LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES

The Emerald Empress
and the Emerald Eyes of Ekron

Created by Jim Shooter and Curt Swan

» FIRST APPEARANCE: Adventure Comics #352 (Jan. 1967)

» SEE ALSO: Fatal Five

Origins and 20th/21st Century Appearances

empress

The first appearance of the murderess, Sarya;
from Adventure #352 (1967). Art by Curt Swan.

The Emerald Eye of Ekron is a powerful sentient entity best known as the companion to the Legion's ruthless foe, the Emerald Empress. For years, its true origins were revealed only in snippets and vague legends. In 2011, Paul Levitz finally laid down a cohesive back story for this powerful weapon...

This story told of a great god, Ekron, who millennia ago weilded near limitless power. He was brought down by the Guardians of the Universe (creators of the Green Lantern Corps), and its power was dispersed. Ekron's priests managed to preserve its power in a pair of Emerald Eyes. Later, Ekron's own giant skull was used as a powerful space ship for a Green Lantern. (Legion Annual v.6 #1, 2011)

This story springboarded from one several years previous, which introduced the concept of the "head of Ekron" (52 #28, 2006) Also, the third party DC Encyclopedia (2008) wrote that Ekron was created by the Guardians (which is plausible) with two Oan-powered eyes. Presumably then Ekron went rogue. This would mean that the Eyes' power is related to that of the Green Lantern Corps, but this has not been substantiated.

The Emerald Eye of Ekron did not appear in the 20th century DCU until 1990, in a sort of Legion spin-off book, L.E.G.I.O.N.Before this, it claimed to have existed "for an incomprehensible time span." (Legion v.4 #120) The 30th century's Emerald Empress once asked the orb, "Were you but part of a greater creature once, some prehistoric incarnation of the Green?" (Legion v.3 #58)

In the late 20th century, the Eye was rediscovered on Earth by an alien archaeological expedition. En route back to the aliens' planet, the Eye killed the entire crew, perhaps accidentally. It was discovered by L.E.G.I.O.N. member Garryn Bek, who witnessed the Eye sending an electrical charge through one of its victims, attempting to revive him. It selected Bek to be its new host, or "beholder." (L.E.G.I.O.N.#11-12) The Eye soon also developed an affection for Bek's wife, Marij'n, and allowed both of them to channel its power. (#17) After taxing its energy to the limit in battle against the Computer Tyrants, the Eye vanished (#22) and the residual power in Garryn Bek was soon exhausted. (#26)

The Eye—or one of the Eyes, it's impossible to say which—next appeared in the possession of the alien bounty hunter Lobo. He had stolen it from the Emerald Head of Ekron, after the Head's pilot, a Green Lantern, had perished. (52 #28, 2006) Lobo was ostensibly using the Eye to protect a group of people from the Eye's original owner. (#19) Ironically, he'd also taken a vow against violence, so when these people came under attack, he refused to use the Eye to defend them. One citizen took control of it and accidentally killed everyone in the vicinity. The heroine Starfire then assumed control and inadvertently attracts the Eye's "owner," the Emerald Head—with a second Eye still in place. (#20)

Inside the Head, Lobo found a mummified pilot—the former Green Lantern of Vengar (not spelled "Venegar," but presumably the same world from which future legends would spring). Because the Head was missing an Eye, this Lantern had failed to defend its sector against the conquering Lady Styx. (#28) Lobo and the others fought Styx and the Emerald Head forced her into a cosmic organism that "digests" her; they exploded. Was this perhaps the demise of the Head and the second Eye? (#36)

Afterwards, Lobo learned that his leader had sought the Emerald Eye because it was the one thing that could lead to his own downfall; Lobo was angered by this and was happy to oblige, by killing the leader with the Eye. (#51)

NOTE: The above-mentioned adventures of the L.E.G.I.O.N. and Lobo are not a part of New 52 continuity, but that of Legion Annual v.6 #1 is.

At some point after this, it was enshrined again on Venegar, which may have been Ekron's homeworld.

30th Century History: Legion 1 (Current)

The Emerald Eye's first appearance in print was in 1967, alongside the Empress when the Fatal Five first attacked in Adventure Comics #352. It was said that,

"Venegar was the site of the long-dead Ekron civilization, whose astounding scientific secrets were all lost ... until" a native named Sarya discovered them in the mid-30th century. Thanks to "an ancient map," she was able to locate the Crypt of the Eye. Resting on a green pedestal was the Emerald Eye of Ekron.

"The Eye possessed nearly unlimited power. To Sarya, it was a means of fulfilling her ambitions. ... It took only a few hours for Sarya to seize power and become the Emerald Empress. But her tyranny caused the people (of Venegar) to rise in rebellion." Observing that "even the Emerald Eye can't cope with so many super-weapons," Sarya fled into outer space and began looting space merchants to help bankroll the army she intended to gather. With the Eye behind her, the Emerald Empress became "the most wanted female criminal in the history of the universe."

The Eye's path through the Legion's adventures is closely tied to that of the Emerald Empress and the Fatal Five. Please read that article, which includes the Five's history in all Legion incarnations.

In Sarya's last appearance, Sarya actually became a host for the globe's power, "burning with the energy from the Emerald Eye." The transformation was not without its price, "I've absorbed so much of your power these past few days, I can feel the change in my body," the Empress told the Eye. "I'm fading. You're killing me you silent monster — and you won't ever let me die, will you?" (Legion v.3 #57-58)

Sarya approached Sensor Girl for the death she craved. The Legionnaire told her, "I know more of the Eye than you might dream, Sarya — for Orando is steeped in the magic of old, and I know the legends of Ekron — of wizards whose own magic consumed them." Sensor Girl masked Sarya's existence from the Eye, and with a feeble sound, the Emerald Eye went black and Sarya withered into a crone and collapsed into dust—"what the Eye cannot see, it cannot possess." (#58)

In post-Crisis (Legion 1.5) continuity Leland McCauley formed a new Fatal Five, complete with an Emerald Empress (Ingria Olav) that he'd selected and provided with the Eye. (Legionnaires #4) Olav, however, proved to be an unskilled coward and she was slain by the energy of a second Eye (#5), one that had selected young Cera Kesh to be its mistress (#3-4). "Sadly for you," Cera told McCauley, "eyes comes in pairs." (#5) After convincing McCauley's Eye to align with her, Cera flew into outer space with plans to revive the Fatal Five. (#6) A year later, this timeline came to an end with Zero Hour.

In current continuity, Sarya reappeared, alive, in Legion of Three Worlds, but Legion writer Paul Levitz does not abide totally by the events in that series. Instead, it appears that Sarya remains dead, and that the Emerald Eye was interred on Orando after Sarya's death (by Sensor Girl?). There a young woman named Falyce discovered a temple devoted to the Emerald Eye. She was on the run from the severely abusive Duke Pharos, and her tears unlocked the Eye's power and became the new Emerald Empress.

Falyce brought down a passing Legion cruiser containing Lightning Lass and Shrinking Violet. Projectra (Sensor Girl) learned of this and took some Legionnaires back to her homeworld. Violet defeated the Eye by venturing inside of it, then growing larger from within. It's shattered but Violet is left with a spark of its power. The Eye reforms and departs. Projectra decides to remain on Orando. (Legion v.6 #1)

30th Century History: Legion 2

For the Legion of Earth-247 (an alternate timeline, now erased), the Eye's fate was completely different. This Legion encountered the Eye before there was an Emerald Empress...

Aside from the Fatal Five, the Emerald Eye of Earth-247 (an alternate timeline, now erased) was said to have reemerged during the 28th century. It was the subject of a fierce civil war on the planet Venegar. Legends of its power became a part of their culture, tantalizing the natives. (Legionnaires #37)

By the 29th century, the Eye had been enslaved by the magician Mordru, who regarded the orb as an object of power rather than a sentient being. After Mordru's defeat (#48), the Eye eventually found its way into the possession of the centuries-old Scavenger. Late in the 30th century, it was freed from its containment during a clash with the Legion of Super-Heroes (Legion v.4 #74) and bonded with the Legionnaire Shrinking Violet for an extended period of time. She briefly took the name Emerald Violet. (Legionnaires #31, Legion #83–50)

After Violet freed herself, it drifted until it met the Empress, a member of the new Fatal Five. This time, the Eye chose to strengthen its own abilities by serving a like-minded host, "one with simple aims and strong desire." (Legion #120)

Related Characters

Over the years there were some other curious links to the Emerald Eye...

Krypton

Could the Emerald Eye be a lost artifact from Superman's homeworld? While the Legion managed to momentarily immobilize the Eye in a number of different external ways, its only internal weakness was kryptonite! In some manner, the radioactive rock played havoc with the Eye, rendering it virtually motionless (Adventure #352) or leaving it dazed. (Superboy & the Legion #247) Curiously, the Eye was capable of synthesizing K-radiation for offensive purposes without any ill effect. (#231, Legion v.2 #303)

The Golden Eye of Effron

Effron was a mystic from the other-dimensional kingdom of Veliathan who clashed with Superman and Green Arrow twice in the early 1970s (World's Finest #210, Action #437) and in an unrecorded duel, Superman and Batman. In the latter, the heroes confiscated the mage's hypnotic Golden Eye, an over-sized, oval-shaped eye that vanished from the Man of Steel's Fortress (Superman #268) and ended up, in miniaturized form, on the forehead of a would-be super-hero. Corrupted by power, the wizard refused to give up the power even after slimy green fallout from the magical energy began to blanket Metropolis. Superman lured the mage into space at a high rate of speed, stopped short, and grabbed the wizard from behind. He stopped, but the Eye kept rocketing forward into deep space. The would-be hero regained his senses once the link with the Golden Eye was broken. (Superman #273)

The similarities here are enough to argue for a possible connection: Effron/Ekron; the parasitic aspect of the Eye; the emerald fallout; the last glimpse of the Eye speeding into space.

The Luck Lords and Penelo

Both the beings of Penelo (Green Lantern v.2 #159-160) and the trio of Luck Lords on Ventura (Legion v.3 #44-45) possess eyeball-like heads. Any connection beyond that is purely speculative. Reader Andrew Capraro's suggestion that the Emerald Eye was linked to the Luck Lords was greeted by Paul Levitz as "an interesting suggestion." (letter column #62)

The Green Glob

Is it possible that the Emerald Eye is an orb created by the Guardians? One of these, the Green Glob, "transcended its programming." The Green Glob predates the Emerald Eye. It was a sentient emerald wraith that served as the catalyst in a series of stories in Tales of the Unexpected beginning with issue #83 (June-July 1964), and in 84–98, 100, 102–103.

In 1991, Gorilla Grodd captured the Glob ("some sort of cohesive plasma. Invisible, odorless, intangible, yet an almost limitless source of energy") and used it to alter reality. (Angel and the Ape v.2 #3) Grodd's grandson, Sam Simeon, attempted to "interface" with the Glob, which represented itself as three green objects, two green plates with a green globe sandwiched between them. The orb had a gaping hole in its center to simulate a lantern effect but, in something of an optical illusion, it sometime resembled a green eyeball.

The entity, Sam learned, was an early creation of the Guardians of Oa, one of a series of "undetectable machines ... incredibly powerful machines ... capable of warping the very nature of reality ... a teaching machine (that) temporarily warp(s) reality in order to teach a lesson." Sam hoped to convince the Green Glob to heal the heroine Dumb Bunny, whose neck had been broken by Grodd, but the entity refused. "I cannot perform counter to my programming. Once a lesson has been learned, the fabric of reality must be restored."

Simeon countered, "But ... I ... I wish to learn what a permanent change would do to your programming." Pausing, the Glob replied, "Acceptable. It is done."

Suddenly, the orb began to pulse and enlarge, repeating, at progressively higher volume, "I have transcended my programming!" Shrieking, "I AM FREE!", the Green Glob vanished in an emerald burst of energy. (#4)

Appearances

Legion 1

  • Adventure Comics #352-353, 365-366, 378
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths #10
  • Legion of Super-Heroes v.2 #269-271, 299 (behind the scenes), 301 (behind the scenes), 302-303
  • Legion of Super-Heroes v.3 #21, 24-26, 53-54, 56-58
  • Superboy #198, 215, 219
  • Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #231, 246-247

Legion 1.5

  • Legionnaires #2-6

20th Century

  • L.E.G.I.O.N. '89 #11-17, 19-22

Legion 2

  • Legion of Super-Heroes v.4 #74, 76 (behind the scenes), 83-84, 120-121
  • Legionnaires #31 (behind the scenes), 33-34 (mention), 36-37 (mention), 39 (behind the scenes), 40-41, 45, 48-50