Membership: Des (Tyrannus), Keeper of the Flame (Lann), Rey

Purpose: Accumulation of power, world takeover

Aliases: The Brotherhood of They

Affiliations: Absorbing Man (Carl Creel), City-Stealers, Goldbug, Jinku, Moses Magnum, Orb, Stegron, Tyrannoid Subterraneans (all pawns)

Enemies: Black Panther (T'Challa), Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze), Goldbug, Hercules, Hulk (Robert Bruce Banner), Human Torch (Johnny Storm), Ka-Zar (Kevin Plunder), Nova (Richard Rider), Spider-Man (Peter Parker), Thor (Odinson)

Base of Operations: El Dorado, Andes Mountains

First Appearance: ("They" mentioned) Marvel Team-Up I#15 (November, 1973); (first seen in shadows) Marvel Team-Up I#26 (October, 1974);
(called "They Who Wield Power") Incredible Hulk II#208 (February, 1977); (fully seen) Incredible Hulk II#240 (October, 1979)

(Incredible Hulk II#241 (fb) ) - With his eternal youth fading, the aged subterranean warlord Tyrannus traveled to El Dorado, where he sought the power of the Sacred Flame of Life to restore himself. When he arrived, a wizened shell of his former self, he took the name Des, and united the once-warring Prince Rey and the Keeper of the Flame, to form the Brotherhood of They--Des manipulated them in an effort to rekindle the snuffed Flame of Life.

(Incredible Hulk II#240 (fb) ) - Des' wisdom and knowledge of science enabled them to reignite the Sacred Flame, and stoke it towards its full, burning radiance.

   Their ultimate goal was to continue to build the Sacred Flame of Life into an enormously powerful energy source to allow them to take over the world. Prince Rey planned to use it to build a mighty war-machine which would sweep out of El Dorado and conquer the world. The Keeper of the Flame planned to act as spiritual leader to the conquered people of Earth. Des, it was thought, planned to spend his final years as grand vizier over the whole of Earth's scientific resources. To this end, they began a series of events designed to cause violent geophysical activity that would be transmitted through the earth's crust in such a way as to stimulate the Flame--in most cases, this involved supplying technology to a number of criminals.

(Marvel Team-Up I#15 - BTS) - They supplied the Orb's laser gun and hypnotic eyeball helmet. The Orb was defeated by the Ghost Rider and Spider-Man.

(Marvel Team-Up I#19-20 - BTS) - They supplied Stegron with his flying ark, which he planned to use to transport dinosaurs out of the Savage Land to conquer the world. Stegron was defeated by the efforts of the Black Panther, Ka-Zar, and Spider-Man.

(Marvel Team-Up I#26) - They supplied the false vision to Jinku, the Witch Doctor of the Lava Men, which caused him to lead an attack on the surface world. Jinku's plot was defeated by the Human Torch and Thor. (They were first seen, in shadows (see comments))

(Marvel Team-Up I#28 - BTS) - They supplied the equipment and exoskeletons to the City-Stealers, who used them to cause an earthquake which threatened to split New York asunder; but their plot was defeated by Hercules and Spider-Man. (Hercules later claimed to have lifted the entire city to save it from destruction--in actuality, he braced himself against the city's foundations and absorbed the machines' shock-waves into his own body (as revealed by Rey in Incredible Hulk II#241).)

(Incredible Hulk II#241 (fb) ) - Impatient with the slow progress in rebuilding the Flame, Des sent his mental essence into one of his Tyrannoid Subterraneans, causing it to take his form, and pose as him in a plot of They.

(Nova I#5) - The Tyrannus duplicate used the Earth-Shaker in an effort to cause an immense earthquake to build the Flame's powers more quickly, but the plot was defeated by Nova.

(Incredible Hulk II#241 (fb) ) - Following the defeat of the Tyrannus duplicate, Tyrannus withdrew his mental essence, causing the Tyrannoid to return to its true form--it was destroyed by the other Tyrannoids, who were led to defeat by one they considered an imposter.

(Incredible Hulk II#208-209) - Introducing themselves as "They Who Wield Power" to the Absorbing Man, They supplied him with a costume to enhance his power and sent him to battle the Hulk .

(X-Men I#119 - BTS) - They supplied the technology used by Moses Magnum, who attempted to destroy the islands of Japan; but this plot was stopped by the X-Men (...specifically Banshee, who lost his powers for a time after exerting them to counteract the effects of Magnum's weapon).

(Incredible Hulk II#238-243) - They decided that the Hulk represented the greatest source of power they could utilize for the Flame. They employed the Goldbug, who used a ship built by the Tinkerer (from plans provided by They), which allowed Goldbug to actually defeat the Hulk. Goldbug unwittingly sought to use the Hulk to power his ship, so he could locate and conquer El Dorado and gain its legendary stores of gold. They let Goldbug approach the city, and then remotely sabotaged his equipment, allowing the Hulk to break free, causing Goldbug's ship to crash just outside the city.

   Tulak, an acolyte of They, led the Hulk and Goldbug into the city. They revealed themselves to the Hulk, and Des used his sphere of projection to cause the Hulk such psychological anguish (with images of Jarella's corpse in stasis at Gamma Base) that he returned to the form of Banner. They led Banner to the Sacred Flame of Life, and then suddenly snared him with the tentacles of their machines designed to drain his power into the Flame. Des' allies nearly drooled with anticipation as their machines registered the enormous power the Flame was gaining from the Hulk. However, Des then betrayed his former allies, sending tentacles which drained the life-energies of Rey and Lann into the Flame as well, quickly killing them both.

   Des then used the energy of the Flame to restore the vitality to his Elixir of Life, and returned to his youthful Tyrannus form. As Tyrannus revealed his true self and origins, Goldbug arrived and attacked; Tyrannus quickly used the machines of the Flame to subdue Goldbug, but not before Goldbug could drive Banner into transforming into the Hulk and breaking free of Tyrannus' machines. However, Tyrannus subdued the Hulk with a Deviant Brain Mine, and then donned a harness which enabled him to link himself to the Flame.

   Now controlling the full power of the Flame, Tyrannus used it to form immense metal arms under his control, with which he slew Tulak, his former acolyte, and then began to rampage, drunk with power. Goldbug freed himself and removed the Brain Mine from the Hulk. Tyrannus used the metal limbs to attack the Hulk, but the green goliath shattered them into pieces.

   Desperate to destroy the Hulk, Tyrannus merged with the Flame completely, and used his power to shatter the city of El Dorado. However, the Hulk tore the machines supplying the Flame free from their connections to their controls. Tyrannus' power raged out of control, until the Hulk finally destroyed the machines supplying the Flame, sending Tyrannus and the Flame (merged as one) into space.

Comments: First mentioned by Len Wein. Finally fleshed out by Roger Stern and Sal Buscema.

You can get more information on the backstories, and the Keeper and Prince Rey, by checking out El Dorado.

Further information on Tyrannus can be found in the OHotMU Deluxe Edition#13 and the Leader's Lair Website.

Here's the very first appearance of They--the storyline started out in 1973, and who knows where Len Wein was going with it? However, I always appreciate the efforts of someone like Roger Stern to tie up loose ends. It works for me.

They Who Wield Power have an entry in Marvel Legacy: The 1970's Handbook.

New and improved images by Ron Fredricks.

Profile by Snood.

They Who Wield Power, aka They, have no known connection to:

images: (without ads)
Incredible Hulk II#208, p17, pan4 (Main Image - after supplying him with costume, They introduce themselves to Absorbing Man)
Incredible Hulk II#240, p9, pan7 ((clockwise from top) Des/Tyrannus, Keeper of the Flame, Prince Rey)
Incredible Hulk II#240, p15, pan2 (Des/Tyrannus)
Incredible Hulk II#241, p5, pan3 (Prince Rey by chessboard, with various figurines depicting the pawns of They)
Incredible Hulk II#241, p9, pan1 (Prince Rey and Keeper trapped by tentacles, as their life-energies are drained)
Incredible Hulk II#242, p8, pan6 (Tyrannus dons harness to completely control Flame)
Incredible Hulk II#242, p15, pan4 (Tyrannus merged with Flame)
Marvel Team-Up I#26, p18, pan5 (first appearance of They)

Marvel Team-Up I#15 (November, 1973) - Len Wein (writer), Ross Andru (pencils), Don Perlin (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Marvel Team-Up I#19 (March, 1974) - Len Wein (writer), Gil Kane (pencils), Frank Giacoia (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Marvel Team-Up I#20 (April, 1974) - Len Wein (writer), Gil Kane (pencils), Frank Giacoia & Mike Esposito (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Marvel Team-Up I#26 (October, 1974) - Len Wein (writer), Jim Mooney (pencils), Frank Giacoia & David Hunt (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Marvel Team-Up I#28 (December, 1974) - Gerry Conway (writer), Jim Mooney (pencils), Vince Colletta (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Nova I#5 (January, 1977) - Marv Wolfman (writer/editor), Sal Buscema (pencils), Tom Palmer (inks)
Incredible Hulk II#208-209 (February-March, 1977) - Len Wein (writer/editor), Sal Buscema (pencils), Joe Staton (inks)
X-Men I#119 (March, 1979) - John Byrne & Chris Claremont (writers), John Byrne (pencils), Terry Austin (inks), Roger Stern (editor)
Incredible Hulk II#238 (August, 1979) - Roger Stern (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Jack Abel (inks), Al Milgrom (editor)
Incredible Hulk II#239 (September, 1979) - Roger Stern (writer), Sal Buscema (plot/pencils), Mike Esposito (inks), Al Milgrom (editor)
Incredible Hulk II#240 (October, 1979) - Roger Stern (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks), Al Milgrom (editor)
Incredible Hulk II#241-242 (November-December, 1979) - Roger Stern (writer), Sal Buscema (artist), Al Milgrom (editor)
Incredible Hulk II#243 (January, 1980) - Roger Stern (plot), Steven Grant (writer), Sal Buscema (artist), Al Milgrom (editor)

First Posted: 10/13/2001
Last updated: 04/05/2023

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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