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Mongul (Superman enemy) (Pre-Crisis DC Comics)

Mongul

(Pre-Crisis version by Alan Moore)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

This profile is specifically about the version of Mongul that appears before Crisis on Infinite Earths.

The pre-Crisis and post-Crisis Mongul are pretty similar, at least early on. You know, ultra-powerful would-be tyrant from space, connected to Warworld, hates Superman. The pre-Crisis version is significantly more powerful, though — accept no substitutes!

Some may consider him a second rate copy of Darkseid or Thanos. But he’s the antagonist in the very cool Alan Moore story, For The Man Who Has Everything, which was also adapted for the very cool Justice League Unlimited cartoon.

Über-powerful, been in a cartoon, fought Superman, Wonder Woman, and the LSH — of course I had to write him up sometime. I just wish I could see him take on Validus.


Background

  • Real Name: Mongul
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: None
  • Group Affiliation: None
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile across interstellar space
  • Height: 7’9” Weight: 785 lbs
  • Eyes: Red Hair: None


Powers and Abilities

Mongul is physically more powerful than Superman (though the difference isn’t huge, once Superman goes all-out) and is almost invulnerable to harm.

In addition, Mongul demonstrates the ability to teleport, though this may be technological in nature. His limited telepathic abilities allow him to communicate in a vacuum and may allow him to bypass language barriers. (Although I suppose he could just be using some kind of Star Trek-like universal translator.) He can project blasts of potent force via his eyes or hands.

Mongul also has an incredible intellect, allowing him to master and make alterations to even Controller-level technologies.

He wears battle armor with some technological enhancements, as well. It doesn’t protect him from harm — in fact it’s less tough than he is — but it contains remote-control mechanisms to operate his starship at a distance (which may be the source of his teleportation), and has technology which allows him to shrink his enemies and place them in dimensional-inversion cubes.

Mongul knocks out Superman, on a white background

These dimensional-inversion force fields (which Brainiac 5 apparently experimented with when working on his own force field technology) prevent escape by warping their interior reality and absorbing any power used against them from the inside.

Mongul has access to a very large starship. It can travel through hyperspace at speeds comparable to the pre-Crisis Superman and has sophisticated sensors. The ship has only been seen during his first fight with Superman, but he’s still star-hopping across the galaxy somehow, so I assume he’s still using the thing.


History

Mongul claimed to have been the absolute ruler of his home planet, but his subjects were inspired by an ancient holy man (the Akrymandryte) to rebel against him. Mongul was forced to flee off-world to survive the angry mobs. (According to Mongul’s admittedly biased account, the Arkymandryte then supposedly became an even worse tyrant than Mongul had been.)

It is presumed that Mongul did not gain his vast powers until after he fled his homeworld — otherwise, he could have used his powers to suppress the rebellion. An alternative (frightening) possibility is that Mongul’s abilities are typical of his people, and that somewhere in space there’s a whole planet of Monguls.

But it is considered more likely that Mongul gained his powers after fleeing his homeworld, and that with those powers he now turned to galactic conquest, the rule of any single world now beneath him.

Quest for Warworld

Mongul learned of the legends of Warworld, an artificial planet created by an extremely warlike alien race called the Warzoons. Warworld was their ultimate weapon, a mobile planet with weapons of immense power. However, all the Warzoons died off mysteriously, and the last one was found dead at the planet’s control chair by the Largas, an extremely peaceful alien race.

The Largas buried him, then kept the device (a crystal key) that could activate Warworld hidden. But the Largas also died out over time, and the last one gave the key to the Martian race, who had once been devastated by a war, for safekeeping before dying.

The key was hidden in a crypt on the fourth planet of the sun in the star-system Cygnus, the same system that was home to New Mars. It was watched over by the Martian people under the leadership of J’onn J’onzz, aka the Martian Manhunter. Mongul apparently made an unchronicled attempt to claim the key and was repulsed by J’onn J’onzz.

(Given how easily Mongul takes down the Manhunter in their next encounter, my No-Prize  speculation is that Mongul’s initial approach was detected by the Martians and that J’onn led an entire force of super-powered Martians against Mongul. He retreated, and decided to force J’onn’s ally Superman to help him. That would explain why Mongul then forced Superman to go in his place.)

Superman

Mongul kidnapped three of Superman’s friends (Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Steve Lombard) to force Superman to obtain the crystal key. J’onn detected Superman’s approach, but given their friendship, approached Superman one-on-one rather than bringing an attack force.

While the two argued, Mongul had the distraction he needed to overcome the key’s defenses himself and claim it. Even when the Manhunter freed Superman’s friends (as Superman had hoped he could), Mongul was a match for both heroes, and escaped with the key.

Mongul vs. Starman

Going to Warworld, Mongul used the crystal key to activate the cybernetic control chair at its core, which through a direct interface allowed the operator to mentally control the vast array of weapons. Superman recruited Supergirl to help attack Warworld, but its arsenal (including skyscraper-sized nuclear missiles) proved too powerful.

The duo realized that it was the control chair itself that caused the extinction of the Warzoons, since the neurological stress eventually killed the operator. They deliberately taxed the system until Mongul fell unconscious.

Warworld’s remaining automated systems still represented a threat, however, so Supergirl breached the defenses by flying through Warworld at supralight speed. Superman followed and set Warworld to self-destruct. He attempted to retrieve Mongul but the would-be conqueror had already teleported to safety.

Death Star

After Mongul recovered, he discovered another weapon that could cause destruction on a galactic scale.

The alien empire ruled by Prince Gavyn (the otherworldly Starman) had originally relied on a planet-destroying weapon to blackmail the other worlds of the empire into obedience. The weapon was protected by force fields and hidden inside a star where no one could reach it, but it could be operated by remote control from Throneworld.

Mongul then attempts to conquer Starman’s homeworld, murdering the superhero’s sister and forcing his love into marrying him in order to usurp the throne of the empire for himself. However, Superman arrived and freed Prince Gavyn from the dimensional-inversion cube Mongul had imprisoned him in.

While Superman attacked Mongul, keeping him too busy to use the planet-destroying weapon, Gavyn used his stellar powers to enter the star and disable the weapon. Thwarted, Mongul again retreated.

Sun Eater

Mongul next encountered and murdered a Controller, taking possession of the Sun-Eater the Controller had possessed. Mongul brought the creature to Earth, planning both to embark on a new campaign of conquest and to gain revenge on Superman. Mongul defeated Superman and held him captive in another of his containment cubes, intending to force him to watch as the Sun-Eater devoured Earth’s sun.

Mongul vs. Superman

While Mongul easily repelled an attack by Supergirl and the JLA, and the Sun-Eater moved closer to Sol, Superman’s pal Jimmy Olsen managed to send a distress call through time to the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 30th century.

The Legion sent a squad back in time to help. They freed Superman in short order, and while Superman battled Mongul again (defeating him decisively for the first time, though Superman passed out immediately thereafter), the Legionnaires destroyed the Sun-Eater.

Black Mercy

Whatever prison was devised for Mongul did not hold him long. Now thoroughly consumed with hatred for Superman, Mongul put aside plans for conquest and focused directly on revenge. He attacked Superman in his Fortress of Solitude on his birthday, ensnaring him with a Black Mercy plant.

(The black mercy is a plant/fungus hybrid that feeds off a victim’s bio-aura, paralyzing victims by telepathically feeding them a fantasy-life based on their greatest desires. Mongul knew Superman could only get free by sacrificing his greatest longings, a suitable taste of revenge.)

Wonder Woman, Batman, and Robin II (Jason Todd) showed up at the Fortress to help Superman celebrate. Wonder Woman fought Mongul futiley while Batman tried to reach Superman and help him throw off the hypnotic trance he was in. Superman managed to break free when his dream of growing to manhood and raising a family on an intact Krypton turned into a nightmare.

Enraged and heart-broken, Superman engaged Mongul in all-out battle.

Still, Mongul was only beaten when Robin II ensnared him in the Black Mercy’s grip. This left Mongul trapped in a trance, dreaming of his violent and bloody defeat of Superman and conquest of the universe.


Description

Mongul is a massively muscled, giant-sized alien with yellow skin and bald head. He has only four fingers on each hand (and presumably four toes on each foot). See illos for details. He usually sports an arrogant, over-confident smile. When he gets angry, this becomes a sneering, dangerous grin.


Personality

Mongul is a ruthless megalomaniac with absolutely no scruples. He is absolutely self-confident, with nothing but contempt for others of lesser power than his own, which is almost everybody. Basically, he sees himself as having no equals, and lesser beings as worthless.

Driven by a desire to conquer and humiliate basically the entire universe, this attitude makes it generally impossible for him to have allies or even henchmen. At most he might make use of slaves, or enjoy extorting service from his enemies by threatening those he loves. Ultimately, though, he is a control freak who relies on nothing but his own power and his technology and special weapons.

Mongul affected by the Black Mercy

Despite his megalomania he is very intelligent and a careful planner. Knowing he cannot be everywhere at once, he seeks out technologies which can make his dreams of galactic conquest possible. He does his research and has successfully found and made use of some of the rarest (and most dangerous) objects in the universe.

Unfortunately, his megalomania and overconfidence rarely results in foolhardiness.

Revenge!

He will at times retreat when his plans are wrecked, rather than fight to no purpose. Those who thwart him will eventually face his vengeance, though. Superman has thwarted him on three occasions, and Mongul’s hatred of him is intense.

Currently, Mongul’s plans for conquest have apparently been put on hold while he seeks to humiliate, break, and ultimately destroy Superman.

Given this revenge streak, it’s interesting that Mongul’s never mentioned seeking revenge on the Arkymandryte and his former subjects. Perhaps he intended to make them an early target for Warworld, but has since been distracted by an even greater desire for revenge on Superman.

(Or, as alluded to in the history, perhaps for some reason he’s afraid to go home? He’s not afraid of much of anything, seemingly, but if his people all possess his power levels…)


Quotes

“I am called Mongul, and the noun you are searching for is not monster but Master !”

“You may have your wish, Superman we shall fight man-to-man, as you put it ! Or as I would say, you may die at my hand !”

“I am truly pleased at the tenor of your thoughts, Kryptonian. My telepathic abilities are limited, but they should prove ample. It will not take a great deal of ability to sense your pain as Earth dies.”

“Bah ! The temerity of your insolence is awesome !”

“Superman, you have never beaten me in battle ! Why try again ? Can it be that you enjoy pain ?”

(To Batman, Robin II, and Wonder Woman, as they speculate on how Superman was “accidentally” attacked by the Black Mercy Plant): “How remarkable. You animals really are almost intelligent, aren’t you ? That’s exactly what happened… except for one or two minor details. First, I knew precisely what it would do to him. Secondly, it was not intended as a token of gratitude.”

“If you don’t already know my name, then you’re not worthy of an introduction. I’m the new manager around here. Naturally, I shall need time to settle in and adjust to your many interesting customs… I know, for example, that your society makes distinction on a basis of gender and age. Perhaps, then , you could advise me… which of you would it be polite to kill first ?”

Mongul: “Oh, dear. Is that a neural impacter ? Do they still make those ? I’d advise you to try the plasm disrupter. It’s smaller. More of a female’s weapon.”
Wonder Woman: “Go to Hell !” (fires the neural impacter, which has absolutely no effect)

“I fashioned a prison that you could not leave without giving up your heart’s desire. Escaping it must have been like tearing off your own arm…and now I’m going to kill you anyway. Happy birthday, Kryptonian. I give you oblivion.”


DC Universe History

Another guy who’d really like to take Doomsday’s place as the Superman killer. I guess the post-Crisis Mongul died, right, and has been replaced by his more powerful son — who has an identical appearance? One suspects that some writer or other just didn’t want him to be dead, so quickly decided to give him an identical son.

At any rate, the post-Crisis Mongul has become a major GLC villain — that wouldn’t be out of character for the pre-Crisis Mongul, either. I could see him invading Oa to claim the Central Power Battery, for example — one more example of stealing a super-powerful WMD! Mongul would also be a tough fight for L.E.G.I.O.N..


Marvel Universe History

The simplest way to bring in Mongul is to replace his Superman encounters with Thor in some of his interstellar adventures. The Silver Surfer would also be a good fit. He’d also, of course, encounter Gladiator and the Imperial Guard. Clashes with the Xandarian StarCorps, the Spaceknights of Galador, or Quasar when he was Protector of the Universe would also be fun.

His power, appearance, and modus operandi (stealing weapons of great power) are pretty close to that of Thanos, though, so it may be tough to use both. If you decide to do so anyway, a fight between the two over some obscure weapon or other seems inevitable.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Mongul

Dex: 10 Str: 26 Bod: 22 Motivation: Power Lust/Psychopath
Int: 12 Wil: 16 Min: 11 Occupation: would-be galactic conqueror
Inf: 11 Aur: 10 Spi: 10 Resources {or Wealth}: 012
Init: 033 HP: 135

Powers:
Comprehend Languages: 13, Energy Blast: 16, Growth: 02, Sealed Systems: 16, Telepathy: 02, Teleport: 28

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Energy Blast can be projected from his hands, eyes, or through a projector on his chest (+0). See below for more about the projector.
  • Growth is Always On, a Form Function, and is Already Figured into his stats.

Skills:
Gadgetry: 13, Vehicles (Space): 07

Advantages:
Expertise (Weapons of Interplanetary Mass Destruction); Expansive Headquarters (his starship, at least during his first appearance); Genius

Drawbacks:
SIA to conquest of the galaxy; SIA to revenge on Superman; Strange Appearance

Equipment:

  • BODY ARMOR [BODY 15, Diminution: 14, Energy Absorption: 20, Kinetic Absorption: 20, Force Wall (cube): 14, Radio Communications (Scrambled): 29, R#02] Notes: The Radio Communications can be used to contact his starship’s computer, allowing him to give it commands remotely. He once adapted this to Controller tech to allow him to direct a Sun-Eater, as well. Bonuses & Limitations: Diminution, Energy Absorption, Kinetic Absorption, and Force Wall are all part of one combined ability — see the “Cosmic Cubes” section below. By the third time Mongul encounters Superman, he’s adapted the cubic force fields to run on red solar energy, activating Superman’s vulnerability.
  • Chest Beam Projector [BODY 15, Energy Blast: 16, R#: 02] During his last battle with Superman at the Fortress of Solitude, Mongul was shown using a gadget on his chest to flash-fry Robin II/Jason Todd (although this turned out to be an illusion caused by the Black Mercy Plant).
    In all previous appearances, Mongul projected Energy Blasts from his hands or eyes, even when his Body Armor had been destroyed. My No-Prize explanation is that Mongul may have adapted red solar rays into his energy blasts, even as his did into his Force Cubes. This is not verified, but if so, Energy Blast has a Bonus making it operate on red solar wavelengths, activating Superman’s Vulnerabilities. The projector’s energy blast may have a separate power supply, but I suspect it channels Mongul’s own energies, tuning them to red wavelengths before firing.
  • Mongul makes use of a city-sized Starship. Tentative stats for it might be [DEX 04, STR 20, BODY 24, INT 11, WILL 03, MIND 06, Energy Blast: 16, Eye of the Cat: 45, Flight: 43, Invisibility (vs. Radar only): 10, Radio Communications (Scrambled): 40, Radar Sense: 40, Recall: 30, Sealed Systems: 21, Telescopic Vision: 40, Area Knowledge (the Galaxy), R#: 02]
    Most of this is completely speculative, outside of the demonstrated Flight speed. Eye of the Cat represents the starship’s probes, shown below. I’ve assumed Mongul’s ability to find his way around the galaxy, even to very obscure locations, is evidence that his starship has excellent navigational data (represented by Area Knowledge). The Invisibility is based on the fact that he parked his ship in our solar system without being detected, but that may have more to do with our limitations rather than his stealth technology.
    I’ve been pretty minimialistic with the ship’s weaponry. As shown by his History, Mongul does like weapons, the more powerful the better. But he also likes to get his hands dirty and fight up-close and personal. We’ve never seen him use his starship in a fight, so further weapons systems will have to be determined by the GM.
  • Probes (x2) [BODY 12, INT 02, Flight: 44, Illusion: 02, Radio Communications (Scrambled): 45] These extremely fast probes, almost able to pace Superman, are controlled remotely from his starship. The Illusion power is used for holographic communications — for example allowing Mongul to project his voice and image from the probe while he is far away. Only one probe was actually seen, I’m just assuming the starship has a replacement.
  • Black Mercy plant/fungus [BODY 09, Mental Freeze: 24, Mind Drain: 01, Mental Illusion: 20, Mind Probe: 25, Snare (Self-Linked): 12] These stats are rather loose and off-the-cuff, since the plant’s mostly a plot device.
    Basically, the thing snares somebody when touched, then mentally paralyzes the subject while pacifying them with a Mental Illusion of their dreams come true, dreams found via Mind Probe. The Black Mercy lives off the victim via Mind Drain. All the plant/fungus’s powers can only be used on somebody touching it, and it can only have one victim at a time. Should a subject fight off the Mental Freeze and Mental Illusion, they can try to break the Snare.
  • Gauntlets (x2) [BODY 15]. These oversized gauntlets allow someone to handle the Black Mercy plant without it attacking them via Snare. It does not allow them to remove the plant from someone else, simply to carry it to a new target safely.

Cosmic Cubes

Mongul’s Body Armor is able to trap opponents in a special trans-dimensional force field. This is represented by the armor’s powers of Diminution, Energy Absorption, Kinetic Absorption, and Force Wall. Mongul targets someone with Diminution. If successful, they are shrunk and encased in a whitish transparent cube (Force Wall). The cube suppresses and absorbs energy used from the inside (Energy Absorption, Kinetic Absorption). Energy projected by someone outside the cube is unaffected.

By Mongul’s third encounter with the Man of Steel, he has modified the cubes to run on red solar energy. As a result, Superman has a -3 CS OV/RV penalty to resist Dimunition. Once shrunken and imprisoned, the environment inside the cube is saturated with red solar rays, activating a Kryptonian’s Loss Vulnerability.


Weapons of Mass Destruction

Warworld, the Sun-Eater, and the like are also basically plot devices, so I’ve not done stats for them. For Warworld, think Death Star with lots of nuclear missiles and anti-personnel guns, all automated. For the Sun-Eater, should it actually reach a star you’re probably looking at 70+ APs of Power Drain and Vampirism. It has a DEX of 06, STR and BODY of 60+, and Mongul was able to get it to fire Energy Blasts of 30 or so APs, laced with red solar rays.


Design Notes

His original Who’s Who entry (Who’s Who vol. XVI, June 1986) has some factual mistakes. For example, it states that the crystal key which controlled Warworld was given to the Martian Manhunter by the same race which created Warworld. (It wasn’t.) This version is based on what’s revealed in-story.

In his first appearance, Mongul has possession of a very large, very advanced starship. It’s never seen on-panel again, but he still star-hops his way around the galaxy with ease, so I assume he’s still got it. This gives him a city-sized piece of technology which likely includes cargo holds, factories, replicators, and so on.

Without the ship his Wealth score probably drops, maybe even all the way down to 001. Of course, as a ruthless, ultra-powerful SOB he’s not really concerned with paying for things anyway.

Contrary to my earlier statements, I now believe that Mongul does have an innate ability to teleport. He’s done so even when his suit is completely destroyed and there’s no evidence of any machinery to power the teleport.

This is a pre-Crisis character written up on a post-Crisis scale. Since Superman is the primary character he interacts with him, I’ll also note that I slightly tweaked Superman’s stats to represent how he performs in these stories.

My take on Superman during his battles with Mongul is that he has DEX/STR/BODY of 08/25/20, but throughout his battles with Mongul he is not afflicted with any sort of Ubermensch syndrome, and he uses Superspeed: 14 to sub for his DEX.

Superman in these stories is faster and more invulnerable than during the Byrne Era or the early-1990s era which succeeded him, so these tweaks to his 2nd and 3rd edition stats are necessary.


By Chris Cottingham

Source of Character: DC Comics (Mostly DC Comics Presents)

Helper(s): Dr. Peter S. Piispanen; Mayfair’s DC Heroes RPG Superman Sourcebook (1st edition); wikipedia (the Mongul entry is surprisingly accurate and uses correct grammar — wow!)

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