The Dark Circle
Created by Jim Shooter and Curt Swan
» FIRST APPEARANCE: Adventure Comics #367 (April 1968)
Text from the Legion Help File
The Dark Circle is one of the oldest known civilizations in the galaxy, possibly billions of years old, with its roots on four planets in the Aral region of the galaxy: Tsauron, N'cron, Fresish and Arane II. It is unknown which is the actual origin planet, but it is believed to have begun on a world heavily bathed in stellar heat and light (all four of those worlds fit that description), to whom cool darkness represented salvation and comfort. This worship of the darkness of space evolved into a belief that the "blood emotions," from the "darker" recesses of the mind, were more spiritually pure than the "corrupting light" of reason and logic. Space travelers who came to the original world found themselves converted to the extremely seductive philosophy, and they, in turn, spread it throughout the galaxy. At one point in the past, it was the most widely adhered-to religion in the galaxy, and was followed on planets including Elia and Apokolips. It is believed that much of the unexplored regions of the galaxy are Dark Circle territory. Over the millennia, though, most of these planets were "seduced" by science and the doctrines of the Circle were corrupted or completely abandoned, remaining pure only on the four Aral worlds.
In the late twentieth century, this changed. he ruling castes of the Dominion were overthrown and exiled by Valor to a world in the Aral region called Dolminus. Dolminus became a fifth core world for the Circle, and brought with them the ability to use tools of science without being "corrupted" by them. (Legion v.4 Annual #2) Apparently only the priesthood of the Circle is capable of handling scientific tools, a fact that has struck many outsiders as suspicious, but which even the highest Circlers seem to sincerely believe.
The formation of the United Planets prevented many missionary crusades by the Circle, and its expansion was almost totally in the other direction. But in the thirtieth century, the high command of the Circle decided that conversion of United Planets territory should become a priority, and they sent four beings, Ontiir of Tsauron, Grullug Garkush of N'cron, Gorgoth of Fresish and Rolind Siepur of Arane II to infiltrate the United Planets and study various options of conquest. Ontiir infiltrated the Science Police and the others placed themselves in influential academic positions, where they met Norak Kun of Naltor, who had been expelled from his home planet for experimenting with the forbidden science of cloning. The greedy Norak entered into an agreement with the four Circle emissaries to share in the proceeds from their conquests if they would use his cloning science to produce hundreds of copies of themselves as an army. The four agreed, and they populated an entire planet with their clones. They also hired a being named Nardo to capture super-powered beings so that Norak could work on possibly creating a super-powered army, and for several years Nardo ran a "Super-Stalag of Space" which served as a prison for heroes of many worlds, and a gathering place for genetic specimens. Nardo got in over his head when, in 2977, he captured several members of the Legion of Super-Heroes, who were themselves stymied by Nardo's well-guarded prison, but were eventually rescued by more powerful teammates who had not been captured. (Adventure Comics #344-345) Nardo's connection to the Dark Circle remained a secret.
The Dark Circle planned an invasion of Earth for late 2978, with a backup plan to clone the Legion of Super-Heroes, kidnap the originals, and leave behind pre-programmed replacements as sleeper agents in case the initial invasion failed. They got genetic material of Legionnaires from the Legion's own cell bank during Universo's subjugation of Earth (Legion v.4 #22), and attacked with their clonal army on schedule, which was repelled through the Legion's use of the Miracle Machine. (Adventure Comics #367) What became of the clone plan is uncertain. The Legion of Super-Heroes never noticed any gap in their memories which might indicate a kidnapping and replacement, but twenty Legionnaires whose memories end at 2977 were discovered in the Dominators' underground experimentation chambers in early 2995. It remains unknown whatever happened to those clones.
In addition to use of their clonal army, the Dark Circle has had agents foment revolutions on many worlds. One such agent was Diol Masrin, who in late 2979 led a guerilla revolt against the repressive rule of President Peralla of Lahum. The United Planets, who did not wish either side to win, had the Legion Espionage Squad secretly join both sides, and the Legion brought the fight to a satisfactory conclusion: the elevation to president of Chavak, who served as Masrin's lieutenant but was unconnected to the Dark Circle himself. (Action Comics #390-391) Other such agents were Deregon, governor of Earth's Australian region, and his soldiers, such as Drill Inspector Tsorvan, who in 2982 was prepared to launch a revolt on Earth. Again the Legion stepped in to stop the Circle, and again they succeeded, but this time it cost them the life of Chemical King. A small squad of Legionnaires invaded the Dark Circle's base in retaliation, but Deregon was found by Legionnaires who had remained on Earth, at which time he was killed by his masters to prevent his telling any of their secrets. (Superboy and the Legion #228-229)
The Dark Circle lords next tried to conquer Earth by awakening the sorcerer Mordru and controlling him, but they failed to consider the true extent of his abilities and found themselves controlled by him instead. On Mordru's command, they used their technology to take control of the Khundish Warlord Garlak and their money to hire the pirating Resource Raiders to get them to attack Earth and stretch Earth's defenses too thin to attack the Dark Circle and Mordru themselves. The Earthwar of 2982 was stopped by the Legion of Super-Heroes, and the Dark Circle considers their manipulation an embarrassment. (Superboy and the Legion #241-245)
In 2984, Ontiir collaborated with the Emerald Empress to take over Weber's World, and his cover as an agent of the Dark Circle was blown. (Legion v.2 #302-303)
While being court-martialed by the Science Police, he assured them that his apparent Circle loyalties were just part of his ruse, as Dark Circle intelligence was part of his assignment from the Science Police, a statement which, together with the testimony of Rackiir, another Tsauron whom Ontiir had placed within the Science Police, made the other Circle members (and his clonal original) question his loyalty to the Circle, to whom he gave similar assurances when they teleported him home. The Legion once again invaded the Dark Circle's base world, this time to bring back Ontiir, and his time discovered the confusing fact that Ontiir had been cloned many times. (One such clone became a student of magic on Zerox and tried to awaken Mordru in 2985. (Legion v.2 Annual #3)
In the fight, the Ontiir in question was killed, and the Legionnaires and Science Police left, having no further legitimate complaint against the other Circlers. (Tales of the Legion #314-315) However, they did feel that a further investigation of the Circle's activities was in order, and in 2985, they collaborated with Dev-Em of the Interstellar Counter-Intelligence Corps to spy on their operations. They spotted him before he found out much, though, and they knocked him out and cloned him to make an army of super-powerful soldiers. The Science Police officer in charge, Gigi Cusimano, contacted the Legion after being attacked by one of the clones, and they discovered Dev-Em's plight, and the fact that the entire world was populated by clones of the five central figures. The White Witch used a spell to re-unite Dev-Em's clones with his original self, but the Circle leaders teleported away the conspirators. (Tales of the Legion #324-325)
Nothing more was seen of them except for stray Ontiir clones caught on Earth in 2986. (Legion v.3 #14) Their superiors decided that their four representatives became corrupted by the light, and punished them accordingly, abandoning their tactics completely.
The Dark Circle became active once again in United Planets space after the economic collapse of 2989 made the starving planets ripe grounds for the emotional cult of the Circle. They established a power base on Carggg, and began "missionary" operations, often hijacking relief shipments to lessen people's trust in their established institutions and forcing them to turn to the Circle for provisions. This agitation reached intolerable levels in early 2995 after a massive wave of Khundish conquest, and was contained by Valor and his wife Tasmia. (Legion v.4 #18) The N'Croni who failed to properly estimate Valor's potential impact on the operation was later forced to hear a recital of Valor's history. (Legion v.3 Annual #2) They also helped finance Universo's movement to free Earth of Dominator rule, in the expectation of gaining a foothold on the much-desired planet, but Universo ultimately betrayed them, killing all of their emissaries and blaming it on the Dominators. (Legion v.4 #18, 29, 32) Despite the often violent tactics of their representatives, the Dark Circle beliefs are gaining more acceptance than ever before in United Planets space.
» FEATURED APPEARANCES:
- Action Comics #390-391
- Adventure Comics #367
- Legion of Super-Heroes v.2 #299, 301, 303
- Legion of Super-Heroes v.3 #14
- Superboy v.1 #228-229
- Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes #241-245
- Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes #314-315
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