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Send me your superheroes from past, present OR future. I'll kill all of them.—Vandal Savage, DC One Million Vol. 1, #2
Vandal Savage is a DC Comics super-villain created by writer Alfred Bester and artist Martin Nodell. He first appeared in Green Lantern Vol. 1, # 10 (Winter, 1943) as an enemy of Alan Scott, the Green Lantern of the Golden Age. Since then, he has appeared across various DC Comics titles and clashed with individual superheroes and superhero teams.
Savage's history goes back to prehistoric times. Previously known as Vandar Adg (translated as Vandar The Stone) of the Cro-Magnon Blood Tribe, in 50,000 B.C. he encountered a meteor that fell to Earth one cold night. Depending on the version of the character, he either lapsed into a coma from its radiations or willingly slept near the meteor for warmth; either way, in the process, he was bathed in its rays and ended up as an immortal being.
Since then he has appeared throughout history under different aliases and in different positions of power among different empires, all to further his own aims of eventual global conquest. Due to his immortality, he's had several lifetimes to acquire great combat, military, tactical and leadership skills, and is vastly knowledgeable in the world's history, sciences, arts and technology--adding to this, in all versions of the character, the meteor's power also gave him Super Intelligence. He possesses superior physical strength and endurance, can heal from most wounds, is versed in magic, and is able to create inter-dimensional warps.
He is the leader of the DC Universe's Illuminati, and has also been associated with the Secret Society of Super-Villains and the Injustice Society. He was also part of the inner circle of Libra's Society during Final Crisis.
His primary archenemy is the Immortal Man, who also hails from the Cro-Magnon period and gained the power of repeated reincarnation from the same meteor Savage got his powers from. Following The Immortal Man's death, the title of archenemy for Savage went to the Resurrection Man, an unrelated superhero with similar powers.
Savage has also fought against the Teen Titans, the Outsiders, the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America, and butted heads with individual heroes such as Superman, Batman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, both versions of The Question, Rip Hunter and the Ray.
Savage also appeared in the DC Animated Universe's Justice League series (voiced by Phil Morris), as the Big Bad of the three-part episode "The Savage Time" and the two-part "Maid of Honor," and he also appeared in the second half of the two-part "Hereafter." He has also appeared in DC Universe Online (voiced by Brian Talbot) and more recently he has appeared in the Young Justice animated series (voiced by Miguel Ferrer) and the animated movie, Justice League Doom (with Phil Morris reprising the role).
He was ranked the 36th "Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time" by IGN in 2009.
Some of the comic book titles where Vandal Savage has appeared:
- Action Comics
- All-Star Comics
- Batman: The Return Of Bruce Wayne
- Crisis on Infinite Earths Vol. 1, #4
- DC One Million
- Demon Knights
- Detective Comics
- Batman: Dark Knight Dynasty
- Kingdom Come
- Final Crisis
- The Flash
- Green Lantern Vol. 1, #10
- Guns of the Dragon
- Hawkman Vol. 3, #0
- Justice League International Vol. 2, #66
- Justice League Task Force
- Resurrection Man
- Salvation Run
- Secret Six
- Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes
- Time Masters
- Villains United Vol. 1, #5, #6
- Zero Hour Vol. 1, #4
Tropes associated with Vandal Savage:
- Above Good and Evil: Often claims to be this. In the Christopher Priest penned stories, he even believes it, and behaves according to it.
- Abusive Parents: He essentially threatened his daughter Scandal with the death of her teammates in the Secret Six if she didn't produce an heir for him. She did not take it well.
- Affably Evil: Sometimes. In fact, post-Flashpoint, he's shown as a rather likeable sort in Demon Knights.
- The Aggressive Drug Dealer: When he was manufacturing and distributing Velocity 9, a drug that granted super-speed at the cost of burning out the user's body.
- Apocalypse How: Achieves it off-screen in the Justice League episode "Hereafter."
- Arch Enemy: Primarily to the Immortal Man and later to the Resurrection Man, as explained above, but also arguably to Alan Scott, Wally West, the Justice League, the Justice Society, and the Titans.
- Archnemesis Dad: To his daughter Scandal.
- Aristocrats Are Evil
- Artifact of Doom: He's wielded a few, including the Spear of Destiny.
- The Atoner: In the Justice League episode "Hereafter," he sincerely regrets his past actions.
Vandal Savage: (about Superman's "death" in the past) Your funeral was lovely. It was on all the networks. I used to have the DVD.
Superman: I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Vandal Savage: As a matter of fact, I did. But I've had 30,000 years to reconsider.
- Authority Equals Asskicking
- Auto Cannibalism: Having lost his immortality in one story, he restores it by eating a disfigured clone of himself.
- Awesome McCoolname: Vandar Adg, his true name. Of course, Vandal Savage isn't a wimpy name either.
- Ax Crazy
- Bad Boss
- Badass Abnormal
- Badass Beard/Beard of Evil/Beard of Barbarism
- Badass Boast: See the page quote for just one example.
- Badass in a Nice Suit
- Badass Longcoat: He's capable of being stylish if he's in the mood...
- Badass Long Hair: Depending on the Artist. The IGN link above provides an example.
- Big Bad: In most of the stories he appears in. One exception is the Fernus storyline in JLA (see Enemy Mine below).
- BFG: In the Justice League episode "Maid of Honor," he used a meteorite-shooting rail gun mounted on a space station to terrorize the planet, and even gave an ocean-targeted demonstration to show he wasn't afraid to use it.
- Casanova: By his own admission, he's bedded countless women throughout the ages for the sole purpose of having numerous descendants from whom he can harvest organs for himself when needed.
- The Chessmaster
- Classic Villain: He hails from as far back as the Golden Age of Comic Books!
- Cold-Blooded Torture: He's not afraid to indulge in this.
- Combat Pragmatist: He's not above using anything within reach as a weapon.
- Contemplative Boss
- Contemporary Caveman: It's easy to forget he's from the Cro-Magnon period.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: One Justice League Task Force storyline portrays him this way.
- Crazy Prepared
- Daddy's Little Villain: He wants his daughter Scandal to be this, but she's not about to comply.
- Dark Messiah: To the Religion of Crime, who worship him as Cain.
- Deadly Doctor: By his own declaration, he conducted syphilis experiments on France's royal family while posing as their court physician.
- His Smallville counterpart, Curtis Knox, proves to be this as well.
- Deadpan Snarker: An example drawn from the Justice League episode "Hereafter," after Superman's arrived in the desolated future Earth and has met the future Savage:
Vandal Savage: Say, you want to come over to my house?
Superman: (gives him a look)
Vandal Savage: Like you've got something better to do.
- And later in the same episode:
Superman: Self-help books? You don't seem the type.
Vandal Savage: I read whatever I can find. Anyway, I've got issues, what with my destroying the Earth and all.
- Death by Irony: In DC One Million, it's posited that after having lived to the 853rd century, Savage goes back in time to the 20th-century Montevideo, Uruguay just in time to get smacked with a nuclear payload that obliterates the city... the irony is, that attack is ordered by 20th-century Savage.
- Death Is Cheap: Being immortal does have its perks.
- Determinator: He just will not stay defeated or dead.
- Diabolical Mastermind
- Doomsday Device: He loves these. In the Justice League episode "Hereafter," for example, he used a gravitational device to destroy the entire solar system.
- Enemy Mine: In one JLA storyline, he had to team up with the Justice League to stop Fernus the Burning, J'onn J'onzz's Super-Powered Evil Side.
- The Emperor: Became Emperor of the Imperial Planets, a very powerful version of The Terran Empire from Star Trek, after somehow trapping Q.
- Evil Chancellor: He's served as an adviser to Erik the Red, Napoleon Bonaparte, Otto von Bismark, Adolf Hitler, and Ra's al Ghul.
- Evil Counterpart: To the Immortal Man, and later to the Resurrection Man.
- Evil Genius
- Evil Sorcerer: He'll dabble in magic if it'll suit his purposes.
- Exposition of Immortality: In addition to his origin as Cro-Magnon caveman, Vandal's maintained a variety of identities in concert with several historical figures; advising William of Normandy during his invasion of England, Napoleon Bonaparte as Marshall Savage, and Otto von Bismarck as the Baron von Savage. He claims that he was Alexander The Great, Ghenghis Khan and Jack the Ripper - though he's also claimed to have participated in Caesar's murder and to have BEEN Caesar.
- Expy: The character of Dr. Curtis Knox in Smallville is likely based on Savage. See here and here.
- For the Evulz: Savage's reason for joining Libra's Society in Final Crisis? He was bored.
- For Want of a Nail: If Rip Hunter hadn't mistaken Savage's father for Savage himself...
- From a Single Cell: He can be physically injured and could conceivably be killed, but his Healing Factor takes care of whatever injury he might sustain (though how quickly it does depends on the severity of the injury). He is also susceptible to infections and disease (he suffers a brain tumor at one point, but he gets better).
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Once upon a time, Vandal Savage was Vandar Adg, who in turn was just one of many Cro-Magnon cavemen trying to survive.
- Gadgeteer Genius
- Genius Bruiser: The genius part is obvious, but he's also a very dangerous hand-to-hand combatant.
- Genre Savvy: Well, he's had thousands upon thousands of years' worth of experience, so...
- A Glass of Chianti: Observe the page image.
- Gloved Fist of Doom
- A God Am I: He declares it to Green Lantern in the Justice League episode "The Savage Time":
Green Lantern: Say your prayers, Savage!
Vandal Savage: A god doesn't grovel.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: He has three scars across his face in Young Justice. Word of God mentions that he gained these during a fight with a cave bear.
- Guinea Pig Family: He uses his own descendants for spare parts to heal himself and maintain his immortality.
- Hannibal Lecture
- Healing Factor: A side-effect of his powers.
- Hero-Killer: He once set up Wally West to fall into a Death Trap that resulted in Wally getting shot through the heart (he got better).
- I Want Grandkids: He has pressured his daughter Scandal to provide him with grandchildren. She refuses because (a) he likely wants them simply as a Guinea Pig Family, and (b) she's a lesbian anyway.
- The Illuminati: He's the leader of the DC Comics version.
- I'm a Humanitarian: He's described by Lex Luthor as quite possibly being the first cannibal on record.
- Immortality Hurts: He often drinks alcohol or takes drugs like opium to dull the pain of his intestinal cancer, which he had at the time he gained his immortality. His Healing Factor keeps it from killing him, but makes it impossible to remove.
- Immortality Immorality
- Impossibly Cool Clothes: He makes a Victorian-era outfit look good in the 20th century.
- Jerkass: Quite possibly the kindest thing anyone can ever say about this man.
- Joker Immunity: As if being immortal wasn't bad enough...
- Julius Beethoven Da Vinci: Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, Blackbeard, Vlad the Impaler, Jack the Ripper, Cain the first murderer, and countless more.
Hawkman: The liar! He was never Cheops! What a blowhard!
- It's revealed in Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes that in the main Star Trek timeline, he's none other than Mr. Flint, the old immortal soldier who at some point in ancient Mesopotamia had a Heel Face Turn away from conquest and towards art and science, and so never became the conqueror Vandal Savage is. Instead, he had the identities of thinkers, visionaries and artists throughout history: Socrates, Solomon, Alexander The Great (again) and Leonardo da Vinci.
- Kick the Dog: Oh, where to start...
- Knife Nut: He's fond of bladed weapons. In fact, he's said to have terrorized London as Jack the Ripper.
- Large Ham: His DCAU incarnation has traces of this.
- Light Is Not Good: His doomsday cult in the "Finish Line" story arc in The Flash. And the aptly-named "The Light" in Young Justice.
- Lightning Bruiser
- Living Forever Is Awesome: He certainly enjoys being immortal, and takes steps to ensure he stays that way. Which makes his moods of weariness all the more hypocritical.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Roy Harper, a.k.a. Arsenal, is one of his blood descendants.
- Mad Scientist: He's dabbled in cloning and has created an addictive super-speed-granting drug, for starters.
- Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: His daughter Scandal.
- Manipulative Bastard
- Man of Wealth and Taste
- Master Poisoner: Did this to the king of Kasnia in the Justice League episode "Maid of Honor."
- Meaningful Name: Self-explanatory.
- Morality Pet: The Ray served as one for him for a while. Savage came to view Ray almost like a son, and would fight off other super villains to protect him. He even offered his soul to the Devil in place of Ray's in what's probably his biggest Pet the Dog moment to date.
- My Grandson, Myself: In the Justice League episode "Maid of Honor," he claims to be Vandal Savage III--the grandson of the Vandal Savage the Justice League met in "The Savage Time." Of course, Wonder Woman doesn't buy it.
- Name of Cain: The Religion of Crime worship him as the reincarnation of the Biblical first murderer, and Lex Luthor says there is evidence that Vandal was the first cannibal.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Well, with a name like Vandal Savage, what else would you expect?
- Non-Indicative Name: On the other hand, he's a lot more cool, calculating, and decisive than the brutish implications his name suggests.
- Never Found the Body: Throughout history, he would periodically fake his death and assume a new identity and/or role whenever he saw that his then-current plans were about to fail.
- Nigh Invulnerability: Thanks to his Healing Factor, to the point that not even dropping a meteor on him will keep him down.
- No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine
- Obviously Evil
- Oh Crap: Gives a very impressive one right before his jet crashes into the ocean in the Justice League episode "The Savage Time." He later inspires this reaction in Kasnia's Princess Audrey in "Maid of Honor," by demonstrating his Healing Factor right after she slaps him and leaves a nasty scratch on his face in the process.
- Omnicidal Maniac
- The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: "The Light" in Young Justice, of which he may be the leader or at least the Primus Inter Pares of the group.
- Putting on the Reich: Several times throughout history in whichever medium he appears, including usurping Adolf Hitler to take command of the Axis powers in the Justice League episode "The Savage Time."
- Religion of Evil: During the "Finish Line" storyline in The Flash Vol. 2, he creates a cult dedicated to the re-summoning of the meteor that gave him his powers in the first place.
- He's also been associated with the Religion of Crime, who used the Spear of Destiny in a ritual to have him receive the Mark of Cain.
- Social Darwinist: Several times.
- The Sociopath
- Supreme Chef: Demonstrated in the Justice League episode "Hereafter."
- Take Over the World: His ultimate goal.
- Time Abyss: Although he appears to be in his late 30s to mid-40s.
- Too Kinky to Torture
- Top One Hundred Comic Book Villains: Number 36, as stated above.
- Ubermensch: To borrow a quote from the Justice League episode "The Savage Time":
Vandal Savage: Who would have thought the ubermensch would be green?
Martian Manhunter: Ubermensch?
Vandal Savage: The superior man.
- Ugly Guys Hot Daughter: His daughter, Scandal Savage, who is a member of the Secret Six.
- The Unfettered: His philosophy boils down to the idea that because he's been around longer than pretty much everyone else, he gets a free pass to do whatever the hell he wants.
- Villainous Breakdown: Had one that lasted for a few issues when he discovered he was dying of a brain tumor that his Healing Factor couldn't fix. During his breakdown, he suddenly understood why normal people are so desperate to stave off death. He got better after he ate his own disfigured clone to fix the problem.
- Has another when Kirk gives him a piece of his mind.
- Villain Teleportation
- Villain with Good Publicity: He'll play this card if it will suit his purposes; in such a case, only superheroes and the reading/viewing audience are completely aware of what sort of individual he actually is. The Justice League episode "Maid of Honor" is an immediate example of him milking the trope.
- We Are Everywhere: Savage has operatives everywhere, especially through the Illuminati.
- Who Names Their Daughter Scandal?
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: There are hints at times that he's rather world-weary. In the Justice League episode "Hereafter," he's had 30,000 years to be The Atoner, indicating this trope's spirit when he appears in person in the episode.
- Wicked Cultured
- Worthy Opponent: Has quite a few. When he finally kills Resurrection Man for good in DC One Million, he says, "Goodbye, old friend."
- Would Hit a Girl: And he has.
- Would Hurt a Child: Yes, he would, whether to upgrade his own immortality or to murder a superhero.
- Xanatos Gambit: Under Christopher Priest, Savage was better at this than the Trope Namer. And this was while he was going up against guys like Martian Manhunter, Triumph, and L-Ron, among others.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness
- You Killed My Father: Rip Hunter did, in an attempt to kill Savage before he became immortal.