Debuting in the Bronze Age of comic books, Mongul has 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.
Fictional character biography
Mongul was originally 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 the character activates Warworld; psychically linked with its controls, Mongul attempts to destroy Superman and Supergirl. Mongul is ultimately rendered unconscious by a massive mental strain caused from using its controls, but managed to escape before the heroes destroy Warworld.
Mongul then attempts 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 forcing his love into marrying him in order to usurp the throne of the empire for himself. He then uses Throneworld's planet-destroying weapon to blackmail the resident planets into obedience. However, Superman arrives and battles Mongul while Starman disables the weapon, and Mongul retreats. Mongul, now desiring revenge on Superman, 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 to no avail, 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 victims "bio-aura" while rendering the victim incapable of fighting back, giving them their own perfect "dream world" in return. In the end, thanks to Robin, 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, and has become the pivotal Mongul story.
After the 12-issue limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC Comics retconned the histories of some major characters in an attempt at updating them for contemporary audiences, the original stories involving Mongul were no longer valid and the character was reintroduced as the ruler of Warworld, a space empire where Mongul entertained the citizens with gladiatorial games. Mongul captured Superman for use in the games, but the hero ended up joining forces with alien warrior called Draaga and making Mongul flee. Mongul was then persuaded via torture to serve the Cyborg Superman in order 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, was destroyed, which led to Jordan joining Superman and his allies to defeat Mongul.
After his defeat, Mongul was imprisoned in a jail for intergalactic criminals, only to break out during a riot. His first target was Green Lantern; he found out that the one whom he faced (Kyle Rayner), was not the one he fought earlier. Even more so, he was defeated when Kyle's ring showed no weakness to yellow, something that even shocked the aiding Superman. Following his defeat, he was re-imprisoned.
Mongul breaks out of the Lunar penal colony he was in, 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... (Showcase 95 #7-8, 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 super villains (Flash #102, reprinted in DC Universe Special Superman #1).
During the Underworld Unleashed storyline, the Demon Lord Neron began offering supervillains enhanced power in exchange for their souls, all by lighting a candle. Mongul was one of those offered the deal, but his pride caused him to decline the offer and threaten Neron. In response, Neron easily beat 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 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 Sinestro Corps 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.
During the Bronze Age of Comic Books Mongul was written as physically more powerful than Superman and as almost totally invulnerable to harm. While the character was defeated only by Superman foiling his schemes, the hero managed once to defeat Mongul in hand-to-hand combat, although fell unconscious immediately after that. In addition, Mongul demonstrated the ability to teleport; limited telepathy; and could project blasts of potent force via his eyes or hands. 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.
In other media
Mongul appears in the animated television series Justice League and Justice League Unlimited voiced by Eric Roberts. In it, he is the dictator of 'war world,' holding Gladiatorial type games to keep the masses appeased with his rule, being considered the most powerful being on the planet, having never lost a match, but more than willing to resort to trickery to win. He is defeated by Superman and Draaga, and appears later in Justice League Unlimited when the "For the Man Who Has Everything" story is adapted into an episode of the same name, albeit with Robin being written out. Mongul is defeated in the same way as in the original story, and the defeat remains his ultimate fate in the DC Animated Universe, never returning to threaten again.
Mongul appears in the Young Justice: Invasion episode "War" voiced by Keith David. He appears on Rimbor at the trial of the six Justice League members and leaves to destroy Earth after Vandal Savage told him that the The Reach were on the planet, seeing it as competition to who rules the galaxy. When The Reach and Captain Atom learn that Mongul and his Warworld are heading to Earth, they both attempt to negotiate with Mongul, who ignores them. While the Justice League defend the Earth against Warworld, the Team manages to infiltrate Warworld in order to confront Mongul and shut down Warworld. Superboy, Arsenal, and Wonder Girl confront Mongul, who defeats them as he plans to use all the weapons of Warworld on Earth. Cat Grant reports that the U.S. military leaders are ordering for the people not to leave their homes as there is nowhere to go. After Bumblebee reroutes Warworld's power core onto Mongul, weakening him, Superboy, Arsenal, and Wonder Girl take advantage of this knock him out him. In "The Hunt," Mongul was seen with Despero and The Team in Warworld's stasis cells. Arsenal frees Mongul from his stasis cell and ends up attacking Black Beetle. Following a lengthy battle, during which the heroes escaped, Black Beetle imprisons Mongul in another stasis cell in the following episode, where he remained through the remainder of the series.
Mongul appears in the direct-to-DVD film Superman/Batman: Public Enemies voiced by Bruce Timm. In the film, he viciously attacks Superman and engages him in a fight. After defeating him, Superman notices that he is not his normal talkative self. It is after revealed that Mongul was under Gorilla Grodd's mental control as part of a plot to claim the bounty on Superman and Batman.