There have been several incarnations of the Monarch. All of whom have been portrayed as a super villain despite originally having a history of super heroism.
The original Monarch was a tyrant from a future dystopian Earth. He chose scientist Matthew Ryder for a time-traveling experiment that would change the latter into Waverider. Waverider, knowing Monarch was originally a hero that turns evil in 1991, goes back in time to that year to prevent Monarch from ever coming to power. Monarch follows Waverider, without his knowledge, to stop his plans. He hides his surveillance of Waverider until the latter makes physical contact with Captain Atom, and battles the Justice League. During the battle he kidnaps Dawn Granger and escapes, pursued by Hank Hall. Hall catches up just in time to see Monarch kill her. Without her calming influence, Hall rages out of control and beats Monarch to death. However, he discovers that Monarch is in fact the future version of himself
Taking up the helm of his future self, Hall decides that someone on Earth needs to maintain balance and proceeds with Monarch’s original plan: a machine that will enslave humanity. Monarch clashes with the Justice League a second time, and finds himself in a one-on-one fight with Captain Atom. Atom’s energies and Monarch’s suit create a portal that sends both back to the Triassic Era. Captain Atom eventually returns to the present, while Monarch’s fate is unknown.
Monarch’s identity as Hank Hall was a last minute change by DC. Originally Monarch was going to be revealed as Captain Atom, and clues were scattered throughout Armageddon 2001 to alert readers to this. However, this information was prematurely leaked and the change was made to preserve the suspense of the story.
Hank Hall is later revealed to be trapped in the Quantum Field. The original Captain Atom (the Captain Atom who returns in the mid-1980s is revealed to be a quantum-field duplicate made of excess Dilustel) meets Hall and teaches him to manipulate the Quantum Field. Hall eventually learns how to time-travel and escapes back into the time-stream. He sends the Monarch armor back into the Quantum Field as a gift to Captain Atom, who uses it to become the second Monarch.
Monarch returns to the present and is a major player in Zero Hour. He kills Waverider and absorbs his temporal energy, gaining the power to move through the time-stream as he pleases. Renaming himself Extant he joins forces with Hal Jordan, now the insane villain known as Parallax, in a plan to alter the universe to their liking. Monarch first attempt is to alter the future in order to build a personal metahuman army, but he is foiled.
He attempts to find the Worlogog, recently dismantled by the android Hourman, to harness its immense power. He succeeds, but an imprisoned Mordru reveals to Doctor Fate that the Worlogog is incomplete. This creates a flaw that the JSA exploits in a massive assault on Extant. Hourman divides his Hour of Power among the JSA, giving each of them four minutes of immunity to Extant’s reality-warping powers. Each of them attack Extant on a different temporal plane and eventually separate him from the Worlogog. A weakened Extant attempts to escape, but is teleported by Hourman and Metron into the seat of an airplane sabotaged by Kobra and about to crash (in the past). At Atom Smasher’s request they replace his mother, who died in the past on that plane, with Extant.
The second incarnation was Nathaniel Adam, who was still trapped in the quantum field, used the original Monarch armour Hank Hall sent back to escape. Free from the quantum field, Adam took on the identity of the Monarch and allied with Justice League International's former UN liaison officer, Catherine Colbert. Adam became a popular hero with the masses bar Captain Atom, who suspected he had alterior motives.
It is soon revealed that Monarch's actual plans were to control Earth's population via the use of genetic implants he has been using whilst under the pretence of healing them. The plan is thwarted by Booster Gold whose own biology is immune to Monarch's implants.
The existance of this version is currently unknown.
The third Monarch is the Quantum-Field duplicate of Nathaniel Adam. Almost immediately after his return from the Wildstorm Universe (the universe of Earth-50) he is attacked by the Monitor Solomon, who damages his Dilustel shell. He is found and contained by the Atomic Knights in a secret S.H.A.D.E. facility in Blüdhaven, who use the leaked radiation from his skin to conduct radiation treatments to metahumans. They outfit him with a nanoweave version of the Monarch armor to contain the radiation.
Captain Atom wakes up during the Battle of Bludhaven and escapes the facility. He emerges in the middle of a fight between Major Force and Hal Jordan. Enraged, he kills Major Force by draining his energy. He warns everyone to leave the area and later unleashes an explosion that obliterates the remains of the city.
Captain Atom escapes into the Bleed, the previous events seemingly pushed him into insanity. He travels throughout the Multiverse, building a massive metahuman army to fight the Monitors. He recruits Forerunner to train his troops, which include the Crime Society of Earth-3 and the JLAxis of Earth-10. He convinces Lord Havok of Earth-8 to lead his armada. During Countdown: Arena, Monarch arranges battles between alternate versions of superheroes to decide who will compose his strike force. Monarch fights and absorbs the energies of the Captain Atom Brigade, substantially building his own power.
He leads his Multiversal army into battle against the Monitors on Earth-51. During his battle he is confronted by Superman-Prime, the latter convinced that Monarch is destroying his ‘perfect world’. After a prolonged battle Prime is able to rip open the nanoweave armor, resulting in a massive explosion that destroys all life in that universe except for that universe’s Monitor and a plant within his personal shields. Captain Atom has reappeared as a prisoner in Project 7734, with little memory of his time as a threat to the multiverse.
Powers & Abilities
- Invulnerability - Dilustel metal "skin" is almost totally indestructible, resistant to various degrees of damage from energy, heat, lasers, etc. The armour has been updated with a "nanoweave" design that is capable of containing leaking. It also contained intruments to mask his vital signs via a direct neural interface. To date the only ones that have shown to have injured the Monarch are Earth-16's Christopher Kent (who later died after performing such a powerful attack) and Superman-Prime.
- Energy Blasts - Emit blasts of energy from his eyes and glove.
- Superhuman Strength - Strength on a par and possibly beyond Silver Age Superman and the Martian Manhunter. He has been shown to defeat 3 versions of Superman and Wonder Woman simultaneously. He was capable of going one on one with a Guardian charged Superman-Prime and has incinirated Lobo.
- Energy Absorbtion - Extreme energy absorbtion that's second to none in the DC Universe. After absorbing Major Force and every other Captain Atom in the DC multiverse.
- Energy Manipulation - Minor atomic transmutation. Generate force field bubbles. Capable of rendering energy based foes incapable of using their powers. He has also shown the ability to telepathically interface with computer networks in addition to those listed above.
- Matter Manipulation - Able to enhance his own abilities to match the will he uses to gain it.
- Time Travel - Through great concentration and strain, he is capable of travelling ahead in time (without the aid of Quantum Jumping) for a limited period before returning to the present.
- Flight - Ability to fly at supersonic speeds and interstellar distances.