Darkseid’s Daughter is Everything Wrong with Comics Today

Since the very beginning of the New 52 at DC Comics, writer Geoff Johns has been teasing the Darkseid War, an epic battle between the villainous Darkseid and the equally villainous Anti-Monitor. They are two of DC’s biggest bad guys, the sorts of villains who could threaten the entire universe, and Johns is going to send them to war against each other — with the Earth and the Justice League likely caught in the middle. As a comic book fan, that sounds incredibly awesome.

But I cannot abide by the utter garbage that is a key player in this war: Darkseid’s daughter. Introduced this past week in Justice League #40 and DC’s Free Comic Book Day prologue, Darkseid’s daughter is everything that’s wrong with comic books today.

Yes, steal all the Justice League weapons, that’s kewl

Prepare yourself, this is definitely going to be an angry geek ranting about comics on the Internet.

Look at her, just look at her! The very sight of this character makes my skin crawl due to annoyance. Has DC learned nothing from their own success? Does the massive fan support of the new Batgirl comic mean nothing to them? I see this new character and I roll my eyes at how much of a colossal step backwards she is for comic books. It’s not 2011 anymore, DC! And it’s definitely not the 1990s!

If their upcoming summer rebranding is a sign that DC actually has learned a few lessons and is going to change for the better, Darkseid’s daughter is their one last hurrah for idiocy.

And if you need further proof that this character is ridiculous, her name is Grail. Yeah, exactly. She is a work of zero creativity.

Join me after the jump so I can actually explain why I’m ranting at you today.

We don’t know a how lot about Grail yet, and I suppose there’s always time for DC to change my mind. What we do know is that she is the daughter of Darkseid and an Amazon, born on Paradise Island around the same time as Wonder Woman. At some point, she became the prisoner of A.R.G.U.S., the government agency responsible for keeping track of metahumans.

When Darkseid attacked Earth in the first Justice League storyline of the New 52, he was doing so in search of his daughter.

If only ‘her’ was his fist

So clearly Johns has been planning this since the very start of the New 52.

Then in a random issue of the Vibe comic, we learned that Darkseid’s daughter had escaped A.R.G.U.S., keeping the breadcrumb trail going.

In this weekend’s Free Comic Book Day issue, we learned her origin on Themyscira.

Naked, gray baby!

And in Justice League #40, we learned that she is allied with the Anti-Monitor in the upcoming war. That is all we know about Grail at this point. But I contend that we don’t need to learn her backstory, her personality or anything else about her to hate her.

This one time, I’m telling you that it’s OK to judge a book by its cover. Take another look at Grail.

Even evil demigods have crappy tailors

She looks like every single ‘badass warrior woman’ who has ever existed. She looks like any female superhero created in the 90s, all super model looks and exactly zero personality. Her entire look is a cliche. She’s got a super model’s body, a super model’s face, super model hair, and her costume is not only pedestrian, but it’s designed to show off as much cleavage and skin as possible.

Are we really still designing female comic book characters to show off that much cleavage in 2015?!

Here is a collection of female superhero costumes and redesigns from the past couple of years. You should notice some very obvious trends, and these trends are at a major discussion in the comic industry these days.

These women look like real women dressed in practical clothing that actually covers their bodies. This represents real forward movement. The days of bikini costumes and Escher Girls are supposed to be over! Even Wonder Woman is trading in her classic skin-baring costume for something more conservative and realistic.

But not Grail, nope! She knows the value of showing skin.

Take a look at Grail’s father, Darkseid. He is arguably one of the most iconic and legendary super villains in all of comics.

Even in the New 52 he looks pretty gnarly

Now that is a look! Darkseid is a monstrous, halting figure, with an iconic look that chills you to your bone. Here is an evil, intergalactic demon king, ruling over lesser beings as if its his divine purpose.

So why couldn’t Grail have been given even a fraction of his character?

Yes, she’s got his gray skin, but it might as well be baby soft from what we can see. Give her a human skin tone and she could be anybody’s daughter. Heck, give her a caucasian skin tone and she’s just an evil Wonder Woman.

And let’s consider her name for a moment. Grail? What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Modern day superhero naming conventions are all about taking a cool-sounding noun, tangentially related to the character, and just using that. Gone are the days of ‘Batman’ or ‘Spider-Man’ or ‘Wonder Woman’. Despite those being some of the most classic names in comics, that’s just not how comic book characters are named in this day and age.

These days we’ve got Silk, Quake and Manifold, classics like Cable and Spawn, all of the Secret Warriors, almost all of the Young Avengers. The X-Men are filled with such names, but then one could argue that the original X-Men started the trend with guys like Beast, Angel and Cyclops.

‘Grail’ is one of the worst ones. Who names somebody ‘Grail’? The name doesn’t make any sense whatsoever for the character — unless, obviously, you know that the ‘Holy Grail’ is a popular thing and that when you take away the ‘Holy’ part, you’re left with a word that sounds slightly badass.

That is the extent of the thought that went into her name. Forget something as cool and as menacing as ‘Darkseid’, or as complex as ‘Orion’ for Darkseid’s son. Just pick a random, cool-sounding word and go with that for his daughter!

Grail is a character who was clearly designed by committee, designed to fulfill some backwards, no-longer-revelant view of female characters in comics. The least amount of thought possible went into her character design, and it frustrates the heck out of me.

Last Fall, DC gave us a new Batgirl (which they were reluctant to do), and its success is going to change the fact of their entire publishing line. But before all of that happens, somebody at DC really wants a cleavage-baring, warrior woman cliche to be the face of the company.

She was the focal point of the Free Comic Book day issue, for crying out loud! Grail is the character that DC wanted to sell to everybody who picked up their free issue.

Ah well, whatever. Ranting gets me nowhere. Maybe she’ll have a nice personality.


About Sean Ian Mills

Hello, this is Sean, the Henchman-4-Hire! By day I am a mild-mannered newspaper reporter in Central New York, and by the rest of the day I'm a pretty big geek when it comes to video games, comic books, movies, cartoons and more.

Posted on May 5, 2015, in Comics, DC and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 41 Comments.

  1. I wish Pandora were more big of a deal. I really enjoyed the first three issues of her solo series – she’s got a cool backstory and a lot of neat skills

  2. DC generally seems to be everything wrong with comics today, I’ve noticed. At least, they hit that checkbox more often than the others.

  3. Wait, so you’re telling me that some time ago, Darkseid, feeling a little randy, decided to hook up with an Amazon, and accidentally knocked her up? What an image that presents, Darkseid in the sack with literally anyone is hard to imagine. Nevermind some poor Amazon who obviously had WAY too much to drink that night.

  4. Yep, that is a terribly bland design.

  5. The definition of Grail is “a thing that is being earnestly pursued or sought after.” So in the context that she is the daughter of Darkseid and an Amazon, she would a highly valuable asset (to Darkseid, A.R.G.U.S. and The Anti-Monitor) and the name makes sense.

    I also tend to agree with a lot of the other things you said. A lot of what I have seen has been cliche with Grail, including the obligatory “Let’s show how powerful our new creation is by having her beat The JLA so easily.” Moreover, the Apokolitan/Amazon hookup was done in recent years in “Earth 2,” when Fury is revealed as the daughter of Steppenwolf and Wonder Woman.

    I think this is another missed opportunity to integrate some of the existing Wildstorm characters into the DC Universe. Why not use Tapestry from WildC.A.T.S. fame in the Grail/Myrina Black role? I would have cast Tapestry as the immortal sorceress who was the product of the Dark Gods who failed to seduce Darkseid to resurrect the Old Gods. Then she spends an indeterminate amount of time looking for someone who could bring back the Old Gods/kill Darkseid (The Anti-Monitor). I believe there are other ch

  6. So…ALL comic book women have to be covered up now? That makes as little sense as all of them being half naked. Real women show leg and cleavage too, I saw both today…and its December. Plus she’s clearly a villain, why would a female villain cover herself up all the time? That would eliminate the possibility of using seduction to her advantage…which wouldn’t be very villainous. She’s half Amazon half New God what do you want her to wear a pantsuit? You mentioned her father but think about that…Darkseid ALWAYS shows leg…unfortunately. I will admit however, she’s illogically pretty. She clearly takes only after her mother in the face. Relax.

  7. Let’s see here…Darkseid normally wears a bikini bottom with his legs out and boots, Apocalypse from AoA had the blue onesy with his junk out, Mephisto: red speedo bottom and a cape no shirt legs out, Ma’alefa’ak is technically butt naked, the Stranger’s in a green bikini bottom legs out, Terrax= alien bikini, Morg= no shirt n tights, Blackheart is naked with his tail swinging, And don’t get me started on the heroes! Silver Surfer is butt naked in space with no coat…this style of dress is not gender-specific. I think you people are being selectively outraged.

    • Again, where are the over-exaggerated bulges? The arched back poses displaying the goods for the viewer’s pleasure? Do these bikini bottoms and speedos also have a thong back? Until you can show me an honest-to-god equivalent of a Star Sapphire costume for a male superhero, along with the poses associated with such outfits for women, your argument does not hold any water.

      • Where are the women with no shirt on, nipples showing? Until you can show me the topless female heroes/villains your argument holds no weight. ALL male characters are displayed in ridiculous, impossible shape with muscularly bulging chests in crazy poses. Are you mad about that too? The only overweight character is Blob and he still has bulging exposed biceps. The men are drawn to attract girls the women are drawn to attract boys, get over it!

    • Silver Surfer may be naked, but for all purposes he’s clad in a silver zentai outfit with a dance belt underneath. Nothing shows and there is nothing sexualized.

      There IS someone being selective, here, and it is you. You pretend that any of those examples are anywhere near comparable to this: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/a4/6d/8d/a46d8d14bf4dd3f88beb94d75dc60d47.jpg , https://ladygeekgirl.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/red-hood-and-the-outlaws-1-page-10-660×1015.jpg

      And you fail miserably.

      When a MALE superhero gets to wear as little as Starfire is made to wear- and yes, I mean speedos even smaller than standard swimming team regulation racing speedos, then we’ll talk.

  8. Everything wrong with comics today? Calm down.

    • IKR?
      I’m a comic fan, I’m a wonder woman’s Fan and Rant is my passion at life, but this
      whole discussion about her clothing and her name, is frikin’ ridiculous. I’m not sure which is more “macho”… the guy who wants to dress her like this or the guy who thinks this is way too much cleavage.

      Let me remind you : You don’t need to show skin to over sexulize a character, and
      villainesses are well known for using seduction as an advantage, despite what are they wearing.

      As a name…. Orion is complex but Grail Isn’t ? I need an explanation and a recall for that deep story (thankfully someone already explained the meaning of “Grial” and how it does make sense)

      The only thing I found a bit obnoxious is her overwhelming power… it’s obscene, but maybe it is justified in a future.

      I understand the “DC can do it so much better” part … but this is complain for complain … Let’s wait for the evolution of this character.

  9. not a single proof here is enough to hate grail , let’s see ; she is a daughter of a new god turned against her father to get him killed and became the goddess of the anti-life , with an absolute lovable evil look , she is somehow more evil than darkseid she is more than awesome , you just hate her for the hate , not for a reason ,that’s all

  10. Well, I was with you until you went about, “These women look like real women dressed in practical clothing that actually covers their bodies. This represents real forward movement. The days of bikini costumes and Escher Girls are supposed to be over! Even Wonder Woman is trading in her classic skin-baring costume for something more conservative and realistic.”

    I don’t give a damn about any of that.

    She’s a hodgepodge of things from various characters, she’s not particularly original, “Darkseid’s Amazonian daughter” sounds like a fan-created character.

    I can get behind Girlverine, Spider-Gwen, black Captain America.

    But Jane-Thor, Red Tornado Lois Lane, and Grail are just dumb.

  11. My roommates and I had a really great time reading this. Lots of laughs. This is like the biggest over the top most autistic overreaction to a trivial subject that required your to build multiple strawman arguments and reach A LOT to fulfill the agenda and preconceived idea you already had about her character before you even read anything about her. You want so desperately to be able to bandwagon and cry sexism when literally none of your claims are founded in anything but your own bullshit?????
    Thanks for the read, man!

  12. I appreciate what people are trying to do in terms of the over sexualizing over women but, some on this is actually getting a bit out of hand. Suddenly if a woman has anything more than a b cup and isn’t dressed head to toe men are leaping on it saying it’s not fair to women. Truth be told if I had a body like that and I was invulnerable hell yes I’d want to show it off. The biggest issue and the reason women don’t read comics has only a little to do with that. It’s mostly because the women are almost always background to the men. Their personality is often shallow and they are usually used as victims. Look at Scarlet Witch she’s become a trope. She’s as powerful as the writer wants her to be, but she’s always used to further other plots being manipulated and possessed over and over again. Marvel’s Black Cat went from Spider-Man’s lover to a poorly thought out and generic villain. We simply ask for some decent character development and personality.

  13. Dude, or lady, I don’t know, if you want to talk about sexist design, look at Supergirl and Powergirl. And as far as her name goes, does Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent sound cool, Grail is her actual name, not a new identity she gave herself. Hell, Darkseid’s real name is Uxas, how intimidating is that.Grail’s name works because it isn’t trying that hard. Plus, you’ve got to admit, Superman is as unoriginal as you can get, the only reason people like it I because it’s iconic by this point.

  14. Saying that “Darkseid’s Daughter is Everything Wrong with Comics Today” is a bit much, yes there are problems with the design but in terms of skin having all characters cover up would be generically boring(and everyone doesn’t do that in real life so it wouldn’t make sense). I feel that clothes should reflect the character like Namor typically wearing very little because he’s so darn cocky about himself and Grail’s design works to a degree because in the actual Darkseid war story shes written as being arrogant and showy about her power so her showing more skin kind of works.

    If anything i think the biggest problem with grail is the writing of ‘look im powerful i beat the JL and broke wonder woman’s UNBREAKABLE bracelets even though Darkseid can’t’ a.k.a the ‘let’s have new villain X beat team X so readers know villain X is like real powerful and stuff’ trope, which i get for newer i.p. that has to build its universe from the ground up and do cool stuff before the book can be canceled but DC’s not going anywhere they can take the time to do the more complex stuff that requires more issues, like you said DC can do better.

    Lastly saying Grail’s generic just because of her design but calling Darkseid “iconic and legendary” and the costumes and redesigns you show “practical clothing” is superficial because 1. Darkseid may look cooler but his personality is typically pretty simple(which isn’t a bad thing im just trying to be fare), 2. the costumes and redesigns you show are NOT all “practical” the main problem is Batgirl the design she had before is the more “practical” one because it visibly had body armor which make much more sense for a non-powered character who can just be shot down and it covered just as much the only possible problem was her proportions not the suit itself(but man i loved that Bluebird design i miss Harper i thought she had so much potential), 3. the Wonder Woman design may have been more “practical” but the writing for that story was not very good, anyway my point is covering up doesn’t always mean practical and practical look doesn’t always mean better character and none of that necessarily means better story.

  15. If tits, then yes! If no tits, then no.

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