legion headquarters. When she is brought in close proximity to Invisible Kid's younger sister Danielle Foccart, who has been possessed by the rogue artificial intelligence Computo, Danielle's brain activity spikes. In effect, the Servant causes the unconscious Computo to have a nightmare.
Through genetic testing, Mon-El and Dream Girl determine that the captured Servant is an inanimate "reverse-DNA" clone of Lydea Mallor, Shadow Lass' ancestor and the first heroine of Talok VIII. Meanwhile on the planet Avalon, the fourth Servant frees the immensely powerful Mordru, the mightiest wizard in the universe and arguably the Legion's most powerful enemy. Just as Mordru is about to destroy the Servant, the Master appears and quickly defeats him. Shortly thereafter on the prison planet Takron-Galtos, the Legionnaires discover that the Time Trapper — another powerful Legion foe — has been drained of his cosmic time-manipulation abilities by the Master as well.
Dream Girl's precognitive abilities allow her to foresee the Servants attacking her sister, the sorceress known as the White Witch, on their homeworld Naltor. She and a squad of Legionnaires travel there and prevent one of the Servants from kidnapping the White Witch. During the attack, Invisible Kid seizes the opportunity to journey into one of the beings' teleportation warps and take the battle directly to the Master. He confronts the Master, who is amused by the notion that the young hero is presumptuous enough to confront him. The Master blasts him with energy beams from his eyes, and warps him back to Naltor. Having seen the Master's real face, Invisible Kid is frightened on such a fundamental level that a large stripe of his jet black hair turns white permanently.
In the midst of the crisis, the Legion holds its long-delayed election, choosing Dream Girl as its new leader. She leads a squad of Legionnaires to the Sorcerers' World, where they repel an attack by the Master and several of his Servants. Mon-El confronts the Master directly and immediately recognizes him, but is easily defeated. The Master then reads his mind, learning that Mon-El recognized him because of all that the Legionnaire witnessed during his many centuries in the Phantom Zone. Additionally, the Master learns of Mon-El's homeworld, Daxam. The sorcerers cast a spell intended to defend them against the Master, and they surprisingly conjure a humanoid baby. Meanwhile on Earth, the three Legion founders (Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad) determine that two of the Servants are reverse-DNA clones of Superman and one of the Guardians of the Universe. Shocked that the Master is able to clone and harness the power of two of the mightiest beings in history, the founders send out a general alarm, calling all active and reserve Legionnaires to duty.
The Legionnaires manage to locate what turns out to be the Master's homeworld. Engaging the Servants in battle, Wildfire destroys the Guardian clone, while Element Lad exposes the Superman clone to gold kryptonite, allowing Timber Wolf to destroy him. Afterward, Brainiac 5 recognizes the Master’s homeworld, and is able to deduce his true identity. Meanwhile, the Master has travelled to Daxam. Having added the powers of Mordru, the Time Trapper and others to his own abilities, he transposes Daxam with his own homeworld. Consequently, Daxam's three billion natives each gain powers equal to those of Superman or Mon-El, and all of them fall under the thrall of the Master, who is determined to conquer the entire universe. At the villain's command, the Daxamites use their powers to physically reshape the planet until it has been sculpted in the image of the Master himself: the ancient New Gods tyrant, Darkseid.
Brainiac 5 is the only Legionnaire with any knowledge of Darkseid or his homeworld, Apokolips. Once he briefs Dream Girl, she sends out a second general alarm to all of the Legion's super-powered allies, including the Legion of Substitute Heroes and Supergirl, who resides in the 20th century. Throughout United Planets territory, the Kryptonian intelligence agent Dev-Em, the Heroes of Lallor, the Wanderers, the Substitute Heroes and the Legionnaires all struggle to hold back the onslaught of attacking Daxamites. On Takron-Galtos, a de-powered Chameleon Boy fends off an attack from a Daxamite child by using judo to toss him into a cell with Validus, the mysterious childlike creature who is the most powerful member of the Fatal Five.
As the humanoid child inexplicably ages at an accelerated rate, the White Witch casts a spell transporting the people on Daxam to Apokolips and vice versa. She is forcibly aided by a powerful unknown entity. When Darkseid tries to seize the child, it completes the aging process and reveals itself to be Darkseid's ancient enemy Izaya, Highfather of the New Gods from the planet New Genesis (and the entity aiding the White Witch). Highfather transforms the last remaining Servant into a perfect clone of Darkseid’s son Orion, who is destined to someday destroy his father. Before fading into nothingness, Highfather summons Superboy and Supergirl to the battlefield above Apokolips, with his power allowing the Kryptonian cousins to maintain their abilities under a red sun. Darkseid destroys the Orion clone and sends Superboy back to the 20th century. He then becomes so preoccupied with battling Supergirl and the other Legionnaires that he loses mental control of the Daxamites, who begin to make their way toward the planet. Realizing that he cannot defeat three billion Daxamites, Darkseid concedes defeat and vanishes, taking Apokolips with him. As he departs, he declares that he has left the Legionnaires with the "curse of darkness" which will destroy them from within, promising "that which is purest of you shall be the first to go." In the aftermath of the crisis, the White Witch is inducted into the Legion, while Light Lass decides to quit.
Months later, a pregnant Saturn Girl goes into labor on the hospital satellite Medicus One, preparing to give birth to the child she shares with her husband Lightning Lad. During the delivery, the satellite is mysteriously enshrouded in darkness, but Saturn Girl gives birth to a healthy baby boy. She is thrilled but slightly surprised, for during her pregnancy she occasionally thought that she was sensing two brain patterns. Unknown to anyone, there was a second child. During the delivery, Darkseid secretly kidnapped the infant and used his power to radically transform the child and send him years into the past, where he would encounter the Legion as Validus, unrecognized by his parents or anyone else. Thus, Darkseid declares triumphantly that his curse is fulfilled.
Following the events of the Zero Hour mini-series, this storyline and all other Legion stories predating October 1994 were removed from continuity. However, a new incarnation of the original Legion was introduced in 2007, in "The Lightning Saga" storyline in the Justice League of America and Justice Society of America titles. DC writer Geoff Johns later stated that this incarnation of the Legion shares the same history as the original Legion up to the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, including the events of "The Great Darkness Saga". Moreover, when DC released its post-Infinite Crisis version of Darkseid's origin in 2008, "The Great Darkness Saga" was listed as one of the character's "essential storylines", strongly suggesting that the events of this tale were included in post-Infinite Crisis continuity. Additionally, a subsequent Legion tale explicitly referred to "The Great Darkness Saga" in general, and Darkseid's victory over Mordru (on the planet Avalon) in particular.
Validus and the other Fatal Five members were among the villains in Superboy-Prime's incarnation of the Legion of Super-Villains, as seen in the Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds mini-series. However, Garridan Ranzz (the infant who was abducted by Darkseid in the original continuity) was recently depicted as a young child living with his parents Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad, and his twin brother Graym. Thus, it appears that Validus and Garridan are not the same being in current continuity.
During one of his missions to protect the timeline, Booster Gold arrived on Daxam at the beginning of the Great Darkness Saga- he was meant to arrive there three days before the war began, but misread his instructions- in order to recover the helmet of Doctor Fate to prevent Darkseid acquiring it. He departed Daxam along with Rani, an orphan girl who became his adopted daughter.
It appears that the post-Flashpoint/"New 52" reboot has had little (if any) effect on this story arc, and that the tale is still firmly within current continuity. In a recent "New 52" Legion story, a Daxamite official remarked that the people of his world "still mourn how Darkseid used us for violence", an apparent reference to the events of "The Great Darkness Saga". In a subsequent tale, the Legion was confronted with a massive interplanetary crisis. Cosmic Boy described it by exclaiming that "[t]he Legion hasn't faced anything this awful on so many worlds since the Great Darkness!" In her response to his statement, Shadow Lass similarly mentions Darkseid, the Servants and the rampage of the enthralled Daxamites.
Collected editions 
The story is collected in the trade paperback Legion of Super-Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga (ISBN 0930289439). First printed in 1989, it includes a 7-page prologue from issue #287 and the epilogue from Annual #3, and a replica of a team poster from the same period.
A hardcover "Deluxe Edition" was published in November 2010 (ISBN 978-1401229610), including issues before and after the main "Saga" (#284-296 and Annual #1), but excluding the epilogue story and poster. The hardcover also includes the script for the first part and character designs by Giffen.
- Matter-Eater Lad and Tyroc do not appear in this story arc, nor do reservists Kid Psycho and Insect Queen, nor honorary members Rond Vidar, Pete Ross, and Elastic Lad. Additionally, Shrinking Violet does not appear, but is impersonated by the Durlan actress Yera, as revealed in Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 2, #304-305 (October–November 1983).
- The original Invisible Kid, Lyle Norg, was killed by Validus in Superboy #203 (July/August 1974).
- Jacques Foccart acquired the power of invisibility and joined the Legion in Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 2, Annual #1 (1982).
- Talok VIII is Shadow Lass' homeworld. – Adventure Comics #365 (February 1968)
- Computo took possession of Danielle Foccart's body in Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 2, Annual #1 (1982). Brainiac 5 spent many months trying to separate Computo from Danielle, finally succeeding in Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 2, #311 (May 1984).
- The true Lydea Mallor does not make her first appearance until L.E.G.I.O.N. '89 #8 (September 1989).
- Mordru was imprisoned beneath the rubble of his castle on Avalon by the Legion. – Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 2, #276 (June 1981)
- Mordru loses his power upon being buried underground. – Adventure Comics #369-370 (June–July 1968)
- The Time Trapper depicted in this story is actually an imposter, as later revealed in Legionnaires 3 #1 (February 1986).
- The Phantom Zone, a dimension used by the planet Krypton as a prison, was introduced in Adventure Comics #283 (April 1961). Phantom Zone inmates do not age nor require sustenance to survive.
- Mon-El spent a thousand years in the Phantom Zone to avoid dying after being exposed to lead, which is fatal to natives of the planet Daxam. – Superboy #89 (June 1961); Adventure Comics #305 (February 1963)
- The first in-continuity appearance of gold kryptonite occurs in Superman #157 (November 1962). In pre-Crisis continuity, it robs Kryptonians of their powers permanently. Following the Infinite Crisis limited series, the effect is only temporary, wearing off after fifteen seconds. – Action Comics Annual #11 (2007); Supergirl vol. 5, #37 (March 2009)
- Chameleon Boy was convicted of treason after leading an unauthorized Espionage Squad mission to Khundia which results in war. – Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 2, #286-289 (April–July 1982)
- The Daxamite child, Ol-Vir, would subsequently join the Legion of Super-Villains. – Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 3, #1 (August 1984)
- The prophecy of Darkseid's death at the hands of Orion is first mentioned in Mister Miracle #9 (August 1972).
- Validus first appears in Adventure Comics #352 (January 1967).
- The birth of the twins and the second twin's abduction and transformation into Validus occurs in Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 2, Annual #3 (1984), by Paul Levitz (co-plotter/writer), Keith Giffen (co-plotter/artist), Curt Swan and Romeo Tanghal (artists).
- Some time later, Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad discover Validus' true identity, and Darkseid restores him to normal. – Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 3, Annual #2 (1986)
- "Superman/Green Lantern Interview". IGN.
- Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #3 (April 2009)
- Countdown to Final Crisis #2 (April 16, 2008)
- Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 6, #4 (October 2010)
- Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 6, #1 (July 2010)
- Booster Gold vol. 2, #32 (July 2010)
- Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 7, #3 (January 2012)
- Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 7, #18 (May 2013)
- "Legion of Super-Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga Deluxe Edition". DC Comics.com.
- "The Great Darkness Saga" at the Comic Book DB