Before "DCeased": A History of the Anti-Life Equation

"If someone possesses absolute control over you -- you're not really alive" --Forever People #5

The preview pages of DCeased #1 coming this week from Tom Taylor & DC Comics, revealed to the world that Darkseid will in fact infect Cyborg with the Anti-Life Equation, who in turn accidentally sends out a techno-virus signal that casts the population of Metropolis into a zombie-like frenzy.

Of course, the Anti-Life Equation has been hinted at recently in another of DC's most popular titles, Mister Miracle (2018) by Tom King and Mitch Gerads, but the burning questions for those who are not initiated into the Fourth World and its inhabitants might be, "what is the Anti-Life Equation?" and "when did it come into comics?"

What is the Anti-Life Equation?

-loneliness + alienation + fear + despair + self-worth ÷ mockery ÷ condemnation ÷ misunderstanding × guilt × shame × failure × judgment n=y where y=hope and n=folly, love=lies, life=death, self=dark side-

Over the years, there have been multiple versions of the Anti-Life Equation. Jack Kirby created it as a power to control the will of all sentient and sapient races, by whomever possesses the equation. (1)

Darkseid developed the theory and formula of the Anti-Life Equation after he first learned of the Martian concept of the "Life Equation" 300 years ago. (2)

The Martian philosophy of a "Life Equation" basically defines a good life as free will and spiritual purpose. In stark contrast, the Anti-Life Equation would go on to suggest that hope, love, and freedom are all meaningless and effectively destroys a person's free will.

Different versions of the Equations.

In addition to Jack Kirby's version, there have been alternates of the Anti-Life Equation over the years. For instance, Jim Starlin's version was revealed to be a living shadow-based deity, that corrupts and destroys everything it touches. (3)

Grant Morrison's version in the 2005 mini-series Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle, showed the equation didn't even need to be solved; Darkseid could use its power simply by speaking the formula aloud. In this way, Darkseid could insert the full formula into people's minds through auditory means, making them all see life as pointless and under his control.

Now, the version of the Anti-Life Equation that seems on its way from Tom Taylor in DCeased is the one introduced by writers Keith Giffen, and Dan Didio in Infinity Man and The Forever People #6 (2014). The New 52 version of the equation has much of the same power, but with an extra little spark. Not only does it give them complete control over a person's thoughts and actions, but it can also resuscitate the dead and revive them as soulless zombie slaves.

A couple of times the Anti-Life Equation has been used.

Darkseid and Desaad gained control of the Anti-Life Equation from clones of Billion Dollar Bates in Walt Simonson's Orion (2001). With Orion stopping Darkseid and Desaad, in doing so he learns the formula to the Anti-Life Equation. Orion tries to use the equation to make people happy and good, but decided that the suppression of free will in any form is wrong.

In Final Crisis (2008) Darkseid uses Mokkari to unleash the Anti-Life Equation through the internet by e-mail. In doing so, Darkseid gained control of everyone that is exposed to it.

In Infinity Man and The Forever People #5 (2014) the evil Old God Yuga Khan used the Anti-Life Equation to resurrect many of his fallen brethren in a final battle against his sons Uxas and Izaya, before falling in battle.

The Life Equation

The "Life Equation" is an all-consuming power which has the capability to restructure reality by changing its formula and rewrite the very multiverse itself.

The "Life Equation" formula seems to vary from story to story; in one instance it relates to the Emotional Spectrum and its corresponding seven lights. Hope (Blue), Fear (Yellow), Rage (Red), Compassion (Indigo), Greed (Orange), Will (Green), and Love (Violet). First believing that all of these lights combined would make the "Life Equation", it's then realized that it is a power all its own (White), connected directly to The Source of all things.

Can anything stop the New 52/DCeased Anti-Life Equation?

It has been revealed that the equation can be countered by drawing the New Genesis word for "freedom" on one's face. In Final Crisis #7 (2009), Wonder Woman breaks the Anti-Life Equation's hold over the people of Earth by binding Darkseid's body with the Lasso of Truth.

The new techno-virus released by Cyborg does't actually revive the dead, but instead turns the living into a mindless zombie army for Darkseid to control. With the techno-virus being released on Metropolis, does that mean Superman has already been infected?

DC's new DCeased series should be an interesting event. With Darkseid turning the city of Metropolis into a horde of zombies, how do you think Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman will save the world this time? Be sure to check back for our review on DCeased later this week.


1. Forever People #5

2. Martian Manhunter Vol. 2 #33

3. Cosmic Odyssey (mini-series)

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