Well here we are to my third box of unread comics. For those who haven't followed, theoretically I read a comic a day of comics I bought and never got around to reading. Some of them going back to the early '90s (well when I bought them I should say). I will review some of those comics. I tried to post one once a week, but I do get lazy. 



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...Who edited it...Julie Schwartz ? Murray Boltinoff ?

  Isn't it " Cary " Bates , BTW ?

Boltinoff was the editor. Yes it is Cary, I always add an "e" in there for some reason.

Philip, yeah I remember 203. That popped up in the last box. The Fatal Five are easily my favorite Legion villains.

Which came first, the Fatal Five, or the Frightful Four?

Travis Herrick said:

...Who edited it...Julie Schwartz ? Murray Boltinoff ?

  Isn't it " Cary " Bates , BTW ?

Boltinoff was the editor. Yes it is Cary, I always add an "e" in there for some reason.

Philip, yeah I remember 203. That popped up in the last box. The Fatal Five are easily my favorite Legion villains.

"The Legion fought the Fatal Five in this issue, #219, #231 and #247-248 during the height of the Bronze Age and yet I never thought that they were used right."


Which was one of my criticisms of the Bronze Age DC, Philip.  With regard to the Fatal Five, the most significant mishandling was in the depiction of Validus as having an infantile mind.  That was not the case, as anyone who had read his debut in Adventure Comics # 352-3 (Jan. and Feb., 1967) knew.


But setting that error aside, the problem was---and I think that this goes more to what you're talking about---the more the Bronze-Age writers used the Fatal Five in their stories, what I call "the Galactus Syndrome" set in.


Follow me here.  When the character of Galactus first appeared, he was a cosmos-shattering threat.  From his very appearance alone, Earth was certainly doomed, and even the Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer together were like fleas to the Big G.  The tension of the story was palpable.  And when the FF finally drove Galactus from Earth, it was by a one-time-only gambit.  Our Heroes breathed a sigh of relief, wiped the sweat off their foreheads, and went home to change their underwear.


Then, Galactus appears again.  Oh, crap!  But the FF manage to find a way to beat him, again.


Beating a menace so overwhelmingly powerful once makes for a clever story.  Beating him twice, well, O.K., one can buy the FF got real lucky twice.


But Galactus came back a third time.  Then a fourth time.  And a fifth time.  And he keeps getting driven off by us lowly humans who are like ants to him.  Now, you have to start thinking, you know, Galactus can't be all that powerful---because he keeps losing.


When Jim Shooter came up with the characters of the Fatal Five, the idea was that any one of them alone would make Superboy swallow hard.  And Validus was just plain unbeatable.  They were portrayed as villains of the magnitude---both in enormity and ability---that would make them the odds-on favourites in Vegas if they came up against the Legion.


And that first two-part story stuck to that notion:  the Legionnaires were at the Fatal Five's mercy at the end of Adventure Comics # 353.  Only a last-second rebellion by Validus to Tharok's mental control kept Our Heroes from being turned into little piles of dust.  The Legionnaires didn't defeat the Fatal Five; they escaped from them.


Then  the Five returned a year later, in Adventure Comics # 364-5 (Jan. and Feb., 1968).  And it was the villains' show all the way.  The climactic showdown between the Five and the five Legionnaires present (Superboy, Brainiac 5, Cosmic Boy, Karate Kid, and the newly-sworn-in Shadow Lass; none of them a powerhouse, except for the Boy of Steel) was truly gripping.  The Legionnaires managed to pull it off, but it was a near thing and had the reader turning the pages as fast as he could.  In the end, the Legionnaire outwitted the Five.  They didn't have anywhere near the raw power to beat them. 


That didn't dilute the sense that the Fatal Five were total terrors.


And then---the Galactus Syndrome kicked in.


In Adventure Comics # 378 (Mar., 1969), Karate Kid tracks down and nearly defeats the quintet of villains single-handedly.  What th---?  Yeah, Shooter's script tried to pass it off as being because KK thought he was dying and fought like he had nothing to lose.  I could buy that if he had come up against one of the Five, or maybe even two.  But no matter how the script justified it with some psychological mumbo-jumbo, having all five nearly lose to the entire Five marked a significant drop in their status as the major bad-asses of the Legion's foes.


Superboy # 198 continued that downward trend.  By the time the Five popped up again, in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes # 219 (Sep., 1976), the reader's reaction was, "Yeah, well, O.K." and not "Oh, jeez, the Legion's in for it, now!"  Yeah, the scripts kept telling us what big baddies they were, but we weren't convinced, anymore.

When Galactus is thwarted by the Dazzler, what more is there to say? Every time the Devourer of Worlds appeared on Earth, he came hungry yet each time was sent away, either by a promise, a substitution or a lecture. Strangely Marvel had no problem with putting the Skrull Homeworld on the menu.

Not to mention the whole "Beyond Good and Evil" cliche that irritated me for some reason. Perhaps lazy writing. Galactus simply is. If he is needed as a cosmic entity, he's that. If he's the menace, he's that. Very vague for the Most Powerful Being in the Marvel Universe!

Jim Shooter was overly fond of his creation, Karate Kid, so he did feats that no one else would even attempted. He karated future-tanks!

As for the Fatal Five, Validus' decreased intelligence was caused by Tharok to prevent him from rebelling again. And the Legion never thought to use Princess Projectra to cause him to rebel again.

Validus was never portrayed as less than unstoppable. *SPOILER ALERT!!!*



He crushed Invisible Kid to DEATH!!!! The worse part was that he wasn't being controlled by Tharok but by some of Tharok's computer components. He tore away part of a planet in #219 and it took the combined strength, speed and invulnerability of Superboy, Mon-El and Ultra Boy to knock him out in #231!

Tharok was always supposed to be Brainiac 5's mental equal and most of the Legion Vs Fatal Five stories (TPB, anyone?) had the two square off.

The problem is that the Persuader's atomic axe is advertised to be able to cut through ANYTHING, inertron, Kryptonians, energy and so forth. Mano's hand is said to disintergrate ANYTHING! The Emerald Eye of Erkon allows the Emerald Empress to do virtually ANYTHING!

There should be dead Legionnaires every time they clash with the Fatal Five. Yet the majority of the time four of them are captured with Validus usually escaping. Yet they can't seperate the Persuader from his axe, the Empress from the Eye or even reprogram Tharok to be less intelligent.

The Fatal Five should be the most feared team in the DCU, past, present or future, but no writer seemed willing to use them to the fullest!

But at least they weren't treated like the Legion of Super-Villains!

I agree, Galactus should NEVER have returned.   I was only marginally entertained when he came back a second time, ostenibly to take his head waiter, the Silver Surfer, away with him.  He was hungry...and wanted a seat.

But when he showed up a third time (I think the cover shows him collapsing a roller coaster, for god's sake) I knew weaker minds had taken up the reigns of Marvel....

I wasnt around for his confrontation with the Sphinx.  Does anyone know what all that was about?

What I remember was that Reed Richards released Galactus from his vow not to consume the Earth if Galactus would defeat the Sphinx who became infinitely more powerful after absorbing the knowledge from the computers of Xandar. And they got him a new, less moral herald in Terrax the Tamer!

Speaking about the Silver Surfer, I wonder what Kirby thought of Lee's origin for him as it contradicted the Surfer's claim to be "created" whole by Galactus.

Which came first, the Fatal Five, or the Frightful Four?

Good question. My gut reaction was to say the Frightful Four came first, but I wanted to be sure, and did a little research. The Frightful Four predate the Fatal Five by about two years. March 1965 and January 1967 respectively.

And then---the Galactus Syndrome kicked in.

Commander, that is how I've felt about Darkseid for years

I thought only Byrne's treatment of him was more in line with the power and majesty of the character.

And it didn't bother me at all that his puny mortal mind couldn't retain the magnitude and importance of WHY galactus....

I just enjoyed the trial of Reed Richards (Galactus) arc for what it was...

I am pretty sure that that flying probe was from Doctor Doom, and was sent to probe for weakness at the Baxter Bldg. The fact that it released the alien was a method to get it free...setting up the battle royale that occurs in Web of Spider-Man #1.

I dont recall if the flying probe has a pay-off...but I think it is seen and destroyed in the Fantastic Four.

Or has someone already answered this?

Travis Herrick said:

My question, the probe that freed the alien symbiote had a caption box that said to read Fantastic Four #274 for details as to what is going on. I don't have it, can anyone enlighten me?

Various members of the Fatal Five also popped individually in the 80s, during the Paul Levitz era.

Superboy and the Legion of Super-heroes #223

Jan. 1977

Cover art by: Mike Grell

Story: We Can't Escape The Trap In Time!

Writer: Jim Shooter

Penciller: Mike Grell

Inker: Bob Wiacek

It seems a few of our Legionnaires got separated from the rest of the team by unknown barrier. They can't get through any way possible, Saturn Girl can't communicate telepathically, and their communicators don't work either. Don't worry though, because Superboy has a solution! He (laughingly) wraps his comrades up and begins spinning around very quickly to escape through time, and his cape will protect them from the super-friction. Well that plan doesn't work to well either as the barrier prevents time travel as well...kind of. The heroes are floating in limbo (or is it Limbo?) for a while before they are transported to the Time Trapper's lair.

Soon the Time Trapper shows the heroes the rest of the Legionnaires dying trying to save the galaxy, and half of the galaxy dies as well. The Time Trapper lays down his plan. He knows that he will die if the Legionnaires he has assembled live, so he will kill them.

Lest I forget, the heroes who must die (and Legion Roll Call):


Sun Boy

Saturn Girl

Karate Kid

Chameleon Boy

Time Trapper separates the heroes, and he plans on fighting them all at the same time. The Trapper's power and toughness seems to rise and ebb while fighting the heroes. During the fighting we see Pulsar Stargrave and some of his cohorts watching the fight somehow remotely. This is mainly a lead-in to the next issue and doesn't do much for this story. It happened a few times and I didn't like it, as it kind of ruined the flow of the rest of the story, and this review

When it comes to the art it is fairly uneven. The close-up shots of characters faces are terrific. Yet on the group shots and panels depicting scenes at a further distance it seems rushed. The fight scenes are pretty decent, yet a lot of the panels are repetitive. This would of course be by design as Grell is having to show the Time Trapper fighting multiple enemies at once over a different space.

This was, I think, the Time Trapper's first rematch with the Legion since the Adventure Comics days and his "Iron Curtain of Time!" He fought Superman in a multi-part series in Action in the early 70s and also appeared in Super Friends as well.

By this time, Karate Kid had his own title and was living in the 20th century.

The macguffin was that there was this fissure in space that destroyed the galaxy because Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy and Karate Kid weren't there for the cosmic repair work. Right.

Pulsar Stargrave had a LOT of potential with two possible cool origins and great power but of course, they had to ruin him later by having him be beaten by the Legion of SUBSTITUTE Heroes!! 

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