11 min read


Sonny Sumo is a minor but memorable part of Jack “the King” Kirby’s Fourth World mythology.

He had a handful of appearances in Kirby’s short-lived The Forever People comic, in 1971.

Unexpectedly, Grant Morrison introduced another version of Sonny Sumo in the 2008 Final Crisis epic.



  • Real Name: Unrevealed.
  • Note: The “Sonny” name was prolly inspired by actor Sonny Chiba (千葉 真一). In Mr. Chiba’s case, “Sonny” was an Anglicization of “Shin’ichi”. Which is a fairly common given name, though the meaning varies depending upon the first kanji.
  • Other Aliases: Super-Sumo-san ; the Banzai Express ; “the most incredible man on Earth”.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: None.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile.
  • Height: 6’8” (2.03m.) Weight: 300 lbs. (136 Kg.).
  • Eyes: Brown. Hair: Bald.

Powers and Abilities

Sonny Sumo is a real badass.

Not only is he a world-class master of numerous fighting techniques, but he possesses vast superhuman strength and endurance. Sonny was seen ripping thick metal walls apart with his bare hands.

Or rather his bare hand, since he was holding a Mother Box in the other.

His mastery of the martial extends to ancient, mysterious techniques of chiA sort of universal life force/energy in Chinese-influenced cultures. focusing. Sumo can thus do things like temporarily closing his wounds through sheer will. Or demolishing heavy armour plates with his bare hands. In DC Heroes RPG terms, he has lots of Hero pointsDC Heroes RPG concept expressing narrative importance/immunity.

So yes, his Hero Points total is unusually high for a character with so few appearances. But when Jack “the King” Kirby keeps telling you that the character is the most incredible man on Earth and has enormous willpower, you say “Sir yes Sir !” and amp the HPs.

loneliness + alienation + fear + despair…

Like some other humans (such as “Million Dollars” Bates or the Pied Piper), Sonny Sumo unknowingly holds the formula of the Anti-Life Equation in his subconscious.

Sufficiently advanced means of mind probing could read and transcribe the Equation from him.

Holding the formula also allows Sonny Sumo to communicate with and use Mother Boxes and Motherboxxxes (and presumably Father Boxes) without effort.

Jack Kirby's Sonny Sumo (DC Comics)


In 1971, Sonny Sumo was in America with his agent, Harry Sharp. A match had been organised against Sagutai. Sagutai was a huge, armoured, incredibly fast and lethal combat robot with many hidden weapons.

While Sonny was seriously wounded, he soon reduced Sagutai into a heap of metal.

The gladiator retired to his room. Though he had erased his wound through sheer will power, he still needed medical help.

While waiting, he found a strange object emitting soothing noises and thoughts. Intrigued since it hadn’t been there before, Sonny picked it up. It healed his wounds.

A Mother Box needs help

The object, a Mother Box, had teleported to Sonny after the Forever People had been captured by DeSaad. The Box established a mind link with Sonny, asking for help.

The noble warrior immediately agreed.

The Mother Box teleported Sumo-san to a nearby amusement park run by DeSaad. This place used illusions to have the customers unknowingly torture prisoners — including the Forever People. Following Mother Box’s telepathic instructions, the bald gladiator easily freed the People.

Together, they defeated all parademons and forced DeSaad to flee.

However, Darkseid had come to visit his underling. He wanted to see the Forever People and their Mother Box. Darkseid used the Omega Effect to get rid of his opponents, but chose to banish them into the past rather than disintegrate them.

Sonny Sumo (DC Comics) about to fight a Jack Kirby robot

Love of the common people

Sonny Sumo was sent back to ancient Japan. There he became a wise man, an athlete, a fighter and a farmer. He had found an era befitting his temper and heroism. He lived among the poor, who loved him.

(One suspects that tales of Sonny Sumo later became conflated with those of other Japanese folk heroes, such as Kintaro).

This folk hero handed over the Mother Box to a major temple. He told the priest that in the far future, the Forever People would come to reclaim the Box.

This came true in 1972. The Forever People managed to return from their various chronal banishments, then tracked the Box to modern Japan.

Sonny Sumo died a happy man in ancient Japan. Unlike the Forever People, he had not sought to escape his banishment.

Sonny, thank you for the truth you’ve let me see

Another Sonny Sumo took the original’s place on late 2000s DC Earth. He was a refugee from a parallel Earth which seemed darker, more corrupt, and more violent.

This man simply slipped into his counterpart’s life. He pretended to be the original, back from his temporal banishment.

He also had a sort of Mother Box, which in his world was called a Motherboxxx. This is likely what allowed him to travel to the DC Earth.

While broodier than his counterpart, this Sumo resumed the original’s career as a gladiator. He continued to develop the Sonny Sumo legend, and being a superstar in Japan.

Final Crisis

During the Final Crisis, Sonny was recruited to help against Anti-Life by Shilo Norman, aka Mister Miracle.

After the Super-Young Team approached him, they joined the anti-Darkseid resistance led by Checkmate.

During this war Mr. Miracle realised that Sonny Sumo was not the original. Sumo therefore reluctantly explained the truth.


Sonny is a mountain of muscles. He’s bigger and taller than even Big Bear of the Forever People.

Though he’s called “Sumo” he’s not built like a sumotori. He’s more like a pro wrestler.

Sonny Sumo (DC Comics) drinks in a Japanese bar

2008 version.


Sonny openly sees himself as a great and noble warrior in a world that no longer has any room for those. He presents as a real samurai like those in the legends.

And, well, that’s a fair description of the man we’ve seen.

This being 1971, Sonny possesses Ancient Oriental Wisdom®. He has been known to speak in poetic, harmonious ways.

The Sonny Sumo of the 2000s was far broodier. He was more aggressive in presenting himself as a mercenary and showbiz person. He thus sought to convey that he wasn’t a hero.

He also made it sure that people understood that he was dangerous, a dreaded killer only kept in check by his greed.

However, in a crisis it became clear that Sonny was the same sort of person than the pre-Crisis Sonny Sumo. His life experience on a darker, grimmer world had influenced his attitude – but not his spirit.

Therefore, once the faeces intersect with the ventilator, Sumo-san becomes a heroic, indomitable fighter defending the common man against the forces of evil.

Jack Kirby's Sonny Sumo (DC Comics) leaping with Mark Moonrider


“What is this I have fallen heir to ? I don’t remember seeing it in this room before ! […] But inside it, the ancient winds of trouble blow – calling out my name — for help !”

“A mission worthy of a samurai !”

(2008 Sonny Sumo, when challenged to a fight) “I fight for money. Talk to my manager — maybe you’ll get a chance to face me in the ring… where there are rules that prevent me from killing you. Take my advice, friend.”

(2008 Sonny Sumo, calling his agents) “You heard me right. Cancel my fight with Killotron tonight. I’m on a mission from the gods.”

Marvel Universe Adaptation

(This section proposes ways of using this character in Marvel Universe stories).

Jack Kirby had an identical-looking character in the Black Panther story about Samurai City.


DC Heroes RPG

Sonny Sumo – the most incredible man on Earth !

Dex: 08 Str: 14 Bod: 08
Int: 06 Wil: 06 Min: 09
Inf: 08 Aur: 07 Spi: 09
Init: 026 HP: 075


Martial artist: 10, Weaponry (Melee): 10


Familiarity (Japanese history), Iron nerves, Language (Japanese), Lightning Reflexes, Local Hero (Japan), Schtick (Wounds Rejection), Misc.: Sonny Sumo holds a form of the Anti-Life Equation in his subconscious (see below).


Harry Sharp (his agent – Low).


Creepy Appearance (size and sumotori-like features).


Noble warrior.






Sonny Sumo has been known to fight with a long steel bar, which he uses as a bo staff [BODY 10, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 15), Descriptor: Bludgeoning]. No, it won’t last long since the BODY is too low for Sumo’s strength.

The 2000s Sonny Sumo has an expensive keitai  .

Sonny Sumo — the Banzai Express !

Sonny can focus the power of the mind into a ritual which he calls “wound rejection”. When he concentrates on it (which usually involves kneeling and staring at the ground), all of his wounds are seemingly erased. Even badly burned skin will be repaired.

This is temporary, though. The wounds will eventually return and necessitate medical treatment.

In game terms, Sonny Sumo can perform a Desperation Recovery for but 10 Hero Points, no matter what the Genre. And while he’s seen concentrating, kneeling, etc. it somehow all amounts to one Automatic Action.

Mind over matter

There are various alternative approaches to model the wound rejections thing. And given the lack of data about what Sonny does exactly, they are all credible approaches. Such alternatives include:

  • Straight Mind over Matter.
  • Damage Transference with No Risk of Injury, No Time Limit, an additional Bonus that it’s Usable on Self, and Limitations that it’s not Usable on Others and that the APs healed eventually return.
  • Invulnerability or Regeneration with the Fatiguing limitation, but setting a time delay on Fatiguing damage.

During this discussion, further explanation was provided about the Desperation Recovery approach:
“My take is that DR, which can be performed by anybody with enough HPs, is not some sort of Regeneration-like ability repairing damaged tissue. Though I guess it could always be explained as ’it was not as bad as it looked‘.

“One just manages to ignore the wounds due to willpower, adrenaline, etc.. Which is coherent with the numerous examples of people in comics doing DR, then collapsing in pain and exhaustion when it’s safe to do so.”

“So IMO Sonny does textbook DR, which is shoving the RAPs away and going back into the fray. Rather than a superhuman healing power. In his case it’s a bit confusing because it looks like superhuman healing. But at the end of the scene the healing doesn’t quite stick, so it’s the exact same thing as ignoring wounds through sheer willpower.”

loneliness + alienation + fear + despair…

It seems that he Equation also allows Sonny to use a Mother Box’s Omni-Power without paying the usual HPs fee. That works as long as the intended effect has to do with the suppression of free will. The known examples have been Control, and Sleep.

When used, such Powers also had a free Bonus. Anybody who heard Sonny’s voice, even through electronic retransmission, was affected by the Power being emulated.

Design Notes

The original Sumo-san’s appearance (his only one for 37 years) featured but a handful of facts to narrow down AP ranges. The bulk of the stats has to be speculative, and remains a bit conservative.

Sonny Sumo (DC Comics) and the Forever People

DC Adventures RPG

Sonny Sumo — Averaged PL 12

13 07 03 02
10 02 02 04

Combat Advantages:

Accurate attack, All-Out Attack, Close attack 2, Defensive Attack, Defensive Roll 3, Improved Defense, Improved Grab, Improved Initiative, Improved Smash, Improved Trip, Move-by Action, Power attack, Ranged attack 2, Takedown.

Other Advantages:

Benefit 1 (Sonny is a superstar in Japan), Diehard, Extraordinary Effort, Fearless, Great Endurance, Language (Japanese), Seize Initiative, Wound Rejection (see below).


Close combat (Unarmed) 2 (+14), Close combat (Traditional Japanese) 3 (+15), Expertise (Japanese history) 3 (+5), Expertise (Pro wrestler/gladiator) 5 (+7), Insight 5 (+7), Perception 5 (+7), Persuasion 2 (+6)


Initiative +7
Unarmed +14, Close, Damage 13
Melee weapon +15, Close, Damage by type


Dodge 12
Fortitude 11
Parry 13
Toughness 07*/10
Will 13

* Without Defensive Roll.


  • Appearance Sonny is huge and easy to recognise.
  • Anti-life A copy of the Anti-Life Equation is hidden in Sumo-San’s mind.
  • Too much for mere steel Sonny can occasionallu use melee weapons, but they’ll soon shatter since he hits so hard.

Powers Levels:

  • Trade-off areas. Attack/Effect PL 14, Dodge/Toughness PL 11, Parry/Toughness PL 12, Fort/Will PL 12.
  • Points total 152. Abilities 86, Defences 27, Skills 13, Powers 0, Devices 0, Advantages 26. Equiv. PL 11.


“Wound Rejection” is proposed as an Advantage akin to Extraordinary Effort. When spending a Hero Point to Recover, Wound Rejection allows for healing two conditions instead of one.

Writeups.org writer avatar Sébastien Andrivet

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: DC Universe / Jack Kirby’s Fourth World.

Helper(s): Vincent Bartilucci, Roy Cowan, Kal El el Vigilante.