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Membership: Living Laser (Arthur Parks), Power Man (Erik Josten), Whirlwind (David Cannon)

Purpose: Super-lackeys, hired to serve Count Nefaria

Affiliations: Dr. Hellen Rachelson, Dr. Archibald Stancheck, Professor Kenneth Sturdy, Dr. Withers

Enemies: Avengers (Beast/Henry McCoy, Black Panther/T'Challa, Captain America/Steve Rogers, Iron Man/Tony Stark, Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff, She-Hulk/Jennifer Walters, Thor/Odinson, Vision/"Victor Shade", Wasp/Janet Van Dyne, Wonder Man/Simon Williams, Yellowjacket/Henry Pym)

Base of Operations: Unrevealed;
                                  formerly Count Nefaria's uptown New York City townhouse, New York

First Appearance: Avengers I#164 (October, 1977)


(Avengers I#164 (fb) - BTS) - Following a series of humiliating defeats at the hands of the Avengers that left him virtually penniless, Italian nobleman and former Maggia leader Count Luchino Nefaria concluded he could no longer rely on others to take on the heroes. He decided to acquire superpowers for himself, but in order to do so he needed the services of Professor Kenneth Sturdy and his team. Sturdy had worked with Baron Heinrich Zemo on the ionic augmentation process that powered Wonder Man (Simon Williams) and offered to make Nefaria even more powerful than that. In order to pay Sturdy's exorbitant fee, which the professor described as a "Fuhrer's ransom", Nefaria planned to acquire super powered help. In part because he needed them to get some money, but also because Sturdy had to use super powered beings to study so he could increase and siphon their power into Nefaria.

(Avengers I#164) - Count Nefaria selected Whirlwind (Dave Cannon), Living Laser (Arthur Parks) and Power Man (Erik Josten) as the new members of his Lethal Legion. With only Power Man currently not in prison, the count sought out the down on his luck Josten and successfully tempted him to join his cause  by promising to remake him and increase his power.

(Avengers I#164 - BTS) - A few days later, Power Man executed what the papers described as a "daring raid" when he freed Whirlwind and Living Laser from prison. They both agreed to work for Nefaria as well. Their first assignment, though they were unaware of Nefaria's dire financial straits, was to rob the Union National Bank in Manhattan. As soon as the Legion entered the bank, the robbery made news. Police had the place surrounded and the Avengers were on their way as well.

(Avengers I#164) - Spotting the cops when they emerged from the bank, their hands full of stolen money, the Legion considered what to do. Power Man reminded them of Nefaria's orders to return immediately. But the bloodthirsty Living Laser announced he'd be burning some cops before he left. Before he could do so, he was struck by Captain America's shield. The star spangled Avenger was accompanied by Black Panther, Scarlet Witch, the Wasp and Yellowjacket. Seeing the heroes caused Power Man to panic, but the others were convinced they could take these Avengers because their far more powerful members like Thor and Vision were not there. Reassured, Power Man pressed the attack and landed a hit on Captain America while the Living Laser had great difficulty keeping up with the Wasp and Yellowjacket who were buzzing by him too quickly for him to accurately aim his hand lasers. Black Panther tried to take on Whirlwind, jumping the wiry villain and being surprised by his massive speed. Unable to hold on, Panther was launched into Captain America which left both heroes open to an incoming attack by the Living Laser. Without his shield to protect them, Cap feared the worst. Luckily, the Scarlet Witch used her hex powers to cause a nearby water main to shatter, dousing the Laser in a sudden, torrential surge. Realizing they were now outmanned and outgunned, the Legion decided to beat a hasty retreat. Living Laser fired a wide range beam that turned the street into a river of molten, flaming tar to cover their escape.

(Avengers I#164 - BTS) - While the Legion was fighting the Avengers, their leader Nefaria had a final meeting with Sturdy and his scientists in the laboratory located under Nefaria's upstate New York abode. They assured Nefaria everything was ready to go, provided he had the money they'd been promised. Luchino pointed out to Sturdy and the others that his accomplices were taking care of it that very moment.

(Avengers I#164) - The Legion successfully eluded the Avengers and the authorities, returning with their loot to Nefaria's townhouse. They noticed how run down the place looked: the furniture was dusty and there was no serving staff. Living Laser griped about the fact he was more than a petty bank robber, while Whirlwind concluded that Nefaria must be broke and had been using them to get rich quick, which angrily made him wonder what made Nefaria think he was big enough to boss him around. Power Man tried to keep them in check by explaining what Nefaria had promised to do for them. Whirlwind remained sceptical and defiantly claimed that maybe Power Man needed Nefaria to help him get his name and self-respect back, but Whirlwind had never lost his (see comments). Nefaria interrupted the argument, appearing on a videoscreen to tell the Legion he was ready for them downstairs.

(Avengers I#166 (fb) ) - The Lethal Legion were unaware what was going on when they entered the underground lab and Sturdy and his staff started to work on them. They believed Nefaria when he told them the proposed procedure would increase their powers substantially. While it did do that, that was only a temporary effect of the actual process. Sturdy had their cell structures analyzed to make energy templates with which he could duplicate their powers into Nefaria's body, only a hundred times stronger. After Sturdy had finished his work, the Lethal Legion felt thoroughly energized, cock-sure and eager for a rematch with the Avengers. Nefaria allowed them to go, knowing full well they'd soon run out of steam.

(Avengers I#164) - Brash and overconfident, the Lethal Legion arrived at Avengers Mansion. To announce their presence, Power Man threw a car at the part of the abode the team happened to be having their weekly meeting. The vehicle injured the Wasp and rattled the others, surprised by the audacity of their old enemies. Wonder Man was the first to face them and quickly learned that Power Man was no longer a pale copy of him when Josten easily matched him blow for blow. His already fragile self-confidence shattered, Wonder Man hesitated and froze up in the midst of battle. One of the Scarlet Witch's quick hexes briefly knocked the Legion off their feet, allowing Beast to go help his teammate. He faced Whirlwind, who boasted about his increased speed when Beast jumped on his back. The Avenger managed to hold on, even after Whirlwind spun around at top speeds. However, the experience left McCoy so dizzy he couldn't resist Power Man who grabbed the furry blue Avenger and threw him into the air. Next, Power Man was faced by Yellowjacket (Hank Pym) who was furious at him for hurting his wife. Pym zapped the villain with his sonic disruptor blasts that actually managed to hurt him. When Power Man grabbed a massive piece of rock to try and smash Yellowjacket, he suddenly felt his power giving out, causing him to be pinned down under his intended projectile. Moments later, Living Laser experienced a similar loss of power fighting Black Panther followed by Whirlwind who found he was so tired he couldn't spin anymore, making him an easy target for the Scarlet Witch who hit him with a hexed up garden bench. Puzzled by the Legion's sudden defeat, the Avengers learned what had happened to them when a newly empowered Count Nefaria made his presence known by creating a sidewalk smashing shockwave merely by stomping his foot.

(Avengers I#165 - BTS) - The three villains remained unconscious throughout the ferocious fight that followed. Some time after the Avengers' initial confrontation against Count Nefaria, the drained, powerless members of the Lethal Legion were arrested by the police.

Comments: Created by Jim Shooter (writer), John Byrne (pencils), Pablo Marcos (inks).

Fond as I am of these individual villains, you can't exactly call this threesome particularly lethal, let alone legion. Still, Nefaria was almost unstoppable with just their powers, imagine if he'd recruited another five baddies.

Even though a far more fitting codename for this troika would be The Three Stooges, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the effort Jim Shooter put into giving the villains a bit of personality. Living Laser is a cold blooded killer who considers himself too good for any of this, while Power Man comes across as rather insecure and eager to follow someone with vision who tells him what to do. At the same time, Whirlwind is supremely confident to the point of arrogance. These were all relatively new character traits that other writers would run with.

Kurt Busiek remembered Power Man's need to follow a strong leader when he cast him as Atlas in Thunderbolts. Steve Englehart used the cocky, mocking Whirlwind to great effect in West Coast Avengers II#16 when Cannon's barbs demoralized Hank Pym that he was driven to attempt suicide. And the Living Laser eventually lost all his humanity when he became, well, a living laser... but he didn't seem to mind that too much. After all it finally elevated him above the pedestrian hum-drum tasks he deemed himself too good for to begin with.

Profile by Norvo.

Lethal Legion should not be confused with

images: (without ads)
Avengers I#164, p10, pan1 (main image)
Avengers I#166, p9, pan7 (empowered by Nefaria and Sturdy)
Avengers I#164, p7, pans2-3 (scared to face the Avengers)
Avengers I#164, p17, pans1-4 (suffer power loss)

Avengers I#164 (October, 1977) - Jim Shooter (writer), John Byrne (pencils), Pablo Marcos (inks), Archie Goodwin (editor)
Avengers I#165 (November, 1977) - Jim Shooter (writer), John Byrne (pencils), Pablo Marcos (inks), Archie Goodwin (editor)
Avengers I#166 (December, 1977) - Jim Shooter (writer), John Byrne (pencils), Pablo Marcos (inks), Archie Goodwin (editor)

First Posted: 12/22/2015
Last updated: 12/22/2015

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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