Mongul has long been one of the greatest cosmic threats in the DC Universe, a charismatic leader and brilliant military tactician who was initially created in 1980 by Len Wein and Jim Starlin as a new foil for Superman. Over time, however, Mongul had a tremendous impact on the Green Lantern universe, leaving an indelible mark on Hal Jordan – it was Mongul after all who destroyed Coast City. Dead since 1995, Mongul’s legacy lived on in his two children but thanks to Flashpoint the original is back among the living, making his debut courtesy of his co-creator Jim Starlin in this week’s Green Lantern 23.2.
Mongul is Vlad the Impaler on a cosmic scale
Starlin uses the tried and true method of using flashbacks to paint his modern interpretation of the character, who is still a bold and sadistic despot who’s ability to impose his will not only with his strong words, but with his imposing presence and impressive power. The story of Mongul’s life paints a clear picture of a being who isn’t so much a villain as a self-made ruler of the cosmos, a Vlad the Impaler for the 21st Century. Starlin uses the threats of Admiral Pyri and his Oblivoron Federation as a vehicle to show just how cunning and ruthless the new Mongul is, turning the tables on the Admiral before the poor soul has any idea that his fate was sealed from the first moment they met.
The tale is bloody but it certainly does a great job of introducing new readers to a classic character that still seems very familiar to long time DC fans. Both Warworld and the Black Mercies are thankfully back again as they are two elements that clearly defined the character and it will be interesting to see how creators use them when he makes his presence known to the heroes of the DC Universe. The issue ends with the implication that Mongul will be used in the Green Lantern family, although he hasn’t shown up in the solicitations yet beyond an appearance in December’s Batman/Superman #6. That fact is perhaps the one criticism of the book, that the briefest of mentions of the Green Lanterns on the last page is the only thing that ties him to the title with no idea when or if he’ll actually appear on the pages of the any of these book later on.
The only connection back to the title of the series is a reference on the last page.
Howard Porter does a wonderful job with the art in this issue and you’d have a hard time remembering that he at one time damaged his hand so severely he had to leave comics for two years. Porter’s art, along with Hi-Fi’s colors, depict a Warworld which is equal parts hi-tech and barbarism. Mongul is perhaps at his most imposing when Porter provides the grisly imagery of all that remains of the beings who have dared to challenge him.
Green Lantern 23.2 is perhaps a puzzling entry for Villains Month but one that does a great job of re-establishing Mongul in his rightful place as one of the universe’s most feared beings. Despite having no immediate connection to the future of the Green Lantern family of books there is plenty of history between Mongul and his progeny to the this corner of the DC universe to justify his usage here. While it’s certainly not required reading for Green Lantern fans it is a satisfying tale that adds one more major level threat to the villains roster. Four out of five lanterns.