The Fatal Five
Created by Jim Shooter & Curt Swan
Original: Adventure Comics #352 (Jan. 1967)
Reboot/Earth-247: Legionnaires #34 (Feb. 1996)
Alongside the Legion of Super-Villains, Mordru and Universo, the Fatal Five sits among the deadliest of all Legion foes. Encounters with the Fatal Five — both with the team and its individual members — have led to many turning points for the Legion, and can be linked to several dead heroes: Ferro Lad, Invisible Kid, Mentalla, Sun Boy and Star Boy.
The Fatal Five have appeared more frequently than most Legion villains, roughly once every year in their earliest days.
Despite their cutthroat natures, the members of the Fatal Five have displayed a propensity to 'scratch each other's back.' All Five were usually not captured all together, so those at-large inevitably freed their imprisoned friends.
This group has opposed all versions of the Legion. Aside from the Emerald Empress' mostly-new regrouping, the Five's membership has usually included at least four of the original five members.
The Original Fatal Five
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 reviewed these five criminals’ files with intent on bringing them to justice. But with the emergent threat of the Sun-Eater — a space-dwelling entity that devoured living suns — these criminals were instead drafted to help the Legion stop the Sun-Eater from devouring Earth’s sun. (Adventure Comics #352) They were:
- The formidable Emerald Empress. Sarya of Venegar (sometimes spelled "Vengar") commanded a powerful ancient object, a floating orb called the Emerald Eye of Ekron.
- Mano was covered from head to toe because his slightest touch could destroy any matter with the slightest touch.
- The Persuader wielded the atomic axe, that could penetrate any material.
- Their leader was Tharok, a cyborg whose body was split right down the middle: half human, half machine.
- Validus was a giant monster whose brain was visible from inside its domed enclosure. He was barely controlled by his teammates.
Both teams failed to stop the Sun-Eater. The Legionnaire Ferro Lad ultimately chose to sacrifice 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 a mission of galactic conquest, the Fatal Five disappeared in a freak energy discharge that 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)
Tharok also employed his mind-control powers to keep Validus, and therefore the other members, under his thumb for years to come. Talok VIII's had its own native hero, Tasmia Mallor, who helped the Legion fight the Five. 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) As Shadow Lass, Mallor joined the Legion afterwards.
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 Legionnaires Mon-El and Saturn Girl. The two were able to turn Validus against Tharok, who melted 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, but Tharok spoke of them as if the team were still together. (Superboy #190)
Soon, Tharok regained his control over Validus and reassembled the Fatal Five. This time they traveled to the 20th century, using a device called the Time-Sorter to change the course of time. This time the Empress asserted that the Emerald Eye was truly indestructible; it reconstructed itself after being smashed by Ultra Boy. Of course, they were defeated again; this time Tharok and Mano were captured, the others escaping. (#198)
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 was shown in a prison facility where his robotic circuitry was constantly undergoing “surgery” to keep him alive. (#203)
Shortly after this, the Emerald Empress made her first foray into 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)
The Fatal Five focused their conquests on the planet Imsk, and other worlds, stealing various micro-circuitry technologies in order to build Tharok a new, superior robot half. Tharok had freed from prison by the others and his computer half was restored by his own specially-designed repair robot. The Legionnaires destroyed the new robot half and Tharok escaped. The others were captured. (#219)
After another escape, 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. The Fatal Five had clearly become far deadlier and very resourceful. (Superboy & the Legion #231) This giant-sized 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 tried to pass themselves off as magnanimous when they unexpectedly arrived on Earth as delegates from Corvan IV, where they’d been idolized by the local inhabitants. (#246) In battle, Superboy used green kryptonite against the Emerald Eye. When the Eye was injured, the Empress suffered empathic pain from her link to it. The Empress also expressed her doubts about Tharok’s leadership and entertained thoughts of taking over the team — and Validus. The inhabitants of Corvan IV eventually decided that they wanted no more to do with the Fatal Five, who disappeared 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 discovered that this group was given their powers and led by the mysterious Dark Man, but the League knew nothing about him.
When the 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 interrogate the League of Super-Assassins for information about the Dark Man. By this time their member, Blok, was seeking atonement for his crimes; he agreed to help the Legion. Timber Wolf eventually broke into the Dark Man’s ship (the Dragonbane) and discovered that he was a wholly human version of Tharok! (#270) Light Lass learned that the Dark Man was a clone of Tharok, created soon after Tharok’s transformation into a cyborg. Both Tharok and the Dark Man battled and were apparently destroyed in an explosion. (#271)
The remaining members were imprisoned for a time. Validus was plucked by Darkseid's to play pivotal role in his 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 understood.
Darkseid’s curse bore fruit the day Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl bore 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. In an inexplicable act of mercy, Darkseid restored Validus to his parents intact — or was he? (Legion v.3 Annual #2) Several years later, Garridan Ranzz became the carrier of a deadly virus — dubbed the Validus Plague — which killed many on Winath 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.
Fatal Five Team 2: The Empress Takes All
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) She secured the loyalty of Ontiir, a member of the nefarious Dark Circle, and captured five Legionnaires and the entire planet of Weber’s World. Nevertheless, she was soon defeated and captured by the ever-resourceful Legionnaires.
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. 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. (#58)
Fatal Five Team 3 (Glorith Reality)
In the "Glorith Reality" era of continuity (which is no longer a part of any alternate universe or timeline), a new incarnation of the Fatal Five was masterminded by Leland McCauley. With the Emerald Empress dead, he somehow gained possession of the Emerald Eye and gave control of it to his girlfriend, Ingria Olav. (Legionnaires #2) McCauley and Ingria proceeded to liberate the Persuader’s Atomic Axe, then the Persuader himself, a recovered Tharok, and Mano. They filled out their ranks with a monster called Mordecai. (#4)
At the same time, young Cera Kesh applied for Legion membership but was rejected. She was approached by the other Emerald Eye, which was attracted by her feelings of spitefulness toward the Legionnaires. (#3) Shortly after the new Fatal Five’s debut, Cera Kesh killed Ingria, took control of both Emerald Eyes, and stole the rest of the Fatal Five away from McCauley. They escaped from the Legion. (#6)
At this time on Earth, the alien Dominators had taken over the Earth's government and they imprisoned many meta-powered individuals in chambers underground. Caress was noted among them, in chambers marked "mind wipe complete." (Legion v.4 #27)
Flare succumbed to the same fate and was also turned into an operative of the Dominators. Her group attacked the Subs, resistance fighters who were mostly members of the Legion of Substitute Heroes. (#29–30)
Post-Infinite Crisis (2006)
Versus the Legion of Earth-Prime (Threeboot)
The Fatal Five made one appearance in opposition with the Legion of Earth-Prime ("Threeboot"). The Fatal Five from this universe were identical to their original counterparts from Earth-0 (Retroboot, above). Note: At the time of this team's introduction (2005), this was presumed to be the only Legion in the DC universe. Not long afterwards, the DC multiverse was restored (52 #52, May 2007) and this Legion was designated from Earth-Prime (Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds, 2008–09).
The Five traversed the Limbo between universes with the help of their ally, the Lord of Time. They traveled back in time (to Earth-0) in time to steal an powerful reality-altering weapon called the Haruspex. When the Lord of Time was defeated, his equipment removed him from the 21st century, and stranded the Fatal Five there. The Haruspex then merged the Fatal Five's Tharok with Batman. (The Brave and the Bold v.2 #3
Batman and Tharok battled for control of their shared 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 back in the future, on Earth-Prime. (#4) The villains were taken prisoner by the Legion, and Batman was retrieved by Adam Strange and Green Lantern. (#6)
Legion of Three Worlds (Retroboot)
After the events of 2006's Infinite Crisis restored the DC multiverse, the original Legion timeline was more-or-less restored along with it. In Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds (2008), the Legions from all three major timelines came together to stop Superboy Prime and his mega-Legion of Super-Villains.
This Fatal Five included what appeared to be the original Empress and Validus. Tharok reluctantly agreed to cede leadership to Superboy for the "common good." When three Legions united to fight the LSV, the Fatal Five were defeated along with them. (Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #1-5)
However, in the Legion series that followed, writer Paul Levitz seemed to honor original continuity, treating Sarya as deceased. The Emerald Eye resurfaced on the planet Orando (home of the Legionnaire Projectra). There a young woman named Falyce, who was severely abused by Duke Pharos, discovered a temple devoted to the Emerald Eye. Her tears unlocked its power and she became the new Emerald Empress (IV). Falyce brought down a passing Legion cruiser carrying Lightning Lass and Shrinking Violet. Projectra learned of this and took a team including Sun Boy and Gates to Orando.
Violet ventured inside the Eye where she discovered a strange world that was not built from atomic particles as she might expect. Instead she saw strange vegetation and hallucinated images from the past. They suggested that Ekron was a "dark god" that fell from space it, and the people who found him perpetuated a cult to the power of his eternal, powerful eye.
Violet leapt straight into it's energetic core, then grew from inside and shattered it. Falyce reverted to her normal form and Projectra elected to remain on Orando to help her. The Eye reformed and departed but Violet was also seen with a spark that indicated she may now be connected to its power. (Legion of Super-Heroes Annual v.6 #1)
New Fatal Five
When the DC universe was rebooted again following Flashpoint (2011), it appeared that Legion continuity would be spared from another upheaval. This era in publishing included Legion of Super-Heroes volume 7. Since then, the validity of events from this series have become questionable in extant continuity. It includes an epic resurgence by the Fatal Five and the deaths of several Legionnaires...
At some point, Tharok was executed by United Planets authorities, but they saved a chip from his robotic half. This "master circuit" was later stolen and his consciousness became active. (Legion of Super-Heroes v.7 #13)
Tharok began rebuilding the Fatal Five and the Legion heard clues. The Persuader remained at large but his axe was believed to be safely guarded. When Phantom Girl and Sun Boy went to check on it, they discovered it had been replaced by a hologram. (#14) Tharok soon appeared in a new, digitally-mobile form and to formally recruited the Persuader. (#17, 19)
Chameleon Boy likewise found that Validus was missing from Takron Galtos (#16); the monster reemerged on the Sorcerers' World. (#19)
Another new Emerald Empress (V) emerged at Weber's World and managed to sever Mon-El's arm. (#19)
Tharok caused a shutdown in the galaxy's communications and transportation systems, causing Phantom Girl's to crash and killing Sun Boy. They soon discovered that they had actually landed on the dormant form of a Promethean Giant, which Tharok brought back to life after lying dormant for millennia. (#17) Note: The Promethean Giants were created by Jack Kirby in 1971 for New Gods #5. The were said to be a race of eons-old beings from the Promethean Galaxy whose size dwarfed planets. They all became imprisoned in the Source Wall.
Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad returned to help the Legion and were instrumental in bringing down the Empress and Persuader, (#21) and awakening the Promethean Giant, who rebelled. Tharok's digital form was frozen into stasis by Polar Boy. (#22)
The following characters presumably ceased to exist after the Zero Hour event.
|Operative||First Appearance||Final Fate|
|Emerald Empress I (Sarya of Venegar)||Adventure Comics #352 (Jan. 1967)||Deceased, Legion v.3 #58 (Mar. 1989)|
|Mano (real name unrevealed)||Active|
|The Persuader (Nyuen Chun of Earth)||Active|
|Tharok||Killed by the Dark Man in Legion of Super-Heroes v.2 #271 (Jan. 1981).
Legion v.4 era: returned Legionnaires #4 (July 1993).
Post-New 52: took digital form Legion v.7 #17 (Apr. 2013)
|Validus (Garridan Ranzz)|| Restored to human childhood in Legion v.3 Annual #2 (1986)
Post-Infinite Crisis: Active again in Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds (2008)
|Flare (Ray Sah)||Legion of Super-Heroes v.3 #24 (July 1986)||
|Caress (Chi Tsan)||Legion of Super-Heroes v.3 #25 (Aug. 1986)||Original: Active.
Legion v.4 era: revealed as "mind wiped" by the Dominators in Legion v.4 #27 (1992)
|Mentalla (Deyla Castil)||Legion of Super-Heroes v.3 #14 (Sept. 1985); joined #25 (Aug. 1986)||Deceased, Legion v.3 #26|
|Emerald Empress II (Ingria Olav)||Legionnaires #2 (May 1993); joined #4 (July 1993)||Killed by Cera Kesh, Legionnaires #5 (Aug. 1993)|
|Mordecai||Legionnaires #2 (May 1993); joined #4 (July 1993)||Timeline wiped out by the Zero Hour event|
|Emerald Empress III (Cera Kesh)||As Cera: Legionnaires #2 (May 1993); as Empress: Legionnaires #3 (June 1993); joined Legionnaires #6 (Sept. 1993)|
|Emerald Empress IV (Falyce)||Legion of Super-Heroes v.6 Annual #1 (Feb. 2011)||Unknown|
|Promethean Giant||Race first appeared in New Gods #5 (Nov. 1971)||Active|
|Emerald Empress V (real name unrevealed)||Legion v.7 #19 (May 2013)||Active|
Post-Zero Hour (Reboot)
The Zero Hour event totally erased the 30th century, a new future reality was created. In it, the Fatal Five were actually assembled by the Legion the United Planets to combat the Sun Eater. Naturally this quickly went sour, as the galaxy's most vicious threats turned on their masters. They were familiar: Tharok, Mano, the Persuader, Validus and the (not Emerald) Empress. (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 domination, 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 reality (later dubbed the Earth-247 universe, when the DC multiverse was recreated). 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 found a myriad of Earths from which to recruit other Fatal Fives. The Superboy of this Legion (Conner Kent) returned to the past to recruit his friends in 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. As Superboy attempted to save both teams, the Persuader grabbed his axe and sent them all reeling. The Teen Titans were returned home, but the Legion became lost in Limbo. Not long after, their world ceased to exist and presumably, their Fatal Five along with it. (Titans/Legion Special)
The Fatal Five were the primary adversaries in the 2019 made-for-video movie, Justice League vs. the Fatal Five. In it, Emerald Empress and Validus are captured and imprisoned on Oa. In this story, Mano was in love with the Empress and the remaining three members go to the 21st century to find a Green Lantern to help them free the others.
The Legionnaire Star Boy follows them and is instrumental in their defeat, which also includes the Justice League and Green Lantern Jessica Cruz.
» FEATURED APPEARANCES:
- 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