|"The Death of Ferro Lad"|
|Publication date||January – February 1967|
|Title(s)||Adventure Comics #352-353|
|Main character(s)||Legion of Super-Heroes|
|The Life and Death of Ferro Lad||ISBN 1-4012-2193-9|
"The Death of Ferro Lad" is an American comic book story arc that was published as "The Fatal Five" by DC Comics, and was presented in Adventure Comics #352-353 (January–February 1967). It was written by Jim Shooter, with art by Curt Swan and George Klein. The story arc includes the first appearance of the villainous Fatal Five. It is also notable for featuring the first "permanent" death of a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
At their headquarters in the 30th century, five members of the Legion of Super-Heroes watch a Science Police documentary on its most wanted villains, who have been dubbed the "Fatal Five": the Persuader, a paid assassin and enforcer whose Atomic Axe can slice any type of matter or energy; Tharok, a brilliant half-human/half-robotic criminal mastermind; the Emerald Empress, who seized control of the planet Vengar after stealing the mystical Emerald Eye of Ekron; Validus, a powerful gigantic creature who projects mental lightning from his brain; and Mano, a mutant who destroyed his home planet Angtu with the energy that emanates from his right hand. Hours later, the Legionnaires receive word that "It" is approaching Earth. As Superboy explains to newer members Princess Projectra and Ferro Lad, "It" is a massive cloud-like object called the "Sun-Eater". Capable of completely devouring the energy from stars, thereby destroying all life in entire star systems, the Sun-Eater represents a major threat. Astronomers have determined that the Sun-Eater is on a direct course for Sol, Earth's sun.
Short-handed and unable to recruit assistance from other heroes in the galaxy, the five Legionnaires decide to seek aid from the Fatal Five, who would also die if the Sun-Eater cannot be stopped. Cosmic Boy locates Tharok, who joins him after being promised a full pardon. Superboy rescues the Emerald Empress as she is about to be executed on the planet Craggok; she accompanies him, bringing a small chunk of green kryptonite with her. Sun Boy travels to Bismari and obtains Validus' release the day before his scheduled execution. On Jupiter's twelfth moon, Princess Projectra successfully recruits the Persuader. Ferro Lad rescues Mano just as the villain's right hand is about to be amputated in space (which would have resulted in his death).
Mano launches a failed attempt to form an alliance with the Emerald Empress. She unsuccessfully tries to convince Superboy to help her conquer her home planet, even after using the kryptonite as a means of persuasion. Soon after, Tharok reveals his plan to destroy the Sun-Eater: Tharok will temporarily increase the powers of all the heroes and villains. Sun Boy will use his solar powers in open space to lure the cloud away from Sol. The Persuader will use his Atomic Axe to divide the Sun-Eater into eight smaller sections, and the others will destroy the individual pieces. Later, the five villains meet in secret and band together as a formal group, bent on conquering the galaxy.
When the plan is implemented, seven of the heroes and villains manage to weaken the Sun-Eater, but fail to completely destroy any of the sections. Even Superboy fails when the Sun-Eater blasts him with red solar radiation. Ferro Lad tries to reach and destroy the cloud's core, but is rebuffed by an energy blast and does no damage to the cloud at all. The Sun-Eater reforms, prompting Tharok to construct an Absorbatron bomb, which can destroy the cloud if it is detonated at the core. Since Tharok had no time to build a propulsion device, one of them must carry the bomb to the core and detonate it manually — an act which would result in that person's death. Superboy is about to take the bomb, citing he has the best chance to survive, but he is still weak from the red sun rays. Ferro Lad punches Superboy, grabs the bomb and speeds toward the cloud. Reaching the core, Ferro Lad detonates the bomb, destroying both the Sun-Eater and himself.
The Legionnaires offer full pardons to the members of the Fatal Five, but they attack and quickly overcome the heroes. Tharok commands Validus to destroy them, but he refuses and turns on the villains. When Validus' mental lightning strikes the Persuader's Atomic Axe, the Fatal Five disappears. Later, the other Legionnaires return from their distant mission. Unable to recover Ferro Lad's remains, the team sends a missile in memoriam to him to the cemetery planet Shanghalla. The Legionnaires promise never to forget his sacrifice.
In post-Zero Hour continuity, a faction of the Legion is stranded in the 20th century, and the Sun-Eater approaches Earth in that era. Andrew Nolan is among the Earth heroes native to that era. He attempts a suicide mission to destroy the Sun-Eater, but his life is saved by Parallax (Hal Jordan). Later, he joins the Legion as Ferro, and accompanies them when they finally discover a way to return to their own time.
In the aftermath of the Infinite Crisis miniseries, most of the Legion's original continuity has been restored. The story of the Sun-Eater and the death of Ferro Lad is once again part of Legion history.
In 2009, The Life and Death of Ferro Lad (ISBN 1-4012-2193-9), a hardcover collection of the Silver Age appearances of Ferro Lad, was released. The story of the Sun-Eater and Ferro Lad's death from Adventure Comics #352-353 is included. The tale is also reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Volume 6 (ISBN 1-5638-9277-4), which was published in 1997 as part of the DC Archive Editions collection.
In other media
- Lightning Lad was killed battling Zaryan the Conqueror in Adventure Comics #304 (January 1963), but was revived in issue #312 (September 1963).
- Glenn, Joshua (2017-01-18). "The best young adult literature from 1967". Boing Boing. Retrieved 2019-09-22.
This story arc is notable not only for introducing the Fatal Five — one of the best super-villain teams ever — but for featuring the first permanent death of a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
- Her home planet is spelled "Venegar" in subsequent stories.
- Princess Projectra and Ferro Lad joined the Legion in Adventure Comics #346 (July 1966).
- Final Night #1-4 (November 1996)
- Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 4, #93 (June 1997)
- Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 4, #100 (January 1998)
- David Slack and Rob Hoegee (writers); Tim Maltby and Ben Jones (directors) (April 28, 2007). "Sundown Part 1". Legion of Super Heroes. Season 1. Episode 12. The CW.
- David Slack and Rob Hoegee (writers); Tim Maltby and Ben Jones (directors) (May 5, 2007). "Sundown Part 2". Legion of Super Heroes. Season 1. Episode 13. The CW.