Superman and Martian Manhunter are abducted by extraterrestrial slave traders and are sold to a planet of the despotic ruler Mongul where the population spends its time watching aliens in mortal combat in an enormous colosseum. Green Lantern and Hawkgirl set out to rescue them.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Having defeated Mongul, Draaga offers Superman the crown. Superman, in turn, gives it to Draaga (who actually dealt the finishing blow).
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Pretty much the entirety of the episode's subplot, which involves Green Lantern and Hawkgirl traveling across space in search of their teammates.
- Bread and Circuses: Mongul's empire drew obvious parallels to the Roman Empire. The Martian Manhunter finds out there's mass unemployment and poverty, but people are kept entertained by the gladiatorial games.
- Canon Foreigner: A bizarre example in that J'onn, Hawkgirl and Green Lantern are all characters from the comics but they did not feature in the Superman storyline this two-parter adapts.
- Crowd Chant: When Superman refuses Mongul's order to kill Draaga, the Martian Manhunter starts a chant of "Superman!" in the stadium, which convinces Mongul that executing Superman for his defiance might be a bad idea.
- Cruel Mercy: At first, Draaga considers Superman's refusal to "Finish Him!" as this. Later, Draaga himself refuses to finish off Mongul, saying the despot doesn't deserve an honorable death.
- Despotism Justifies the Means: Mongol apparently believes this.
- Drama-Preserving Handicap: Something in War World's atmosphere (we never learn exactly what) weakens the Martian Manhunter, preventing him from rescuing Superman by brute force and disrupting his attempt to impersonate Mongul.
- Fascist, but Inefficient: Despite his iron-fisted cruelty, Mongul is shown to be an extremely poor and incompetent ruler of War World, as the planet has suffered from mass poverty and unemployment under his leadership. He manages to keep the populace docile by providing entertainment in the form of the gladiatorial games.
- Finish Him!: After Superman defeats Gladiator Draaga, Mongul orders Superman to do this. Being who he is, he refuses, even when Draaga himself begs him to do so.
- Gladiator Games: This two-parter episode focuses on these.
- Gladiator Revolt: Towards the end of the second part of War World, Superman rose to become champion, beat Mongul on interdimensional TV, and overthrew his rule.
- A Handful for an Eye: Draaga does this when he fights Superman.
- I Have Your Planet:
- Mongul reveals that he has blackmailed Draaga for years, pointing a large Death Ray at his home planet and threatening to destroy it if he refuses to fight in his games.
- Later, Mongul makes the same threat against Superman; Supes just informs him that Krypton is already gone. Only for Mongul to double-subvert it by pointing the Death Ray right back at Draaga's planet. As he points out, "Any planet will do."
- A Scar to Remember: Draaga does this to himself, burning an "S" into his chest to remind him of his shame in losing to Superman.
- Strike Me Down: When Superman refuses to kill Draaga after defeating him, Draaga asks him to go ahead and give him an honorable death.
- Taking You with Me: Downplayed. Mongul coerces Superman into throwing his next bout (against Mongul, no less); and while Superman has every intention of complying, he refuses to go down as easily as Mongul would like.Mongul: (after taking several punches) What do you think you're doing?
Superman: (smirking) Making it convincing. [Megaton Punch]
- Throwing the Fight: Mongul, unwilling to simply execute a popular gladiator, blackmails Superman into taking a dive by threatening to destroy Draaga's homeworld.
- Why Won't You Die?: Mongul orders Superman executed via ray guns in one scene. Though they cause him pain, they don't really harm his body. Mongul goes, "What!? Still alive!?"