The Justice League is tricked into defending Apokolips, Darkseid's homeworld, against the threat of Brainiac. The team solicits the aid of the New Gods. The resulting destruction of Brainiac's base leads to the apparent end of Darkseid.
This episode contains examples of the following tropes:
- Archnemesis Dad: Darkseid the God of Evil is opposed by Orion of the New Gods, who's been gunning for him even before he heard of Darkseid's latest scheme.Orion: (punches Darkseid in the face) Hello, Father. Don't I get a hug?
- Badass Boast: "This is where you belong, Superman. Under my heel!"
- Baddie Flattery: Darkseid has this to say:Darkseid: I'm glad growing up with Highfather hasn't made you soft or weak. You make an old man proud. But I won't let you or anyone else stand in my way.
- Then he breaks his son's spine with a crushing bearhug and leaves him to die on the exploding asteroid with a pithy "spare the rod".
- Batman Gambit: Superman pulls one on Batman, sending him and Wonder Woman to inform New Genesis of what's going on. He almost certainly knew that Orion would go raring after Darkseid regardless of Highfather's decision.Batman: Next time I let Superman take charge, just hit me real hard!
- Berserk Button: Darkseid's very presence is this for Superman - he immediately heads towards him to beat him up after he appear in the Watchtower, and has to be restrained by Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter before he ends up knocking the Watchtower out of orbit in his rage. Quite understandable, because Darkseid brainwashed him years prior.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Orion sarcastically asks Darkseid for a hug. He gets one.
- Call-Forward: To Bruce's dislike of Boom Tubes in Batman Beyond.
- The Cameo: Mister Miracle and the Forever People appear in the final scene.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Darkseid betrays both the Justice League and Brainiac. When Brainiac points it out, Darkseid rather nonchalantly responds, Its what I do.
- Crucified Hero Shot: Superman looks very like this when he's strung up to Brainiac's machine, though this might be unintentional seeing as Superman is in one of his least Christ-like moods in this episode.
- Curse Cut Short: Superman's reply to Brainiac's offer to join him.Superman: "Read my lips: go to -"
- Evil vs. Evil: What is initially depicted between Darkseid and Brainiac until it was revealed that the two are in cahoots in an elaborate plot to capture Superman, until Darkseid actually betrayed Brainiac. However, it was about to start out as such, but Darkseid attempted to first avoid it by making said arrangement in order for Braniac to spare his planet.
- Famous Last Words: Darkseid: "Hmm. Loser."
- Fighting a Shadow: Hawkgirl smashes Brainiac to pieces, apparently killing him- only for the team to be immediately surrounded by dozens of identical Brainiacs, all of which are identical extensions of the central consciousness. Yikes.
- Foreshadowing: Hawkgirl gives Jonn her origin of how she ended up on Earth. Its revealed in the seasons finale, Starcrossed that this origin is a bald-faced lie. In the DVD commentary for the episode, Bruce Timm points out that Hawkgirls dismissiveness when Jonn suggests Brainiacs archives might have information on Thanagar initially seems like overriding concern for Superman but Starcrossed also reveals she was trying to deflect should any of that information lead to her cover as a spy getting blown.
- Batman and Superman are rather antagonistic towards each other in this episode with Batman even calling Superman an idiot when he realizes Superman plans to fight Darkseid while the asteroid explodes around them. This foreshadows the internal conflict the League has been suppressing that will come to a head in Secret Society.
- Go Out with a Smile: Despite getting pounded on by Superman, Darkseid takes solace in noting that his archnemesis was stopped and taken to safety by Batman just before the killing blow could be delivered. He chuckles at this just before the explosion.Darkseid: Loser.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Not in the episode itself, but on the commentary for Part 2, director Butch Lukic does this to himself as the crew was discussing Orion's voice actor, Ron Perlman, and he makes a reference to Perlman's role as the title character of Hellboy. Lukic then backtracks and says "Heckboy".
- Humble Hero: Forager saves the other New Gods.Highfather: You did this?
Forager: Forgive my presumption, Highfather.
- Irony: Orion does battle with Darkseid sarcastically asking him "Don't I get a hug?" to his father. Darkseid finishes the fight by breaking his spine with a bear hug.
- It's What I Do: Darkseid betraying the Justice League and Brainiac in a fake Enemy Mine plan. When Brainiac says, "You deceived me, Darkseid. Used me." Darkseid replies coolly, "It's what I do."
- It's Personal: Superman stayed behind because he wanted to finally get revenge on Darkseid for all the things he did to him, including brainwash him.
- Jerkass Has a Point:
- Batman when telling Superman to get over his history with Darkseid. He concedes that Darkseid could be up to something, but he's right in that Brainiac is a major threat and can't be ignored just because he's threatening a villain's planet.
- Orion believes there can be no true peace as long as Darkseid is in power. Highfather is more cautious, but he sees his point.
- Killed Off for Real: Steppenwolf and Desaad. Except not.
- Kneel Before Frodo: The New Gods of New Genesis are forced to evacuate Supertown as a consequence of Darkseid's scheme, and are saved by Forager - a lowly "bug". Highfather concedes that they owe him their lives, and thanks Forager more for reminding him that every living being has a purpose as well as a place.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: In an exchange between Superman and Darkseid:
- Morality Chain: Batman has to force this on Superman."Kent, don't be a fool."
- Murder by Inaction: Darkseid shows up in the Watchtower and asks for the League's help since Brainiac is attacking Apokolips. Superman's response?Superman: Good.
- No One Could Survive That!: Lampshaded by Superman. The explosion does kill Darkseid, but (thanks to Luthor) it doesn't last.Batman: Nothing could have survived that. Not even Darkseid.
Superman: You know something, Bruce? You're not always right.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Superman actually wants to kill Darkseid. Not because he needs to, but because he is just that evil and Superman despises him that much.
- Playing Both Sides: Darkseid turns what could've been the end of Apokolips by Brainiac into a massive opportunity to achieve his goals by bargaining Superman to the Kryptonian AI. Intrigued, Brainiac agrees and stages the assault on Apokolips so that Darkseid can enlist the Justice League's help. Brainiac being Superman's other Arch-Enemy, the Justice League decide to put him down. When the League make it to Brainiac's base, Darkseid attacks them and Superman is captured. While Brainiac needed him to become a living machine, Darkseid figured that Brainiac himself is the best chance of discovering the Anti-Life Equation, and takes control of his systems immediately. Darkseid had to be put down himself to ensure that he didn't win.
- Properly Paranoid: When Darkseid requests that the League stop Brainiac from attacking Apokolips, Superman immediately argues that Darkseid is planning something, and that something's not right. He was right, but he still ended up as an Unwitting Pawn this time.
- So Proud of You: Darkseid says this to Orion, while Orion is trying to kill him. Darkseid then breaks his back.Darkseid: You make an old man proud.
- Teleportation Sickness: Boom Tubes are apparently rough if you don't have powers.Batman: Ugh... that was fun.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Superman makes an exception for Darkseid. After Darkseid's latest gambit to conquer the universe, Superman has had it with the tyrant and stays behind on the exploding asteroid so he can kill Darkseid with his bare hands. The only reason he doesn't manage it is because Batman pulls him and Orion into a Boom Tube to save them. As it stands, Superman does manage to kill Darkseid by trapping him on the self destructing asteroid. It even sticks for four whole seasons. Notably, he spared Darkseid the first time he beat him, and this is when Darkseid had nearly (indirectly) killed Supergirl. Kara herself persuaded him from killing Darkseid that time though.
- Tranquil Fury: Superman enters this state when facing off against Darkseid in a fight to the death. He's still in it after Batman pulls him out of it, clearly pissed that Batman didn't let him finish Darkseid like he swore he would and just walks away from him after telling him he's not always right.
- Villain Decay: Darkseid's as powerful as ever, but his forces suffer a severe setback at the start of the story and need to rebuild. This makes it easy for Brainiac to swoop in and get to work.
- Villain Team-Up: In the second half, it's revealed that Brainiac and Darkseid were in this all along. Though Darkseid later betrays Brainiac.
- We Meet Again: Darkseid to Superman.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Forager is considered a lowly bug by New God standards. After Forager saves the other New Gods, Highfather apologizes to him for forgetting that everything has a purpose and a place.
- What the Hell, Hero?:
Batman: Nothing could have survived that. Not even Darkseid.
- Superman has a massive one for helping Darkseid. While everyone understood why Superman's reaction at seeing him was a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, cheering when Darkseid told them that Apokolips was about to be destroyed received this.Darkseid: You know his pattern, Kal-El. Once he's finished siphoning the memory banks and technology of my planet...
Superman: He'll annihilate it. Good.
Wonder Woman: Superman!
Martian Manhunter: You can't mean-
Darkseid: You may not care what happens to me or my world, but know this: If Brainiac isn't stopped, countless millions more will perish. Think about it. *Leaves*
Hawkgirl: So what are you saying? You'd sacrifice millions of lives just because you don't like this guy!?
Superman: You don't know Darkseid like I do.
- And then, Batman delivers a second one when Superman delivers that last line:Batman: We know he used you. Humiliated you. Brainwashed you. Wound you up like a tin soldier and turned you loose against Earth. Cry me a river. On the outside chance that this isn't another one of his schemes, we have to take action. So, I suggest you get over it.
- At the end of the episode, Superman gives one to Batman for pulling him out of his fight with Darkseid before he could finish him off himself, even after he swore he'd make sure he was finished this time.
Superman: You know something, Bruce? You're not always right. (walks away without another word)
- Superman has a massive one for helping Darkseid. While everyone understood why Superman's reaction at seeing him was a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, cheering when Darkseid told them that Apokolips was about to be destroyed received this.
- X-Ray Sparks: Superman lights up and his skeleton becomes visible when he's strapped to Brainiac's machine.
- "You!" Exclamation: Superman upon seeing Darkseid.