|First appearance||DC Comics Presents #27 (Nov. 1980)|
Len Wein (writer)|
Jim Starlin (writer - artist)
Mongul is the name of two fictional supervillains that appear in comic books published by DC Comics. Writer Len Wein and artist Jim Starlin created the first version of the character, who debuted in DC Comics Presents #27 (Nov. 1980). Writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Scot Eaton created the second version, who first appeared in Showcase '95 #8 (Sept. 1995) as an infant.
Debuting in the Bronze Age of comic books, Mongul has been featured in other DC Comics-endorsed products such as animated television series; video games; a direct-to-DVD film, and merchandise such as action figures and trading cards.
Mongul debuted in the title DC Comics Presents and was created by writer Len Wein and artist Jim Starlin. Starlin often receives credit as creator of the character, but Wein in an interview stated "Well, [Mongul] had Starlin visuals, but he was my creation." Wein said he conceived Mongul specifically as a villain to physically challenge Superman.
Mongul was the ruler of his own alien race until a revolution occurred, and he was exiled into outer space. In his first appearance, Mongul kidnaps Superman's friends (Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Steve Lombard), threatening to kill them unless the hero brings him the key that can activate the artificial planet Warworld. After retrieving the key, he activates Warworld. Psychically linked with its controls, Mongul tries to destroy Superman and Supergirl. Mongul is ultimately rendered unconscious by a massive mental strain caused from using its controls, but manages to escape before the heroes destroy Warworld.
Mongul then tries to conquer Throneworld, the home planet of Prince Gavyn, one of the heroes who have used the name Starman. Mongul murders Gavyn's sister and forces his love into marrying him in order to usurp the throne of the empire for himself. He uses Throneworld's planet-destroying weapon to blackmail the resident planets into obedience. Superman arrives and battles Mongul, while Starman disables the weapon. Mongul retreats. Now wanting revenge on Superman, Mongul kills a Controller and steals the Sun-Eater to devour the Earth's sun. While the Justice League of America and Legion of Super-Heroes battle Mongul, Superman finally defeats him as the Legion destroys the Sun-Eater.
Mongul eventually attacks Superman on his birthday and ensnares him with a Black Mercy, an alien plant that fed off a victim's "bio-aura" while rendering the victim incapable of fighting back, giving them their own perfect "dream world" in return. In the end, thanks to Batman, Robin and Wonder Woman, Mongul becomes the plant's next victim and dreams of himself as ruler of the universe. The story "For the Man Who Has Everything" was written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons.
After the 12-issue limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC Comics retconned the histories of some major characters to update them for contemporary audiences. The original stories involving Mongul were no longer in continuity, and the character was reintroduced as the ruler of Warworld, a space empire where Mongul entertains the citizens with gladiatorial games. Mongul captures Superman for use in the games, but Superman joins forces with an alien warrior called Draaga and makes Mongul flee. Mongul is then persuaded via torture to serve the Cyborg Superman to gain vengeance on Superman and to try to turn the Earth into another Warworld. In the process, Green Lantern Hal Jordan's home, Coast City, is destroyed, which leads to Jordan joining Superman and his allies to defeat Mongul.
After his defeat, Mongul is imprisoned in a prison for intergalactic criminals, only to break out during a riot. His first target is Green Lantern; he learns that the one whom he faced (Kyle Rayner), is not the one he fought earlier. Mongul is defeated when Kyle's ring shows no weakness to yellow. Mongul is re-imprisoned.
Mongul breaks out of the lunar penal colony, killing everyone there, including prisoners who are left to die in the vacuum of space. His ship is almost wrecked and he is near death; he is teleported to a planet and saved. In return, he takes over the planet and ends up being left alone as the inhabitants prefer dying due to a virus than his tyranny, until he ends up finding two babies immune to the virus (a story started in Showcase '95 #7, with the two babies appearing in Showcase '95 #8; reprinted in DC Universe Special: Superman #1).
Mongul is later defeated on Earth by Wally West (the Flash) when Mongul tries to unearth a starship left from one of the Darkstars' enemies underneath Keystone City. The Flash easily defeats Mongul. The Flash seemingly uses Mongul to test his new upgraded powers. During the battle, Wally is only hit one time by the giant, hulking Mongul. Flash uses his super speed to quickly confuse and defeat Mongul and has him imprisoned in the Slab, a prison for supervillains (Flash #102, reprinted in DC Universe Special: Superman #1).
During the Underworld Unleashed storyline, the demon-lord Neron offers various supervillains (including Mongul) enhanced power in exchange for their souls, all by lighting a carved black candle. Mongul's pride causes him to decline the offer and threaten Neron. In response, Neron beats Mongul to death for his defiance, taking his soul in the process.
Mongul's son, also named Mongul, appears to assist and train Superman, in preparation for the arrival of Imperiex. This Mongul seems to be more powerful than his father. He appears to have been killed later in the Our Worlds at War crossover, but returns during Infinite Crisis after learning from Despero that the Justice League has apparently been destroyed. His intention is to loot their Watchtower headquarters but he ends up fighting Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. He is almost killed by Wonder Woman before escaping via a working teleporter. The teleportation transports him to Earth, to menace Hal Jordan, the newly returned Green Lantern, by using the Black Mercy on him and Green Arrow. In the meantime, he seeks his sister, Mongal, to settle family squabbles. The heroes break free and use a teleporter to transport Mongul and Mongal to their home planet. Stating family to be a weakness, Mongul decapitates Mongal with a single blow to her head.
Mongul's origins depicts him as a child who wanted to be like his father. He made journeys and he watched digital renderings where his father fought against Superman and his allies and the destruction of Coast City. He copies his father's actions when he encounters a group of aliens whose spaceship crashes on Arkymandryte, turning them into his slaves. Mongul's father returns, and discovering his son's slaves, he kills the aliens and tells him only one being on the planet is worthy of adoration.
Mongul receives a Yellow power ring after breaking a dying Sinestro Corps member's neck (a later promotional image shows Mongul with the Yellow ring as well a Green Lantern Corps ring). Mongul offers the Sinestro Corps inductees a choice: to serve him or die. He removes the ring from each one who refuses, and at one point had gained an extra five rings. He then attacks Arisia and Sodam Yat with Black Mercy plants, and takes them prisoner. He uses his ring to send thousands of Black Mercy seeds, which he had genetically engineered to bring the victims greatest fears to life, instead of their dreams, to several unsuspecting planets. In a confrontation with several members of the Green Lantern Corps, Mongul is defeated when the fly-like Lantern Bzzd flies through his eye, and he is thrown down to the Black Mercy's planet. He is last seen buried in soil, being used as food by the Black Mercys. However, he soon breaks free and escapes the planet, while keeping his rings and his right arm. His left arm had been severed in the process, but, through the power of his rings, Mongul is able to control and direct it. He attacks a nearby ship to get food for himself, killing the husband of the pilot. This inadvertently causes the woman to become the first recruit of the Star Sapphires, the violet Power Ring having been drawn to her by the void in her heart created by her loss. Mongul uses his left arm to invade the planet Daxam and establish it as the new homeworld for his faction of the Sinestro Corps under his command. However, he is challenged for the leadership by Arkillo. Defeating him in single combat, Mongul pulls out Arkillo's tongue and wears it as a necklace. In the process, he gains the loyalty of the faction of the Sinestro Corps loyal to Arkillo and complete rule over the planet Daxam, but draws on himself the attentions of Arisia and Sodam Yat, the Daxamite host for the Ion Entity. Upon the arrival of Arisia and Yat, several members of the Sinestro Corps are swiftly defeated and killed by Yat until his Superman-like powers fade under Daxam's red sun. Despite his power loss and Mongul's incredible strength, Yat does battle with him, using the Ion power to briefly launch Mongul into space, before entering Daxam's sun and transforming it from red to yellow, granting all Daxamites superpowers. The Daxamite's overwhelming attack forces Mongul to have the Sinestro Corps abandon Daxam, with the despot planning to make a different planet their home base.
Mongul takes the Sinestro Corps to Korugar, Sinestro's homeworld, having the inhabitants strung up along the streets. He also decides to rename the Yellow lanterns as "The Mongul Corps", after himself. Soon after, Sinestro is brought to Korugar and confronts Mongul. Then, using an override built into Mongul's rings, Sinestro defeats him, thus reclaiming the Sinestro Corps. Then, he imprisons Mongul in the Corps' central power battery, intending to kill him once the Black Lantern Corps is dealt with.
In The New 52, a 2011 reboot of the DC Comics universe, Mongul is once again reintroduced as lord and master of the planetary siege engine Warworld. In his introduction, he is laying waste to a planet he is poised to conquer as he brought a resisting general aboard his vessel in order to show him the devastation of his home world just before decapitating him and adding his remains to a trophy room on Warworld.
Mongul makes a brief appearance in the Superman: Doomed arc. He manages to escape the Phantom Zone alongside similarly powerful villains such as Non, and prepares to attack Earth. However, upon learning that Brainiac has arrived on Earth, Mongul, stricken with fear, immediately heads back into the Phantom Zone. Wonder Woman later enters the Phantom Zone and traps him in her Lasso of Truth, before ordering Mongul's Warworld to attack Brainiac's ship.
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During the Bronze Age of comic books, Mongul was stronger than Superman and almost totally invulnerable to harm. Superman defeated him by foiling his schemes, but only once defeated Mongul in hand-to-hand combat. Even then, Superman fell unconscious immediately after. Mongul also demonstrated the ability to teleport; limited telepathy and telekinesis; and could project blasts of potent force via his eyes, hands, or chest. The character also used technology to shrink his enemies and place them in dimensional-inversion cubes designed to prevent escape by warping their interior reality and absorbing any power used against them from within. The Modern Age Mongul the Elder version started off with less power than the silver age but was still a formidable foe and a capable match up against Superman on multiple occasions if, albeit, slightly weaker.
Mongul was able to resist half-power Kryptonian heat vision at point-blank range and, thanks to his enhanced musculature, was incredibly resilient to physical harm. Because of his impressive muscle structure, Mongul was also incredibly fast, and able to push himself forward at high speed while running or able to leap several miles into the air by his powerful legs. He also had his chest cannon with which he could fire potent energy blasts that could stagger or kill even Superman. So formidable a foe was he that Mongul could not only trade blows with Kryptonians but repeatedly battle Green Lanterns on a regular basis; especially given that his natural yellow skin gave him protection against their rings. He was still outclassed, though, by individuals of greater capability (be it physical or technological in nature), such as Hank Henshaw (before and after his acquisition of Superman's genetic template) and the demon Neron (who killed him with his bare hands).
His progeny Mongul II, however, showed himself to either be on equal footing or in greater strength than even his father. Having demonstrated strength enough for defeating DC Universe heavy-hitters like Wonder Woman (Infinite Crisis issue 1, December 2005), along with killing members of both the Green Lantern & Sinestro Corps in his pursuit of power rings. He was strong enough to decapitate and kill his sister Mongal in one blow. When acquiring his first Yellow Lantern ring, he decided to learn about its potential for 96 hours, hinting at a methodical mindset mostly absent from Yellow Lanterns. Mongul II also battled Superman, leading to his defeat after both delivered many blows, leading to Superman unleashing a massive combination attack required to overpower this villain (Superman #152, January 2000). This battle displayed him having an endurance to massive blows from a being as powerful as Superman. After having obtained several Qwardian Power Rings, he showed a rather avid usage of their power for numerous effects (i.e., having used them along with his father's innate knowledge of the Black Mercy to modify the plant's parasitic behavioral patterns inducing frightful mirages over happy fantasies; create and manipulate fear driven constructs powerful enough to batter an ion empowered Sodom Yat; and reattach destroyed or removed limbs or body parts via precise fear energy material rearrangement).
In the new universe Mongul has been radically re-imagined from being the formidable adversary he once was during the Bronze-Silver Ages. Now back in control over Warworld, he again started cutting a bloody swath across the universe conquering planet after planet with his cosmic dreadnaught. When he makes his way to Earth, he showcases extreme levels of super strength and resilience as he gets into a colossal battle between Superman and an empowered Batman who, at the time, had Kryptonian-like power sets. Kal-El once stated him to be about as strong as Darkseid; proven true in a number of cases where he showed his might by fighting off an entire brigade of Yellow Lanterns backed by a New God within their ranks. He still retains his chest cannon which can still blow away multiple personages in one blast as well as heat vision to incinerate his enemies.
Artist Jim Starlin displayed his penchant for portraying powerful cosmic villains with the debut of Mongul, a new threat to plague Superman's life, in a story written by Len Wein.