The Fatal Five

Created by Jim Shooter & Curt Swan

Original: Adventure Comics #352 (January 1967)
Legion 2/Earth-247: Legionnaires #34 (February 1996)

+ History

Originally written for the Legion Outpost II E-zine.

Meet the Fatal Five. From Adventure #352 (1967). Art by Curt Swan.

The Original Fatal Five

Along with the Legion of Super-Villains, Mordru, and Universo, the Fatal Five vie convincingly for the title of Greatest and Deadliest of all Legion foes. Encounters with the Fatal Five — both as a team and individually — led to many turning points in Legion lore, and can be linked with no fewer than three dead heroes: Ferro Lad, Invisible Kid, and Mentalla. In addition, the Fatal Five made far more appearances than other regular villains, appearing roughly once every year to plague the Legionnaires. Despite their cutthroat nature, the Five seemed to also display propensity to "scratch each others’ back." Since all Five were never captured at once, those who were at-large inevitably freed those who were imprisoned. Because of this, the team had relatively more success at wreaking havoc than groups like the LSV, whose membership and leadership was erratic. There were essentially three incarnations of the Fatal Five, the Persuader being the only one to participate in all three ventures.

+ Team 1: Deadly Genesis

The Fatal five were the second major group of villains to challenge the Legion. Introduced as “the universe’s five worst public enemies”, the Legionnaires initially reviewed the Five’s files with intent on bringing them to justice. However, with the imminent threat of the Sun-Eater — a seemingly non-sentient entity which devoured living suns — these criminals were drafted in the effort to stop its march towards Earth’s sun. (Adventure Comics #352) With both teams having failed to stop the Sun-Eater, Ferro Lad ultimately sacrificed his own life to deliver a bomb to the center of the creature, effectively destroying it for good. (#353) Thanking the Legion for bringing them together and declaring their mission of galactic conquest, the Five then mysteriously disappeared in a freak energy discharge which transported them to another dimension.

The Fatal Five were trapped in this other dimension for a time, during which Tharok further developed his mind-control abilities. He used this power to control the inhabitants of Talok VIII, turning them more war-like and guiding them to develop the means to set the Fatal Five free. (#365) Here we learned how Tharok employed his mind-control powers to keep Validus, and therefore the other members, under his thumb for years to come. This event was also the means for introducing Shadow Lass, a native of Talok VIII. On the verge of losing a hand-to-hand battle with the Legion, and with the Science Police closing in, the Fatal Five retreated and escaped again. (#366) Shadow Lass joined the Legion after this encounter.

Believing that he and several Legionnaires were dying of poison, and hoping to die in battle, Karate Kid tracked the Fatal Five down to their asteroid base, confronting them alone. He succeeded in destroying their headquarters, but they escaped him. (#378)

In their next encounter, Tharok kidnapped Mon‑El and Saturn Girl. The Legionnaires were able to turn Validus on Tharok, melting much of the metal half of his body. Tharok was taken into custody and Validus allowed to go free. The rest of the Fatal Five was not present here, but Tharok spoke of them as if the team were still together. (Superboy #200)

Soon, Tharok regained his control over Validus and again assembled the Fatal Five. This time they traveled to the 20th century, using a device called the Time-Sorter to change the course of time.In this issue, the Empress asserted that the Emerald Eye was truly indestructible, reconstructing itself after being smashed by Ultra Boy. Of course, they were defeated; this time Tharok and Mano were captured, the others escaping. (#198)

+ Seeds of Dissent

Their next encounter wrought one of the Legion’s most devastating fatalities, when the still-at-large Validus returned to Earth, killing Invisible Kid. Before his death, though, he destroyed the electronic device which had been controlling Validus. Afterwards, Validus again fled the scene and remained at-large. Tharok is shown in a prison facility where his robotic circuitry is constantly undergoing “surgery” to keep him alive. (#203)

Shortly after this, the Emerald Empress made her first attempt at solo success. Tired of the Fatal Five’s slow march to galactic domination, she began assembling an army to overtake her homeworld of Venegar. She was foiled by Cosmic Boy, whose life she saved before disappearing again. (Superboy #215)

Focusing their conquests on Imsk and other worlds, the FF stole various micro-circuitry technologies in order to build Tharok a new, superior robot half. Tharok had previously been taken from his prison by the others and his computer half restored by his own specially-designed repair robot. The Legionnaires destroyed the new robot half and Tharok escaped. The others were captured. (#219)

Miraculously escaping yet again, the Five swept into the world of Mordan.Planting a bomb inside this world’s sun, they sought to turn the planet into pure energite, the universe’s most valuable mineral. The planet was evacuated in time to save its inhabitants from the sun turning nova, and the Fatal Five escaped in the midst of a destructive explosion. This giant-size issue was perhaps the most dramatic and epic of the LSH/FF battles to date, involving most Legionnaires and the death of an entire world. The Fatal Five had clearly become far deadlier and very resourceful. (Superboy & the Legion #231)

The Fatal Five went magnanimous next as they unexpectedly arrived on Earth as the delegates of the world Corvan IV, where they’d been idolized by the local inhabitants. (#246) In battle, Superboy uses green kryptonite against the Emerald Eye; when the Eye is injured, the Empress suffers empathic pain from her link to it. Also in this issue, the Empress expresses her doubts about Tharok’s leadership and contemplates taking over the team as well as his control over Validus. In a flurry of misunderstanding, the teams engage until the inhabitants of Corvan IV decide that they want no more to do with the Fatal Five. The FF disappear again. (#247)

While the Fatal Five took some time out, a powerful new group of super-villains known as the League of Super-Assassins emerged. (#253-254) The Legionnaires discover that this group is given their powers and take orders from someone called the Dark Man, but the League reveals nothing about him.

When the mysterious Dark Man came to town, the Fatal Five formed an alliance with him to kidnap several Legionnaires. (Legion v.2 #269) Seeking more information, the Legion returned to the League of Super-Assassins to ask their aid in finding the Dark Man. Blok, seeking to atone for his past actions, was the only one who agreed to help them. Timber Wolf eventually broke into the Dark Man’s ship (the Dragonbane), discovering at last that he was a completely human version of Tharok. (#270) Light Lass finds that the Dark Man is a clone of Tharok, created soon after Tharok’s transformation into a cyborg. Wrappin’ it up quick-like, the creators blew Tharok and the Dark Man up and the Legion carted the other FFers off to prison again. (#271) This was the last appearance of the original Fatal Five. After this, the members would pursue their own conquests with varying success.

+ Solo!

The remaining members were well kept for a time. Validus put in a cameo and also became a pivotal part of Darkseid's plot to overtake the universe. (Legion v.2 #294) At its conclusion, Darkseid left the Legion with his curse: "The curse of darkness growing within you, destroying you from within." It would be a while before this curse was revealed.

A new and improved Emerald Empress soon returned to prove she was capable of as much trouble as the entire Fatal Five. Of her former mates she said, “I’ve decided not to waste any more precious time with them now that Tharok’s dead.” (#303) Securing the loyalty of the Dark Circle’s Ontiir, she captured five Legionnaires, as well as Weber’s World. No small feat, but nonetheless she was soon defeated and captured by the ever-resourceful Legionnaires.

Darkseid’s curse bore fruit the day Saturn Girl gave birth to her twin sons. Cloaking Medicus One in darkness, Darkseid abducted one of the twins without Garth and Imra’s knowledge. He then transformed this child into Validus and transported him back in time to face his own parents in battle fully grown. (Legion v.2 Annual #3) The Legion’s next encounter with the rampaging Validus brought Saturn Girl to the realization that he was, in truth, her second son. (Legion v.3 Annual #2) In an inexplicable act of mercy, Darkseid restored Validus to his parents intact — or was he? Several years later we would learn that Garridan Ranzz carried a deadly virus — the Validus Plague — which killed many Winathians and crippled his father. (Legion v.4 #3)

Resuming his old trade as an assassin for hire, the Persuader returned to Talok VIII and teamed up with Lady Memory, attempting to overtake that world. (Tales of the Legion #318-319) He was captured and would remain imprisoned until such a time that the Emerald Empress would free him for membership in her new Fatal Five.

+ New Life

In their next recorded appearance, the original members had reunited. Although they appeared to be from Earth-0, this Fatal Five fought the Legion from Earth-Prime. They may have found a way to traverse the borders between universes with the help of their ally, the Lord of Time. The villains travelled back (on Earth-0) in time to steal an powerful weapon called the Haruspex. When the Lord of Time was defeated, his equipment removed him from the 21st century, but stranded the Fatal Five there. The Haruspex then merged Tharok with Batman. (Brave & Bold v.2 #3)

Batman and Tharok battled for control of their form as the Fatal Five attacked the Blue Beetle. Using Tharok's control over Validus, Batman managed to reign in the Five. He then ordered Beetle to fire the Haruspex on them and the Fatal Five reappeared in the future—on Earth-Prime. (#4) The Fatal Five were taken prisoner and Batman was retrieved by Adam Strange and Green Lantern. (#6)

Independent of this adventure, the bona fide Fatal Five of Earth-0 did join up with the Legion of Super-Villains in a massive new campaign. Thaork reluctantly agreed ceded leadership to Superboy Prime for the "common good." When three Legions united to fight Prime, the Fatal Five were defeated along with the entire LSV. (Legion of three Worlds #1-5)

The Post-Crisis (Legion 1.5) Fatal Five

The following events happened after the Crisis on Infinite Earths. They are not in continuity for current Earth-0 Legion events.

+ Team 2: The Empress Takes All

Caress • Emerald Empress •  Flare ª• Persuader • Mentalla

Taking her powerlust to the next logical step, the Emerald Empress recruited three new members to join her and the Persuader in the new Fatal Five. The recruits included the flame-wielding Flare, the acid touch of Caress, and the recently rejected Legion applicant Mentalla. Mano tried in vain to rejoin the new FF, but the Empress was unwilling to work with him; he was captured again by the Legion. In this epic battle, the Empress revealed Sensor Girl as Projectra, inviting her to join her evil agenda as a peer. The Empress uncovered Mentalla as a traitor who was trying to prove her worth to the Legion by infiltrating the Five; for that, the Empress killed her. It was Projectra who eventually took out the Empress, with the rest of the Legion handling the remainder of the Fatal Five. This was the only appearance of this team. It also signaled the beginning of the end for Sarya of Venegar, who would soon realize her fate. (Legion v.3 #24-26)

The Empress somehow found a new pawn, the Khund Garak of the Glow, whom she coerced into freeing her from Labyrinth. (#54) Obsessed with finding a way to live without the Eye, her new agenda was aimed at finding the secrets of immortality (#57) This brought her to Earth and again, up against the Legion. In the ensuing battle on Trom, she lost an eye, replacing it temporarily with the Emerald Eye. Ultimately she revealed that the Eye had consumed her and pleaded to Sensor Girl to release her from its thrall. (#58) This she did, not realizing that the Eye was also keeping the Empress alive; when deprived of its senses, the Eye released the Empress and she died.

+ Team 3: Out from Nowhere

The final incarnation of the Fatal Five includes the recovered Tharok, Mano, and Persuader, as well as Mordecai and two new Emerald Empresses. This team was masterminded by Leland McCauley, who gave control of one of the Emerald Eyes to his girlfriend, Ingria Olav. They proceeded to liberate the Persuader’s Atomic Axe. (Legionnaires #2) In the meantime, Cera Kesh, a rejected Legion applicant, took control of the other Emerald Eye. (#3) McCauley completed the team by freeing the Persuader, acquiring Mordecai, and revealing Tharok, also in his possession. (#4) Shortly after the new Fatal Five’s debut, Cera Kesh killed Ingria, taking control of both Emerald Eyes and stealing away with the rest of the Fatal Five. (#6)

List of Members

Operative First Appearance Final Fate
Emerald Empress I (Sarya) Adventure #352 Active in villainy (pre-Zero Hour deceased, Legion v.3 #58)
Mano (unknown) Active in villainy
Persuader (Nyuen Chun) Active in villainy
Tharok (none) Active in villainy
Validus (Garridan Ranzz) Restored to childhood, Legion v.3 Annual #2
Caress (Chi Tsan) LSH v.3 #24 Active in villainy
Flare (Ray Sah) Active in villainy
Mentalla (Deyla Castil) 1st app: Legion v.3 #14.
Joined #25
Deceased, Legion v.3 #26
Emerald Empress III (unrevealed) Legion v.7 #?? ?? yet to appear
Legion 1.5 (post-Crisis only — NOT IN CURRENT CONTINUITY)
Emerald Empress II (Ingria Olav) 1st app: Legionnaires #2.
Joined #4
Killed by Cera Kesh, Legionnaires #5
Mordecai (none) 1st app: Legionnaires #2.
Joined #4
Active in villainy
Emerald Empress III (Cera Kesh) As Cera: Legionnaires #2
As Empress, Legionnaires #3.
Joined Legionnaires #6
Active in villainy

Post-Zero Hour (Legion 2)

Fatal Five forms. From Legion v.4 #78 (1996). Art by Lee Moder.

After the Zero Hour erased the 30th century, a new Legion reality was created. In it, the Fatal Five were actually assembled by the Legion the United Planets to combat the Sun Eater. Of course, this quickly went sour, as the galaxy's most vicious threats turned on their masters. (Legionnaires #34, Legion v.4 #78-80)

Before this, the Emerald Eye had first approached the Legionnaire Shrinking Violet, making her its beholder. After Vi kicked its habit, the eye sought out the Fatal Five's Empress, who gladly gave herself over to it. The newly crowned Emerald Empress then freed three of her Fatal Five cohorts and took control of the Legion Outpost. (Legion v.4 #120) The Fatal Five later returned to reclaim the imprisoned Tharok as well. Amazingly, they were taken down this time by the young Legionnaire, Timber Wolf on his first Legion mission. (The Legion #15-16)

This team appeared one final, explosive time before the destruction of their Earth (247) in the second great Crisis. During this time, the evil Alexander Luthor recreated a multiverse in the 21st century. Somehow, Tharok discovered that the Persuader's axe could be used to carve into other realities and timelines. They discovered a myriad of Earths from which to recruit other Fatal Fives. The Legion's Superboy returned to the past to recruit the Teen Titans to help the Legion against what was, essentially, the Fatal Five Hundred! (Teen Titans v.3 #16)

Brainiac 5 devised a plan to use the teams' speedsters' powers to create the vibrational frequencies to return the villains to their realities. As a side effect, the Earth-247 Legion was thrown into a void outside their own reality. The only tether to their reality was the Persuader's axe. Before Superboy could save both hero teams, the Persuader grabbed his axe and sendt them reeling instead. The Titans were returned home, but the Legion was lost in Limbo. Presumably, the Fatal Five returned to Earth-247 and were there when it ceased to exist. (Titans/Legion Special)

Appearances + References


  • Adventure Comics #353, 365, 366, 378
  • Legion of Super-Heroes v.2 #269-271, 294, 303, Annual #3
  • Legion of Super-Heroes v.3 #24-26, 57-58, Annual #2
  • Legionnaires #2-6
  • Superboy #200, 198, 203, 215, 219Superboy & the Legion #231,246, 247, 254
  • Tales of the Legion #318-319
  • Teen Titans v.3 #16
  • Titans/Legion Special #1