In case you needed another reason to mark your 2021 fall TV schedule to remind you about the premiere episode of The Flash Season 8, here is a detail that might excite you if you have not heard about it already. Scottish actor (and Marvel movies and TV shows veteran) Tony Curran is making his DC TV shows debut as a Silver Age supervillain known as Despero, who will have a pivotal role in The CW’s upcoming five-part Arrowverse crossover event called “Armageddon.” If you have never heard of this character and wonder just how “earth-shattering” he will prove to be, you might get a pretty good idea from taking a look at his history in DC Comics, starting at the very beginning.
Despero Is The First Villain To Appear In The Justice League Of America Series
Created by influential comic book writer Gardner Fox and prolific artist Mike Sekowsky, Despero made his DC Comics debut in October 1960 in the premiere issue of Justice League of America. This was, of course, not the official debut of the iconic superhero collective that includes the likes of Batman and Wonder Woman - who first became a group just months earlier in Issue #28 of The Brave and the Bold (when they took on The Suicide Squad villain Starro), but their first appearance together in their own self-titled series. This makes Despero’s initial meeting with the JLA quite an important milestone, especially when you to consider the particularly fascinating detail of how the intergalactic evil-doer barely resembled the appearance he would come to be definitively known for.
Despero Was The Tyrannical, But Weak, Ruler Of Kalanor
It is common for a comic book character to experience a dramatic evolution following their debut, and Despero - the red-skinned, fin-headed leader of his home planet Kalanor - is most definitely no exception. He managed to assert himself into his royal position by tyrannical means, despite not being very physically imposing. In fact, the character was defined by his intelligence and conniving manner in his first appearance, which sees him challenge The Flash to a game of chess that is rigged to result in fatal consequences for his fellow crimefighters. Yet, simply outsmarting Despero would not be enough to defeat him upon his subsequent run-ins with the Justice League of America.
The Flame Of Py’tar Transformed Despero In A Godly Behemoth
After the second time Despero’s evil plans were thwarted by the Justice League, the villain came into contact with the Flame of Py’tar, which is a mystical source of nuclear energy from which his alien race originated from. The remnant would cause him to undergo that dramatic transformation I mentioned earlier, which turned him into an 8 foot tall, 850-lb monster bearing a similar resemblance to Red Hulk (as a frame of reference for Marvel Comics readers to appreciate), and a physical strength that would allow him to defeat Superman, Shazam, Power Girl, Hour Man, and Wonder Woman in the same fight, besting every single one of them in the end. The Flame of Py’tar not only changed Despero on the outside, but the inside as well, imbuing him with a whole new variety of incredible powers.
Despero Has A Telepathic And Telekinetic Third Eye
Despero’s most prominent abilities post-Flame of Py’tar include magical manipulation, astral projection, possession, and your typical superhuman powers, including speed, stamina, durability, and (of course) strength. However, even so, his more unique, dangerous, and personally favored skills are those he was born with - namely his various telepathic and telekinetic abilities (such as energy blasts, force fields, illusion casting, and mind control) which he uses his third eye to wield. Even so, when it comes to taking on the superheroes in the Justice League, I am sure that Despero is still quite thankful for the beastly physique he acquired, especially after the time he lost it completely.
Martian Manhunter Was Once Able To Shrink Despero Into A Fetus
One of the most amusing facts about Despero occurred when the Martian Manhunter intervened in his attempted murder of Blue Beetle (the Ted Kord iteration, that is) by enchanting him with a Martian spell known as the Mayavanna. Siimilar to the Black Mercy that Mongol used on Superman in Alan Moore’s “The Man Who Has Everything” storyline, this put Despero in a trance-like state that allowed him to experience his greatest desires coming true… and also caused him to de-age until he was the size of a fetus. The villain in his new form was then sold to a giant, gaseous alien being called Manga Khan in exchange for his robotic servant, L-Ron.
The Flash Will Technically See Despero’s Second Arrowverse Appearance
When Tony Curran plays Despero on The Flash, it will mark the character’s first, official, live action debut, but will not be the character’s first transition from the comic pages to the screen. He was previously voiced by 1982’s The Thing star and former Community cast member Keith David on the animated Justice League series, by Kevin Michael Richardson on Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and also made a few wordless cameos on Young Justice and in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies - a DC animated movie adaptation of a Jeph Loeb classic. Not to mention, this is not exactly Despero’s Arrowverse debut, either, since an image of him was once spotted in the background of one of the DEO monitors in the Supergirl pilot.
A character as sinister and physically intimidating as Despero sounds like something that will be quite a sight to see in live action. Not to mention, it will be just as (if not even more) interesting to see how Tony Curran (who is also known for starring in the Showtime original drama Ray Donovan and the recent acclaimed miniseries, Your Honor) will portray the villain’s ruthless hunger for power and penchant for psychological manipulation. Check him out when Season 8 of The Flash airs on The CW on Tuesday, November 16, 2021.
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.