Saturday, January 1, 2011

1996 Rogues Gallery #1: Mongul by John Hanley

Ahh. The 50th anniversary December of Despero is finally over, and I do believe it was the best one yet. Since Mongul made a guest appearance right there at the end, I thought revisiting the jaundiced giant would be a nice way to ring in the new year. Don't worry about another month long "New Year's Evil," "Vile Menagerie," or "March of Mongul" this year, though. Barring a wild hair, I won't be bothering with that kind of coverage in 2011 until December. I think we spent enough of 2010 fixating on villains, so this is more like the start of a week or so of coasting after the holidays.

Actually, I feel like the blog jumped a track after the death of J'Onn J'Onzz in the middle of 2008, when I began pushing one initiative after another in anticipation of the Martian Manhunter's resurrection. Now he's back, and creators are making the exact same mistakes with the character they always have. I expect his history will continue to be ignored, he'll lack much of a supporting cast, his rogues gallery will remain anemic and filled with "brand new" knock-offs of other villains or borrowed from other heroes... the usual. I'm not writing the guy, and I run a daily blog trying to help inform the work of those who do, so I feel I've done my part at this point. DC Comics would rather canonize a blogger's 2½ year old internet meme than acknowledge their own 47 year history, so why should I kill myself over this crap?

Which brings us back to Mongul, a villain I used to really like, and hope to enjoy again. Peter Tomasi has a history with both the Martian Manhunter and Mongul dating back to the mid-90s. If I have to suffer through more of his Didio porn scripts in an ongoing series, the least the guy could do is finally have Mongul become a proper Manhunter villain after a thirty year tease. It's not like Tomasi doesn't worship at a homemade alter to Alan Moore every night, and Superman Annual #11 (1985) continued the tease in one panel (reproduced if you scroll down the link.) Damn it, I want some green on yellow violence, and nobody's bringing back B'rett for that!

As a tie-in to the Underworld Unleashed crossover event, Skybox produced the trading card set DC Villains: The Dark Judgment. I suspect they had some leftover art, because DC Comics offered a pin-up book of painted art with an identical aesthetic to the set called Rogues Gallery. Mongul was already covered in card form by Joe Devito, so John Hanley got relegated to the comic. It's a shame, because both are pretty epic, and far more snazzy than a lot of the more art school frou-frou stuff on display.

In case you're wondering about the in-picture text, the Post-Crisis Mongul was killed by Neron in the first issue of Underworld Unleashed. Mongul Jr. showed up a few years later, just as big a jobber as his daddy. If you've ever enjoyed Mongul, do yourself a favor and read his Pre-Crisis stories, when he was bad ass enough to take on planet-pushing Superman, the Justice League and even the Legion of Super-Heroes all by himself.

I'm not the only blogger relishing New Year's Evil this week. Find more malicious pin-up fun at the following:


LissBirds said...

I was really surprised to see the official mention of Apex City. Not surprised at all to see D'kay and all that business in Brightest Day.


My last hope is that Phil Morris will make enough guest appearances on the final season of Smallville to give fans an idea of how interesting an idea a Martian detective could be.

In the meantime, I think I'll re-read Showcase Presents. 2011 doesn't seem like it's going to be great year, comics-wise.

MatthewMG said...

Am I mistaken, or should that 2nd last paragraph read "In case you're wondering about the in-picture text, the Post-Crisis Mongul was killed by Neron"?

Diabolu Frank said...

I scanned the last three paragraphs for context to see what mistake I'd made before realizing, "oh, Despero..." I stand corrected...

Luke said...

That Mongul image is awesome to the max, yo. And I mean that sincerely. Considering that Despero has bulked up, I don't know if Manhunter needs two alien hulks to fight with, does he? And Despero seems so much better suited than Mongul at this point.

Apex City. BLARGH.

Diabolu Frank said...

In the beginning, Mongul and Despero were vastly different. Today, I can see some redundancy. Mongul is still more of a schemer, and without a Yellow Power Ring, closer to Martian Manhunter's weight class in a fight. There's a lot more history with Despero, but Martian Manhunter hasn't shown that he can take him one-on-one, so Despero remains more of a team threat.