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Originally, it was said to have existed in the mind of ""Billion-Dollar" Bates, who took it to his death. Darkseid continued to search for it, and recently obtained the full formula. It implants the mathematical certainty that all life is hopeless and that freed

Quote1 Emotional turmoil breaks the dikes of the mind-- And releases the flood in which we must fish, Desaad! Perhaps in this very city is the mind which will yield the Anti-Life Equation! The ability to control all free will! Quote2

The Anti-Life Equation was a transcendental mathematical formula originally said to allow those who knew it to dominate the will of any sentient race; this is the ultimate goal of Darkseid.


Originally, it was said to have existed in the mind of ""Billion-Dollar" Bates, who took it to his death. Darkseid continued to search for it, and recently obtained the full formula. It implants the mathematical certainty that all life is hopeless and that freedom and hope are futile concepts, dooming those who hear it to despair.

The first sign of the Equation came about 300 years ago, when the New God of Evil made contact with the Martians. It was on Mars where he learned that Martian philosophy was based on the "Life Equation"--which equals free will--he postulated that the opposite must also exist.[1] Uxas later focused his attentions on Earth when he discovered humanity possessed fragments of the opposing Equation in their subconscious and conducted experiments on humans over the centuries in an attempt to obtain the full formula.[2]

The Anti-Life Equation has the power to dominate the will of any sentient race in addition to reality-altering powers that twist and distort freedom over life, death as well as all existence. It derives its name from the fact that "if someone possesses absolute control over you—you're not really alive."[3] Though the full version of the Equation is barely known to any one person, it supposedly existed in the mind of the human billionaire named Bates, unfortunately for Darkseid he took it with him to the grave. The Anti-Life Equation was also found in the time-displaced Sonny Sumo, according to the Forever People's Mother Box.[citation needed]

Later, Darkseid used clones of Billion-Dollar Bates, made by Desaad, to access the Equation. Orion stopped the cloning process, gaining the full formula in the interim, along with the hope to use the Equation for good by enforcing goodwill among the populations of Apokolips and Earth, but realized that the very nature of the formula was against free will and, therefore, voluntary goodwill so he eventually forced himself to relinquish it's power.

Mister Miracle knew the full formula but possessed the willpower to not use it. One member of Young Justice, the Empress, possesses pieces of the Equation, giving her limited mind control.[citation needed] The Pied Piper also possesses the formula in his mind and has been using it unknowingly with his sonic energy.[4] He eventually became a pawn of Desaad so that the New God could use 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, Scott Free found himself using the Equation more and more. Subsequently, he became determined to hunt down the killer of the New Gods to avenge her murder. He came face to face with the entity behind it all, the Source, and had willingly been killed himself. It was then revealed that the Anti-Life Equation is an entity that is the dark half of the Source, with which the Source was now finally reunited. When Darkseid became the last of the New Gods, he faced the Source in combat, wherein the former revealed that he had created a Soul Fire serum that allowed him to draw power directly from the collective pool of New God souls said entity had accumulated. Despite this boost in power, in the end Darkseid was also killed.

However, this encounter with The Source was likely made with one of the many aspects of it, as The Source contains life and anti-life, good and evil, up and down, in and the out, black and white, all at once, being the ultimate concept that cannot be halved or contained.[5]

Many years later, it was eventually revealed that the Anti-Life Entity was one of many individuals who was influenced by the slumbering Great Darkness as part of its' plans to destroy the Multiverse and kill The Presence albeit it was completely unaware of the fact that it was being controlled by the Great Darkness' influence.

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.

Due to Darkseid's knowledge of the full equation and his willingness to use it, he made sure he was spiritually reborn in the body of a human on Earth. He became "Boss Dark Side," but the human shell was not potent enough to fully contain him and he was eventually killed again. Uxas then used the spoken word to be reborn again, this time fully, in the body of Dan "Terrible" Turpin. He also developed his base on Earth, warping it and turning the planet into a replica of Apokolips. Now seemingly in control of several billion people through a mass host consciousness, Darkseid used the Equation to turn heroes, civilians, and villains alike into mindless, slavish extensions of his demented will.

The Equation's hold over the Earth was ultimately broken when Wonder Woman, herself a slave of Anti-Life, was freed of Darkseid's thrall and eventually bound him with the Lasso of Truth, thus breaking the Anti-Life Equation's hold on the people of the world.[6]

The Equation was broken and its remnants remained on earth, spread across the internet as fragments of digital code. Calculator tried to retrieve the code to heal his comatose daughter and Oracle tried to collect them in an attempt to completely eliminate them from Earth.[7] Calculator's fragments of the formula caused people to lose their entire immune system and to prevent this use of the Equation, Oracle nullified its effects and destroyed the fragments.[8]


Justice League Vol 2 1 Textless
The New 52
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 of it--functions very differently. Here, the Equation, rather than being simply a means of mass possessive control and multiversal reality disruption, is instead used by Yuga Khan as a means of resurrecting the Old Gods as well as himself in 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.[9]

During Apokolips's war on Earth 2, Anti-Life would be implemented in the siege through industrial devices releasing parts of the Equation as a will sapping aria. One which lured unsuspecting individuals straight into adjacent Parademon processing factories in a dispirited trance upon marked conquest sights.[10]

The Equation itself is the same as in New Earth, but has more varied applications. Speaking the Equation, Dreamer Beautiful was able to resurrect a dead Mark Moonrider and force the submission of the Femmes Fatales with a word, but it appears that the Equation is not as viral as it was on New Earth, and now it is required to be stated by select users, rather than being able to brainwash many.[11]

Over time, the Anti-Life Equation is further expanded upon by its interactions with Darkseid's daughter, Grail, and the mysterious new Anti-Monitor.[12] The Equation is revealed to be as much a sentient entity as it is a formula; one that hails from the Antimatter Universe.

Batman discovered that since the Antimatter Universe and Prime Earth are opposite counterparts, what is found at the center of both universes is also opposite. At the center of Prime Earth lies the White Lantern Entity, the living embodiment of free will, whereas, at the center of the Antimatter Universe, is the Anti-Life Equation, the antithesis of free will.[12]

Mobius, the powerful and ancient being known as the Anti-Monitor, was desperate to learn the secrets of reality in order to take revenge on his brothers, the Monitor and the World Forger. To this end, he created the device known as the Mobius Chair, which would later be obtained by Metron. Mobius' thirst for the knowledge of his universe's creation would be his downfall, as such knowledge was forbidden, thus when he laid his eyes upon it--the Anti-Life Equation--it forever cursed him, and he transformed into the living embodiment of the Anti-Life Equation.[12]

The Formula

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

The full formula typically manifests itself physically as a series of fiery, inscrutable alien symbols and glyphs which form around the one who uses it, while incomplete fragments are projected as singular glyphs.[2][13]

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) was able to break free from this with the help of Metron, gaining immunity from the Equation in the process.

The only known antidote to the Equation are 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, if large enough, is able to massively disrupt the Anti-Life Equation's powers, as transmitted through various frequencies, and even wear down those wearing Justifier helmets if they are in the vicinity. Flash (Barry Allen), was also able to use the Speed Force to negate the effects of the Equation on a person under its influence.[14]


  • 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."[3] 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 (Volume 1), 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 been referred in Death of the New Gods Vol 1 2, and in Justice League Incarnate Vol 1 4 as a "puppet" of the Great Darkness.
  • The JLA (Volume 1) 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 5th-Dimensional 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 (Volume 1) (2001), it is revealed that Darkseid and Desaad have gained the Equation from clones of Billion Dollar Bates. In stopping them, Orion learns the Equation, and tries to use it to make people happy and good, but realizes that the suppression of free will is always a bad thing. It is 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 (Volume 2) series (2001) reveals 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 is 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. Darkseid finds it and builds a series of towers which broadcast "...the ANTI-LIFE EQUATION which obliterates free will and individual identity".

See Also