Per Degaton

Per Degaton
Per Degaton
Art by George Pérez.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance All Star Comics # 35
(June/July 1947)
Created by John Broome
Irwin Hasen
In-story information
Team affiliations Injustice Society
Time Stealers
Abilities Skilled armed/unarmed combatant, semi-precognitive 'Time Vision', Genius-level intellect, Master Planner and Tactician, Time travel equipment, Intangibility, Seeming immortality

Per Degaton is a fictional character, a DC Comics supervillain who can travel through time. Per Degaton made his first appearance in All Star Comics #35 (June/July 1947) and was created by John Broome and Irwin Hasen. The name "Per" is Swedish and short for "Peter".


Fictional character biography

Per Degaton has been obsessed with time travel ever since he was an assistant[1] to the Time Trust, a group of scientists developing a time ray in order to go to the future and acquire an effective bombing defense for use during World War II. In 1942, the Justice Society of America is sent 500 years into the future to retrieve such a defense, and acquire a formula that produces a bomb-proof shield after proving they are the real Society to the Future and each receiving a segment. Nazis attempt to steal the formula, but are foiled by the JSA.[2] In a fit of jealousy, Per Degaton sabotages the formula, causing it to fail its second test, and leaves the Time Trust soon after.[1] Later in 1942 he is employed at Project M, another secret scientific group. During this time he meets the time traveling robot Mekanique, who enlists his aid in her war against the All-Star Squadron. In exchange for his help, Mekanique promises to give him the secrets of time travel. They fail in their attack on the All-Stars, and Mekanique’s body is destroyed, but Degaton salvages her head. He keeps her head by his side for the next five years, and they fall in love.[3]

By 1947 Degaton is assisting Professor Malachi Zee, a former member of the Time Trust. Zee is able to finish a time machine with the help of Degaton and Mekanique. Degaton plans to take the machine for himself, and shoots Zee, who unexpectedly falls into it, sending him 40 years into the future. Mekanique suggests that the two of them simply wait four decades for the machine to reappear, but this idea drives Degaton into a lunatic rage. He buries Mekanique’s head, and makes new plans for himself.[3] Per Degaton begins a short career as an evil para-military commander and joins the Injustice Society of the world. Joining the armed forces of Capitol City [clearly meant to be Washington], Dr. Mid-Nite suddenly finds himself under attack from the air, where criminal paratroopers are dropping smoke bombs to cover their take-over of the Washington Monument. As the Man of Midnight nears the monument, several felons toss grenades at him, which he promptly catches and tosses back, over-coming the criminals and saving the lives of the nearby soldiers. Mid-Nite then races up the spiral staircase of the monument to discover Degaton aiming a weapon at him...but the Man of Night throws a smoke bomb at Degaton, blinding him. After the smoke clears, Dr. Mid-Nite discovers that Degaton has escaped via a rope leading down to the Capitol dome, and he follows, only to be overcome by Degaton. But the ISW is defeated by the JSA after Green Lantern fakes his death after battling Brainwave, impersonates the Thinker and frees them, and spends the next 30 years in prison.[4] Degaton was either free at some point thereafter or connected enough to function from within jail to influence Senator Joseph Fallon's role in discrediting the Justice Society in 1951 (revealed in America vs the Justice Society #4)

After his release, Degaton roams the streets as a derelict until his old ally Brain Wave finds him. Degaton had hit the skids, he was homeless and in very poor health. He died his red hair black to be inobtrusive but was later discovered by the Brain Wave. Brain Wave found him at a soup kitchen and was determined to restore his vitality in hopes that Degaton would make him a new body, so restored his memories. Brain Wave caused a series of worldwide disasters and made a machine that sapped the willpower of the JSA that they displayed in averting the disasters to return will and youth to Per Degaton. The JSA confronted the villains aboard Brain Wave's space station, and when the JSA had the villains on the ropes, Brain Wave used his mental powers to send Earth on a collision course with the sun, demanding they submit or see the planet die. Power Girl sent Brain Wave's space station toward the sun, overheating it and causing the villains to pass out. [5] Degaton returns to prison, but is paroled ten years later due to advanced age.[6]

Free at last, Degaton reconstructs Mekanique and the pair battle Infinity, Inc. at the site of arrival of Zee’s time machine. When it reappears it contains not only the dying Zee, but a 1947 version of Degaton himself (a 'chronal duplicate' - see below). When Degaton lunged at the machine as it had disappeared in 1947, the machine’s energies created two Degatons, one who lives a normal life and one who is carried along with the time machine. The older Degaton disintegrates instantly due to the paradoxical existence of two Degatons at one moment. Mekanique kills the younger Degaton as well as herself, fearing this Degaton would end up betraying her once more.[7] (Originally, in the pre-Crisis continuity, the time machine still reappears in the 1980s Taking advantage of the revelation of Batman's Diary, a document that supposedly convicted the Justice Society of treason, Degaton used his remaining influence to attempt to indict the group in Congressional sub-committee. Degaton's recognized that this was likely his last chance as a day that he had foreseen, the return of Zee's time machine, was close at hand. As the Congressional sub-committee became less and less convinced by evidence against the JSA, Degaton kidnapped Richard Grayson, Earth-2's Robin, and waited at the spot where the time machine should appear. It was revealed the diary was Batman's subliminal attempt to warn the Society of Degaton. The JSA, in pursuit of the captive Grayson, catch up to Degaton, literally lifting away the walls of the building in which he is hiding. At a dramatic moment, the time machine re-appears and Zee staggers out, accusing Degaton of murder with his final breath. Surrounded by witnesses and facing prison for a 40 year old murder charge at his advanced age, Degaton placed the gun to his temple and fatally shot himself (America vs the JSA #1-4) in a retcon of this story).

Chronal duplicate

Several times prior to his death in the Infinity, Inc. story, the 1947 Degaton chronal duplicate tries without success to alter the course of history for his own benefit, including thwarting the course of ancient historical events like the Battle of Arbela between Greece and Persia in 331 B.C, thus halting technological development, and meaning he and his henchmen were able to conquer an America medieval levels of technology with modern weapons as they were left in specially prepared caves of chronitum safe from the alterations to the time stream. Technology disappeared in an odd fashion, train tracks being left but no trains, light bulbs were left but no electricity. He had built up the army by making money on such things as betting on horse races. Just before he tells them the point Degaton changed, he is shot again, and only penicillin will save his life, though the hospital stocks vanish. The JSA stop various plans by Degaton while Green Lantern, Johnny Thunder, and Wonder Woman stay in the hospital to protect Zee.

The Magic Sphere continues to show what happened with the Flash, who returned to the professor's lab to see if there was any penicillin located there. Finding none, he returns to the hospital, and aska a doctor where a supply might be found. He tells the Scarlet Speedster that they may be some in "The Time Capsule" in Colossal Caves, which would be immune to time change. With the scenery changing all along the Flash, the Flash arrives at the caves and runs smack dab into Per Degaton and his men. Degaton manages to knock a stalactite from the ceiling onto the head of Flash, blacking him out. Upon recovering, the Flash is taken to the time capsule and placed inside, then Degaton leaves. The Flash uses his speed to propel the capsule through a metal wall, releasing him and dumping the contents of the capsule to the ground. Fortunately, Flash grabs the penicillin before it hits the floor, subdues Degaton's men and races the penicillin over to the hospital, musing to himself that the JSA must figure out WHAT crucial event in the past Degaton is changing to cause the effects taking place.

As the Atom speeds from the hospital, the Magic Sphere shifts the scene to Per Degaton and his men in armored tanks, entering the city of Gotham. But the column stops as one of the men asks Degaton when they are going to get the money that was promised them. When Degaton balks, the men point out that they are in front of the Gotham Insurance Company, and their vault has a million in gold in it. Degaton agrees to their request for money, realizing it will reinforce their loyalty. As they break into the vault, the Mighty Mite shows up and begins cleaning house with Degaton's thugs. But Atom is kayoed, tied and taken to the company's accident exhibit, which contains dozens of things that can cause instant death. Degaton leaves the Atom suspended over rotting floor boards in the room with a dripping kerosene lamp, that will eventually start a fire and cause the Atom to drop to his death below. Fortunately the Atom escapes, having at least learned that Degaton has changed "a battle" in the past, so he returns to the hospital with the news.

With darkness falling swiftly upon Gotham, because of modern streetlights, house lights and cars disappearing, Dr. Mid-Nite enters Gotham's blackened Hall of Science, listening to an address by Professor Appleby, famed chamist, to the world's scientists gathered there. Per Degaton suddenly enters the meeting, boasting that he is the one responsible for the change, and that he will not allow them to reconstruct what he is destroying. The Wonder of the Witching Hour jumps at Degaton's men and wipes them out, and throws Degaton across the room....just as the last of Degaton's men, Kale, hits the Man of Midnight over the head. When Dr. Mid-Nite recovers consciousness, he is tied on the floor, and three of scientists are brought before Degaton, who reminds all of them that he was once their assistant, and orders them to devise a clever death for the helpless JSA member on the floor. They devise a gruesome plan to destroy the good doctor with hydrocyanic acid, but Mid-Nite uses his wits to cause the acid to drip on his bonds instead, and he breaks loose in time to save the three scientists from being killed by Degaton's men with his blackout bomb. Dr. Mid-Nite then heads back for the hospital, hoping that Professor Zee has recovered enough to tell the JSA what event Degaton has changed in the past.

While the city of Gotham reels under the disappearnce of modern conveniences, the Sphere now shows Hawkman on his way to the Mayor's office, when he spots a bridge transformed back into an ancient rope bridge, and he must save the people on it falling to their deaths. Meanwhile, Degaton's army of tanks emerges from the city's subway system, and the thugs of Degaton enter the Mayor's office. The gun the Mayor pulls on them suddenly turns into an ancient flintlock --- but their guns, protected by the rays of special metal, are pulled on the Mayor as the Feathered Fury enters the open window, and starts working over the criminals. But Hawkman is captured and led away to the back of an antique shop, with the Mayor, and laid on a canopy bed. Degaton hits a switch, bringing the top of the canopy and the bed closer and closer to crushing the pair....but Hawkman uses his untied legs to stop the top, forcing the ancient springs in the mattress to snap, thus saving their lives. Hawkman then flies the Mayor back to his office.

Back at the hospital, the doctor has already administered the penicillin and the professor recovers enough to let the JSA know that Degaton has changed the outcome of the famous Battle of Arabela, that took place in 331 B.C. He tells the Justice Society to go to Colossal Caves and enter into his time machine, and go back to that year and cause the original outcome of that battle to happen. Green Lantern offers to go alone, fearing that the entire group might frighten Degaton into destroying the time machine before they could use it. Once he secures the machine, he is to bring it back to the hospital and the entire JSA will go back in history to correct Degaton's actions.

As the Green Gladiator reaches Colossal Caves, he spots Degaton's men outside the entrance, so he decides to use his ring to enable him to enter the cave right through the mountain's wall. Once inside, he walks down the cave's corridors, but suddenly hears Degaton order Kale and his men to destroy the time machine, as it has served its purpose. Green Lantern charges Degaton by the machine, and accidentally trips into the machine and is knocked out. Degaton then sets the machine for 10,000 years in the future, and off it whisks! When G.L. awakens, we discover that the Lantern's head has knocked the switch in such a way that he has only traveled ten years into the future, and as he emerges, the JSA is there to greet him! They are amazed that he is still alive after all of those years, and G.L. suddenly realizes that he is in the future, and not the present, and also discovers that the JSA are now wanted outlaws! Realizing that they can still change the Battle of Arabela, they head toward the time machine...but it explodes as they near it. So Green Lantern uses his power ring to take the group 3000 years back into the past. Meanwhile, Degaton and his men are sitting in his office, discussing the fate of the JSA, when all of a sudden, modern inventions begin re-appearing. The scene shifts to 331 B.C. with Alexander the Great's Army being routed, when the JSA suddenly appears and turns the tide of battle in Alexander's favor. Just then, they all hear gunfire, as Degaton's men appear on the scene....but the JSA is quick to defeat them. In gratitude, Alexander gives the Justice Society his personal shield and dagger, which they accept as they fade away from view. As the course of history begins to correct itself, Wonder Woman suddenly remembers that, as all of them return to the future, memory of these evnts will completely disappear from their minds. The Magic Sphere finishes its tale....and Johnny wonders how they could all now remember what had happened, and the Amazon Princess reminds them of the shield and dagger. And as they look at the shield, they see that the Sphere has translated the Macedonian language and illegible signature to that of Alexander. The story closes with Professor Zee in his lab with Per Degaton, who seems to remember some foolishness about him dreaming that he was the ruler of the world! By so-doing, it is as if they had never occurred, they only found out about it due to Wonder Woman's magic sphere after they wondered how they had acquired an ancient shield, resulting in the Degaton chronal duplicate being returned to 1947, and the memories of the events erased from all involved.[4]

Similar results are achieved by members of the-then fledgling All-Star Squadron who thwart the Degaton chronal duplicate's attempt to change the circumstances of the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, he had beaten Zee to death this time, and travelled into the future of the century, where he decided he would be unable to conquer the world after the war due to the advancement, so decided to change the events of the war. He thought of making Hitler stop his greatest mistakes, but would still have only helped him draw, however a time-storm between September 1939 and December 6, 1941 prevented him changing those events.

Read more: He tried to stop the JSA's involvement with the help of the villains he had pulled back in time, the Monster, King Bee, Professor Zodiac, Sky Pirate, Solomon Grundy (though he was planning on getting rid of him once he had succeeded), who he promised could kill Green Lantern, and the magical Dr Fate foe Wotan who held the JSA prisoner with a magical aura. He also hypnotized some Japanese storm-troopers, and equipped them with advanced technology, along with Zeroes stolen from a Future Museum. However the All-Star Squadron's got involved, and though they were captured, during which Degaton explained who he was and what his plan was, the sword of the Shining Knight enabled them to free themselves, and stop the Zeroes attacking San Francisco. They are able to free the Spectre (comics) when Degaton tries to destroy the island the JSA are imprisoned in, who frees the other members, meaning Degaton returns to 1947, and the villains are returned to their time peroids. This did prevent the JSA from being able to intercept the attacking Japanese forces, and also results in Danette Reilly attaining her fire-based powers and becoming the second Firebrand (this is a distinct change to the formula of having all of his actions in past times erased, though everyone involved still forgets his involvement).[8]

In addition to these 1947 "resets," another standard feature is that, prior to each new time-travel attempt, Degaton remembers all prior attempts, usually in the form of a dream that happens the night before Prof. Zee finishes the time-machine and is ready to test it (linking all of his attempts to alter time back to this one moment in a kind of Möbius strip). These memories stay with the chronal duplicate for the duration of each new attempt to change history he makes, though it is unclear if the older Degaton retains these memories also.

The Degaton chronal duplicate remains a foe of the Justice Society, continually trying to alter history to his will. During one of the annual pre-Crisis meetings between the Justice League of America (JLA) of Earth-One and the JSA of Earth-Two in 1982, the Degaton chronal duplicate nearly takes over Earth-2. This time he has shot Zee again, but checked to make sure he was really dead. Degaton has discovered he can travel between alternate Earths after he accidentally travelled to Earth-Prime. He discovered this was a world where superheroes were fictional. He was then caught up in a time-storm and found the prison of Earth-Three's Crime Syndicate of America. They tried to get him, but he revealed he had made sure he and his Time Machine would vibrate at a different speed to them, meaning they couldn't touch him. They told him who they were, and he decided to use them. He then made them steal nuclear missiles from the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 on Earth-Prime and bringing them back in time to Earth-Two's 1942 by towing them behind his time machine, not caring about the fact war would happen due to this. When the Syndicate betray him thy are sent to 1982, as he had made sure this would happen when they touched him. The Syndicators rematerialized on the JLA satellite by the League's teleporter. They quickly overcame the surprised heroes who were waiting for the JSA's annual meeting with the two groups. The JSA had been sent to the Crime Syndicate's interdimensional prison and were able to escape with the combined powers of Starman and Doctor Fate. Degaton had constructed an arena on Earth-2 where he made superheroes fight.

The Syndicate returned to assist Per Degaton's plan to rule the world. Though they had been double crossed by Degaton, they would help him until the moment came to strike. The villains once again fought the JLA, the JSA, and even members of the All-Star Squadron from 1942. He is beaten by the combined forces of these heroes. With his changes undone, he is again returned to 1947 with no memory of the events, while everyone else involved likewise lose their memories of events, and are returned to their proper times/worlds[9] (the term 'chronal duplicate' is a descriptive term being used here to help differentiate and reconcile the actions of a youthful Degaton from 1947 manipulating historical events while an older Degaton lives out his life from 1947-onward, aging normally up to the Infinity, Inc. story; this term was used only in the context of that story. Also, as a result of the character's time-jumps, chronological order for his activities is difficult to determine with absolute certainty since at any time it could be revealed that one, or more, additional attempts were made from the same starting point in 1947. It can be assumed, however, that as long as a youthful Degaton is time-traveling in a story, it will have to be the 'chronal duplicate' prior to his appearance with his older-self in the Infinity, Inc. story since neither survive that encounter, and to-date, there have been no time-travel stories with a definitively post-1947 Degaton. He has no personal realization that he is a duplicate, nor do his opponents who, if anything, simply view him as just the 1947 version).

Degaton (the chronal duplicate), frustrated for not being able to harm the JSA chronologically in their last encounter, uses his time-traveling abilities to "watch life hurting [his enemies]." Sequentially confronting all the current JSA members (as of 2004), he tells them that he saw them die, and reveals some hints on their final moments. For example, he provides the revelation of the gruesome punishment that Atom Smasher will suffer at the hands of the Spectre, the breaking down of the relation between Stargirl and Captain Marvel, and it is only due to the intervention of Daniel Hall that Degaton does not tell Hector Hall details of his eventual passing.[10] He tells Jay Garrick the Flash that he died like a man.

Now equipped with a time disc, Degaton has the ability to live "between seconds", apparently ageless in an intangible state, from which he can only be forced with the concentrated tachyons found in the hourglass of Hourman.

After sending his genetically enhanced agents from the future (the "Red Morgue") to kill all relatives of Stargirl, he causes the JSA's temporary 1950s dissolution to become permanent, and disgraces all the masked crime-fighters as traitors, thus erasing from history all subsequent superheroes. Degaton is eventually stopped by the early-2000's JSA, and beaten to a bloody pulp by Atom Smasher (whose hands were soaked with the concentrated tachyons of the hourglass). The timeline is restored so that his changes never occurred. However (in a break from the established story-formula), Degaton retreats into the time-stream with his memories intact rather than being forced back to 1947 with his memories wiped, renewing his commitment to watching his enemies' deaths across time.[11]


Due to the events of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Per Degaton was reformatted to the unified Earth to be an almost immortal wraith-like being who is out of time sync. He can see the future to a limited degree, but still seeks to rule the world despite his largely immaterial form.

The Degaton chronal duplicate's comments reveal he is one of the few people aware of the Crisis and the former Multiverse that once existed, and still refers to "other realities" in-story.

After Infinite Crisis, Degaton returns briefly in Justice League of America and then in Booster Gold as part of a team with the Ultra-Humanite, Despero, Supernova, and Black Beetle, who have formed "The Time Stealers," a supervillain group that appears to be manipulating the timestream to their advantage. This version of Per Degaton, along with Ultra-Humanite and Despero, is from an earlier period in the timeline.

Powers and abilities

The Per Degaton chronal duplicate possesses a limited "time vision," allowing him to know what will happen in the near future. He is out of phase with normal time, which renders him intangible. Hourman's tachyon-filled hourglass has been shown to blur his time vision and allow anyone possessing it to hit Degaton. He is also aware of changes to the timestream and has made mention of remembering events from before Crisis on Infinite Earths.

It is unclear whether these are innate abilities the Degaton chronol-duplicate acquired or if they are the result of his time disc.


The Per Degaton chronal duplicate travels on a "time disc," a machine that allows him to travel through time as well as having fail-safes to return time to normal should his plans fail. It is capable of flight and he has mentioned a camera in it. The Degaton chronal duplicate also uses small time discs which can be thrown. Upon contact with a person, it speeds up metabolism. The speed varies; Hourman was sped up an hour until his powers ran out whereas the Atom was sped up to the point where his atomic physiology could explode.


  • Per Degaton appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "The Golden Age of Justice" voiced by Clancy Brown. The Justice Society of America enlist Batman's help when Per Degaton is revived from suspended animation by his assistant Professor Zee. When he attacks the city, he uses the Spear of Destiny to age Batman, Doctor Mid-Nite, Flash, Hawkman, and Hourman. He is defeated when the spear backfires, turning him to an old man. After that, Per Degaton appears in a flashback in the episode "The Siege of Starro! Part One", attacking the White House in Washington, D.C. with an army of robots until he is stopped by the Justice Society of America.


  1. ^ a b All-Star Squadron #2 (1981)
  2. ^ All-Star Comics #10 (1942)
  3. ^ a b Young All-Stars Annual #1 (1988)
  4. ^ a b All-Star Comics #35 (1947)
  5. ^ All-Star Comics #58-59 (1976)
  6. ^ America vs. The Justice Society #4 (1985)
  7. ^ Infinity, Inc. Annual #2 (1988)
  8. ^ Justice League of America vol. 1 #193, All-Star Squadron #1–3 (1981)
  9. ^ Justice League of America vol. 1 #207–209, All-Star Squadron #14–15 (1982)
  10. ^ JSA #59 (2004)
  11. ^ JSA #66–72 (2005)

External links

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