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Sauron is the alter ego of Karl Lykos, sharing a "Jekyll & Hyde" relationship with the physician. He is an energy vampire who resembles a humanoid pteranodon after feeding. He inhabits the hidden prehistoric jungle the Savage Land and often comes into conflict with the X-Men.


Karl Lykos was the son of an explorer's guide. As a teenager, he accompanied his father to Tierra del Fuego as the elder Lykos guided a wealthy client named Mr. Anderssen and Anderssen's young daughter, Tanya. While defending Tanya from mutant pterodactyls, Karl was bitten by one of the creatures. During his recovery, he discovered that he could now drain the life-force of other organisms. He found himself repeatedly tempted to use his new power, feeling that he needed to drain life energy from other humans or animals to survive.[1]

When Karl's father died, Mr. Anderssen took Karl into his home in return for rescuing Tanya. As the years passed, Karl and Tanya fell in love. But Tanya's wealthy father would not allow her to date Karl because of his lack of wealth. In an effort to win Mr. Anderssen's support, Karl went to medical school and became a physician, geneticist, and hypnotherapist. He treated patients through hypnosis, but secretly robbed them of energy at the same time.[2]

Dr. Lykos became a colleague of Professor Charles Xavier, and first encountered the X-Men when they sought treatment for Havok. When Lykos absorbed energy from Havok, there was a horrible side-effect: he transformed into a vampiric, pterodactyl-like monster with human intelligence and superhuman hypnotic powers. He named himself Sauron, after J.R.R. Tolkien's villain, (also reminiscent of the word saurus, Latin for lizard),[3]and battled the X-Men, as a would-be conqueror.[4] When he realized that his transformation would threaten Tanya, he fled to Tierra del Fuego. Without energy to absorb, Sauron turned back into Karl. When Tanya tracked him down, Karl threw himself off a cliff to avoid harming her.[5]

Presumed dead, Karl actually survived, merely unconscious on a ledge below. He journeyed to the Savage Land and survived in human form by only draining less developed animals. He befriended Ka-Zar and used his medical skills over many months to care for Ka-Zar's allies. But when several X-Men were stranded in the Savage Land, Lykos was overwhelmed with the desire to absorb the powerful life energy of mutants. He transformed into Sauron once again after absorbing Storm's energy.[6] He reverted back to human form during a battle with the X-Men, and Ka-Zar explained that Lykos was an ally.[7]

A notable appearance was in the first story arc of the series Marvel Fanfare (1982), written by Chris Claremont. In that story, Tanya learned that Karl had survived the leap from the cliff. She joined Angel and Peter Parker on a journey to find Karl in the Savage Land. They found Karl, however Angel, Spider-Man and Tanya were all mutated into animal-like forms — Spider-Man becoming the Man-Spider, while Tanya reverted to a Neanderthal form and Angel became part bird — as a result of the Savage Land Mutates' use of a Genetic Transformer on them. The destruction of the machine forced Lykos to drain energy from the three in an attempt to restore their true forms. Although his gambit succeeded, he subsequently reverted to his Sauron form and joined the Mutates and Zaladane. The X-Men traveled to the Savage Land, and Sauron helped to capture them. However, the X-Men escaped and defeated Sauron and the Mutates. They brought Lykos back to the United States, and at the X-Mansion Professor X seemingly cured Lykos of his condition. Karl and Tanya decided to resume their relationship and a normal life.[8]

However, Lykos was again transformed into Sauron when the Toad used a machine to drain Tanya Andersson's life force into Lykos. Sauron then joined the Toad's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, despite the fact that he is not actually a mutant himself. Alongside them, he battled X-Force, and slew Cannonball, who later revived. Sauron was apparently shot dead by Cable, and his body was thrown by Cable to the Morlocks.[9] Sauron was later revealed to have survived the gunshot wound, and battled X-Factor.[10] Sauron went on to menace the X-Men and other heroes on a number of occasions.

Sauron became a prisoner of the Weapon X program jumpstarted by director Malcolm Colcord. Being held there against his will, Sauron started up a revolution with fellow agent Brent Jackson and dethroned Colcord as director, giving that position to Jackson. Sauron in return became a more powerful villain on the team, but vanished after Weapon X rival Sublime launched an attack on Weapon X, and the group had to go underground.

Sauron held the new team of Avengers hostage when they came to the Savage Land; his colleagues had recently hired Electro to break him out of the super villain prison he'd been sent to, and the New Avengers had gone to the Savage Land to confront him about the forty-one other escapees. The team freed itself thanks to Iron Man's voice-activated armor, and were about to interrogate him, when he was shot through the head by the second Black Widow, Yelena Belova. Fortunately for Sauron, he had absorbed Wolverine's regenerative healing factor and recovered from his injury, just in time to be soundly defeated by the New Avengers. He was taken back into custody, but not before returning the favor to Black Widow by burning her with his fiery breath. Sauron was placed in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody and Maria Hill planned to return him to Weapon X.

In the Secret Invasion storyline, Sauron allied with Ka-Zar, Shanna the She-Devil, Zabu, and the natives when the Skrulls were invading the Savage Land.[11]

Sauron was among the villains analyzed by Quasimodo for Norman Osborn.[12]

Powers and abilities

In human form Karl Lykos is a normal human, although an accomplished medical doctor, geneticist, and psychotherapist employing hypnotism; he possesses an M.D. and PH.D.'s in genetics and psychology.

As the result of mutation through infection with a genetic virus by mutant pterodactyls, Lykos gained the ability to absorb the life forces of other living things into his body. When Lykos absorbs the energies of superhuman mutants, he transforms into Sauron, and gains a portion of that mutant's powers temporarily. Lykos' Sauron form resembles a large crested pterodactyl extinct except in the Savage Land. Unlike true pterodactyls, Sauron has a toothed beak and red eyes and a basically humanoid build, with legs as long as a human being's. Sauron has a wingspread of twelve feet, and razor-sharp claws on his hands and feet. In Sauron form he has superhuman strength and durability and is capable of flight. Sauron has to absorb the life energies from living victims to sustain his life; he would revert to human form if he didn't regularly absorb the life force from superhuman beings. The Toad's technology could transform Lykos into Sauron by draining life energy from Tayna Andersson, who is apparently not superhuman.

Lykos also has a powerful hypnotic ability that requires direct eye contact to complete. He frequently uses his hypnotic power to give his victims terrifying delusions that allies have become monsters. He can also mentally enslave people to do his bidding, although his control is not perfect, as Portal is resistant to his commands.

Due to manipulation by the Weapon X program, Sauron can expel the life force energy in concussive bursts from his hands.

At some point prior to his New Avengers appearances, he acquires an additional ability to breathe fire, which he uses to burn the second Black Widow in revenge for shooting him.

Other versions

"Age of Apocalypse"

In "Age of Apocalypse", Sauron, redubbed Soaron is a more heroic figure, though he is extremely bad-tempered and reclusive, and he is never seen in human form. He is a member of Forge's group of Outcasts alongside Forge, Toad, Brute, Sonique, Mastermind and Nate Grey. The group traveled the countryside posing as a circus troupe, protected by Mastermind's illusions, in order to keep attention away from them while Forge trained Nate. Soaron would often make sarcastic remarks about the situations the group found themselves in, and constantly referred to Nate as a "whelp". In a mission where the group rescued a large number of humans from a prison train, one of Soaron's wings was seared off, grounding him. He bitterly remarked about this to Forge later, demanding to know if his wing was enough reason to avoid suicidal missions.[13] When Domino and her team attacked the group, Soaron was noticeably absent, but after Nate went to challenge Mister Sinister, who had been hiding with the team attempting to manipulate Nate, Soaron and Sonique, the only survivors, arrived on the scene to save the young mutant. Nate accepted that he must challenge Apocalypse, and told Soaron to look after Sonique. Soaron replied by somewhat fondly advising him, "don't concern yourself with us, just worry about yourself, whelp."[14]

When the Age of Apocalypse was revisited, Soaron appeared along Sonique, Cloak and Dagger, Blob, and a revived Jean Grey as a member of Sinister's team known as the Sinister Six, a group meant to aid Sinister in destroying the X-Men.

Sinister found both Soaron and Sonique, and forced Jean Grey to brainwash them into becoming members of his team. When the Sinister Six met the X-Men in battle, Soaron failed in an attempt to kill Magneto. At the last moment, Quicksilver prevented his father's death by sacrificing himself. Enraged at the sight of his dead son, Magneto used his powers to thrust the Silver Samurai's sword straight through Soaron.

House of M

In the House of M universe, Sauron became a member of Magneto's palace guard on Genosha. He took part in the battle against the heroes whose memories had been restored.[15]

Power Pack (Marvel Adventures)

Sauron was the first villain faced by Logan and the Power children. The kids would have succumbed to Sauron's mind control without Wolverine's assistance.[16]

Background Information and Notes

the character was created by writer Roy Thomas and artist Neal Adams. He first fully appeared as Sauron in X-Men #60 (September 1969).

In other media


  • Sauron became a major villain in the X-Men animated T.V. series (voiced by Robert Bockstael) after they first visited the Savage Land. Unlike his psychiatrist persona, in this version Lykos was an inhabitant of the Savage Land and was mutated by Magneto, though he later became a follower of Mister Sinister. This version of Sauron did not possess the fire breath of his comic book counterpart. Despite this, he was a formidable foe in many episodes.
  • Sauron also appears in the Wolverine and the X-Men episode "Greetings from Genosha." He appears as a captive prisoner of Magneto along with Quill IV and Dust.


  • In X2, "Karl Lykos" is among the names on the files Mystique sees on Yuriko's computer.

Video games

  • Sauron appears as a boss in the original X-Men game for the Sega Genesis.
  • Sauron also surfaced as a boss in X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse voiced by John Kassir. Outside of his history with Ka-Zar, he mentions that Apocalypse's lackeys kept trying to get him to join Apocalypse's cause.
  • He makes an extremely brief appearance on a TV screen in Ultimate Spider-Man.


External links