Desaad was born on the planet New Genesis and was corrupted Darkseid the lord of Apokolips. He was once an innocent youth by tricking him into believing the youth's cat had killed his other pet, a bird. Goading the boy to avenge the bird, Darkseid manipulates the youth into burying the cat alive. The bird returned, having flown off, and in a rage, the youth killed the bird and left New Genesis to become Darkseid's lackey.
Desaad helped Drax with his attempt to master the Omega force. In fact, he was plotting with Drax's brother Uxas. As a result Drax was presumed killed, and Uxas mastered the Omega force, taking the god-name Darkseid. Desaad went on to serve as Darkseid's torturer.
Desaad is a sadist and a coward. He is naturally treacherous, but is sufficiently afraid of Darkseid that he will not turn against his master unless someone else takes the lead (and will probably switch sides again if it looks like they will fail). He spent some time posing as Darkseid to keep Intergang going. While Darkseid had been involved with Intergang as part of his search for the Anti-Life Equation, Desaad simply wanted to cause suffering.
Desaad was seemingly killed during an attempt by Darkseid to penetrate the Source. He was subsequently found to have "bonded" with Orion, causing the latter to become cruel and manipulative. They were later separated. While missing, his second-in-command Justeen plots to overthrow Desaad's position and become closer to her beloved Darkseid.
In the Superman/Batman story "Torment," Desaad is tasked by Darkseid to retrieve Highfather's staff from the Source Wall, and use it to restore Darkseid's waning powers. Working with the Batman villain Scarecrow he brainwashes Superman. However, when the time came to recharge Darkseid's powers, using the staff as a conduit to the Omega Realm, Desaad betrays Darkseid and tried to take the power for himself. The Omega Effect, however, possessed a horror within it that Desaad could not stand, and Darkseid simply siphoned the energy off him.
At the end of issue #25 of Countdown to Final Crisis Desaad, who had captured and tortured Professor Martin Stein, is able to take over the mantle and the power of Firestorm for himself. He is defeated and separated from the Firestorm matrix by the Atomic Knights, but flees before he could be captured. After disrupting a battle between Darkseid and Mary Marvel, Desaad gives Darkseid a compound that was unsuccessfully used to access the Anti-Life Equation. Desaad is then released from Darkseid's service. However, Desaad has transported the Pied Piper to Apokolips as Brother Eye arrives. Desaad claims the Piper can channel the Anti-Life Equation and control the planet. Before the Piper can do so, Brother Eye finishes assimilating Apokolips. After recovering, Desaad confesses to masterminding Trickster and Piper's ordeal. However, they are attacked by an OMAC and Piper is captured. Desaad continues to pursue Piper and convinces him to finally play. However, Piper's first act is to try to kill Desaad.
Also during Countdown in issue #837 of Detective Comics, it is revealed that he is supplying the Amazons Women Shelters with special drugs from Apokolips.
In Salvation Run, it is revealed that Desaad oversees the training of the New Gods of Apokolips on a planet where Amanda Waller's Suicide Squad had dumped the exiled villains. When he discovers them on this planet, he arranges for the Parademons to eliminate the least powerful villains so that he can train the stronger ones for an unknown goal. Ultimately, the villains escape back to Earth.
Following Death of The New Gods many of the fallen Apokoliptan gods had taken on human forms. Desaad, posing as "Doctor Bud Fogel" raising the public against Lex Luthor's Everyman experiments, eventually trapping and capturing Infinity, Inc. This version of Desaad has been seen in the Terror Titans miniseries, conditioning the Infinitors to fight in The Dark Side Club's metahuman tournament. After the brainwashed superhumans break free of the Anti-Life Equation and begin to destroy the arena, Dessad is electrocuted and captured by Static.
In Final Crisis #6, it is revealed that Mary Marvel has been possessed by Desaad. It is not known what has happened to Desaad after Freddy Freeman as the new Shazam changes Mary to normal in the same issue. In Final Crisis: Secret Files, it was revealed that he was the one who brought Libra back to cohesion after the villain disembodied himself using a Transmortifier device.
Powers and abilities
Desaad has no powers of his own, relying instead on his intellect, inventiveness and scientific skill along with Darkseid's protection. He is immortal as all New Gods are.