Sun, Ho, Chang, Lin, Han Tao-Yu
Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #250 (unnamed),
Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions #1 (fully introduced)
Mary (mother, deceased)
government agent, former revolutionary and attempted crime boss
People’s Defense Force, formerly 3-Peace
• Bio-synchronization enables the brothers to meld bodies and minds, maintaining telepathic contact with each other, able to teleport into each other’s presence, and merge into a collective form with up to five times the strength, speed, agility, endurance, reflexes, and durability of an individual brother, can also bio-synchronize with other Chinese people, drawing knowledge from their minds, temporarily manifesting the physical strength of up to 1 billion people at once, transform other people into duplicates of the Collective Man, and absorb their bodies and mass to grow to enormous size
The five Tao-Yu brothers were quintuplets born in the city of Wuhan in the People’s Republic of China. The brothers’ mutant powers were detected at an early age and they were removed from their mother by the state to be raised as agents of the people. [Marvel Comics Presents (1st series) #55] Twenty years later, they became active as the Collective Man, one of the first official super-heroes of China. On his first recorded mission, the Collective Man assisted the People’s army in repelling the Silver Surfer when he invaded Chinese airspace. [Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #250]
Not long thereafter, the Collective Man was subduing a group of criminals on the streets of China when he was teleported to a vast cosmic arena orbiting the Earth, along with every other being on the planet answering to the title of “super-hero.” Their hosts were the Elder of the Universe known as the Grandmaster and a being simply answering to “The Unknown”. The Grandmaster wished to wage a game with the Unknown to win back the life of his deceased brother, the Collector, and they had chosen the heroes of Earth as their pawns. In a scavenger hunt of epic proportions, each player chose twelve champions to compete against each other to retrieve four pieces of the Golden Globe of Life. The Collective Man was chosen by the Unknown for her champions and, as an added incentive, the Unknown promised to extend the lifespan of Earth’s sun for a million years should her team win the contest. [Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions #1]
The Collective Man was transported to South America with Storm and Shamrock on behalf of the Unknown. There, he was pitted against Sasquatch from Canada. Although the brothers Tao-Yu merged into one being, even the strength of five men was nothing against Alpha Flight’s powerhouse. Pinned to the ground by Sasquatch, the Collective Man summoned the strength of ten thousand of his countrymen and, with a single flex of their collective muscle, he hurled his massive opponent from sight. The Collective Man passed out from the strain, but his team ultimately won the contest. As the game between the Unknown and Grandmaster ended, the heroes of Earth were returned to their proper homelands. [Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions #3] Despite national rivalries, Collective Man remained on good terms with his fellow heroes in America and elsewhere. When Bruce Banner gained full control over the Hulk and was pardoned for his crimes, Collective Man attended the ceremony and parade in his honor in New York City with heroes from around the globe. [Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #279]
For decades, the Tao-Yu brothers labored under the delusion that their mother voluntarily gave them over to the state and wanted no further contact with them. While she tried to write to them at the military barracks where they were housed, the state censored all of her letters over the years. Finally, Mary Tao-Yu’s handmaiden Pokou managed to smuggle an uncensored letter in for the Collective Man to read and the brothers learned how they were taken from their mother by the state against her will. Worse, they learned she was dying and wished to see them once more before she passed. Lin Tao-Yu asserted they must honor their mother’s wishes and return to her. Sun Tao-Yu worried how their government handlers would react to this show of independence, but ultimately the brothers agreed to make the journey at any cost.
Sun was correct in part, as the Chinese military refused the Collective Man’s request to leave the base for anything other than a mission of the People. The base commander even called forth armed men and tanks to force the Collective Man back to his quarters. Four of the brothers distracted Colonel Pong while Han Tao-Yu snuck around to the base’s helicopter and prepped it for takeoff. Once Han was done, the other brothers transported to his position and escaped aboard the chopper. They arrived in their mother’s village in time, but were opposed by another agent of the state, Ho Ti, self-proclaimed “god of happiness.” The enormous deity sought to prevent the brothers from seeing their mother and weakening their loyalty to the state. Four brothers merged to do battle with Ho Ti, while Lin Tao-Yu rushed to his mother’s side in her final moments. As the battle raged on, one by one each brother transported away from their collective form to appear with Lin at Mary’s bedside, making the Collective Man progressively weaker in the fight against Ho Ti. Finally, Ho transported away from the battle at the last moment, and the five brothers assembled before their mother to witness her passing. [Marvel Comics Presents (1st series) #55]
The Collective Man’s relationship with the state became strained after they learned their government had lied to them for years about their mother, and they broke from their Communist masters to operate as revolutionaries. The brothers united with two other Chinese superhumans, Nuwa and Jade Dragon, as the team called 3-Peace. They intended to foment discontent among the Chinese people and forge a new government free from Communist control. Towards this end, they intended to free their mutant brothers who were being held indefinitely at an internment center at an unknown location. An alliance was forged with Reignfire and his Mutant Liberation Front to reach what Tao-yu and the others believed was a mutual goal. In the end, however, Reignfire betrayed 3-Peace to the Chinese government, backing the side best suited to help him on his own pursuit of power. Collective Man and his teammates only escaped from the MLF and Chinese army because Reignfire’s partner, Moonstar, allowed them to get past her and live to fight another day. [X-Force Annual (1st series) #3]
Sometime later, Collective Man was used as a pawn by a cabal of gods trapped on Earth known as the Everlasting. The fallen god named Marduk sought the souls of men to fuel his Genesis Well and restore the full godhood which was taken from him centuries ago. The Collective Man’s unique connection to the people of China proved quite useful, as Marduk and his agent Aqhat increased the mutant’s power uncontrollably so that he began actively draining life-force from his countrymen, putting all of China in a comatose state. The Collective Man grew to over 80 feet tall and 11 metric tons of mass and rising. The Everlasting planned for Tao-Yu to reach his maximum size before exploding and releasing the soul energy for the Genesis Well, killing all of China in the process. Left with no other recourse, Citizen V of the V-Battalion used the adamantium edge of his blade to “pop” the Collective Man early, causing him to erupt into pieces that continued to rain down on Beijing for fifteen minutes before he was completely dispersed. His early end kept the Everlasting from drawing upon the full life-energy of China and the Chinese people were able to recover.
The V-Battalion, never ones to waste an asset, gathered up the Collective Man’s meaty remains aboard the Vanguard ship and fashioned them into a technological conduit codenamed “Sleeping Giant.” This weapon could be adjusted for different nationalities, using what remained of Collective Man’s flesh to drain energy and put an entire country to sleep on command. [Citizen V and the V-Battalion: The Everlasting #2-3] A few weeks later, the Vanguard was caught in a trans-spatial void connecting the Earth to Counter-Earth, a doppelganger planet in orbit on the opposite side of the sun. The planets on both sides of the link were being pulled into a white hole event in the center of the anomaly. The Thunderbolts managed to prevent the white hole from consuming both worlds, but the Vanguard (presumably with Collective Man’s remains still on board) imploded into the void and was wiped from the surface of the Earth. [Thunderbolts (1st series) #73-75]
Despite this setback, the Collective Man soon resurfaced, once again serving with Chinese army and the Communist government of the People’s Republic. When a massive gravimetric and electromagnetic anomaly went off near a Chinese military base, the Collective Man split his attention between investigating the mystery event and defending the base from attack, and ended up running afoul of the X-Men at both locations. By this point in his career, the Collective Man’s abilities had expanded so that he could increase his manpower to far more than five by transforming other Chinese in duplicate bodies for himself. Drawing upon his military comrades, the Collective Man attempted to overwhelm the X-Men by sheer numbers. In one battle, Polaris merely levitated all the Collective Men out of the way, but the fight with Juggernaut and Iceman became much more physical. The Collective Man merged the bodies of his collective together, increasing his mass to become a giant. The Juggernaut proved to be a daunting foe even at 1/10th of Tao-Yu’s size, however, and once Iceman cryomorphed with a lake to become a giant of equal size, the Collective Man was overpowered and defeated. [X-Men (2nd series) #159-160]
The Collective Man was tasked by the Chinese government with killing Cable when Dayspring began flaunting his power on the international stage, but the situation resolved itself before he had the chance to get involved. [Cable/Deadpool #8]
Following the events of M-Day, the Collective Man was “one” of the few hundred mutants still active after the Decimation. For reasons of his own, he made his way to America and took up residence at the X-Mansion in the reservation center O*N*E arranged for the 198. [X-Men (2nd series) #183] Why he chose to congregate in America instead of China is unknown. He eventually participated in the jailbreak on the reservation when X-Force arrived to free the 198 from O*N*E’s heavy handed supervision. [Civil War: X-Men #1, 4]
Whatever his reasons for leaving China, the Collective Man eventually resolved them and returned to government employment. For a time, he operated from China’s American embassy in Washington D.C. before returning home. [Thunderbolts: International Incident #1] He and his comrade the Radioactive Man were soon organized with other national heroes to operate as the People’s Defense Force. They were dispatched to the Tibetan mountain range when the deposed Inhuman king known only as the Unspoken rose up against mankind. The People’s Defense Force allied themselves with the Avengers to prevent the Unspoken from using the Slave Engine to released devolving clouds of Xerogen Mist over all of humanity. [Mighty Avengers (1st series) #27-31]
Recently, the Collective Man arrived in San Francisco and took an interest in the city’s Chinatown. Learning that Wolverine had somehow become Black Dragon of the local tongs, he decided to oust the gweilo and take control of Chinatown for the people. The Collective Man murdered several of the Black Dragon’s lieutenants in an effort to draw out Wolverine, but failed because Logan was quarantined on Utopia due to Sublime’s mutant flu attack. Instead, he faced off against the remaining unexposed X-Men still active in San Francisco. The five Tao-Yu brothers held their ground against five trained X-Men but, in the end, the coordinated teamwork of the X-Men proved stronger than the unity of the collective. The Collective Man was knocked unconscious and turned over to the police. At this time, it is unknown if he was extradited back to China or remains in America. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #529-532]
Collective Addendum for the Collective Man
The Collective Man’s resurrection after the Everlasting affair was unexplained and nothing short of miraculous. His body had exploded into countless tiny pieces, preserved in separate jars and vats, then the pieces cast into the event horizon of a white hole and obliterated from reality, yet he returned unscathed. A possible explanation was inferred in Cable/Deadpool #8, when Cable specifically mentioned Collective Man had the power to split into FOUR bodies instead of five, suggesting that the Collective Man who died in Citizen V and the V-Battalion: The Everlasting #2 was only ONE of the Tao-Yu brothers. A full set of five Collective Men has appeared several times since then, however, negating the possible explanation.
Government agent, revolutionary, crime boss – Collective Man’s personality and motivations have been inconsistently portrayed over the years. Since he is in fact five separate people, it is possible Collective Man’s different modus operandi could be accounted for by the different views of the Tao-Yu brothers. To date, however, Marvel Comics Presents (1st series) #55 is the only story to explicitly address the idea of different views and personalities among the brothers – they have spoken and acted completely in unison on all other occasions.
The Collective Man’s limitation that they can only synchronize with the people of China is likely purely psychological, a consequence of their strict upbringing by the Communist state of the People’s Republic of China. The Collective Man presumably has the potential to draw upon the power of all people, not just the people of China. Additionally, it has not been clarified exactly how the Collective Man’s limitation functions…questions about whether he can synchronize with Chinese Americans, non-native citizens of China, or Chinese people outside the borders of China itself have not been addressed.