The forces of Apocalypse launch an attack on new Genesis but are repelled by Orion, commander of the battlefleet. Steppenwolf, the Apocalypse commander, calls his ruler, Darkseid, and informs him that the attack has failed. Darkseid tells Steppenwolf to take as many with them as possible. Orion contacts Darkseid, his father, and tells him that the attack failed. He teleports the wreckage of Steppenwolf's fleet directly onto Darkseid's palace. When the destruction is over, Darkseid emerges from the rubble. Highfather, ruler of New Genesis, contacts him to warn that if Darkseid attacks again, he'll be wiped out once and for all.
Aboard the Watchtower, Hawkgirl uses the monitors to watch birds at flight on the planet below. J'onn comes in and telepathically senses that she is missing her homeworld. He apologizes for prying and offers to listen if she wants to talk about Thanagar.
On Apokolips, Darkseid oversees the reconstruction of the planet and discusses his plans with Desaad. Dessad notes that Darkseid erred in launching the attack on New Genesis to acquire the Anti-Life Equation. Darkseid destroys him with a burst of the Omega Force, and then watches as a massive planet approaches Apocalypse.
Hawkgirl talks about how she came to Earth when she was caught in a teleport beam used by criminals on Thanagar. Her homeworld is so far away that it's never had contact with the Green Lantern Corps. J'onn talks about how most of the League members are orphans, and the satellite shakes with an energy backlash. He and Hawkgirl go to the control room where Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman have gathered. The energy backlash is the result of a boom tube, an Apokolips teleportation device. Darkseid steps through and Superman immediate attacks him. J'onn and Wonder Woman hold their comrade back, giving Darkseid the opportunity to explain that Brainiac, the Kryptonian super-computer, has launched an attack on Apokolips. After the failed assault on New Genesis, Darkseid's military forces are unable to oppose Brainiac. Superman doubts his explanation, but Darkseid notes that if Superman doesn't assist, millions of people on Apokolips will die. Darkseid tells them to consider his offer of an alliance and departs.
Superman refuses to help Darkseid, shocking his comrades, and insists that Darkseid has some ulterior plan. Batman observes that Superman is angry because the last time the hero met Darkseid, he was brainwashed and used in an invasion of Earth. He tells Superman to get over it, while J'onn suggests that if Brainiac is left unopposed his destruction of planet will be Krypton's only legacy. Superman agrees to help the others, but insists that Darkseid has something else planned. He asks Batman to do something for him.
Darkseid's forces launch an attack on Brainiac, but his ship's forcefield repels them with ease. He destroys the attack drones, repelling the forces of Darkseid's son, Kalibak. Darkseid receives word that the Justice League has agreed to help, and creates a boom tube so that Superman, Hawkgirl, and J'onn can arrive in a Javelin. As they arrive, Brainiac begins to assemble a massive device to assimilate Apokolips.
B atman and Wonder Woman take a boom tube to New Genesis to contact Orion. A giant worm attacks them and they are soon overwhelmed. However, a humanoid figure throws a gas bomb into the creature's mouth, driving it off. He gets the two heroes to safety and introduces himself as Forager, a New Genesis "Bug." Forager explains that Orion and his ilk are gods, who literally live above them in a vast hovering city.
Superman and Hawkgirl attack the forcefield while J'onn pilots the Javelin. When Superman is unable to get through the forcefield, Darkseid says that he has a plan.
Wonder Woman flies up to the city of New Genesis, and one of the New Gods, Lightray, intercepts her and Batman. He wonders what kind of bugs they are. Wonder Woman takes offense and chases after the mischievous being, dropping Batman ahead of her. She lures Lightray back to Batman, who snags him in his cape. Before they can get answers, Orion arrives and demands to know why they have invaded New Genesis.
Following Darkseid's plan, Superman taunts Brainiac into opening his forcefield and blasting the hero. Superman manages to open a gap in the field and resist the energy beams, and Darkside launches an attack, smashing Brainiac down. Superman gets through and attacks Brainiac, disabling the forcefield, and Kalibak's troops destroy the villain's machinery. Brainiac teleports out of Superman's grasp, returning to his ship. He returns fire and knocks Superman and Hawkgirl down, and then departs. Disgusted, Darkseid tells them to finish the job.
The heroes follow Brainiac in the Javelin, and enter an asteroid field. Brainiac disappears among the asteroids, and the Javelin is caught in a tractor beam. They are pulled into the asteroid... shaped like Brainiac's head.
Making his first official Justice League appearance, Brainiac is another long-time recurring Superman foe from the comics (first appearance - Action Comics #242, July 1958). A humanoid computer created by the computer tyrants of an alien planet, Brainiac possesses implacable intelligence and his evil knew no bounds, but he lacked any fashion sense whatsoever - he wore a pink tunic and short pants which has been immortalized in Challenge of the Superfriends and Cartoon Network parody ads of same. Brainiac was best known for having shrunk an entire Kryptonian city, Kandor, and tucking it away on his spaceship. Brainiac briefly became even more computer-like pre-Crisis, and then got retconned post-Crisis as a Coluan scientist who worked for the computer overlords and took over the body of a sideshow mentalist, the Amazing Brainiac.
Just to make things even more confusing, in Superman: The Animated Series, we got a new Brainiac (in "The Last Son of Krypton"), who was the computer system on Krypton and hid the impending disaster from the Council, then escaped at the last moment, made his way to Earth, and battled Superman on numerous occasions. It is that Brainiac that we see here.
Making here his first appearance in the Justice League series, Darkseid in the comics first showed up in Jimmy Olsen #134 (yes, really!) and is the creation (both writing and drawing) of Jack Kirby. In the remains of the final battle of the Old Gods, two planets were formed - New Genesis and Apokolips. Darkseid rules the planet Apokolips with an iron fist and soon became instrumental in Kirby's Fourth World series of comics (see The New Gods below). Darkseid's ultimate goal is the Anti-Life Equation, with which he can rule the universe. Although Darkseid started relatively small (bringing together the Secret Society of Super-Villains was one of his major schemes), his popularity in the Super Powers Saturday morning cartoon show led to increased visibility in the comics and he soon became a major player with near-endless power in the DC universe and the source of several crossover series such as Legends. He was featured in a number of Superman: The Animated Series episodes, starting with "Tools of the Trade" and going on to a further five appearances, including the series finale, "Legacy." His appearance here is connected directly from "Legacy." This is his first appearance on Justice League.
The New Gods
Jack Kirby was a busy bee in the 60' - he wrote and drew the entire Fourth World concept, which spanned four titles in one of the first instances of such a "crossover": The New Gods, The Forever People, Mister Miracle, and Jimmy Olsen. Collectively, the term "New God" applies to any inhabitant of either planet, New Genesis or Apokolips. New Gods the comic book focused primarily on Orion, son of Darkseid and given over to Highfather, ruler of New Genesis, as a treaty-hostage. Orion grew to hate his father and aided the New Gods, hiding a berserker rage behind a carefully-crafted facial illusion. Mister Miracle focused on Scott Free, the son of Highfather given over to Darkseid and raised in the slave pits, until he broke free and travelled to Earth to become an escape artist and superhero. Other New Gods include Barda (raised on Apokolips, married Mister Miracle), Metron (an enigmatic god of dubious morality and an insatiable thirst for knowledge), Lightray (a young, energetic light-manipulator), Forager (one of the "bugs" of New Genesis), the Forever People (six hippie-ish young wanderers), Steppenwolf (one of Darkseid's generals), Kalibak (the son of Darkseid and stepbrother of Orion), the Black Racer (a figure of death who flew the skies on super-skis - guess what Earth-type skin tone he possessed based on his name), Glorious Godfrey (see also Eclipsed later in the season), Desaad (Darkseid's torturer), Granny Goodness (trainer for Darkseid's minions), Vermin Vundabar (Darkseid minion obsessed with Earth's Germany), Kanto (Darkseid's personal assassin intrigued by the Machiavellian era of Italy), and dozens more. All of these "New Gods" have greater-then-human strength and durability although are not literally omnipotent or divine.
Orion first appeared in New Gods, Vol. 1 #1 (Feb-March 1971). Created by Jack Kirby, Orion is the savage son of Darkseid by Tigra. Like most New Gods, Orion possessed super-human strength and stamina. He further augments his powers with the Astro-Glider, which lets him focus his energy into concussive blasts and flight capability. He also has a Mother Box, which not only conceals his animal-like features but soothes his savagery and lets him open teleportational "boom tubes." When the worlds of New Genesis and Apokolips declared a truce, he was given to New Genesis as a hostage. Highfather attempted to temper his savagery with some small success, and turned son against father. Since then, Orion has fought Darkseid at every turn, foiling a number of schemes. He briefly joined the Justice League to thwart the threat of Mageddon.
In the WB animated universe, Orion first appeared in Superman: The Animated Series in the episode "Apokolips...Now". His fighting abilities, prowess, and issues with his father remain the same as above. This is his first appearance in Justice League.
Kalibak first appeared in New Gods, Vol. 1 #1 (Feb-March 1971). Created by Jack Kirby, Kalibak is the bestial son of Darkseid by Suli, and half-brother to Orion (whose mother is Heggra). Despite possessing vast strength which he augments even further with his "Beta Club," Kalibak is dumb as a doorknob and prone to fits of savagery. Because of this, he gets little respect from his father despite his slavish devotion.
In the WB animated universe, Kalibak first appeared in Superman: The Animated Series in the episode "Father's Day". Much of his background was unrevealed but his fighting abilities, prowess, and issues with his father remain the same as above. He appeared sporadically in that series and this is his first appearance in Justice League.