No other character quite captures the "anything goes" vibe of the late '60's UNCANNY X-MEN comics quite like Sauron. Yep, Sauron: a brilliant doctor with vampiric energy draining powers and a hypnotic stare that transforms into a jean shorts-wearing Pteranodon named after a J.R.R. Tolkien villain. Did you catch all that? When he's not bringing death to the X-Men from above, Dr. Karl Lykos tends to spend most of his time terrorizing the Savage Land, a patch of land in Antarctica gifted with a tropical climate and plenty of dinosaurs. Warning: when you talk about Sauron, you're gonna end up talking about some of the crazier – and therefore most awesome – parts of the Marvel Universe.
Karl Lykos first appeared 45 years ago this month in UNCANNY X-MEN #59 by Roy Thomas and Neal Adams. His cameo on the action-packed issue's last page only hinted at the character's bonkers-ness. With Havok gravely injured after a big battle with the Sentinels, the X-Men had no other choice than ring up one of Professor X's colleagues for help.
Calmly chatting on the phone while a man struggles with a mysterious, torturous looking machine? You know how to make a shadowy entrance, Lykos!
The X-Men's high-flying foe turned up on the cover for the next issue, teasing Dr. Lykos' impending dark transformation. The story picks up with Cyclops and Jean Grey dropping off a gravely injured Havok at the not-so-good doctor's office. The incognito X-Men pass one of Lykos' patients on their way in.
Once Lykos realized that he had a mutant in his clutches, he quickly sent his nurse home and closed his office. As Karl wrestled with the overwhelming desire to use his energy-draining powers on a mutant, he flashed back to his childhood spent traveling Tierra del Fuego with his father, an explorer's guide.
When the daughter of their companion became lost, young Karl set out to find young Tanya. He did not, however, expect to come across a nest of Pteranodons. Should have come prepared, Karl! Anything can happen in the Marvel Universe!
The ancient beasts attacked and scratched little Lykos, leaving him in a coma. When he awoke, he discovered that he could drain the life force from living beings just by touching them. That's not the only bummer, either. Tanya's dad would not allow her to date anyone without means to provide for her, so Karl drove himself to become one of the best doctors around. Too bad about that whole energy-draining thing…
Back in the present, Lykos gave into his hunger and fed on Havok, thus transforming him into a humanoid version of the very creature that attacked him all those years ago.
Yeah, there's your answer in case you were wondering about the "Lord of the Rings" swipe.
Sauron went on a crime spree, leading reporters to assume mutants had performed the dirty deeds. The X-Men's own avenging Angel took to the skies to find the real culprit, and immediately crossed Sauron's path. He then immediately fell victim to Sauron's hypotonic powers.
Since throwing down against the mutant team in the '60's, Sauron has gone on to become a member of both the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and the Weapon X program. He even put his extensive education to use as an instructor at the Hellfire Academy.
Check out more of Sauron's adventures on Marvel Unlimited!