|“||I live to rule.||„|
|~ Vandal Savage's famous quote.|
|“||I am not a caveman. I am a visionary. A veteran and orchestrator of every significant war mankind has ever had. And I will continue to shape the world for the war of tomorrow. My tomorrow.||„|
|~ Vandal Savage|
In 2009, Vandal Savage was ranked as IGN's 36th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time. He first appeared in Green Lantern vol. 1 #10 (Winter 1943), and was created by Alfred Bester and Martin Nodell.
In the days of prehistory, 50,000 BC, Savage was a caveman named Vandar Adg, leader of the Cro-Magnon Blood Tribe. He was bathed in the radiation of a mysterious meteorite, which gave him incredible intellect and immortality. An observer from the Bear Tribe would later approach that same meteorite and become Savage's eternal nemesis, the Immortal Man, possessing the power to resurrect as a new persona every time he is killed. According to Lex Luthor, there may be evidence to suggest that Savage was the first cannibal on record. Though the Calculator mistook this to be a joke, Luthor was apparently serious, and Savage has not shown much regard for human life.
In the pre-Crisis universe, Savage was native to Earth-2, but as seen in Action Comics #516, thousands of years in the past a sorcerer revealed to him both the future existence of the Justice Society (even showing him a battle he would have with them, with Hourman in their ranks), and the existence of Earth-1.
Savage's first mark in the "history" of the DC Universe came when he and a select group of people successfully undermined and destroyed the lost city of Atlantis. That group of people became known as the Illuminati, with Savage serving as its leader, then and ever since.
He claims to have ruled hundreds of civilizations under hundreds of names: Khafre, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar (though he has also claimed to have participated in the murder of Julius Caesar), Genghis Khan, Blackbeard, and Vlad the Impaler, to name a few. He has also worked as close friends and advisers to the likes of Erik the Red, Napoleon Bonaparte, Ra's al Ghul, Otto von Bismarck, and Adolf Hitler.
During the Golden Age, Savage battled the Justice Society of America. He attempted to capture the members of the Justice Society out of revenge, but was thwarted by the Golden and Silver Age Flashes (Jay Garrick and Barry Allen). Savage would continue to make various attacks on the Justice Society in later stories. He was also one of the founding members of the Injustice Society, and briefly formed a group of villains called Tartarus. He is one of the main antagonists in the JLA: Year One storyline, working against the recently-formed JLA, and harboring a deep hatred towards superheroes and the invading alien Appelaxians. During one confrontation with the aliens, Savage claims to have designed Stonehenge itself, which the aliens have just partially demolished. Savage also mentions that he shut down the Justice Society with "a few well-placed senators."
Ultimately, Savage's enemy the Immortal Man erased himself from existence to save the world during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and Mitch Shelley, the Resurrection Man, an amnesiac with similar powers, took over as Savage's nemesis. However, Savage's list of foes is not limited to those two characters. Having lived so long, Savage has butted heads with possibly every single hero featured in the DC Universe, past, present, and future, most notably the Justice Society of America and the Justice League of America.
Original Green Lantern Alan Scott (in comics, his very first opponent) has been portrayed as one of Savage's main enemies, as well as the original Flash, Jay Garrick. It has been revealed that Savage refers to Hawkman – who has been reincarnated for a few millennia – as "the cockroach". At present, in DC universe, Savage is about 52,000 years old, although different numbers have been given in the past, from one million years in his first depiction, to 37,000 years in recent issues of JSA: Classified.
DC One Million
In this series, it is learned Savage has a base deep inside the Egyptian Sphinx. A confrontation with Martian Manhunter leaves him with a burnt out eye, which seemingly afflicts him far into the future.
Savage will possibly meet his end after he has lived to the year 85,271 A.D. (as seen in the DC One Million storyline), when he is sent back in time to 20th century Montevideo, Uruguay, by a pair of doctored timetravelling gauntlets, seconds before it is obliterated by a Rocket Red armorsuit carrying a huge nuclear payload, an action that was, ironically, ordered by Savage himself (Savage was hoping to use the gauntlets to move only through space and arrive at the 853rd century Metropolis). At this point, the timetravelling hero Chronos is heard in the background, gloating about having conned Savage in retaliation for a previous adventure when Savage had him stranded in time. This is, however, only one possible future for Savage.
Vandal Savage was seen in the final two issues of Villains United. Originally Savage was a member of Lex Luthor's Society, but he quit the Society and told Lex not to contact him for any reason after Luthor blew him off to welcome some less than competent new recruits. It is also plausible that Vandal quit because his daughter Scandal Savage was working against the Society as part of the Secret Six. When the Society lodged a final ambush against the Six, Savage threatened to kill Luthor if he didn't call off the attack, saying that he couldn't allow anyone to harm his daughter.
This was shown to be due more to ulterior motives than fatherly love, as in issue three of the Secret Six miniseries it was revealed Savage wants his daughter to produce an heir with Catman, and he's been putting bounties on the Secret Six's heads as a warning of what will happen to her lover, Knockout, if she refuses him.
Flash and JSA
Savage was seen as leader of a doomsday cult. He attempted to use a device to pull an asteroid into the Earth, but was thrown into space with the asteroid itself when the Flash reversed the polarity of the device. Eventually the asteroid fell back on Earth with Savage, who found his power greatly diminished and having lived through what he called the worst year of his life. His immortality completely drained, he's still able to survive otherwise fatal wounds, but a brain tumor and a strong decay of his biological function are leading him to a fast death, with an estimated life span of eleven days. Savage tried to capture Alan Scott by baiting him with a grotesque (and disguised) Wesley Dodds clone, who, in fact, was his own clone. After a failed attempt to steal Scott's DNA, Savage was left alone in the rubble of his former secret base. Realizing that his clone could be considered his own offspring, and that the blood of his descendants has always renewed his strength, Savage cooked and ate his clone, renewing his energies at least for another year.
Savage returns in the first story arc of the new Justice Society of America, the mastermind behind a group of Neonazi superpowered villains targeting the heirs of several Golden Age superhero bloodlines, in the belief that eliminating the bloodlines will eliminate the heroes' legacies and allow him to continue his goal of reshaping the world according to his own desires. In issue #4, after a battle with Wildcat and his newly-discovered son, Savage is defeated when hit by a fire truck. He later reappears in Atlantis where he's revealed to have been behind the atrocities in Sub Diego and Black Manta's occupation of the city.
Vandal Savage was one of the villains imprisoned on the "Hell Planet" of Salvation Run. He claims to have puzzled out the mechanical workings of the planet and used this knowledge to locate a "safe zone" without any of the predators that roam the rest of the world.He intends to mate with the female supervillains in his group, and produce an immortal progeny.
He has placated some of the more willful of the females (like Phobia and Cheetah) by promising each of them that they will be his queen when he rules the planet. Ultimately, Savage escapes back to Earth along with the rest of the imprisoned villains following an attack by Parademons sent by Desaad (who used the planet as a training ground).
After returning to Earth, in Final Crisis Vandal Savage is placed on the new Society's inner circle by Libra. As he says to Lex Luthor, Vandal is willing to follow Libra in exchange for his heart's desire, an end to his boredom.
In Final Crisis: Revelations, the Order of the Stone (the followers of Cain) comes in possession of the Spear of Destiny. Later, a group of followers led by Sister Wrack enter Vandal Savage's tent. They plunge the Spear of Destiny into Vandal's body. Thus Cain is reborn in him, and agrees to lead the Followers into punishing the Spectre for branding him because of his ancient crime. Using the Spear, Cain is able to separate the Spectre from his human host, and make him his slave. Cain's plans are undone by Renee Montoya, who manages to steal the Spear and reunite the Spectre with his host. The Spectre, forbidden by God to kill Cain, instead sentences him to walk the Earth, unable to disguise himself, being forever reviled and persecuted by the rest of the human race and denied rest until God says otherwise.
The superhero team known as the Outsiders come into conflict with a mysterious group calling themselves the Insiders, who are tracking down the fragments of the meteorite that granted Savage his immortality. It is ultimately revealed that the Insiders were members of Savage's tribe who were also exposed to the meteorite and gained immortality. Savage (still possessing the Mark of Cain) forms a temporary alliance with fellow immortal Ra's al Ghul to thwart the group's plan.
Whether true or not, Vandal Savage has come to believe he literally is the Biblical Cain. The mark he still bears hampers his ability to do his business and thus he attempts to pass it off - to either the Question or the Huntress. It is hinted that the Rage entity resides in Savage.
Being immortal has not stopped Vandal Savage from procreating. Scandal Savage is his daughter and the only one of his children he considers his heir. He has trained her in combat since she was a young child. Scandal is a member of the Secret Six and by her own admission is "damned hard to kill". The Demon Grendel is also one of Vandal Savage's children claiming that Vandal Savage "mount the cave beast of my mother". He refers to Vandal as Cain the first murderer.
Powers and Abilities
As a result of the radiation from the meteorite that he encountered as an early Cro-Magnon,
- Immortality: He possesses immortality; unable to die, age, rot, get sick from conventional diseases or ailments. He also has accelerated healing abilities.
- Genius Intellect: He is long-life on Earth and his increased intellect from the meteorite makes him a considerable super-genius, highly skilled in many fields he has dabbled in for the past thousands of years
- Charisma: His experience as a powerful leader figure over the years has afforded Savage a high level of charismatic ability and notable skills as wooing others to suit his needs.
- Enhanced Strength: Vandal’s physical strength is enhanced beyond human norms due to the meteorite.
- Enhanced Speed: He can move at higher speeds and think faster than the average person due to the effects of the meteorite.
- Enhanced Stamina: Vandal’s body eliminates the excessive build-up of fatigue-producing chemicals in his muscles, granting him limitless endurance and lung capacity. He can exert himself at peak capacity indefinitely.
Vandal Savage was the villain in the 1997 Elseworlds limited series Batman: Dark Knight Dynasty. In this story, Savage is obsessed with recovering the meteor that gave him his immortality, believing that it will reveal why he became what he has. Over the centuries, he finds himself opposing the members of the Wayne family throughout history, starting with medieval knight Sir Joshua of Wainwright, to contemporary Bruce Wayne (Vandal saved Bruce's parents from the mugging that killed them in 'real' history, but killed them when Bruce was an adult to ensure they did not stop him from reacquiring the meteor, only for him and Bruce to perish when they fell to Earth after a battle in space), to futuristic Vice President Brenda Wayne. At the conclusion of this last battle, Vandal was left drifting through space on the meteor, determined to learn the purpose of his life.
Another Elseworld story, Flashpoint, had Savage running a space-exploration corporation with the help of the crippled Barry Allen. He tried to use technology stolen from J'onn J'onzz to kill humanity (he wanted to commit suicide in the grandest manner possible), but was killed by Barry Allen, who sacrificed his life to stop the alien device.
In the limited series Kingdom Come, Vandal Savage is a member of Lex Luthor's Mankind Liberation Front, but is captured by Batman and his allies when he gets mauled by that timeline's version of Wildcat.
In other media
- Vandal Savage is seen in several episodes of the animated series Justice League voiced by Phil Morris. This version of Savage, in addition to being an immortal, has enhanced healing properties in the style of Wolverine. His origin is the same as that of his comic book counterpart, except it is revealed in the episode "Maid of Honor" his age is half of that in the comics - 25,000 years. The League first encounters Savage in the three-part episode "The Savage Time", when he manages to alter history and cause Nazi Germany to win World War II. The only League member affected by the time alteration is Batman (as the rest were shielded by Green Lantern's energy at the time) and they eventually find a portal to the past and undo Vandal's treachery. Next, in "Maid of Honor", Savage, claiming to be the "grandson" of himself, was engaged to Princess Audrey II of Kasnia, but was secretly working with a secret faction of the Kasnian military to install a railgun onto the International Space Station Platform 1, thereby allowing the European country of Kasnia, through Savage, to dictate control over the world. The League once again foiled him and Savage was incarcerated in Kasnia, but later escaped at some unspecified time. Savage's last appearance was in "Hereafter", when, a few months after the supposed death of Superman, he used a gravity controlling device to kill the League, but accidentally unbalanced Earth's orbit and killed the rest of the human race. Savage spent 30,000 years alone, feeling ashamed of his desire for control and the catastrophe it had unleashed. After discovering Superman - who had actually been sent to the future rather than killed - in his present, he worked with the Man of Steel to finish construction of a time machine he had developed, allowing him to send Superman back and change history. In the end, Savage witnessed the changes Superman had achieved as Metropolis came to life again, and faded from existence with the words "Thank you, my friend" on his lips.
- During the season 7 episode of Smallville called "Cure", the character of Dr. Curtis Knox (portrayed by Dean Cain) is an immortal who has lived for centuries under various names, and has actually been historical figures such as Napoleon Bonaparte and Jack the Ripper. An IGN review stated Knox is "obviously based on Vandal Savage". The comic book character has taken on subsequent characteristics, such as taking organs from his offspring to survive, but nothing has been made concrete in the show.
- In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, there is a character named Kru'll the Eternal voiced by Michael Dorn. Kru'll shares the same origins as Vandal Savage, both being prehistoric cavemen transformed by a meteorite. However, the meteorite that affected Kru'll, in addition to knowledge and immortality, granted him tremendous strength. His appearance and personality deviate from Vandal Savage's as well. Whereas Vandal Savage dresses appropriate to the times and fights in an knowledgeable manner, Kru'll maintains his look as a caveman and resorts to brutish tactics such as swinging around the club he carries or smashing his opponents with a large rock, though he is knowledgeable despite his demeanor. Scenes set in the 25th century show him dressed in period-appropriate clothing. In the episode "Menace of the Conqueror Caveman!", Kru'll captures Booster Gold's companion, Skeets. He attempts to use him alongside the same meteorite that gave him his powers to do the same to a group of his associates. As a point of fact, the information for the episode refers to him as Vandal Savage. As a tip of the hat to his comic book counterpart, two of Kru'll's associates are dressed as Genghis Khan and Julius Caesar. The visual appearance of Kru'll and some of his personality traits and methods are inspired by the Captain Marvel villain King Kull. Booster Gold mentioned that they had clashed before in the future, thought their supposed "clash" was in reality Booster Gold simply bumping into him, causing Kru'll to spill some of the coffee he was drinking on his suit.
- Vandal Savage makes his live-action debut as the main antagonist of the TV series DC's Legends of Tomorrow. Time-traveler Rip Hunter must gather up a group of heroes and villains from the Arrow-verse to battle Savage, who seeks to destroy time and the universe. In the pilot episode of the series, Savage is revealed to have be responsible for the deaths of Rip's wife and son. Savage also appears in the Arrow and Flash crossover episodes "Legends of Today" and "Legends of Yesterday".