A new threat to the DC Universe could be on its way. Although major threats are never in short supply, the long-time Superman villain Mongul has long been considered one of the most dangerous--and the current Mongul, son of the previous, seems even more ruthless than his predecessor. Often referred to as DC's answer to Thanos (a notion supported by the fact that Mongul co-creator Jim Starlin also created Thanos,) Mongul has long been one of the few villains who can offer not only a true physical challenge to Superman, but also a moral and logistical one. The Warworld Saga in Action Comics by writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson and artists Riccardo Federici, Will Conrad, and Brent Peeples has shown exactly why Mongul is such a threat to the DC Universe--and Superman's private journal of events have shown why he may even be a threat in defeat.
Mongul first appeared in November of 1980, in DC Comics Presents #27 (written by Len Wein and Jim Starlin, art by Starlin and Dick Giordano,) and has been a thorn in Superman's side ever since. A major presence in the DC Universe, Mongul has recently been revealed to be a title rather than a name, as the current Mongul is actually the son and successor of the previous--and seems in ways even worse than the "Mongul-Who-Was." When Superman learned that the Phaelosians, a lost tribe of Kryptonians, were enslaved on Warworld, he knew he had to intervene--setting up the saga, which so far has been one of the most widely-acclaimed and action-packed Superman stories in years. With his Authority team, Superman went to Warworld to free the Phaelosians--but so far the journey has been harder than anyone anticipated, full of loss, heartbreak, and uncertainty.
Throughout the events of the Warworld Saga, Superman has been keeping a journal, to which the reader has been presented with relevant fragments. In his journal to Action Comics #1045 (written by Johnson, with art by Will Conrad and Brent Peeples,) Superman writes that "whichever of us defeats Mongul, the title of 'Mongul' will pass to them, whether we accept it or not. Nevertheless, we will not accept it." In stating this, he makes it clear that he would prefer the people of Warworld to be free to choose their own leaders. An optimistic thought, but it opens a danger to the people of WarWorld that Superman is either unaware of, or unwilling to accept.
Should the revolution go as planned, Mongul is defeated and the people of Warworld freed, it will be up to them to freely choose a leader. Considering the villainous powerful elites of Warworld, this could be a dangerous possibility. It could create a power vacuum, one which the various tyrants and villains of Warworld will be desperate to fill. That would undoubtedly lead to infighting and perhaps more widespread social chaos. Perhaps it is naive to assume that a transfer of power would go peacefully on Warworld. Several members of Mongul's inner circle, particularly his champion Teacher, and his advisor Chaytil, seem poised to take the throne from Mongul, not to mention the possibility of unknown threats waiting to be revealed.
Although Superman's intentions are unquestionably noble, he may have taken on more than he could handle by attempting to free another world from tyranny. Although Mongul's rule is brutal, and not justifiable by any means, the end of Mongul's rule could just as easily result in bitter and deadly conflict on Warworld as it could in a peaceful transition of power. If that happens, the blame will lie squarely on Superman. Of course, things could go differently, and Warworld could have a peaceful transition of power to a leader who can bring justice and fairness to Warworld. Unfortunately, it is hard to imagine someone other than Superman himself who could fill that role.
Action Comics #1045 is available now from DC Comics.