Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Who's Who: Tharok

by Russell & Siskoid

Alter ego: The Dark Man
Super-Power(s): Super-strength, computer intelligence; as the Dark Man, had the power to absorb life force.
Planet of Origin: Zadron
Relationship to Legion: Villain; member of the original Fatal Five

Legion Log
Tharok was a minor criminal on the planet Zadron when he was injured in an attempt to steal a minor nuclear device. Scientists there worked quickly to merge his wounded body with a robotic half. However, because they were under an intense deadline, the cybernetics were crude and unattractive. Also, an unforeseen side effect was that when the robotic brain integrated itself with Tharok's biological system, his intellect and his lust for power were both increased. Blaming police and lawmen for his fate, Tharok swore to use his increased intellect for evil.

Tharok was already one of the galaxy's most wanted criminals when the Sun-Eater entered our universe. The Legion of Super-Heroes offered full criminal pardons to Tharok and four other master criminals if they would assist them in destroying the Sun-Eater. Tharok agreed to the proposal, but even before the Sun-Eater was destroyed he asked the other master criminals to join him to form the Fatal Five.

Tharok was able to maintain order over the Emerald Empress, Mano, and the Persuader due to his super-intellect; he always had clever plans and was a natural leader. His control over the fifth member, Validus, was based on mental control he subjected the giant to. Although Validus initially fought against Tharok's control, eventually he became Tharok's slave.

On one occasion Tharok ordered Validus to attack and kill the leader of the Legion. Tharok's plan was to demoralize the group by killing their leader. However, Mon-El tricked Tharok into proclaiming himself the leader, so Validus blasted him. This resulted in some of Tharok's mechanical brain components from breaking off from his robotic half. The Legion took these parts so as to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. Tharok was sent to a prison hospital where he eventually recovered and escaped.

However, Tharok was able to maintain mental control of the separated components, eventually reforming them into a single "brain." This "brain" was able to communicate with Validus and order him to attack Legion headquarters in order to reclaim it. While trying to crush it and break the communication, Invisible Kid was killed by Validus by order of Tharok.

The Fatal Five later attempted to establish a settlement where they could relax in opulence in-between their attempts at universal conquest. Tharok built himself a huge scientific lab where he worked to improve and/or cover his ugly robotic half. When the Legionnaires arrived and destroyed this work, his hatred for them grew exponentially.

Later, the Fatal Five came under the control of an unknown criminal boss named the Dark Man. He controlled Tharok via extreme mental blasts. Eventually we learned that the Dark Man was actually a clone of Tharok. After he was half-atomized during the attempted robbery of the nuclear device on Zadron, a scientist there took some samples of his DNA and began studying them. Unfortunately, they had been mutated by the radiation from the explosion. These cells took mental control of that scientist, then devoured his body in order to "grow" itself. The cells were able to mutate further into an actual copy of Tharok. 

When Tharok and the Dark Man met in battle, the resulting matter-anti-matter explosion destroyed them both.

After the so-called Five-Year Gap, Tharok was resurrected by Leland McCauley, who had "reclaimed" him technologically somehow to form a new Fatal Five. This new Fatal Five failed to defeat the SW6 Legion.

After the Reboot, Tharok stole a powerful solvent rather than a nuclear device, the container of which was punctured when the police shot at him. The solvent severed every molecular bond on the left hand side of his body. A brilliant surgeon rebuilt him as a cyborg and an ungrateful Tharok then killed him. Tharok later upgraded his robot half, giving it more built-in weaponry. When the Fatal Five were assembled by the Legion and the United Planets to combat the Sun Eater; Tharok was among their number. The deal went sour and the Five turned on their masters. They would return several times to plague the Legion. The last time was during Infinite Crisis when Tharok discovered the Persuader's axe could carve into other realities where they could recruit other Fatal Fives. It took the combined strength of the Legion and the Teen Titans to fight the Fatal Five Hundred! The Reboot Legion was lost in Limbo as a result of that battle.

After the Threeboot, Tharok does not seem to exist.

After Infinite Crisis, Tharok's original history has more or less been restored, though it is not known how he survived his encounter with the Dark Man, if it took place at all, because he's still alive. He took part in the final assault on the Legion that led to the destruction of the team's headquarters and several Legionnaires being either injured or killed. Tharok also acted as members of Superboy-Prime's Legion of Super-Villains during Final Crisis. The last time he was seen, he had turned himself into energy that flowed and interacted with quarks. He was defeated by Polar Boy when the hero froze Tharok to absolute zero, where even electrons cease to move.

Tharok, like the Fatal Five, has appeared in animation, in both Justice League Unlimited (voiced by Tomas Arana) and the Legion of Super-Heroes animated series (voiced by David Lodge).

Defining Villainous Moment: 

Adventure Comics (v1) #352-353
 Tharok forms the Fatal Five

Important Tharok Stories:

Adventure Comics (v1) #352-353
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 6, 
The Life and Death of Ferro Lad TPB, 
and Showcase Presents The Legion Vol. 3)
We meet Tharok and the rest of the Fatal Five 

Adventure Comics (v1) #365-366
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 7
and Showcase Presents The Legion Vol. 3)
Tharok intends to take over all of the United Planets, but first the Legion must die!

Adventure Comics (v1) #378
(reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 9
and Showcase Presents The Legion Vol. 4)
Karate Kid takes on the entire Fatal Five, 
and might have beaten them if Tharok hadn't decided to retreat

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #190
(reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 10
and Showcase Presents The Legion Vol. 5)
Tharok has hypnotized Validus to murder the next Legion Leader

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #198
(reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 10
and Showcase Presents The Legion Vol. 5)
Tharok is calling the shots as the rest of the Fatal Five are in Smallville killing Superboy

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #203
(reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 11
and Showcase Presents The Legion Vol. 5)
Tharok's mechanical brain orders Validus to kill Invisible Kid

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #219
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 12
and Showcase Presents The Legion Vol. 5)
Tharok is attempting to make a less ugly cybernetic half when the Legion destroys it

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #231
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 13)
The Fatal Five tries to harness power from an imminent solar explosion

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #246-247
Tharok tries to turn away from the dark side by becoming a politician 

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #269-271
The final fate of Tharok as he meets the Dark Man

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #300
 (reprinted in 1,050 Years of the Future TPB
and The Curse )
Tharok is just as dangerous in an alternate universe

Legionnaires #3-6
Tharok is resurrected by Leland McCauley and rejoins the Fatal Five
Legionnaires #34-36, Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #78-80
After the Reboot, the Fatal Five are assembled to destroy the Sun-Eater, but turn on the Legion

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #120-121
The Fatal Five are freed by an empowered Emerald Empress

Legion Worlds #1

An upgraded Tharok fights M'onel

Superman v2 #171
Warworld make use of hard light holograms of the Fatal Five

The Legion #16
Timber Wolf defeats the Fatal Five on his first mission

Teen Titans #16, Legion/Teen Titans Special #1
The Persuader cuts through to other Earths and one Fatal Five forms the Fatal Five Hundred

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #2
Tharok joins Superboy-Prime's Legion of Super-Villains

The Brave and the Bold (v3) #3-6
The Fatal Five are used by the Lord of Time to fight 21st-Century heroes; 
Batman is temporarily merged with Tharok

Legion of Super-Heroes (v7) #17
Tharok returns with the Fatal Five in a new energy form

Legion of Super-Heroes (v7) #22

Tharok is defeated by Polar Boy, but not before the Fatal Five have done a lot of damage
Justice League Unlimited animated series
Tharok's first animated appearance, with the Fatal Five

Legion of Super-Heroes animated series
The designs for the Fatal Five as they appeared on the Legion cartoon


  1. There's a pattern with the Fatal Five characters... you say that they don't exist in the Threeboot, and then you show a panel from that Brave and Bold story where they clearly exist in the Threeboot.

  2. While they are from the Threeboot ERA, they are not conclusively from the Threeboot TIMELINE.


  3. There were some interesting hints of other plots involving Tharok: During the reboot it was rumoured that Kinetix was planned to become the new Emerald Empress & she had a brother called Thanot (or Thanok, can't quite remember).
    When Levitz explored the Legion's early years in the retroboot miniseries Brainy had a dark secret involving the original Brainiac's dormant ship. He was followed on board by a thief, who the ship then mindjacked. IIRC he was named Tharok & that was somehow going to be part of the new version's origin.
    The stories never went anywhere but It'd be great if anyone has more information on them.

  4. A visually interesting character for it's time, but later it just seemed kind of gross, it's amazing how the flesh and bone half didn't just tear apart from the weight of the cybernetic half. and what was going on with his digestive system, and um reproductive areas? Bleh!