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Superman is lounging in his apartment when a holographic face shows up in the middle of his living room. The intruder identifies himself as Mongul, transmitting his message from his starship via scrambled signal, and he wants Superman to retrieve a speci

Quote1 That's just the beginning! Next, I intend to hunt up some heavy duty super-help! And then, I'm going to track down Mongul, no matter where in the universe he may be hiding-- and recover the crystal key... or die trying! Quote2
Superman src

Warworld is a Silver Age Superman storyline by Len Wein and Jim Starlin. It is the introduction of the villain Mongul and his Warworld.


Superman is lounging in his apartment when a holographic face shows up in the middle of his living room. The intruder identifies himself as Mongul, transmitting his message from his starship via scrambled signal, and he wants Superman to retrieve a specific item. When Superman answers he isn't his errand boy, Mongul retorts he isn't asking him-- he's ordering him. In order to ensure Superman's cooperation he has kidnapped and miniaturized Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane and Steve Lombard, who are trapped in a transparent energy cube. Superman doesn't want to believe it, but a quick super-vision sweep reveals his three co-workers aren't in Metropolis.

Mongul claims if Superman retrieves a crystal key locked away in an isolated crypt, his friends will be returned to him unharmed. Otherwise they'll be returned in pieces. Seeing no option but to play along with Mongul for the moment, Superman agrees to retrieve the key. Mongul reveals it's hidden on the fifth planet of the Cygnus system. Superman angrily points out the fourth planet is New Mars, where Martian Manhunter currently resides, and he isn't surprised at all that Mongul is well aware of it.

Superman angrily takes off for New Mars, closely followed by a Mongul's probe. He knows he can't let Mongul have that key, regardless what he wants him for, but he'll have to play his game until he can find a way to free his friends.

As Superman approaches his destination, his arrival is noted by Martian Manhunter.

Superman scours the planet, which is completely empty, except for a solitary and apparently unguarded crypt. Superman touches down, wondering why Mongul doesn't claim that key himself, when J'onn J'onzz arrives to stand in his way. J'onn warns that planet is off-limits to everyone. Superman apologises for trespassing and explains he just wants to collect the crystal key and leave. J'onn replies the entire universe depends on it remaining there.

Several centuries ago, existed a savage, war-mongering race called the Warzoon that devastated the half of the known universe. At one point, the Warzoon built a giant mobile weaponized satellite equipped with weapons capable of obliterating entire worlds, and called it Warworld. Notheless, the Warzoon race died mysteriously before they could put WarWorld to use. Later the artificial planetoid was found by a peaceful race called the Largas. Since they couldn't bring themselves to destroy it for unknown reasons, they reprogrammed its defenses to prevent anyone from setting foot on the satellite. Wielding the crystal key is the only way to penetrate Warworld's defenses because its defensive systems are nullified by the key's sonic vibrations.

Though, the Largas were a dying race. Thus, several centuries later, the last Largas entrusted the Martians with keeping the key before dying. And Martian Manhunter's sworn to protect the key.

Superman understands J'onn's position, but he reiterates he needs the key and is sure he can handle the situation. J'onn disagrees and attacks him. Much to his regret, Superman knocks him out after a hard fight. Superman enters the crypt and retrieves the key, wondering whether he'll be able to protect it. He walks back outside to find Mongul is already waiting for him, his vessel orbiting the planet. He has brought the prison-cube containing Superman's friends and demands the key in exchange for it. Superman, though, refuses to hand the item over to him. Mongul tries to force him by shrinking the cube progressively, but Superman doesn't yield.

Suddenly, the Mongul's cube controls get shattered and the energy prison dissolves, freeing Lois, Jimmy and Steve. Mongul blames Superman, even though Kal-El is so surprised as him, and blasts him away. Right then Martian Manhunter, who had just broken the cube's controls, becomes visible again and lunges at Mongul. J'onn already stopped him from stealing the key once in the past and he intends to drive him back again, but Mongul shakes both Martian Manhunter and Superman off and teleports away.

J'onn is furious and berates a seriously contrite Superman for being too arrogant and overconfident to listen. J'onn then demands to know what Superman intends to do about Mongul seizing the crystal key. Superman replies first of all he'll fly his friends back to Earth. Then he intends to recruit help, track Mongul down and recover the key... or die trying.

A while later, Superman and Supergirl streak through the galaxy towards the place where Warworld lies in hiding. Unfortunately they're too late: Mongul has already made off with the satellite. Kal feels discouraged but Kara states perhaps Mongul can't be stopped now, but they'll certainly try.

Supergirl uses her microscopic vision to find the trail of subatomic particles left behind by the satellite's exhaust. Upon figuring out Mongul is heading straight for the Raydor Galaxy, both cousins follow the trail.

Superman and Supergirl finally spot Warworld and get astounded: it's not only larger than a white dwarf star but also able to withstand its gravitational pull. Both heroes decide to check the satellite out from far away using their telescopic vision. They look over the countless weapons dotting the planet's landscape, the mountain-sized missiles, the vast computer system forming the artificial planet's core, the mountain of Warzoon graves just outside of the capital city, the command console... and finally Mongul. Superman is beginning to think he shouldn't have gotten his cousin involved, but Supergirl replies she's already involved, and it's time to pay Mongul a visit.

Mongul walks into the control door. Warworld's alarm system has been activated and he can guess who has triggered it. He sits on the command chair and puts on the headset which mind-links him with Warworld. As Mongul gets ready to test his new weapon on the Kryptonian duo, he recalls how he was overthrown by his former subjects in the past, and swears he'll not be defeated again.

Superman and Supergirl are advancing on Warworld when Mongul starts shooting his massive missiles on them. Both cousins soon learn they can't take more than one hit of those weapons. Nonetheless, Superman figures out a way to win. Both Kryptonian heroes streak towards Warworld, forcing Mongul to launch more weapons. As they evade the macro-laser beams and blast the humongous missiles from a safe distance, Superman explains his plan: forcing Mongul to go all out. Reflection upon the graveyard spreading out of the city, he realized the Warzoon must have died one by one. And there's only one thing on that entire satellite capable of killing the Warzoons one at a time: the control helmet in the command console. Supergirl agrees the massive energy drain must be more than a mind can bear.

As they talk, Mongul indeed feels the helmet control hurting his mind until he passes out. Warworld ceases fire and both cousins are breathing sighs of relief when the satellite resumes its attack, its defenses now operating automatically.

Superman comes up with a plan. While he keeps the satellite's defense systems focused on him, Supergirl flies out a great distance in space, then pours on full speed, achieves a velocity greater than she ever has before, and punches straight through Warworld, destroying and deactivating its computer core. She comes out on the other side and hurtles headlong into space, unable to stop herself.

Superman bursts through the planet's surface straight after, reaches the core computer and programs the planet to destroy itself. He also intends to grab Mongul before getting out, but the alien dictator has somehow escaped. Superman flies off before Warworld explodes.

Superman feels satisfied. The universe has been saved. Perhaps the Largas will rest in peace now. And perhaps J'onn will someday forgive him.

But he still has to track down Supergirl, wherever she has gone. She should have rejoined him for now. Superman guesses Kara's collision with Warworld knocked her unconscious and her body was going too fast to stop. Superman calculates Supergirl's flight path and flies after her, building up speed to equal the unconscious Kara's, breaking through every physical barrier he has encountered before until he leaves his universe.

Kal-El is considering to turn around because his cousin can't have traveled so far when he spots her. Superman is about to reach her when The Spectre shows up all of sudden and knocks him back into his universe.

Superman gets angry but the Spectre merely warns him that he must stop because the realm before him is one which no living mortal may enter. Unable to persuade the Spectre to let him by, Superman tries to fight his way past him, but his powers are totally ineffectual against those of the Ghostly Guardian.

Seeing Superman won't listen, the Spectre decides Kal-El must be educated about his limitations. The Spectre forces him to sit through visions of the demise of Krypton, which he's again powerless to prevent, and Death taking his father Jonathan again, which Superman is unable to stop.

Finally, the Spectre conjures up a dark version of Superman. While the doppelganger pummels Superman mercilessly, the Spectre tells it's pure, unadulterated power without conscience or remorse that can destroy him if he allows it to run amok. Superman is losing until he realizes that "evil" Superman is just a manifestation of the arrogant and headstrong attitude he has been displaying of late.

The evil Superman fades away and Superman apologizes to The Spectre. Then The Voice, the Master of the Spectre, speaks up to tell Superman that admitting his own foolishness is the first step to become truly wise.

Superman is amazed, but the Spectre explains it was the Voice who commanded him to stop Superman. Even if Superman didn't mean any harm, he was going where no living beings are allowed to go. Superman pleads with him to save his cousin, and The Spectre materializes an unconscious Supergirl in his arms, saying that all Superman had to do was asking. The Spectre hands Kara to Kal-El and departs. Superman reflects power untempered with conscience is meaningless and thanks the Spectre, but he realizes he's already gone.

Supergirl, who has been unconscious during her entire journey into the realms beyond death, wakes up right then. She asks what has happened to her, a tale Superman narrates as they head back towards Earth.



In UK, the whole story arc was collected in a 1983 Annual, featuring a new cover by Brian Bolland.[1]

Recommended Reading

Links and References

Superman Our Worlds at War Vol 1 TP
Superman Family Storyline
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