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One of my favourite characters used to be accompanied by a flying 2 foot diameter eyeball.


Oh look, we have a guest!

"Who am I talking about?" you ask, well, gather round sd'ers and I shall elucidate...

The Emerald Empress, Sarya of Venegar, debuted in 1967 as one of the Fatal Five, who were created by Jim Shooter, barely 16, during his legendary run on the Legion.

They were the sort of team that only a 16 year old would come up with methinks, but they worked well; We had the cyborg Tharok, half man-half machine... literally split down the middle. The brutal monster Validus. The sinister Mano, whose right hand completely disintegrated anything it came into contact with apart from his glove (He had deliberately destroyed his homeworld by touching exposed bedrock). The perpetually masked Persuader and his Atomic Axe, capable of slicing through any material in creation. And finally, the Emerald Empress, a woman accompanied by a giant floating eyeball that had a wide range of powers but which always silently followed her orders. (I also have to say, I LOVE her codename; Emerald Empress, Emerald Empress, Emerald Empress, it rolls across the tongue rather prettily I think.)

Her origin was straightforward... as these things go... ruthless space pirate queen turn conqueror, turned eyeball wielding supervillain,

It's a good thing she looks so good in green, because it would have been such a waste otherwise. The Eye actually had a wide range of powers, including energy blasts, force fields, minor transmutation, allowing the Empress to survive in space and flight. They were pretty much inseparable. The Eye's powers could even affect Superboy, though it was, for some unknown reason, rather vulnerable to kryptonite.

In any event, it made for a great visual, and over the years the Fatal Five came and went many times, a regular set of villains for the Legion. However, the original Five were more or less disbanded following the death of Tharok (The Fatal Four probably didn't seem as threatening)

A few years later the Empress returned, this time operating solo (not counting servants and minions) and the team of Mike Levitz and Keith Giffen (With Larry Mahlstedt on inks) made her more than a force to be reckoned with on her own.

Channelling her inner Joan Collins in Dynasty there perhaps? Certainly the Empress sure knew how to dress, not many villains can make a turban/hat work, but she managed it.... pretty much.

She was also shown to be, if anything, crueller than her old self, in one memorable scene actually breaking a Legionnaire's jaw just for fun.


This plan came to naught, but a little while later she would return, this time with a Fatal Five of her own...

She was unquestioned leader, the Persuader returned to her side, and three new ladies joined the team; the fire-manipulating Flare, the acid-touched Caress, and the mind-warping Mentalla (in traditional style, she was a Legion applicant who was rejected by them and turned to crime). This piece by Steve Lightle from the cover of Legion of Superheroes #26 in 1986.

It didn't quite work out though, mostly because Mentalla was actually trying to infiltrate the Fatal Five so she could prove her worth to the Legion and gain a membership that way (as other aspiring Legionnaires had done in the past). As one might imagine The Empress did not take kindly to this, and murdered Mentalla with her bare hands.

Now, more time has passed and by the time of this sequence from 1989's Legion of Super-Heroes #58 (The Baxter print run). It was this issue that I came across recently in a longbox, that prompted me to put this entry together and the following 9 pages are from that 27 page story...

The Emerald Empress has returned and for the past couple of issues has been tearing through different planets with the stated intention of seeking the secret of immortality... in the process burning Invisible Kid rather badly and torturing Polar Boy.

The art here is also Giffen but with Al Gordon on inks, this is not my favourite Legion artwork I have to say, Giffen was evolving a more..  "scratchy" style, and it just didn't flow as futuristically as I would have liked in the Legion, but c'est la vie) Also her outfit here is rather... all over the place IMHO... anyway...

Note, the Emerald Eye of Ekron never had an origin since it didn't really need one. It's been given one, or possibly more than one, since then, in the likes of L.E.G.I.O.N., the post ZH Legion, and 52, but it was still a mystery at this point.

We discover she's on Trom, the dead homeworld of Element Lad (Who was the last surviving Trommite after a villains act of genocide years before), and she's casually having the Eye clear a path through the tsarins, small crystal tombstones that Jan created to remember his people. He, and Ultra Boy, attack her, but the Eye blasts them both, protecting the Empress at the same time...

Not quite sure what that means to be honest, but you can't be a good villain if you can't threaten, even in a position of weakness. Especially as reinforcement have just arrived; Dawnstar, Lightning Lass, Blok, Quislet and Magnetic Kid.

And we now see the Empress and Eye perform a trick I'm always a little surprised it took them this long to do...

She is NOT happy, and proceeds to blast away at the Legionnaires, until only one is left conscious...

If I may say... "ICK!" Eyeballs popping into and out of sockets is not something that I want to think about too much if it's all the same to you.

The Empress reverts to normal size, but retaliates by destroying Quislets spaceship/home which is the only thing keeping it (Quislet's species has no concept of gender) in that dimension. It is forced to return to it's homerealm in a rather sudden exit from the series. A shame that, Quislet was FUN... but I digress.

The Eye warps the Empress to safety, but now we find out the truth of her mission.

So she IS seeking the secret of immortality, but not the one we've been led to believe, she already IS immortal, the Eye makes sure of that, what she want's to do is DIE.

Meanwhile, Sensor Girl (Princess Projectra as was) has held back from joining the other Legionnaire in combat for reasons she can't quite phrase, but her awareness of the universe tells her she must.

So now, after 20 years of being the one in control, the one in charge of the Eye, we see the Empress do something she has NEVER done before. She's begging... but not for her life.

(Not sure Projectra has the right of it there, Sarya got her Empire by conquering it. In the grand scheme of politics, that's a very valid claim indeed.)

And THAT is how you make a memorable exit...

Since then, Sarya has actually remained dead, but there have been other Emerald Empresses, Sarya was the original and remains the best IMHO (Cera Kesh in the 5YL Legion was good though as an example of what the Legion being complete dicks can lead to). A woman who, whilst ruthless and malevolent, had a definite style, and in the form of a two-foot diameter eyeball, the weirdest and coolest weapon for a thousand years.

Date: 2011-07-27 10:28 am (UTC)
kamino_neko: Tedd from El Goonish Shive. Drawn by Dan Shive, coloured by Kamino Neko. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kamino_neko
That too, though, honestly, I liked Emerald Vi, and wouldn't mind seeing it redone with this version - she's not the mousy little thing that post-ZH Vi was up to that point, so they certainly couldn't play it the same way. (Also, I now has a sad, due to lack of Kinetix. I liked her a lot. (And shipped her hard with Vi, so maybe it's best she doesn't exist here.))


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