COPPERHEAD

Real Name: Lawrence Chesney

Identity/Class: Human, technology user; later demon or undead magic user

Occupation: former art restorer (employed at Metropolitan Museum of Art);
later serial killer, later agent of a demon

Group Membership: Leader of the Gang of Four (Stilt-Man (Wilbur Day), Owl, Gladiator (Wylie Lemick) )

Affiliations: Agent of an unidentified demon;
former co-worker of Arthur Reynolds

Enemies: Daredevil; Spider-Man (Peter Parker); the Kingpin (Wilson Fisk); the Owl (former) petty criminals; Chester Chino (deceased); Walter Krantz (deceased); Milton Wexler (deceased); Martin Foster

Known Relatives: ? Chesney (father, deceased)

Aliases: None

Place of Birth: New York City, New York

Base of Operations: New York City; presumably an unnamed "hell" dimension

Extent of Education: Presumed art degree

First Appearance: Daredevil I#124 (August, 1975)

Powers/Abilities: Initially, Lawrence Chesney used a set of weaponry modeled after that of the pulp hero Copperhead. Chesney wore a bulletproof suit of copper armor which granted him superhuman strength, around the Enhanced Human level, and greatly increased his resistance to blunt injury. The suit had no insulation against electrical or other energy assaults, however. The suit apparently contained a voice alteration device causing Chesney to speak with a pronounced hiss. Chesney also carried pneumatically-powered copper pistols, from which he fired copperhead-venom or tranquilizer darts, and could use the pneumatic capsules from his weaponry to blow open locks.

After becoming a supernaturally-powered being, Chesney had undefined mystical powers. He could apparently strike bargains with others and alter their physical and psychological attributes, raise the dead as zombies, and cause mental anguish and hallucinations in others. It is unclear whether or not he has greater powers allowing him to manipulate matter and energy because of his ability to cause hallucinations. He could also open portals to a hell-like dimension.

Height: (human) 6'; (demon) 6' 6"
Weight: (human) 225 lbs.; (demon) 111 lbs.
Eyes: (human) Brown; (demon) yellow
Hair: (human) Brown; (demon) none

 

 

History: (Daredevil I#124-125) - Lawrence Chesney's father was the model for the painted covers of a series of pulp novels centering around the vigilante Copperhead. In the stories, Copperhead was Richard Crandall, a socialite disfigured by acid who then created the equipment and weaponry of Copperhead. Crandall occasionally killed criminals in self-defense, and leaving pennies on their eyes. Chesney's father gradually went insane, and identified himself with the fictional vigilante. Lawrence Chesney grew up listening to and believing his father's tales of being the Copperhead, and of being cheated out of the money from the pulp novels.

(Human Fly#9 (fb) - BTS) - Lawrence Chesney grew up to work at an art museum, restoring great works of the past.

(Daredevil I#124-125) - At some point, publisher Martin Foster struck a deal with the publisher and author of the Copperhead stories, Milton Wexler and Walter Krantz, to reprint the stories in paperback form. Chesney, hearing of this, decided to take on the identity of Copperhead to seek vengeance. Outfitted as Copperhead, Chesney murdered Krantz, and also began imitating the vigilante character by killing various petty criminals in New York City, leaving pennies on their eyes. This attracted the attention of Daredevil, who began investigating the killings and soon found himself battling Copperhead after the latter started murdering members of two youth gangs. Daredevil could not harm Copperhead through his armor, and Copperhead swiftly beat him and fired poison darts at his prone form.

Daredevil managed to surreptitiously block the darts with his billy club, but he was too late to prevent Copperhead from killing Wexler. After searching through Wexler's notes, Daredevil considered Chesney's father a suspect, only to find his grave. Having overheard Copperhead mention the new paperback reprints, Daredevil arrived at Martin Foster's office in time to save the publisher, but was again beaten and left for dead by Copperhead. Trailing the madman to his father's grave during a convenient thunderstorm, Daredevil confronted him with his origin. Copperhead was again beating Daredevil when he was struck by lightning attracted by his copper armor (oh, the irony!). Copperhead fell atop his father's grave, and Daredevil laid pennies on his eyes.

(OHotMU 2006#3 - BTS) - After his death, Copperhead became the agent of an unnamed demon, and was sent back to Earth to get Spider-Man's soul. He concocted an elaborate plan, recruiting Daredevil and Spider-Man's old foe the Owl. The Owl in turn recruited Daredevil's foes the Stilt-Man and the Gladiator, and the Gang of Four launched an attempt to take over the Kingpin's criminal operations in New York City.

(Daredevil/Spider-Man#1-4) - Copperhead was a part of the assault on Kingpin Tower that nearly killed the Kingpin and attracted Spider-Man's attention. The Kingpin also hired Matt Murdock, and manipulated Daredevil into going after the Gang of Four with Spider-Man. Daredevil and Spider-Man traced the Gang to a sewer base, and battled the four members there until the Kingpin's men arrived. The crimefighters, the mobsters, and the super-villains battled for a time, but a gas main explosion ended the battle. Finally, Copperhead revealed his nature to the Gang of Four and the heroes, trapping the Stilt-Man and Gladiator in mystic energy and tormenting them, as well as unleashing a massive display of power above the city. Spider-Man tried to free the Stilt-Man and Gladiator, only to be assaulted by mental anguish and hallucinations. Copperhead began taunting Daredevil, explaining his plans to the hero, and prepared to suck everyone into "hell." Before he could do so, however, the Owl attacked him to save Daredevil, who had once tried to redeem the villain. The entire Gang of Four was apparently pulled into "hell," leaving Spider-Man and Daredevil to wonder what had really happened.

 

(Dark Reign Files) - Quasimodo researched Copperhead for Norman Osborn.

Comments: Created by Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, and Gene "the Dean" Colan;
modified into a demonic being by Paul Jenkins and Phil Winslade

The pulp version of Copperhead is an homage to three actual pulp heroes, the Shadow (from whom Copperhead derives his hat and trench coat), the Black Bat (who was also scarred by acid and became a crimefighter), and Doc Savage (whose copper skin tone got him the nickname "The Man of Bronze").

I've read and reread Daredevil/Spider-Man over and over, and I still can't completely figure out what's going on. Copperhead and the others are changed for no apparent reason, and his plan makes no sense to me. It had some nice Spidey/DD interplay, though. 

The Gladiator is not the original, Melvin Potter, rather he is the newer version, Potter's successor.  This along with his physical statistics were revealed in the Marvel Knights Encyclopedia.

Profile updated/edited by Kyle Sims

Clarifications:
Copperhead is based on:

Gladiator, the successor, @ Daredevil I#366 should not be confused with:


Appearances:
Daredevil I#124 (August, 1975) - Len Wein & Marv Wolfman (writers), Gene Colan (pencils), Klaus Janson (inks), Len Wein (editor)
Daredevil I#125 (September, 1975) - Marv Wolfman (writer), Bob Brown (pencils), Klaus Janson (inks), Len Wein (editor)
Human Fly#9 (May, 1978) - Bill Mantlo (writer), Frank Robbins (pencils), Mike Esposito (inks), Archie Goodwin (editor)
Daredevil/Spider-Man#1-4 (January-April, 2001) - Paul Jenkins (writer), Phil Winslade (pencils), Tom Palmer (inks), Nanci Dakesian & Stuart Moore (#2-4) (editors)
Dark Reign Files (February, 2009) - Michael Hoskin & various others (writer), Jeff Youngquist (editor)


Last updated: 03/10/11

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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