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Anti-Life Equation

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The Anti-Life Equation was originally said to allow those who knew it to dominate the will of any sentient race, and is the ultimate desire of Darkseid. Originally it was said to have existed in the mind of "Billion Dollar" Bates, he took it to his death. Darkseid continue

Item TemplateInformation-silk
Anti-Life Equation

Official Name
Anti-Life Equation


Implants the mathematical certainty that all life is hopeless, as are freedom and hope, dooming those who hear it to despair.

Current Owner

Previous Owners
The Source, Darkseid, Pied Piper, Empress (partially), Mister Miracle, "Billion Dollar" Bates, Sunny Sumo


First appearance

-- Anti-Life infected Gothamites


The Anti-Life Equation was originally said to allow those who knew it to dominate the will of any sentient race, and is the ultimate desire of Darkseid. Originally it was said to have existed in the mind of "Billion Dollar" Bates, he took it to his death. Darkseid continued to search for it, and recently obtained the full formula.

The first sign of the Equation came about when 300 years ago Darkseid made contact with the Martians. When he learned that Martian philosophy was based on the "Life Equation," which equals to free will, he postulated that the opposite must exist as well.[1]

The Anti-Life Equation has the power to dominate the will of any sentient race, among other reality altering powers that twist and distort freedom. It is called the Anti-Life Equation because "if someone possesses absolute control over you - you're not really alive."[2] Though the full version of the equation is barely known to any one person, a full version of the Equation supposedly existed in the mind of the billionaire "Billion Dollar" Bates, but he took it to his death. The Anti-Life Equation was also found in the time displaced Sonny Sumo, according to the Forever People's Mother Box.

Later, Darkseid used clones of Billion Dollar Bates made by Desaad, to get access to the Equation. Orion stopped them and wanted to use the Equation for good, but realized that the very nature of it was against that.

Mister Miracle knew the full formula but possessed a willpower not to use it. The member of Young Justice, the Empress, possesses pieces of the Equation, giving her limited mind control. The Pied Piper also possesses the formula in his mind and has been using it unknowingly with his sonic energy.[3] He became a pawn of Desaad so that Desaad could gain the Equation to kill Brother Eye and Darkseid, and rule Apokolips.

Death of the New Gods

Main article: Death of the New Gods

Increasingly unbalanced by the death of his wife, Big Barda, Mister Miracle decided to use the Equation. He then becomes determined to hunt down the killer of the New Gods. He comes face to face with the being behind it all, the Source, and is killed himself. It is then revealed that the Anti-Life Equation is an entity that is the dark half of the Source, which the source is finally reunited with. When Darkseid is the last of the New Gods, he faces the Source in combat, wherein Darkseid reveals he has created a serum that allows him to draw power directly from the Anti-Life Entity. Regardless of his boost in power, in the end Darkseid is also killed.

Final Crisis

Main article: Final Crisis
Anti-Life 02

Under the influence of the Equation, individuals are little more than extensions of Darkseid's will.

Though Darkseid was seemingly killed, due to his knowledge of the full equation and his will to fully use it, he made sure he was spiritually reborn in the body of a human on Earth. He becomes Boss Dark Side, but the shell is not enough to fully store him and he is eventually killed again. He then uses the spoken word to be reborn again, this time fully, in the body of Dan Turpin. He also develops his base on Earth warping it and turning the planet into remnants of Armageddon. In control of several billion people, Darkseid uses the equation to turn heroes, civilians and villains alike into mindless slaves.

The equation is ultimately broken when Wonder Woman, herself a slave of Anti-Life, is freed of the Equation and binds Darkseid with the Lasso of Truth, breaking the Anti-Life Equation's hold on the people of Earth.[4]


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The DC Universe heavily changed its continuity into the DCnU following the events of Flashpoint in 2011. This was part of an effort to make storylines more accessible to newer readers, beginning with the New 52. This new timeline combines elements from the DCU, Vertigo Universe and Wildstorm Universe while drastically changing the origins and histories of characters.

In the Prime Earth continuity, the Anti-Life Equation, much like the Life Equation opposite it, functions very differently. Here, the "Anti-Life", rather than being a means of mass mind control and multiversal reality disruption, is instead used by Yuga Khan as a means of resurrecting the Old Gods and himself by utilizing a host body. According to this host, with a small portion of the Anti-Life, he could feel all of the pain of the New Gods, a pain that only Yuga Khan could heal.[5]

The equation itself is the same as in New Earth, but has more limited applications. Speaking the equation, Dreamer Beautiful was able to resurrect a dead Mark Moonrider, but it appears that the equation is not as viral as in New Earth, and is required to be stated by select users rather than being used to brainwash many.[6]

The Formula

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

By speaking the equation, Darkseid can insert the full formula into people's minds, giving them the mathematical certainty that life, hope and freedom are all pointless.

Mister Miracle (Shilo Norman) is able to break free from this with the help of Metron, gaining immunity from the Equation in the process.

The only known cure to the equation is the concepts of Freedom and Hope; the New Genesis hieroglyph of Freedom, called the Metron Emblem, significantly wears down the formula's ability to dominate other wills, allowing the infected to fight against the equation and win while exposed to the symbol. A Metron Emblem large enough is able to massively disrupt the Anti-Life Equation's powers transmitted through various frequencies and even wear down those wearing Justifier helmets if in the vicinity.


  • In Jack Kirby's original comics, the Anti-Life Equation is said to give the being who learns it power to dominate the will of all sentient and sapient races. It is called the Anti-Life Equation because "if someone possesses absolute control over you - you're not really alive."[7]. Most stories featuring the Equation use this concept. A full version of the equation supposedly existed in the mind of the millionaire "Billion Dollar" Bates, but he took it to his death.
  • In Jim Starlin's miniseries Cosmic Odyssey, the Anti-Life Equation is revealed as a living entity, which even Darkseid cannot control, and is subsequently blocked from ever entering the Milky Way again by Doctor Fate. This version has not been referred to again.
  • The JLA story Rock of Ages (1997), by Grant Morrison, includes a future in which Darkseid has learned the Anti-Life Equation, and taken control of both New Genesis and Earth. Earth's population is kept submissive by a constant broadcast of the Equation.
  • In JLA Annual #2, written by Ty Templeton, Felix Faust explains that an ancient sorcerer, maddened by his resurrection, plans a spell that will "remove the life frequency from the universe". Superman calls this the Anti-Life Equation.
  • During the Emperor Joker storyline, in Superman: Emperor Joker (2000), the Joker gains control of the power of Mister Mxyzptlk. Darkseid himself states about this that the Joker has stumbled onto the Anti-Life Equation, which might imply that the Anti-Life Equation may have something to do with the power wielded by the 5D imps such as Mxyzptlk and Bat-Mite, perhaps even that the imps are able to perform their reality-defying pranks simply because they know the Anti-Life Equation.
  • In Walt Simonson's Orion (2001), it is revealed that Darkseid and Desaad have gained the Equation from clones of Billion Dollar Bates. In stopping them, Orion learned the Equation, and tried to use it to make people happy and good, but realized that the suppression of free will is always a bad thing. It was later revealed that Mister Miracle knows the formula, but is one of the few people with the willpower not to use it.
  • John Ostrander's Martian Manhunter series (2001) revealed that, long ago, Darkseid learned of the Martian philosophy that free will could be described by a "Life Equation". This led him to consider that there must be a negative corollary to this equation.
  • In the World's Funnest Elseworlds one-shot (2001), created by Evan Dorkin and a variety of artists, a conflict between Bat-Mite and Mister Mxyzptlk inadvertently destroys the DCU, (including many Pre-Crisis worlds). When they destroy Apokolips, the sole survivor is Darkseid who is left floating in space with a piece of paper with the equation drawn on it; the paper has a diagram to the effect of "Mister Mxyzptlk + Bat-Mite = Anti-life". This causes Darkseid to laugh uncontrollably.
  • In Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle (2005), by Grant Morrison, Darkseid (or Dark Side, as he now calls himself) has gained full control of the Anti-Life Equation. By speaking, he can insert the full formula into people's minds, giving them the mathematical certainty that life, hope and freedom are all pointless. Shilo Norman (the current Mister Miracle) is able to break free from this with the help of Metron. However, it was implied that these events did not happen in the main reality, but in a tangent universe inside a black hole.
  • In the animated series Justice League Unlimited, during an assault on Earth by Darkseid and the armies of Apokolips, Lex Luthor is taken into The Source by Metron. Just as Darkseid is on the verge of killing Superman, Lex Luthor returns from The Source and reveals the Anti-Life Equation, shown as a glowing, swirling light in the palm of his hand, to Darkseid. Darkseid places a hand over the glow, Lex places a hand on Darkseid's hand, both agreeing that the equation "is beautiful", and they both disappear.
  • In the film, Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe, starring Jesse Ventura, the villain Secundus (Sven-Ole Thorsen) sought the use of the Anti-Life Equation (which apparently possessed the same significance as its DC counterpart). The film also featured an Answer Box, a device similar to a Mother Box.
  • In the Elseworlds story Superman: The Dark Side (1998) Darkseid raises Kal-El as his own (evil) son and later finds that Krypton had been in possession of the Anti-Life Equation before it was destroyed and Jor-El had sent it with his son so that he could use it to subjugate Earth and create a new Krypton. Naturally, Darkseid finds it and builds a series of towers which broadcast "...the ANTI-LIFE EQUATION which obliterates free will and individual identity".

See Also

Links and References

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