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In the Superman comics all the way up to 1985 (when the writers re-did Superman all over again), exactly what is Mongul? Is he stronger than Superman physically? I mean if they fought without each one of them holding back to the death, is Mongul strong enough to kill Superman?

I am not asking for opinion, but rather facts presented to us in the comics. Also, does anyone know the first comic that talks about Mongul's origin and powers in depth?

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Mongul's species is never defined in the Pre-Crisis or Post-Crisis Universe. Neither is the source of his metahuman abilities. However, in the Pre-Crisis universe, the desire of the writer, Jim Starlin was to create a villain whose power and ability were greater than Superman's and capable of giving the Man of Tomorrow a run for his money.

Of Pre-Crisis Mongul's origin, we know only this:

The only known fact about Mongul's early life is that he was once the merciless dictator of an entire world until an ancient holy man called the Arkymandyte appeared and incited the general population to revolt against his rule. The revolution proved successful, and Mongul was forced to abandon his world and flee into space in order to save his own life. Because of this, it is generally assumed that Mongul acquired his vast powers at some point after his exile and before his first encounter with Superman, otherwise he would have been able to use them to put down the revolt against his dictatorship. The origin of Mongul's powers are also a complete unknown.

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  • In his initial appearance of DC Comics Presents #27, Mongol boasted an array of superhuman abilities including near-invulnerability and strength on par with Pre-Crisis Superman. Mongul stood toe to toe with Superman and nearly defeated him.

  • Mongul engages Superman in personal combat and the villain proves to be one of the Man of Tomorrow's most dangerous opponents, nearly besting him before finally escaping with the Key to the technological battlestation known as Warworld. (DCCP No. 27/1, Nov 1980: "The Key That Unlocked Chaos")

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In this recap from DC Comics Present #28, Superman is beaten by Mongul

  • This Pre-Crisis Mongul would remain a physical threat to Superman until the Crisis on Infinite Earths, engaging in several gambits in the pages of DC Comics Presents including unleashing the threat of a deadly Sun-Eater. In one of their last physical confrontations in DC Comics Presents #36, Superman and Mongul go at it one last time and Superman is astounded as to Mongul's ability to take damage and dish it out...

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  • Their most pivotal confrontation was chronicled in the famed comic: For the Man Who Has Everything, written by Alan Moore. In this issue, we discover Mongul also has a green thumb and a preference for growing a deadly plant called a Black Mercy. The plant is a parasite which while consuming its prey, gives them visions of an ideal life, perfect in every way. The plant had the power to pierce Superman's invulnerable skin, and hijack his mind, making him believe Krypton had never exploded and that he was living a normal family life.

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  • It is this story which cemented Mongul as a premiere Superman foe, who could challenge both body and mind and though he is defeated by Superman's force of will, Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin show up to lend a hand. In this case, Mongul is so tough, Wonder Woman nearly breaks her hand trying to bring the battle to the alien warlord.

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Upon Superman's liberation from the Black Mercy, he and Mongul mix it up one last time. They appear almost equally matched.

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  • In the end, Mongul is hoisted upon his own petard and dreams of a Universe where he is the complete master of all he surveys.

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  • Whatever did happen to Congorilla? Feb 12, 2022 at 12:40
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Pre-Crisis (1980 - 1985)

When originally introduced in DC Comics Presents #27/28, Mongul was only given a cursory origin. It was explained that he had been the ruling despot of his race's homeworld, until they finally got tired of him and overthrew him in a revolution. He then escaped (or was exiled) and decided to get revenge on his people by taking over Warworld and using it to destroy his own planet. The original version towered over Superman and proved to be his physical match when they fought. In each case, however, Superman proved to be the stronger of the two.

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Post-Crisis (1985 - 2011)

After the Crisis on Infinite Earths retcon, Mongul was largely unchanged with two notable exceptions - he was now closer to human-size (yet still quite large), and he was now the ruler of Warworld, a planet where the populace was kept docile through gladiator games that were broadcast across their world. Eventually, Mongul would lose his throne in this version as well, and thereafter seek revenge against the Justice League, specifically Superman.

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According to Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe #16, the only known fact regarding the Pre-Crisis Mongul's early life is that he was once the ruthless overlord of a world with billions of subjects, who was eventually forced to flee after a revolution led by a holy man known as the Arkymandyte.

The only known fact about Mongul's early life is that he was once the overlord of an entire world, a tyrant who ruled mercilessly over his billions of subjects. One day an ancient holy man, the arkymandyte, came from out of the hills to inflame Mongul's people in protest, and finally, to revolt against his evil reign. Mongul was forced to flee his world to save himself from death at the hands of enraged mobs.

Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe #16, page 4

Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe #16 (June, 1986)

These details were originally divulged by Mongul himself in DC Comics Presents Vol. 1 #28.

MONGUL: For years, I was overlord of an entire world, absolute ruler over billions of beings--and thus, my narrow-minded subjects branded me a tyrant! They did not understand that, to rule well, one must rule with an iron hand... they simply did not understand power! Perhaps that is why they turned against me in the end--and turned to the ancient Arkymandyte who came shuffling down out of the mountains... he had been hiding there for decades, waiting--and now his time had come! The holy man knew power, too, it seemed--the power of the word--the power of religious fervor! In a matter of days, he had stirred my people to the boiling point--and, at last, I was forced to flee the throne for my life! There was, of course, one small satisfaction... the Arkymandyte promptly became an even greater tyrant than I'd ever been!

DC Comics Presents Vol. 1 #28, page 8

DC Comics Presents Vol. 1 #28 (December, 1980)

There aren't any comics which talk about Pre-Crisis Mongul's origin in any more depth than this.


In regard to Mongul's strength level, relative to Superman's, the Who's Who says the following:

Mongul's abilities appear to be almost on par with those of Superman, witnessed by the fact that he was repeatedly able to stand in battle with the Man of Steel. Mongul can issue forth blasts powerful enough to force Superman to a standstill. In addition, Mongul can teleport as well as produce dimensional-inversion cubes that can warp their interior reality.

That's as in-depth an explanation of Mongul's powers as was ever given within an official DC Comics publication. DC tends not to explain or quantify the powers of their characters as precisely as Marvel often does with theirs.

As far as head-to-head showings go, the final and most definitive battle between the Pre-Crisis versions of Mongul and Superman occurred in Superman Annual Vol. 1 #11. After knocking one another back & forth for a while, Superman appeared to have gained the upper hand, and Mongul said he almost believed that Superman was going to kill him. However, Superman hesitated, and Mongul used that opening to strike back and gain the advantage himself. Then Robin intervened, using an alien parasite to render Mongul catatonic, thus bringing the battle to an end.

Superman Annual Vol. 1 #11, page 33

Superman Annual Vol. 1 #11, page 34

Superman Annual Vol. 1 #11, page 35

Superman Annual Vol. 1 #11 (September, 1985)

All in all, it seemed like Mongul and Superman were roughly equal in strength. You could make a case for either one being slightly stronger, but the evidence is very much open to interpretation.

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In the Sun-Eater issue, Superman outright admitted that Mongul was stronger than he was. That’s also borne out by his first appearance where he overpowered J’onn much more easily than Superman could. Supes did indeed have Mongul at mercy in the final Pre-Crisis fight but he was going for the kill and making top use of his speed and heat vision as well as strength. As far as brute strength alone goes, it’s close but Mongul is generally agreed to be one of the select few that could outmuscle Pre-Crisis Superman.

The Post-Crisis version is a different matter and was overpowered by a weakened Superman in his very first story arc

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  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. You've addressed half of the question, but not the other part. Is there anything you can say about what Mongul is?
    – DavidW
    Mar 3, 2023 at 20:17
  • @Nick Baldwin - "In the Sun-Eater issue, Superman outright admitted that Mongul was stronger than he was." Are you referring to page 24 of DC Comics Presents #43, where Superman says "You might even be stronger than I am, Mongul--but in my time on Earth, I've learned that doesn't matter much."...? If so, that's not a clear-cut admission of Mongul being stronger. Mar 3, 2023 at 20:32

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