The Durlans are a shapeshifting species that features in DC Comics.
The Durlans were an extraterrestrial race that were native to the planet Durla. The planet Durla had twin setting suns and resided in a galaxy where its light began to eventually die. (Superman/Batman v1 #69) Its original inhabitants forms were unknown as the implosion bombs that killed all the planet's inhabitants left no remains behind. (Legion of Super-Heroes v2 #301) Survival on their harsh world later compelled the race to evolve chameleon-like characteristics and after eons they would forget their original form. (Invasion v1 #1)
At some point, a nanotech core was created that held the baseline genome of their species prior to them being altered by the Six-Minute War. (Mighty Crusaders v3 #3) After that conflict, two sects splintered their species who divided into the Purists who sought to reset their genetic makeup and the Futurists who intended to prevent them from achieving their goal. These two factions had been hiding on Earth at the turn of the 20th century where they engaged in a constant struggle for the nanotech core. (Mighty Crusaders v3 #5) At some point, a lost tribe known as the Kel'Par on Durla were captured by Brainiac who encased it as a Bottle City as part of his collection for decades. (Adventure Comics v2 #11)
During distant times, the Durlans were known to had been at war with the inhabitants of the planet Krypton. (Superman/Batman v1 #64) This conflict had started so long ago that the reason for it had long been forgotten. (Superman/Batman v1 #69) However, this ancient war was one where both sides fed on each others hate for one another. (Superman/Batman v1 #71) A group of infiltrators were dispatched to enemy space where they took control of the Kryptonian warship Grand Majesty Sevenfold' where the Durlans killed the crew along with Admiral Mor-Ur. However, Kryptonian starships under the command of Commander Val-R were tasked with the destruction of the captured vessel. The Durlan crew, however, utilized the ships experimental drive system to escape but underwent a chronal event where they became lost in time. In reality, the ship was propelled into the 21st century where all the infiltrators were killed by the transition through time near Earth where only one crew member escaped to the Human homeworld. (Superman/Batman v1 #64)
The Durlans accepted the invitation by the Dominators to join the Alien Alliance that intended to besiege Earth. (Invasion v1 #1) The Flash along with Manhunter both were known to had thwarted their actions in Cuba. (Invasion v1 #2)
Sometime afterwards, a Durlan scoutship crashed at the Kanbula Forest Park in the Qinghai province in China where a Chinese xeno-team was dispatched to deal with the alien incursion. A great number of soldiers were killed in the engagement and the Durlans last act was to transform into bacteria that infected the Chinese xeno-team. All died though one managed to survive by using his supply of counteragents but he was badly wounded and transformed as a result of the encounter due to the treatment needed to save him. (Great Ten v1 #5)
In the Rann/Thanagar war, the Durlans sided with the Thanagarians and attacked the Rannians along with their allies. One such engagement saw the destruction of a Durlan Bioship alongside its Coluan counterpart (Rann-Thanagar War v1 #2)
In his new guise, the Durlan Gaines decided to fulfil his peoples ancient mission of eliminating their sworn enemies. Thus, he dedicated himself to the singular task of eliminating all Kryptonians and maintained this mandate. Gaines believed that Kal-El was perhaps the last of his race and that he himself was perhaps the last Durlan. (Superman/Batman v1 #69) The Durlan used his resources to travel once more to the Grand Majesty Sevenfold and once more activated the vessel in order to use its weaponry to destroy Metropolis. (Superman/Batman v1 #70) However, the Durlan Gaines was confronted on the ship by Batman and Superman who managed to redirect the crashing ship. Kal-El stopped the Durlan by using his breath to freeze his foe and the outraged Gaines decided to die rather then be captured. He attempted to shape shift and shattered into many pieces despite being warned of this fate which seemingly killed him. (Superman/Batman v1 #71)
After the battle at New Krypton, the Durlan Bottle City was retrieved by Chameleon Boy of the time traveling Legion of Super-Heroes where it was enlarged into New Durla as dictated by R. J. Brande's will. (Adventure Comics v2 #11) The Shadow Council of Durla became afraid of the fact that an unknown being was responsible for seizing control of L.E.G.I.O.N. This fear led to them dispatching an agent to restore order before all out war sweeped through the sectors and was thus sent to find Dox to get help. (R.E.B.E.L.S. v2 #5) The Durlans were one of the many races in known space that were notified of the fall of the Dominator homeworld. (R.E.B.E.L.S. v2 #6)
The New 52
Durlans were native to the planet Durla in Space Sector 700 where it was said that their planet was once a lush world teeming with life. Their true evolutionary origins were not known except that they developed the ability to shapeshift. Initially, this was used to take on the shape of objects through touch which they used to escape danger but eventually used it to become predators. This talent in deception was used to infiltrate the communities of the humanoid inhabitants that occupied their world but later exterminate them thus becoming the dominant species of Durla. The form of these yellow skinned antennae humanoids thus became the standard form the Durlans would wear in the future. They would live for centuries in peace until some of their kind once more sought to conquer. Centuries ago, they would infiltrate the planet Velingia where they used their talents to spark wars between various races. In the aftermath, the Durlans would move in to take control of the planets after assuming positions in the government. Their actions attracted the attention of the Guardians of the Universe who did not tolerate the chaos of the Durlan's and dispatched the nascent Green Lantern Corps against this threat. The Green Lanterns ultimately were successful in this campaign where they captured these violent Durlan's and decided to imprison them on Durla. However, this forced integration led to a schism where the criminal Durlan's attacked their more peaceful kin that had remained behind on their homeworld. The Durlan's themselves were unable to distinguish their villainous kin from their peaceful one leading to constant warfare erupting which culminated in powerful explosives being detonated. In retaliation, further explosive weapons were used in what became known as the Six-Minute War that left Durla a radioactive wasteland. All life was killed on the surface though a few Durlan's survived by burrowing deep underground with these being the Ancients. These survivors were badly affected by the radiation from the war and sought to repair their now fluxed physiology by calling the expertise of Krolotean Gremlins but they were unable to restore them. Instead, the Ancients decided to use their genetic material to clone a new race of Durlans. These new Durlan's could only shapeshift through consumption of radiation and these people would become part of the Ancient's plans to get revenge against the Green Lantern Corps. (Green Lantern Corps v3 #30)
At some point, the Green Lantern Corps had engaged the Durlans forcing the shapeshifters to go into hiding for centuries where they planned to get their vengeance against their foes. With the death of the Guardians of the Universe during the Wrath of the First Lantern, the Durlans embarked on their plan of revenge against the Green Lanterns. (Green Lantern Corps v5 #21) To other races, it was believed that the Durlans never left their homeworld whilst others thought that they were simply stories that gunrunners had made up. (Green Lantern Corps v3 #27)
A criminal cabal consisting of supervillains used a captor Durlan that was sent to kill the Spyral agent Obscura who was uncovering their existence. The shapeshifting assassin was sent in the guise of Plastic Man to murder her but the real Eel O'Brian arrived on the scene to thwart his efforts. (Plastic Man v5 #5)
At some point, the Durlans created the living weapons that were genetically bred members of their kind able to fight in wars where they were able to replicate both forms and powers of their foes. However, these engineered subjects were seen as a sin by their species religion and imprisoned within a volcano as a result. (Legionnaires v1 #25)
The manipulations of the Dark Circle saw them sending an entire fleet to Durla in order to ostracize the planet. (Legion of Super-Heroes v4 #107) Through their use of the Composite Man, they had their Durlan agent disguise himself as Chameleon where he travelled to Winath and assassinated co-President Feg Arn. This act led to a wave of anti-Durlan hysteria with many worlds turning against the shapeshifting species as members of the Affiliated Planets threatened Durla whilst others were suspected of doing covert actions against them. Rising tensions saw a ban to Durla's surface leading to an eventual full-scale blockade and threats of war against the Durlans. (Legion of Super-Heroes v4 #106)
The malleable nature of their physiology allowed the Durlans to take the form of anyone or anything thus making them excellent shapeshifters though one with no true form. (The Great War v1 #5) This meant that no two bodies of Durlans bore the same external features that resembled one another though their internally their anatomy was identical. (Invasion v1 #2) In fact, they had no true DNA signature as it changed every time the Durlan form shifted. (Green Lantern Corps v3 #32) Though all Durlans could change their shape, they were genetically the same. (Invasion v1 #1) It was believed they were capable of taking on the shape of both animate and inanimate objects though were only capable of replicating the form rather than their function. (Invasion v1 #2) Such talents were not products of invention but rather of evolution. (Green Lantern v5 #27) Their natural shapeshifting talents allowed them to take a large variety of forms and even allowed them to survive the vacuum of space unaided. Furthermore, they were able to envelop their substance onto other beings in order to allow them to survive in space should they lack any protective gear. (Invasion v1 #1) Durlans were capable of changing their shape to match their environment though heat signatures were capable of detecting them. Among the height of their abilities was transforming their very bodies into microscopic bacteria thus allowing them to deploy themselves as bioweapons against enemies. (The Great War v1 #5) The default form was that of a humanoid yellow skinned race with antenna on their heads but when low on energy they entered into a state of flux where they resembled a mass of tendrils. (Green Lantern Corps v3 #30)
Ancient Durlan DNA was notably quite different from that future generations that was believed to be the result of evolution of the species. (Superman/Batman v1 #69) After the Six-Minute War, the Durlan people had to be cloned from the badly radiated bodies of the Ancient's. This new race of Durlan's gained the shapeshifting talents of their progenitors but needed to consume radiation energy to change their form otherwise their bodies were in flux. (Green Lantern Corps v3 #30) Yorggian Fever was noted for being fatal to the species. (Legion of Super-Heroes v4 #8) On Durla, certain sites such as the craters where radiation bombs were detonated were so radioactive that it could affect or kill the Durlans themselves. (Legion of Super-Heroes v2 #301)
The Durlans remained as one of the most enigmatic species known. (Invasion v1 #2) They also tended to hate their own forms as they had no true sense of self due to their ever changing forms. (Green Lantern Corps v3 #32) On Durlan, appearance meant little to their kind with highly prized mates being determined by their personalities. (Green Lanterns v1 #42) Durlans were noted to burn a special incense to create a toasted ozone scent that they enjoyed as it reminded them of their homeworld. (Legion of Super-Heroes v6 #7) A hallmark in their lives was mastering the Three Thousand Forms with some being highly skilled shapeshifters if they mastered it before their tenth lunar cycle. (Plastic Man v5 #6) Their society became divided between the ancestor worshipping Purists that wanted to reset their original makeup and the Futurists that wanted to progress as well as evolve. (Mighty Crusaders v3 #3) Amongst the leadership body of the species was the Shadow Council of Durla. (R.E.B.E.L.S. v2 #5) Their race had been described as being xenophobic and their governing body resided in subterranean dwellings. (R.E.B.E.L.S. v2 #6) In fact, the species were noted to hate outsiders with few travelling to their homeworld even when they were members of the United Planets. (Legionnaires v1 #25) Durlans had a saying where they held the view that trust was a fool's gambit. (Green Lantern Corps v3 #26) Ancient Durlans were known to had worshipped war gods. (Superman/Batman v1 #69) They also held a spiritual leader referred to as "Your Holiness" and led the Holy Council. (Legionnaires v1 #62)
Infiltrators were known to undergo counterintelligence training that dictated their agents to observe and assimilate when being inserted within alien societies. (Superman/Batman Vol 1 #69) In order to accurately take the shape of a target, a Durlan intuitively probed their physical forms and filed them within their subconscious as morphing templates. (Legionnaires v1 #25) Its soldiers were known to had dedicated themselves to holy war tenents. (Superman/Batman v1 #70) Durlans had their own language which they referred to as the mother tongue. (Legionnaires v1 #25)
Their race were said to be nomadic by nature with thousands of tribes that were scattered across the universe. (Adventure Comics v2 #11) Each tribe adopted a characteristic shape that was used in their rituals and worn by those that leave their homeworld. Each new Durlan was taught to stand alongside with one another even against the rest of the universe if such a need arose. Combat between two Durlans was typically made through shifting through various shapes and forms with these holding their own capabilities whilst the lethal configurations were determined by the person's imagination. (Legion of Super-Heroes v2 #301) Members of the species who had done wrongs were forced to participate in a ritual where they meditated on their sins whilst shapechanging through all the corrupt forms the Durlan had assumed with this being in such sites as the Caves of Atonement on Durla. (Legionnaires v1 #62) They were known to had possessed ancient war gods with some of their warriors making prayers to them prior to a mission. (Superman/Batman v1 #69)
The race whilst capable shapeshifters were only able to take on the form of another being or object but not its powers. However, some Durlans were genetically bred for war to serve as living weapons in the 31st century only for them to be declared a sin by their religion which saw them being imprisoned within a volcano. (Legionnaires v1 #25) These bio-engineered members of their species were also known as Composite Durlans. (Legionnaires v1 #65)
One weapon developed by their kind was the Durlan bio-grenade whose shrapnel transformed into any piece of material. (Midnighter v2 #1)
Durlans were able to meld their forms together by the hundreds which allowed them to create fully functioning interstellar linkships.(R.E.B.E.L.S. Vol 2 #6) This allowed them to take the form of starships through bio-linking to each other and did not register as vessels on sensors but instead scanned as large integrated organic masses. These were able to divide into their individual component life units. (Invasion v1 #1) Durlan bioships were organic structures that were vulnerable to neural weaponry and capable of shapeshifting in an manner to avoid danger. (Rann-Thanagar War v1 #2) Their scout ships were noted for being alive though these also had a weakness to neural scramblers. (The Great Ten v1 #5)
Durlan stew was a noted delicacy that kept changing its flavor. (Justice League 3000 v1 #8)
- Chameleon Boy :
- Yera Allon :
- Chameleon Chief :
- Anderson Gaines : a Durlan from distant times when his ancestors fought against Krypton and jumped in time through an experimental Kryptonian starship. Afterwards, he landed on Earth in the 21st century where he killed billionaire Anderson Gaines and took his identity.
- Nyurt Roz : a Durlan from the 31st century who Chameleon had to relinquish his post as spiritual leader of his people. (Legion of Super-Heroes v4 #104)
- Leeja : a female Composite Durlan of the 31st century who like her fellows was imprisoned but was later selected as the new spiritual leader of Durla to replace Reep Daggle. (Legionnaires v1 #25)
- Lady Sheba : a female Durlan who was the leader of the Purists. (Mighty Crusaders v3 #4)
- Bra-kr : a male Durlan who headed the Futurist faction and disguised himself as the human Arvin Halliday. (Mighty Crusaders v3 #5)
- Queltop Daggle : a Durlan from the lost Kel'Par tribe abducted by Brainiac who was an ancestor of R.J. Brande and Chameleon Boy who was released following the release of the Bottle Cities after the Coluan's defeat at New Krypton. (Adventure Comics v2 #11)
- Verrat Din : a Durlan that masqueraded as Fatality and used this guise to steal the power from a Zezzenite in order to permanently adopt a Daxamite power set. (Green Lantern Corps v3 #33)
- Ra'ut L'lwer : a female Durlan who was hidden on Earth after the conflict with the Green Lantern Corps and later joined the Teen Titans. (Teen Titans Annual v5 #1) She later adopted the superhero code name Chimera whilst a member of the team. (Teen Titans v5 #9)
- Ciji :
- Glout : a female Durlan who was a priestess in the Order of the Steed and masqueraded as an Earth superhero called Equilibrian that was just a cover for them to kidnap superheroes for her religious order. (Green Lanterns v1 #42)
- Teel : a Durlan who came to Earth and was captured by the Cabal who used him as an assassin to eliminate Spyral agent Obscura whilst masquerading as Plastic Man. (Plastic Man v5 #6)
- A pair of chameleon men criminals were created by Robert Bernstein and Curt Swan where they made their first appearance in Action Comics v1 #283 (December, 1961).
- Writer Van Jensen during his run on Green Lantern Corps commented:
- "Beyond that, what we’re going to see from the Durlans, these are not villains that attack you with overwhelming force. They aren’t leading some giant charge straight head on against you. Their entire culture is based on deception. That is the way they conduct war. The Green Lantern Corps has fought these giant, massive threats and we’ve seen these extremely epic battles, but this is going to be something a lot grittier and closer to the bone, in a way, than what they’ve fought before.
- The intent is the same – to crush the Corps – but the Durlans have their very own specific way of going about it. It’s going to be quite a while before we see the full reveal of the backstory of the Durlans and where the beef with the Corps begins, but it’s something that’s a new wrinkle that we’re bringing into the New 52 universe. I will say the Six-Minute War is still part of their history, but we’re going to see a slightly new twist on that."
- He later commented on the Durlans:
- "The Durlans have had a presence far into DC's past, as well as far into DC's future. But precious little has been known about them. That mystery was the most enticing aspect about them as characters. Their culture and physiology is based entirely on deception, so they're the perfect covert agents.
- Durlans live on deception. That's the essence of their nature."
In other media
- In the Legion of Super-Heroes, the Durlans as a species did not appear though they were represented in the Legion by Chameleon Boy who joined in the second season of the animated series where his race was identified as Durlans in the episode "Who Am I?".
- In Supergirl, a Durlan was referenced in the live-action television series in the episode "Distant Sun". Mon-El stated that he learnt of a world from a Durlan emissary that he wanted to run to along with Kara Zor-El.
- Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane v1 #97: "The Three Super-Sirens!" (1969)
- Invasion v1 #1-3:
- Legion of Super-Heroes v4 #104, #106-107:
- Legionnaires v1 #25, #62, #65:
- Superman/Batman v1 #64-71:
- The Great Ten v1 #5:
- Rann-Thanagar War v1 #2:
- R.E.B.E.L.S. v2 #5-6: (2009)
- Mighty Crusaders v3: (2011)
- Green Lantern Corps v5 #21: (2013)
- Plastic Man v5: