Despero is the tyrant ruler of Kalanor who has fought the Justice League on numerous occasions. He is one of their first villains and has appeared repeatedly throughout their history. Though he first appeared as a pink skinned alien genius who had a third eye that granted him hypnotic powers, he is now one of the most physically powerful villains the League as ever faced while at the same time retaining all his mental abilities. His new found power comes from recreating himself in the Flame of Py'tar, which was the last remnant of the same nuclear energy responsible for creating his race.
On Despero's home world of Kalanor, the people of the world were much like humans but with much better technology. They were able to develop a nuclear energy source of incredible power. Many thought this new power was dangerous but the warnings were ignored and the planet was ravaged by high energy plasmas. Most of the species of Kalanor were eradicated, but those that survived were mutated into entirely different beings. Despero's race emerged and quickly became dominant through telepathic subjugation of the other species. There was much unrest on Kalanor and war brought out with Despero's father coming out the victor. When Despero was of age, he killed his father and took control of Kalanor.
Despero first appeared in Justice League of America #1, and enslaved the Justice League with his mental abilities. The Flash was stopped by escaping citizens of Kalanor and offered to help them against Despero. Despero forced Flash to a chess like game with the stakes being the fate of his friends. Despero used his hypnotic powers to trick the Flash into losing. Snapper Carr, who was watching in the shadows, was able to foil Despero's plot by freeing the League. Despero was then imprisoned for his crimes.
After escaping Takron Galtos, Despero recreated himself in the Flames of Py'tar. He returned to Earth to exact revenge on the League with his new found powers and recreated the Flames of Py'tar to fuel his power. Able to bend reality to his will, Despero quickly defeated the League and captured Batman and Vixen. Batman learned the source of Despero's powers, escaped from his restraints, and freed Vixen. Vixen brought the League back for another battle in which Gypsy distracted Despero with an illusion of being incinerated by a sun. Though Despero knew it was an illusion, the distraction gave Vibe time to destroy the Flames of Py'tar, removing Despero's energy source and causing Despero to consume himself.
Despero survived as formless conscious matter. His will and hatred eventually created a new body for him to attack the Justice League once more. Unaware of the changes to the League while he was reconstituting himself, Despero sought out the League members from when he last fought them. He destroyed the comatose Steel, who was on life support at the old JLA HQ, and then targeted Gypsy. He killed both of her parents and was about to kill her when J'onn J'onzz arrived. Defeating J'onn with a psychic attack, Despero was about finish off Gypsy when Guy Gardner intervened and catapulted Despero away. Ending up in downtown Manhattan, the League found Despero and attacked him in force, but their combined might could not bring him down. They were unable to stop his rampage, losing the "life" of Mr. Miracle, who was unbeknownst to them a android replacement.
Despero was about to kill Ted Kord when the Martian Manhunter gifted him with Mayavanna, a sacred gift of Martians that reaches into another's mind and provides a reality more powerful than what we take to be reality. This gift grants the receiver a reality where they obtain that which they want most. Despero sees himself killing the League and destroying the world and finally becomes at peace. Mollified by this new found peace he reverted into a fetus of Despero and was eventually given to Manga Khan for safekeeping; never one to take something for free, Khan left his servant robot L-Ron with the League in exchange.
Manga Khan eventually sold Despero along with a control collar to a race of aliens, who used him to attack a Khund outpost. Unfortunately for them, the ship they were controlling him from was destroyed by a Khund ship, and with the remote control destroyed, Despero was freed. Realizing what the Martian had done to him, Despero set out once again on his quest to destroy the Justice League.
Hateful as ever, Despero returned to Earth to exact his revenge for his perceived humiliation, destroying much of New York to draw out his quarry. Despero is attacked by Guy Gardner, Power Girl, Ice, Fire, Metamorpho, Flash, Rocket Red, and Martian Manhunter. After defeating much of this initial force, Despero is attacked by Lobo who has been hired to return him to Lord Manga. After Despero and Lobo clash, resulting in Lobo being knocked away, Rocket Red leads Despero to a less populated area to fight. Eventually Despero is battling the Justice League of America, The Justice League of Europe, The Conglomerate, and Lobo, simultaneously.
Meanwhile, Kilowog had been working on a new control device for Manga Khan's slave collar that Despero was still wearing. Unfortunately the only compatible circuitry came from L-Ron. After constructing the device from L-Ron's circuits Kilowog used the device to subdue Despero. Unexpectedly, the device actually imprinted L-Ron's consciousness into Despero's body and vice-versa. L-Ron, now in Despero's body, left with Manga Kahn, (he would later join the Justice League Task Force, still in Despero's body) while Despero was seemingly destroyed when L-Ron's body was destroyed, after attacking the remnants of the JLI in the raggedly put together body.
His consciousness does survive the loss of his body, becoming a free floating essence. In this form, he possesses the bodies of a number of people, using their abilities to further his own ends. He also temporarily regains control of his body, struggling with L-Ron for his body while at the same time battling Supergirl. He was surprised when she grew wings of flames and burned him with magical fire. Once L-Ron regained control, Despero attempted to possess Supergirl, but as said by Lord Satanus, she could not become possessed because she is an angel. Despero's spirit was seemingly destroyed, but he eventually returns and recovers his physical body.
In JSA/JLA: Virtue and Vice, Despero stumbles upon Johnny Sorrow while traversing the Abyssal Plains, as their physical bodies had been destroyed. They concoct a plan to enact revenge on the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America. Despero then possesses Lex Luthor, who was at the time the president of the United States. Johnny Sorrow then travels to the Rock of Eternity, paralyzes Shazam, and releases the Seven Deadly Sins upon the world. Amidst a world of chaos, the evil duo battles the two superhero teams. Despero battles most of the JSA and the JLA at the same time, seemingly unstoppable until Captain Marvel, using the wisdom of Solomon, thinks of a way to expel him from Luthor's body. With the aid of Kyle Rayner and Alan Scott, they redirect the gaze of Johnny Sorrow to exorcise Despero and end the threat.
Before Infinite Crisis, in Crisis of Conscience, Despero attacks the Justice League again. This time specifically trying to enslave them all as "Justice" for what Zatanna and the League did to the minds of criminals who learned too much. Only Superman and Red Tornado still opposed him by the time Zatanna showed up to stop him.
During the events of Blackest Night, Vixen, Dr Light, Plastic Man, and Red Tornado are discussing the future of the Justice League when Despero bursts in, having already defeated Gypsy. Zatanna again shows up to save the League and is about to send Despero to the center of the Earth before he mysteriously disappears.
He is next seen when Starro the Conqueror invaded Kalanor. Starro fails to enslave Despero with his starfish but when Despero challenged Starro and attempted to awe him with mental images of his battles with the Justice League, Starro overwhelmed him, drawing on the mental strength from the trillions of minds linked to him. Despero is shocked by this and Starro beheads him. Unknown to Starro, Despero survives, only feigning death. He was later approached by Vril Dox who offered to help him regenerate his body more quickly than it would naturally in exchange for his help in assassinating Starro.
An earlier version of Despero from before he gained his current monstrous form appeared in modern continuity as a member of the Time Stealers, plotting against Booster Gold and Rip Hunter.
Despero has ripped through the Watchtower and has located Firestorm and the new Atom. The Justice League are in Batman's cave looking for who stole the kryptonite ring that Superman gave Batman. Element Woman arrives with fast food and attempts to help Firestorm an Atom fend of Despero. Despero who has fought the League a handful of times and almost defeated the league in their last encounter with Martian Manhunter. Despero uses his psychic ability to separate Raymond and Rusch and knock them out cold. Element Woman repeatedly changes into different elements from the periodic table until Despero rips her in half. The new Atom shrinks herself within Despero as Martian Manhunter enters the falling Watchtower. The Manhunter who held back his telepathy while with The League does not in his next encounter. He uses his telepathy to reverse the flow of his synapses and render Despero unconscious. Despero was given the kryptonite ring by a member of The Secret Society.
When Lobo was contracted by Magna Khan to capture Despero during Break Downs, he viewed Despero's statistics on his bike's computer. They were listed as follows:
- Height: 8'5"
- Weight: 405 lbs.
- Planet of Origin: Kalanor
- Cranial Intelligence Quote: 6.7
Selected Criminal Records:
- Worlds Conquered: 46
- Worlds Destroyed: 16
- Sentient creatures murdered: 5.6 billion
- by dismemberment: 1.2 billion
- by torture 1.4 billion
- by cyber-kinetics: .8 billion
- by disembowelment: .2 billion
- other too gruesome: 1.0 billion
Powers and Abilities
Despero was granted vast powers by the Flame of Py'tar
- Super Strength – Despero has greater strength than even Superman or Captain Marvel. He was able to defeat Superman, Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, Hourman, and Power Girl simultaneously. Despero was able to hold up the Rock of Eternity when Sand attempted to crush him with it. He is considered as a "team-buster", since he has repeatedly taken on the entire Justice League at once, sometimes even multiple teams.
- Invulnerability – Despero has been described as having invulnerability and he has been shown to take powerful blunt force attacks from Superman and heroes of similar strength without much harm, but his skin is not impervious. His skin has been pierced by Aquaman wielding a metal rod despite being able to repel bullets
- Super Speed – Despero has shown the ability to use speed in flight as well as in combat. He can fly from the Moon to the Earth in a few moments (a distance of approximately 380,000 km or 240,000 miles) and was seen rapidly punching Supergirl numerous times in one panel. His reflexes are also good enough to allow him to hit a running Flash with a telekinetic blast and to counter after being struck by a blitzing Flash.
- Telepathy – Despero's hypnotic third eye grants him telepathic abilities that surpass even Martian Manhunter. Though he usually uses these abilities to harm, (i.e. mind control, mentally shouting down the opponent, etc) he also posses less offensive telepathic abilities such as the basic mind reading as well as the ability to block other telepathic communications. He can conceal his mind from Martian Manhunter and has even sent him into a seizure.
- Illusion Casting – As part of his mental abilities granted him, he can project realistic Illusions into people's minds. He gave J'onn a painful illusion of Mars where Despero killed his loved ones.
- Mind Control – Despero's third eye also gives him a powerful hypnotic ability to control minds or paralyze foes. He can enslave multiple people at once and can even control strong telepaths such as Martian Manhunter and Aquaman. Supergirl described Despero's mind control as being 1000 times worse than Grodd.
- Possession – Despero can possess the body of others and still retain his extraordinary abilities as seen when he possesses Lex Luthor and is able to defeat both the Justice League and the Justice Society. He can also leap out of his current body to attempt to posses someone.
- Psychic Fire – Despero has been shown to be able to project psionic bolts of fire from his third-eye capable of matching Supergirl. He nearly used this ability to destroy the Martian Manhunter but Booster Gold shielded J'onn form Despero's attack.
- Flight – Despero is capable of self propelled flight and was shown to be nearly as fast as Martian Manhunter. He has no problem flying in and out of the atmosphere and flying in space.
- Telekinesis – His third eye gives him telekinetic abilities; while L-Ron was using his body, he used telekinesis to shield 5 men in a telekinetic bubble under water to save them from drowning. He was also able to shield innocent bystanders from falling rubble. He can also use his telekinesis to fire bolts of force from his third eye, explosive blasts capable of destroying a Javelin and knocking out Powergirl.
- Regeneration – If injured, Despero rapidly heals. Cuts and slashes heal in a very short amount of time, but serious injuries, such as decapitation, can take weeks to heal. He had regenerated himself from near complete discorporation.
- Energy Manipulation – When Despero first appeared as Despero Reborn, he was able to manipulate energy and turn energy into matter while fueled by the Flame of Py'tar. He no longer retains this ability.
- Matter Manipulation – With the Flame of Py'tar, he was also able to manipulate matter or change it into energy. He no longer retains this ability.
- Reality Warping – Being Fueled by the Flame of Py'tar also allowed him to bend reality to his will, turning skyscrapers to dragon-like creatures and stones into demons. He no longer retains this ability.
The "Justice League" animated series had Despero as the leader of a massive cult in the two-part episode Hearts and Minds. He used the Flame of Py'tar (the life-force of Kalanor) to subjugated his people and empower his troops to overwhelm and conquer planets. Katma Tui, Kilowog, and two other Green Lanterns were sent to stop him but they were overpowered by Despero's troops. Katma joined the Kalanorian resistance while Kilowog went to Earth to seek out John Stewart and the Justice League.
Despero was defeated when the Martian linked himself with the Flame of Py'tar and awakened it, turning Kalanor into a lush paradise while absorbing Despero into the Earth.
Despero appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "The Eyes of Despero!" voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson. This version differs from his comics counterpart as he also has eyes on the palms of his hands in addition to his third eye. In the episode Despero is trying to defeat the Green Lantern Corps. Despero is beaten by Batman with the help of Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, Sinestro, G'Nort & Mogo
Despero appears in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. He is among the super villains that attack Superman and Batman trying to claim the money which Lex Luthor had promised to anyone who could arrest Superman & Batman.
Despero also appears the Young Justice episode 11, season 2 concerned. This incarnation of Despero don't speak, but instead has a sentient robot communicate for him. His skin is purple, rather than pink. He is physically very powerful, being able to effortlessly defeat Superboy and Captain Marvel in H2H combat within a few moments. An intergalactic gladiator, he comes to prove himself against earth's resident heroes. He is eventually defeated with a magical attack from Zatanna, and taken into custody by The Reach.