Vandal Savage is truly one of the DC Universe’s deadliest villains. He is an immortal that is practically the perfect tactician due to a literal centuries worth of knowledge and experience; and with this, he is a man who is able to live up to his namesake. As an immortal, Vandal Savage has left numerous marks in DC’s comic history, as well as its present. His overall history is worth going over in order to understand the sort of impact he left on the DC Universe.
Vandal Savage’s origin starts out strange as he was born around 50,000 B.C. as the caveman, Vandal Adg (a pretty fancy name for a caveman…), and was the leader of a Cro-Magnon tribe. His life is inadvertently changed when a highly irradiated meteorite comes crashing from the sky near Vandal’s location. When coming into contact with the meteorite Vandal absorbed all of its energy and became a highly-intelligent immortal (‘cause in comics’ radiation gives you rad powers and not cancer…). Despite being highly intelligent Vandal has little empathy for human life as there have been records of him being the first cannibal in human history (talk about “savage and no chill”). Eventually Vandal would drop his last name “Adg” in place of “Savage.”
Savage would eventually make his first mark in human history as he formed a group that would later be known as the “illuminati,” who have helped aided him in successfully toppling and literally destroying the famed civilization, Atlantis.
Throughout DC’s history he would adapt various names and personalities that would eventually become historically infamous including: two ancient Egyptian rulers (Khafre, Cheops), Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Blackbeard, Vlad the Impaler, and Jack the Ripper. He also served as an advisor for other infamous historical figures including: Erik the Red, William the Conqueror, Napoleon Bonaparte, Otto von Bismarck, and Adolf Hitler (‘cause nothing says evil like being bros with Hitler).
It was during the 1940’s Vandal Savage came into conflict with the first iteration of “The Justice Society,” setting him up as a legacy villain for those who took on Green Lantern and Flash mantle. With his newfound hatred for the Justice Society, he would set up his own group, appropriately named, “Injustice Society;” with members including: Wizard, Brainwave, Gambler, Per Degaton, and The Thinker (no, not that Marvel villain…). Though they came in conflict with the Justice Society multiple times, they were never successful in defeating them.
With his iteration of Injustice Society being unsuccessful, Vandal Savage would form another group known as the “Tartarus,” which has been covered in an earlier article on Damien Darhk.
In later events Vandal Savage would attempt a financial takeover of New York through the distribution of “Velocity Nine” (the same drug that the “Rival” concocted years ago), as a drug to people in influential positions—including lawyers and stockbrokers, in order to control them. Wally West soon comes into the picture as he begins to notice that people are exhibiting similar speed powers as him. His investigation would bring him into conflict with Vandal Savage. As the two fought Wally was injected with Velocity Nine, temporarily leaving him powerless. Before Vandal could give Wally a second dose one Vandal’s subjects turns against him and injects him with the speed drug, rapidly aging him.
Vandal Savage would later recover and play a prominent role during the events of, “Final Crises.” During this event Vandal Savage is approach by the organization, “Religion of Crime” (Their worst crime? Soliciting people at their doorsteps…I kid—kid…). They reveal to him that they ‘ve worshipped him as they believe that he is the Biblical Cain, the first murderer. The organization would then revive Cain within Vandal Savage by plunging the Pick—err I meant the Spear of Destiny into him (no innuendo, get your mind out of the gutter). As the newly-awakened Cain, Savage hunted down Spectre, the Spirit of Vengeance (who would have made his debut on Constantine…thanks NBC…) and enslaved him with the Spear of Destiny by separating him from his human host. The Spectre’s enslavement would only be temporary as the heroine Renee Montoya, under the guise of “The Question,” reunites the spirit with his human host. When back in power, though the Spectre spares Vandal Savage, he brands him with the “Mark of Cain,” opening him to eternal persecution by the human race until he faces God’s final punishment.
As reboots go, Vandal Savage’s status is soon reverted back to normal in the aftermath of the “Flashpoint” event. He is last seen as the leader for another group called, “Secret Society of Super Villains” (‘cause Savage knows how to keep a low profile), and is in conflict with Pandora (yes, that Pandora); and—oh yeah, he has a daughter in the FBI named Kate Sage.
Be sure to check out Casper Crump’s take on Vandal Savage on CW’s Legends of Tomorrow!