Updated on December 10, 2021
2012 saw much hype over (bogus, of course) ancient Mayan predictions of the apocalypse hitting on December 21. Of course, that came and went without incident. But here’s a list of 10 cartoon references to the end of the world.
DC Comics has since the 70s featured the world called “Apokolips,” a planet in another dimension. It’s ruled over by the merciless, big-name villain Darkseid.
Apokolips is shown as a bleak world filled with flame pits. The planet also has evil, seedy individuals under Darkseid’s employ, and a populace blindly devoted to/enslaved by Darkseid. Darkseid won’t hesitate to bump them or anyone else off if they displease him. He achieves with his “Omega Beams,” generic all-purpose, do-anything eye blasts. Darkseid also possesses Superman-level strength and invulnerability.
As DC’s most threatening villain, he usually shows up in major universe-spanning crossovers. Darkseid’s goal, of course, is universal domination, which he tries various means to achieve. His main route to this goal is searching for the MacGuffin known as the “Anti-Life Equation.” This will let him somehow destroy/conquer the universe.
Jack Kirby created Darkseid. The villain first appeared in “Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen” #134 in 1970. Since the 80s (probably with the 1980 JLA/JSA/New Gods crossover), various characters/story titles using the pun “Apokolips Now” have appeared in DC’s books with such high frequency, one would figure DC’s staff (or Darkseid) are secretly fans of Francis Ford Coppola films.
A powerful, immortal mutant villain who appears in modern X-Men books. I’m mostly familiar with him from the 90s X-Men TV show, as his comic backstory (from Wikipedia) looks as complicated as the rest of the X-books.
The CGI 2005 Disney animated film features in its soundtrack (for appropriate reasons, without spoiling the film) the R.E.M. song “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).”
Kamandi was another 70s Kirby creation. His shtick was being the “last boy on Earth” in a post-apocalyptic world of mutant sentient animals. Later post-Kirby stories usually present Kamandi’s future as an alternate one to that of the Legion of Super-Heroes’ future.
Thundarr the Barbarian
An 80s Ruby-Spears animated series about a Conan-like barbarian in a post-apocalyptic future Earth. A disaster in the then-future year 1994 caused massive Earth-ruining climatic change; Thundarr’s time-era was set 2000 years after that point, in a world with a mix of barbarians, sorcery, and survivalists.
The Simpsons (“Deep Space Homer”)
The episode “Deep Space Homer” features a hilarious sequence where Homer realizes the ramifications of the ending of “Planet of the Apes.”
The Simpsons (“The Homega Man”)
The series also featured a “Treehouse of Horror” episode titled “The Homega Man,” as one of the series’ endless title-puns based on Homer’s name. In this case, the episode and its name is based on the Charlton Heston movie “The Omega Man,” and features Homer surviving a nuclear attack on Springfield amidst some of the townspeople turned into mutants.
The Walking Dead
The popular TV series about zombies in a post-apocalyptic world also is a strong presence these days in comics. As I wrote in an earlier post, “The Walking Dead” is one of the year’s top-selling trade paperbacks, easily outdoing the superheroes.
As everyone knows, Superman comes from the planet Krypton, which had a world-ending explosion killing nearly the entire populace. The few survivors include: Superman himself; his dog Krypto; his cousin Supergirl; the residents of the now-shrunken-and-bottled Kryptonian city of Kandor; and the Phantom Zone criminals.
The Emperor’s New Groove
Not quite an apocalypse reference, but a (very loose) Mayan one: “The Emperor’s New Groove,” a 2000 Disney animated movie that takes place in a fictionalized version of ancient Latin America. The movie also spawned a TV series, “The Emperor’s New School”; one episode focuses on a class field trip to the ruins of a long-dead earlier ancient civilization.