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 founder of the Fourth Reich and Tartarus, 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:
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.
Ambiguously Brown: He's generally been portrayed as Caucasian, but his skin tone has changed shades across various media, with Justice League: Doom and Young Justice portraying him with something akin to a Scary Black Man appearancenote Though Young Justice's Savage- who is a Neanderthal rather than Cro-Magnon- doesn't really resemble any contemporary human ethnic or racial group. He's far bigger and bulkier than any other human on the show, and though his facial features have a somewhat African cast, his skin is a light brown-gray color that no other character shares. It helps that he's of Cro-Magnon origin, and that Genghis Khan (who was of Mongoloid ancestry) was said to be one of his conquering aliases in history.
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.
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.
Boisterous Bruiser: Demon Knights Vandal is a wandering, violence-loving immortal who hasn't reached "world domination" stage yet. The result is basically BRIAN BLESSED.
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: And very gifted at it, too. For example, in the Justice League episode "Maid of Honor," when Wonder Woman's trying to crash his wedding to Princess Audrey:
Wonder Woman: Audrey, stop! I won't let you marry him! He's...
(Savage shoots her with an energy bolt)
Savage:(calmly re-holstering his gun) Does anyone else have any objection?
Another example drawn from the episode "Hereafter," after Superman's arrived in the desolated future Earth and has met the future Savage:
Superman: You're insane.
Vandal Savage: True, but that doesn't mean I'm not good company. 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.
Doomsday Device: He loves these. In the Justice League episode "Hereafter," for example, he used a gravity-manipulating device that upset the balance of the solar system and wiped out the entire human race as a result.
In Justice League Task Force Savage and the JLTF team up to stop someone threatening his company. Between a Gambit Pileup and Savage's Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, the Task Force soon lose track of whether they're still on the same side or not...
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.
If he was Caesar and history records Caesar as dead, he could have had a hand in Caesar's "death".
Faux Affably Evil: Savage (who, having been alive since caveman days, is a little bit more than Really 700 Years Old) has often acted quite genteel towards Earth's heroes. He also had an unsatisfactory minion for dinner with some of his colleagues and other subordinates. Sorry, he had the minion as dinner. He's a sociopath who is surprisingly persuasive. Not actually likable, but still fairly persuasive, if only through the controversial "agree or I burn your parents alive" technique.
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.
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...
Getting Crap Past the Radar: In the Justice League episode "Maid of Honor", he marries the Crown Princess of Kaznia, Audrey. After their wedding, she's shown waking up in bed wearing nothing but a skimpy nightgown, and is confused when she looks to the other side of the bed and sees Vandal isn't there, making it entirely clear that he consummated his union with her.
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.
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.
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.
Pet the Dog: Genuinely cares for the Ray, going so far as to offer his own soul in exchange for Neron leaving Ray alone. It's not an isolated incident, either; he's an almost entirely positive influence in Ray's life, encouraging and enabling him to live up to his potential, up to and including giving Ray a high-paying (and ethically ok) job in the field he's most qualified for. Part of the irony of the book is that Savage is actually a better father figure than Ray's true father, an actual superhero.
The Purge: Once organised one to get rid of all the living relatives of superheroes. It did manage to kill some of them, including Mister America, and most of Captain Steel's family, but it also created the new Citizen Steel in the process.
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.
Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: One story has Savage seemingly losing his immortality due to a unidentified enemy secretly tracking down and murdering his every single descendant. Considering Ghenghis Khan alone, one of his old identities, is thought to have descendants numbering in the hundreds of thousands, that's an impressive feat.
Seen It All: Having lived as long as he has, in a universe as bizarre as the DC universe can get, this does tend to happen. His Demon Knights iteration was overjoyed to see a pirate sea serpent, something he'd never seen before, nor exclaimed about.
Society Marches On: In his first appearance, Savage abruptly learns that he will need a birth certificate to pass a background check for a government position, something he has never needed before and has no idea how to get. He resorts to stealing Doiby Dickles' certificate, attracting the attention of Alan Scott.
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 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.
In the early 1980s, Savage emigrated from his original Earth-Two to Earth-One so that he could take advantage of this. It worked until he decided to make Superman a Hero with Bad Publicity and the Man of Steel tricked him into an Engineered Public Confession.
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.
World Domination: What he wants to achieve, across all media. The sole exception is his alternate-future self in the Justice League episode "Hereafter," where he's The Atoner instead.
And the partial exception of his Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes 'main Star Trek timeline' incarnation (Flint), which did a heel-face turn at some point in ancient Mesopotamia. He was still Alexander the Great, but otherwise Flint appears to have focused much more on art and science than Vandal Savage (culminating in quitting Earth and setting up shop on a remote planetoid to live in peace).