Cover of Detective Comics #253
|First appearance||Detective Comics Vol 1 253|
|Created by||Dave Wood
The Terrible Trio is a group of fictional characters, DC Comics supervillains. The Trio’s first appearance was Detective Comics #253, published in March 1958. The real names of Fox, Shark and Vulture were originally Warren Lawford, Armand Lydecker and Gunther Hardwick - though these have changed over the decades.
Fictional character history
The Terrible Trio were originally three famous inventors in Gotham City, who sought new challenges by starting a criminal career. As a gimmick, they dress up in business suits while wearing cartoon masks of animals. From this, they become known as the Fox, the Shark and the Vulture. Tapping into their respective areas of expertise, they base their technology on their respective animal themes. The Trio were recurrent foes of Batman and Robin for years, but they have also battled G'nort, and, more recently, the new Doctor Mid-Nite.
A second group of Terrible Trio were a young group of thugs who took on the identities of Batman's old foes. Batman soon realized that one of the members was Lucius Fox's son, Timothy Fox (the Vulture). He and two other friends co-opted the identities of the original trio and tried to rob guests of Bruce Wayne's penthouse, but they were subdued and captured by Batman.
In the Doctor Mid-Nite mini series, the three have moved their operations to Portsmouth instead of Gotham, and have become the industrial leaders Fisk, Shackley, and Volper, heads of the investment firm Praeda Industries (Praeda meaning "spoils" or "booty", and sharing a root with the word "predator"). In this story, the Trio adopt their guises as part of rituals they perform to bring good fortune to their endeavors, calling upon the spirits of earth, air, and water. The trio attempt to cause simultaneous disasters to much of the city and its coast, leaving only the property in the worst sections of the city - which they owned and could then resell to enormous profit. As part of their plan, the Trio also operate as drug lords, selling the Venom-based steroid A39 to create an army of superstrong zombie-like soldiers. When Doctor Cross begins investigating their affairs they attempt to kill him, but succeed only in apparently blinding him (unbeknownst to them, he gains the abilities that would make him Doctor Mid-Nite). Mid-Nite foils their plans for the city, and the members of the Trio are caught and sentenced to a total of 800 years in prison.
In Detective Comics #832, published in April 2007, the presumed to be deceased Shark is named as Sherman Shackley. In this issue the Fox’s last name is Fisk and Vulture’s last name Volper, though no first names are given for either character. Here, the Shark, in an attempt to reinvent himself after suffering a psychotic breakdown - presumed to be due to substance abuse - that caused him to 'divorce' himself from his role in the Trio, fakes his own death by pulling out his own teeth and putting them in a recently deceased corpse- putting a shark's teeth in his mouth instead- and attempts to murder his partners under the alias of the 'Fourth Man', only to be stopped by Batman, who deduced the truth as nobody else could know that much about the Trio. The trio wind up in Arkham Asylum where Fox and Vulture switch their allegiance to Warren White — the "Great White Shark" — who informs Sherman that he can't be Shark anymore and that he's taking his place.
Marvel Family villains
A different version of the Terrible Trio appeared in "Marvel Family" #21. They are three monsters summoned from the Netherworld by three carnival brothers, after they can't hire the Marvel Family, but steal a book of magic instead. They draw a circle, and summon a Satyr, a Hydra, and Argus, planning to exhibit them and placing them in a cage. What they do not realise is that the monsters have to return in 24 hours unless three replacements are sent. The monsters use their strength to break out of the cage, and are able to fight their way past the Marvels who have come to investigate the spellbook's robbery, planning to send the brothers instead of themselves. However, the Marvels are able to defeat them in the second battle, then take them back to the circle. They transform into their civilian forms to meet the brothers, but when returning to the circle, they are bound and gagged by the monsters, who plan to send them back to the Netherworld. However, when lightning comes down to transport them, it instead transforms them into the Marvel Family who send the monsters back. The brothers then reveal they took footage of the fight and can use it to make money.
In other media
- In Batman: The Animated Series, the Terrible Trio are bored, rich men versions of Warren Lawford (voiced by Bill Mumy), Armand Lydecker (voiced by David Jolliffe), and Gunther Hardwick (voiced by Peter Scolari). Each of them inherited family fortunes: Lawford gets his from oil, Lydecker's father owned an aerodynamics firm, and Hardwick's father was a shipping magnate. The three turn to crime out of boredom, assuming the identities of Fox, Vulture, and Shark, reflecting the elements that gave them their fortunes. Managing to outwit the Batman and Robin in their first two encounters, they are ultimately defeated and jailed after the trio tries to kill Warren's girlfriend, Rebecca Fallbrook, who has discovered their identities after they injure her father Sheldon during a robbery of his house. Warren believes he will only get off with a light sentence, but is sentenced to do hard time at Stonegate Penitentiary. In the last scene, Warren is ushered into his cell at Stonegate. He takes in the cockroach-infested sink, his leering hulking cellmate, and backs away in terror only to bump into the bars which have slammed shut behind him.
- The Terrible Trio appear in The Batman episode "Attack of the Terrible Trio." This version of the Terrible Trio are university students and social outcasts named David (voiced by David Faustino), Justin (voiced by Googy Gress), and Amber (voiced by Grey DeLisle). Instead of costumes, they mutated by using formulas stolen from Dr. Kirk Langstrom's computer. David remade the formula and put it into dissolving patches. After applying one each, David became a therianthropic Fox, Justin became a therianthropic Shark (resembling a hammerhead shark), and Amber became a therianthropic Vulture. Throughout the episode, their schemes were mostly for amusement and vindication, rather than financial gain. One recurring theme was turning other college students (including the ones that have bullied them) into therianthropes against their will. Since Barbara Gordon went to the same college, she as Batgirl assisted Batman in combating them. After receiving a blood sample from one of their victims, Langstrom is able to provide an antidote for the mutagen. After some difficulty, Batman and Batgirl administer the antidote to Justin and Amber, respectively. David, however, was accidentally covered in a mutagenic fluid meant for several other students when Batman destroyed the mutagen detonator. This turned him into a horned Griffin-like creature. After being electrocuted by the stadium sign and presumably cured, David was sent to prison with Justin while Amber was presumably sent to a women's prison.
- The Terrible Trio appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Return of the Fearsome Fangs" with Fox voiced by Phil Morris, Vulture voiced by Edoardo Ballerini, and Shark having no dialogue. This version of the Terrible Trio are bored millionaires who become martial artists wearing masks of their totem animals. They studied at the Wudang Temple alongside Batman and Bronze Tiger. As members of the Shadow Clan, they plan to steal the Wudang Totem from the temple, first killing off the last line of defense: Master Wong Fei. Batman and Bronze Tiger end up battling them to protect the Wudang Temple. When the Terrible Trio obtains the Wudang Totem, they turn into monstrous versions of the animals they represent. Attempting to take over Hong Kong, they are stopped by Batman and Bronze Tiger who use the Wudang Totem's powers to likewise become monstrous versions of their own totem animals.
- The Terrible Trio appear in issue #11 of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold comic series. Batman and Green Arrow fight them in order to keep them from obtaining a secret weapon that would give them ultimate power.
- Green Lantern Corps Quarterly (vol. 1) #5 (December 1992)
- Batman (vol. 1) #313 (July 1979)