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Mordru in Doctor Fate's garb; from JSA #45.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Adventure Comics #369 (June 1968)
Created by Jim Shooter (writer), Curt Swan (artist)
In-story information
Alter ego Wrynn
Team affiliations Lords of Chaos
Legion of Super-Villains
Partnerships Eclipso
Notable aliases The Dark Lord, The Dark Nobleman
Abilities Practically limitless sorcerous power

Mordru (also known as Mordru the Merciless) is a fictional character, a supervillain in the DC Comics' main shared universe.[1]

Mordru is the most prominent Lord of Chaos who is fated to survive even after the end of the universe, although he is usually shown as a powerful wizard. While he is sometimes depicted as a present adversary of the Justice Society of America and the Lord of Order Amethyst, Mordru's primary foes are the Legion of Super-Heroes in the future world of the 30th and 31st centuries. He is arguably the team's most powerful enemy.


Fictional character biography


Pre-Crisis (20th century)

In the continuity which existed prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earths miniseries, Mordru's first chronological battle with costumed superheroes occurred during one of the numerous meetings between Earth-One's Justice League of America and Earth-Two's Justice Society of America. At the time, the two teams helped the Legion of Super-Heroes (who hailed from Earth-One's 30th century) to defeat the wizard.[2] While these events are seemingly erased following Crisis on Infinite Earths, they are restored to continuity by the events of Infinite Crisis,[3] with the JLA and JSA as inhabitants of a combined "New Earth".

Post-Crisis (20th and 21st centuries)

After Crisis on Infinite Earths, Mordru was recast as a timeless Lord of Chaos, and became a major foe of the JSA. He made several attempts to take the power of Doctor Fate for himself, and was imprisoned in Fate's amulet for a time. When he escaped, he subdued Hector Hall, stealing Hall's collar and amulet and taking on the familiar garb of Doctor Fate.[1]

Mordru attempted to conquer the world (with the assistance of Eclipso and Obsidian), but was defeated by Doctor Fate and the JSA.[1] Fate imprisoned Mordru within the Rock of Eternity, where he was guarded by the wizard Shazam. Yet Mordru eventually managed to escape, mere moments before the Spectre (having been seduced by the Jean Loring-hosted Eclipso) arrived and murdered Shazam. Mordru's appearance in that story arc, "Princes of Darkness", is of continuity-interest because his defeat involved freeing the soul of Atlantean sorcerer Arion, who revealed that he was in fact not the grandfather of Power Girl, a foreshadowing of her backstory revisions to come in the Infinite Crisis story.

After escaping the Rock of Eternity and briefly battling Shazam, Mordru promptly sought revenge on Fate and the JSA. While fighting Fate, the two were thrown into different timelines, such as the Kingdom Come timeline. Fate mocked Mordru, claiming that he was a 'cosmic fluke', a cancer, and that no other versions of him existed anywhere. Mordru was then defeated by Jakeem Thunder, who placed him "somewhere where none of us will see him again."

Mordru returned to possess the body of Doctor Fate, only to be cast out and take on his actual form when Fate's teammates see through the facade, in Justice Society of America (vol. 2) #34.

Mordru battles the JSA and the hostless Nabu in JSA #80. Art by Don Kramer.


He also played a role in the history of Gemworld, where he was known as Wrynn, and fought Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld. He was trapped inside stone there for a long period of time, which lead to him developing taphephobia (the fear of being buried alive), a weakness that was often his downfall thereafter.

Pre-Zero Hour (30th Century)

The bulk of Mordru's appearances are in the 30th century, where he rises in power to become one of the most powerful figures in the universe, and indeed at sometimes arguably the most powerful. Because of various reboots to 30th century continuity, there are varying versions of this, but there are things consistent throughout.

Appearing mysteriously on Zerox, the Sorcerer's planet, he joined their ranks and rose in power quickly until, in a coup, seized absolute power over the planet, stealing the power of the other leading sorcerers for himself. One who escaped his grasp there was an apprentice of his, Mysa Nal aka the White Witch.

Armed with this mystical might, he embarked on a series of conquests of nearby worlds, with his magic, and built a space empire using the technological might of the worlds he conquered combined with his sorcery (for example, just before a space battle every weapon in the enemy fleets would jam). This combination proved unstoppable, and he conquered over half the galaxy in short order, establishing a tyrannical grip. In these days he also came to be called the "Dark Lord". The worlds which remained outside his grasp lived in fear. Then at some point, it seemed his power, which had scaled upwards astronomically, wavered. As Shooter put it, he no longer conquered worlds wholesale, but instead picked and chose carefully, "as if selecting baubles from a jewelers tray". (Adventure Comics #369)

One of the key worlds outside his grasp was Earth. The Legion of Super-Heroes defended it, and when he set his sights on it, a conflict was inevitable. In a titanic struggle, the Legion defeated Mordru's space armada, but then he himself entered combat personally, appearing as a 100' giant (Mordru commonly used magic to increase his size). He defeated most of the Legion, but was sealed in an airless vault at superspeed by Superboy and Mon-El, triggering his old phobia and rendering him comatose. The vault was placed beneath Legion Headquarters.

Shadow Lass, exploring the headquarters, stumbled upon his vault and opened it to see what was inside. Mon-El tried to seal the vault (and in the process of warning her told the backstory related in the preceding paragraphs). Yet as air had entered the vault, Mordru roused, and proved unstoppable. The Legion fled via a Time Bubble. This early event foreshadowed problems Mordru would have with time and those who manipulated it. Because they didn't have time to adjust the time bubble, it went to its last setting, Smallville in Superboy's time. They figured Mordru would think to look for them there, so they hid the Time Bubble, and adopted secret identities in Smallville, assisted by Superboy as Clark Kent.

Mordru used his magic to track them down, possessing various townspeople including Lana Lang to act as his spies and agents. When she found the Legion, she reported them, and he arrived. They fought again, but the Legion finally triumphed in battle. As always, the end result left him trapped, comatose, but not dead.

This established the classic Mordru story cycle. Every once in a while, something would again free Mordru, he would begin his machinations against the Legion, with whom he became increasingly obsessed, and they would again defeat him, leaving him trapped until a writer sought to revive him again.


Lord Romdur

After his previous appearance, he fled to a backwater planet named Avalon and took the name Romdur (an anagram of Mordru). Star Boy used his mass-inducing power to collapse his castle, trapping him again.

Great Darkness Saga

Relations with other Villains

Mordru was such a dominant figure in the 30th century that other would-be conquerors had to account for him in their plans, sometimes involving the Legion in their attempts to get at Mordru. Pulsar Stargrave masqueraded as Brainiac 5's father and sent him on a series of missions to gather artifacts aimed at defeating Mordru. He even enlisted the aid of the Time Trapper, ordering him to kill the Legion to prove his worthiness as a capable assistant in a coming battle against Mordru. When the Legion prevailed, he attempted to use them for the same purpose.

Later, an alien sorcerer named S'Den tried to trick the Legion into retrieving yet another artifact, again with the goal of toppling Mordru.

V4 (aka "Five Years later") Legion version

In the V4 Legion, it was revealed that originally Mordru was fated to rule the universe for a thousand years. Seeing this timeline, the Time Trapper caused the Legion to be founded in order to block Mordru's rise to ultimate power. However, when the Legion defeated Darkseid, the Time Trapper realized they had become more powerful than he expected, and were a threat to him. After Valor destroyed the Time Trapper, this timeline did indeed come to pass (for a single issue) before the previously minor villain Glorith cast a suicidal spell that inserted herself into history to take the Time Trapper's place as a time manipulator who would (indirectly) create the legion to block Mordru.

In this new timeline, Glorith was orchestrating a battle between the Legion and Mordru in which they would be evenly matched, destroy each other, and let her pick up the pieces as the only remaining power in the universe. Ultra Boy however figured out her plan, and turned the tables on her, visiting Mordru in disguise and provoking him into attacking Glorith before she was ready (but still more powerful than he expected). The result was a stalemate which cost both Mordru and Glorith the bulk of their power. In this retcon, this explains the sudden drop in Mordru's meteoric rise to power referenced above. He was still powerful, but had to content himself with ruling what he had conquered thus far.

This left him roughly at the point where he was pre-v4. Defeated after one of his schemes, the Sorcerers on Zerox removed his magical might and were able to "cure" his mind (details are vague, he seemed simpleminded afterwards), and he lived a happy life first on Zerox, then on Tharn after Zerox was destroyed in the Magic Wars (pretty much the entire planet relocated there). He even married his old apprentice and later enemy (and Legionnaire) Mysa Nal, the White Witch. In the economic collapse of the Galaxy which played a central role of the V4 legion, the planet Tharn was undefended and facing devastation at the hands of the Khund. As none of their other sorcerers had ever proved effective at fighting things such as starships, the Sorcerer's council decided to restore Mordru's power to him, despite knowing its corrupting influence on him. In short order he defeated the Khundish threat and set himself up as Emperor. His power was still nowhere near his glory days, though easily enough to defeat a Green Lantern, Rond Vidar who showed up on Tharn. The Legion turned up looking for him; he seemed capable of taking them all on but backed off when Cosmic Boy pointed out that he couldn't afford to take them on and the United Planets, which would happen if there was an incident. He relented, releasing them and Vidar.

Mordru eventually allied with Glorith in an attempt to further manipulate history again. These attempts weakened time and played a role in the Zero Hour crossover event, which completely erased previous Legion continuity.

Post-Zero Hour (30th and 31st centuries)

In the continuity established after Zero Hour, Mordru established an empire covering a vast swathe of space (though very little of it was based in what would become United Planets space) in the 28th and 29th centuries before finally being defeated and imprisoned in an airtight vault on the asteroid Yuen by Mysa - now his daughter - after he had killed all her allies and severely aged her.

He was released (out of frame) by a mining project, a little before the new Legionnaires Sensor, Umbra, and Magno were called to investigate a series of accidents on the asteroid, actually caused by a "Legion of Super-Rejects", and then spent time retrieving his talismans, absorbing the power of some of his other descendents, and searching for the Emerald Eye of Ekron - his favourite and most powerful talisman which was possessing Shrinking Violet at the time. When he first encountered the Legion, he defeated them easily and sent them away to serve as his heralds, destroying the planet Sklar in the process as a demonstration of his power.[1]

When he found the Eye, it resisted, until he was finally defeated by a Legion-led alliance including Mysa (who he deaged and depowered during the fight), the Workforce, and the Amazers and sealed in an airtight sphere. While the Elements of Disaster threatened to revive him at one point, he did not appear again.

Legion of 3 Worlds

Mordru was among the villains in Superboy-Prime's Legion of Super-Villains. He apparently is the ruler of The Sorcerers' World and looks similar to his original incarnation. He holds the White Witch hostage on his world after she came to him years before to be his protege. In this storyline, Mordru claims that he is in command of all the left over magic in the universe, and killed fellow mystics Glorith, Dragonmage, and Prince Evillo.[4] After Kinetix is killed by Superboy-Prime, Mordru absorbs her magical abilities and those of the other sorcerers of Universe-247. However, Mordru himself is subsequently absorbed by the White Witch, who is transformed into the Black Witch by Mordru's evil nature.[5]

Powers and abilities

Mordru's sorcerous powers are amongst the most formidable in the DC universe. He is capable of flight, control over matter at a molecular level, generation of magical energy in the form of bolts or shields, and the formation of solid objects. He can magically heal fatal wounds sustained by himself or those of others, and even regrow limbs out of "cthonic energy." When Alan Scott slashed Mordru's abdomen open with an energy sword, the sorcerer was able to heal the injury in seconds before ripping the Starheart from Alan's body. During his attack on the Justice Society in New York, he was able to take multiple blows from Power Girl without serious damage, and was able to withstand a joint attack by the JSA and the Freedom Fighters. He has also demonstrated superhuman strength sufficient to lift objects weighing several tons with relative ease.

Already vast on their own, Mordru's powers become almost invincible by tapping the power of vast repositories of magical energy such as the Rock of Eternity, Fate's artifacts, the StarHeart, and Arion's body.

Mordru is also apparently ageless. In JSA: Justice Be Done, the Hourman android attempted to de-age Mordru to a point where he was not as powerful. In the process, however, he discovered that Mordru's timeline had no beginning or end. Mordru had apparently never been born, and would never die.

In the 30th and 31st centuries, Mordru is the premier sorcerer in the known universe, and arguably the Legion of Super-Heroes' most powerful individual foe. Only Darkseid and the Time Trapper (or Glorith) rival him in terms of raw power.

Other media

Legends of the Superheroes

Gabriel Dell portrayed Mordru in 1979's live action miniseries Legends of the Superheroes, in which he sings an evil version of the song "That's Entertainment!".

Justice League Unlimited

Mordru made an appearance in Justice League Unlimited's first season episode, "The Greatest Story Never Told". He was portrayed in his Silver Age incarnation, but as the episode focused on the side adventure of fame-seeking hero Booster Gold, Mordru's backstory was not explored. However, his god-like power was noted as it took the entire Justice League (with the exceptions of J'onn, Shayera, and of course Booster Gold) to confront him with Elongated Man delivering the blow that knocked him unconscious.

Legion of Super Heroes

A wizard resembling Mordru makes an appearance in the first season Legion of Super-Heroes episode "Child's Play" as a member of the Sorcerer's World Council on Zarok. Openly disdainful of the United Planets, he supports starting an all out war with Earth because of a minor breach in etiquette. He was voiced by Richard McGonagle. The actual Mordru appears as the villain of the second season episode "Trials" (this time voiced by James Ward) where he attempts to drain the magic of the wizards on the Council so he can rule the planet Zarok. He was defeated by Zyx and the Legion.


  1. ^ a b c d Wallace, Dan (2008), "Dark Lord", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, pp. 94, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017 
  2. ^ Justice League of America #147-148 (1977)
  3. ^ As revealed in Action Comics #864
  4. ^ Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #1
  5. ^ Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #4-5


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