Sauron (comics)


Sauron as seen in New Mutants v. 3 #10
Art by Paul Davidson
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance (As Karl Lykos):
X-Men (Vol.1) #59 (August 1969)
(As Sauron):
X-Men (Vol.1) #60 (September 1969)
Created by Roy Thomas (writer)
Neal Adams (artist)
In-story information
Alter ego Karl Lykos
Species Human Mutate
Team affiliations Weapon X
Savage Land Mutates
Brotherhood of Evil Mutants
Abilities (As Karl Lykos):
Accomplished medical doctor, geneticist, and psychotherapist
(As Sauron):
Superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability and intelligence
Hypnotic eyes
Razor-sharp claws
Ability to absorb life forces and mutant powers, and sense mutants

Sauron is a comic book character, a supervillain in Marvel Comics' main shared universe. An enemy of the X-Men, Sauron is the alter ego of Karl Lykos, sharing a Jekyll and Hyde relationship with the physician. He is an energy vampire who resembles a humanoid Pteranodon after feeding. He often inhabits the hidden prehistoric jungle of the Savage Land.

Creation and conception

The character was created by writer Roy Thomas and artist Neal Adams, though the two differ in their accounts of which of them were responsible for specific aspects of the character.[1] He first fully appeared as Sauron in X-Men #60 (September 1969).

Thomas and Adams originally envisioned Sauron as a bat-like creature, but when they consulted with the Comics Code Authority, they were told that an energy vampire with a bat body might fall under the Code's prohibition on the use of vampires.[2] To get around this problem, Thomas and Adams tweaked his appearance to that of the most bat-like animal they could think of—a pterodactyl—which in turn led them to have Sauron inhabit the hidden prehistoric jungle of the Savage Land.[1][2]

Fictional character biography

Karl Lykos was the son of an explorer's guide. As a teenager, he accompanied his father to Tierra del Fuego as the elder Lykos guided a wealthy client named Mr. Anderssen and Anderssen's young daughter, Tanya. While defending Tanya from mutant pterodactyls, Karl was bitten by one of the creatures. During his recovery, he discovered that he could now drain the life-force of other organisms. He found himself repeatedly tempted to use his new power, feeling that he needed to drain life energy from other humans or animals to survive.[3]

When Karl's father died, Mr. Anderssen took Karl into his home in thanks for rescuing Tanya. As the years passed, Karl and Tanya fell in love. But Tanya's wealthy father would not allow her to date Karl because of his lack of wealth. In an effort to win Mr. Anderssen's support, Karl went to medical school and became a physician, geneticist, and hypnotherapist. He treated patients through hypnosis, but secretly robbed them of energy at the same time.[3]

Dr. Lykos became a colleague of Professor Charles Xavier, and first encountered the X-Men when they sought treatment for Havok. Absorbing Havok's mutant energy transformed him into a vampiric, pterodactyl-like monster with human intelligence and superhuman hypnotic powers. He named himself Sauron, after J.R.R. Tolkien's villain (also reminiscent of the word saurus, Latin for lizard),[3] and battled the X-Men, as a would-be conqueror.[4] When he realized that his transformation would threaten Tanya, he fled to Tierra del Fuego. Without energy to absorb, Sauron turned back into Karl. When Tanya tracked him down, Karl threw himself off a cliff to avoid harming her.[4]

Presumed dead, Karl actually survived, merely unconscious on a ledge below. He journeyed to the Savage Land and survived in human form by only draining less developed animals. He befriended Ka-Zar and used his medical skills over many months to care for Ka-Zar's allies. But when several X-Men were stranded in the Savage Land, Lykos was overwhelmed with the desire to absorb the powerful life energy of mutants. He transformed into Sauron once again after absorbing Storm's energy.[5] He reverted to human form during a battle with the X-Men, and Ka-Zar explained that Lykos was an ally.[6]

Tanya learned that Karl had survived the leap from the cliff. She joined Angel and Peter Parker on a journey to find Karl in the Savage Land. They found Karl, however the Savage Land Mutates used a Genetic Transformer to mutate Angel, Spider-Man and Tanya into animal-like forms. The destruction of the machine forced Lykos to drain energy from the three in an attempt to restore their true forms. Although his gambit succeeded, he subsequently reverted to his Sauron form and joined the Mutates and Zaladane. The X-Men traveled to the Savage Land, and Sauron helped to capture them. However, the X-Men escaped and defeated Sauron and the Mutates. They brought Lykos back to the United States, and at the X-Mansion Professor X seemingly cured Lykos of his condition. Karl and Tanya decided to resume their relationship and a normal life.[7]

Lykos was again transformed into Sauron when the Toad used a device of his own design to force Lykos to drain the life energy of Tanya, which killed her in the process. Sauron then joined the Toad's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, despite the fact that he is not actually a mutant. Alongside them, he battled X-Force, and slew Cannonball. Sauron was apparently shot dead by Cable, and his body was thrown by Cable to the Morlocks.[8] Sauron was later revealed to have survived the gunshot wound, and battled X-Factor.[9] Sauron went on to menace the X-Men and other heroes on a number of occasions.

Later, Sauron had the Savage Land Mutates kidnap Havok, hoping to use his energy to satiate his hunger. When his teammates Cyclops, Phoenix, and Polaris came to the rescue, Sauron had both Summers brothers placed in an energy-transferring machine, and the mix of energy mutated Sauron even further, making him larger and stronger than ever. Phoenix tried to engage Sauron on the Astral Plane, but it was Lykos' personality who prevailed, making a suicide leap into the abyss of his own mind, taking his hated alter ego with him. As a result, Sauron's mind appeared to be stuck in an animalistic state.[10]

Sauron became a prisoner of the Weapon X program jumpstarted by director Malcolm Colcord. Being held there against his will, Sauron started up a revolution with fellow agent Brent Jackson and dethroned Colcord as director, giving that position to Jackson. Sauron in return became a more powerful villain on the team, but vanished after Weapon X rival John Sublime launched an attack on Weapon X, and the group had to go underground.

After being imprisoned in the Raft for refusing to participate in any more Weapon X assignments, Sauron escaped during a jailbreak concocted by the Skrulls. For a time the Avengers believed he and the Mutates were responsible for the breakout, and pursued him to the Savage Land.[11] Sauron and his allies there briefly held the new team of Avengers hostage, but the team freed itself thanks to Iron Man's voice-activated armor, and were about to interrogate him, when he was shot through the head by the second Black Widow. Fortunately for Sauron, he had absorbed Wolverine's regenerative healing factor and recovered from his injury, just in time to be soundly defeated by the New Avengers. He was taken back into custody, but not before returning the favor to Black Widow by burning her with his fiery breath. Sauron was placed in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody and Maria Hill planned to return him to Weapon X.[12]

Sauron allied with Ka-Zar, Shanna the She-Devil, Zabu, and the natives when the Skrulls were invading the Savage Land.[13] Sauron was among the villains analyzed by Quasimodo for Norman Osborn.[14] Sauron later had a fight with Wolverine.[15]

Amphibius later tells Sauron and the other Savage Land Mutates that Magneto's Asteroid M has risen from the sea, but they didn't want to go find him. Worm took control of Barbarus, Lupo, and Sauron and commandeered a ship to go find Magneto. When threatened by the Japanese military, Sauron attacked an armored car, causing an international incident. Cannonball, Sunspot and Warlock investigated and found the Savage Land Mutates on the deck of the ship. Cannonball managed to defeat Sauron while the other New Mutants defeated the Savage Land Mutates. Upon learning why the Savage Land Mutates were on the ship, Karma told Worm, Sauron, Barbarus and Lupo that they were in charge of Asteroid M and Magneto. Worm then orders the Savage Land Mutates to return to the Savage Land.[16]

Upon becoming the new leader of the Japanese underworld, Sabretooth held a party that Sauron attended with other enemies of Wolverine. Wolverine arrived and beat them up.[17]

Kade Kilgore of the seventh incarnation of the Hellfire Club recruited Sauron to become a staff member at the Hellfire Academy.[18]

Sauron later collaborates with Stegron in a plan to turn humanity into dinosaurs where they fought Spider-Man and the mutant students from the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. The duo's plans are unraveled by their own infighting, purposely exacerbated by their mutual crush Shark Girl who caused their powers to neutralize each other.[19][20]

Powers and abilities

In human form Karl Lykos is a normal human, although an accomplished medical doctor, geneticist, and psychotherapist employing hypnotism. He possesses an M.D. and Ph.D. in genetics and psychology.

As the result of mutation through infection with a genetic virus by mutant pteranodons, Lykos gained the ability to absorb the life forces of other living things into his body. When Lykos absorbs the energies of superhuman mutants, he transforms into Sauron, and gains a portion of that mutant's powers temporarily. Lykos' Sauron form resembles a large crested pteranodon, extinct except in the Savage Land. Unlike true pteranodons, Sauron has a toothed beak and orange eyes and a basically humanoid build, with legs as long as a human being's. Sauron has a wingspread of twelve feet, and razor-sharp claws on his hands and feet. In Sauron form he has superhuman strength, speed, intelligence, stamina, and durability and is capable of flight. Sauron has to absorb the life energies from living victims to sustain his life. He would revert to human form if he didn't regularly absorb the life force from superhuman beings. The Toad's technology could transform Lykos into Sauron by draining life energy from Tayna Andersson, who is apparently not superhuman.

Lykos also has a powerful hypnotic ability that requires direct eye contact to complete. He frequently uses his hypnotic power to give his victims terrifying delusions that allies have become monsters. He can also mentally enslave people to do his bidding, although his control is not perfect, as Portal is resistant to his commands.

Due to manipulation by the Weapon X program, Sauron can expel the life force energy in concussive bursts from his hands.[21]

At some point prior to his New Avengers appearances, he acquires an additional ability to breathe fire, which he uses to burn the second Black Widow in revenge for shooting him.[12]

Other versions

Age of Apocalypse

In the Age of Apocalypse universe, Sauron, redubbed Soaron is a more heroic figure, though he is extremely bad-tempered and reclusive, and he is never seen in human form. He is a member of Forge's group of Outcasts alongside Forge, Toad, Brute, Sonique, Mastermind and Nate Grey. The group traveled the countryside posing as a circus troupe, protected by Mastermind's illusions, in order to keep attention away from them while Forge trained Nate. Soaron would often make sarcastic remarks about the situations the group found themselves in, and constantly referred to Nate as a "whelp". In a mission where the group rescued a large number of humans from a prison train, one of Soaron's wings was seared off, grounding him. He bitterly remarked about this to Forge later, demanding to know if his wing was enough reason to avoid suicidal missions.[22] When Domino and her team attacked the group, Soaron was noticeably absent, but after Nate went to challenge Mister Sinister, who had been hiding with the team attempting to manipulate Nate, Soaron and Sonique, the only survivors, arrived on the scene to save the young mutant. Nate accepted that he must challenge Apocalypse, and told Soaron to look after Sonique. Soaron replied by somewhat fondly advising him, "Don't concern yourself with us, just worry about yourself, whelp."[23]

When the Age of Apocalypse was revisited, Soaron appeared along with Sonique, Cloak and Dagger, Blob, and a revived Jean Grey as a member of Sinister's team known as the Sinister Six, a group meant to aid Sinister in destroying the X-Men.[24]

Sinister found both Soaron and Sonique, and with Jean Grey's assistance, brainwashed them into becoming members of his new team - the Sinister Six. When the Sinister Six met the X-Men in battle, Soaron failed in his attempt to kill Magneto. At the last moment, Quicksilver prevented his father's death by sacrificing himself. Enraged at the sight of his dead son, Magneto used his powers to thrust the Silver Samurai's sword straight through Soaron, killing him.[25]

House of M

In the House of M universe, Sauron became a member of Magneto's palace guard on Genosha. He takes part in the battle against the heroes whose memories have been restored.[26]

Power Pack (Marvel Adventures)

In the mini-series Wolverine and Power Pack, Sauron was the first villain faced by Logan and the Power children. The kids would have succumbed to Sauron's mind control without Wolverine's assistance.[27]

In other media



Video games


  1. 1 2 Cronin, Brian (11 February 2010). Comic Book Legends Revealed #247, Comic Book Resources.
  2. 1 2 O'Neill, Patrick Daniel (August 1993). "'60s Mutant Mania: The Original Team". Wizard: X-Men Turn Thirty. pp. 74–77.
  3. 1 2 3 X-Men #60 (September 1969)
  4. 1 2 X-Men #61 (October 1969)
  5. X-Men #114 (October 1978)
  6. X-Men #115 (November 1978)
  7. Marvel Fanfare #2-4
  8. X-Force #5-11 (December 1991-June 1992)
  9. X-Factor #82
  10. X-Men Unlimited Vol. 1 #06
  11. New Avengers #5
  12. 1 2 New Avengers #6
  13. New Avengers #41
  14. Dark Reign Files
  15. Rampaging Wolverine #1
  16. New Mutants vol. 4 #10
  17. Wolverine #304
  18. Wolverine and the X-Men #20
  19. Elliott Kalan (w), Marco Failla (p), Marco Failla (i), Ian Herring (col), Clayton Cowles (let), Katie Kubert (ed). Spider-Man and the X-Men #1 (10 December 2014), United States: Marvel Comics
  20. Elliott Kalan (w), Marco Failla (p), Marco Failla (i), Ian Herring (col), Clayton Cowles (let), Katie Kubert (ed). Spider-Man and the X-Men #2 (28 January 2015), United States: Marvel Comics
  21. New Avengers: Most Wanted Files (2005)
  22. X-Man #1
  23. X-Man #3
  24. X-Men: Age of the Apocalypse #5
  25. X-Men: Age of Apocalypse #6
  26. House of M #7
  27. Wolverine and Power Pack #1
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