Real Name: Josué Koulèv
Identity/Class: Human magic user
Occupation: Zobop (false god), ruler of a superstitious group of Haitians
Group Membership: The Council of Vaudou
Affiliations: Bambu (former servant), the Set-spawn Damballah, Mambo Legba and the Council Supreme (leaders of the world's mystic cults), Taboo
Enemies: Brother Voodoo (Daniel Drumm), Brother Voodoo (Daniel and Jericho Drumm), Lilia Calderu, Fong Lee (Council Supreme), Wanda Maximoff, Laura Maria Russoff, Margali Szardos, Papa Jambo
Known Relatives: None
Aliases: The Serpent God
Base of Operations: Port-au-Prince, Haiti
First Appearance: Strange Tales I#169 (September, 1973)
Powers: He used an Amulet (a Wangal, carved from mystic stone) to control snakes and possibly other reptiles, and to increase his influence over others. Much of his power was in the belief of others that he actually was the voodoo god Damballah given human form. This power could cause those who feared and believed in him to die from fear, feel pain from sympathetic magic (voodoo dolls), or believe themselves to be catching on fire, etc.
(Strange Tales I#169 (fb) - BTS / Dr. Strange II#48 (fb) - BTS) - Damballah (the spawn of Set), posing as the Voodoo god by the same name, gained a follower in a Haitian voodoo practitioner, who convinced others that he was actually the Voodoo god Damballah. The Set-spawn Damballah gave the human Damballah a Wangal (magical amulet or talisman), which granted the human powers, but put him partially under the Set-spawn's influence.
(Mystic Arcana: Scarlet Witch#1/2 (fb) - BTS) - Taboo slew the most faithful acolyte of Josué Koulèv, knowing this would bring Damballah to him.
(Mystic Arcana: Scarlet Witch#1/2) - Damballah confronted Taboo, who used an illusion to make the acolyte's decapitated head appear to be a gourd upon which he had cast an illusion of the acolyte's head. Taboo then showed Damballah the coven's plans, gaining Damballah's interest via the presence of the Serpent Crown. Taboo transported them to Castle Russoff, and Damballah attempted to wrest the Crown from her head; failing that he drew his sword and prepared to cleave her head off. Laura Maria reanimated the dead to oppose them, but Damballah then unleashed his snakes against her. Gregory activated the Lunar Pendant, transformed into a werewolf, and attacked Damballah's serpents. The struggle was interrupted by Chthon, who communicated to them from his own realm, banished the Serpent Crown back to its resting place and Damballah back to Haiti (to prevent Set's influence from affecting Wanda, for whom he had plans).
(Strange Tales I#169(fb2)) - He suddenly
appeared in villages outside of the capital city of Haiti. He
quickly convinced others that he was the incarnation of the
serpent god Damballah, and taught them the true meaning of fear.
He used this power over the people to manipulate them to his ends,
driving them deep into spiritual darkness.
Daniel Drumm, the Hougan (voodoo priest) of Haiti, known as Brother Voodoo, confronted Damballah, calling him a false god and accused him of practicing black magic. After a heated argument, Daniel struck Damballah, knocking him down. Damballah swore revenge, and carved a doll in Daniel's image, and cast his Wanga (fatal spell). Soon Daniel began to grow weaker and more sick, so that he was bedridden within days.
(Strange Tales#169 (fb) + 170 (fb)) - Jericho Drumm returned to Haiti and attempted to use his medical training to treat Daniel. It was to no avail, and at the stroke of midnight, Damballah stuck a needle in his doll of Daniel, and Daniel died. Jericho attempted to attack Damballah, who easily knocked him back and beat him senseless. Jericho then sought out the man who had trained Daniel, Papa Jambo, and was trained under him. Jambo bound Daniel's spirit to Jericho, and he became the new Brother Voodoo.
Damballah gathered together the Council
Supreme, and proclaimed himself Voodoo master of the world. One
of the Council members, Fong Lee, scoffed at him, but Damballah
made him feel that he was beign attacked by a fire-breathing
dragon, and Fong Lee combusted. This frightened the other members
into agreeing to serve Damballah.
Jericho, the new Brother Voodoo confronted Damballah, who sent his allies in the Council to attack him. However, his doubled strength allowed Brother Voodoo to overcome his attackers and attack Damballah directly. Brother Voodoo fought Damballah's efforts to make him feel weak, and succeeded in knocking him back. Damballah then summoned a large snake to attack Brother Voodoo, who overpowered and killed it. Damballah then summoned a large number of venomous snakes, but Brother Voodoo's mental control halted them as he and Damballah vied for control of them. Brother Voodoo sent the spirit of Daniel to possess a member of the Council, who tore the Amulet from Damballah's neck, thus removing most of his power. The snakes then swarmed over Damballah, quickly killing him.
Council Supreme was composed of the leaders of Dark Cults from across
the world. Only a few were named.--Strange Tales I#170
Mambo Legba (far left) was apparently a Haitian sorceress as well. Her abilities were not seen, but was quite strong physically, able to lift a large rock over her head.
Fong Lee (second to the right) was likely of Chinese origin. He dismissed Damballah's claim as master, but fell before his power, and burned to death while believing himself to be under attack by a fire breathing dragon.
Comments: Created by Len Wein and Gene Colan.
In Ian McNee's reading of the First Tarot, he put together a Catalogue of Correspondences in which Mamba Legba corresponded to Gaea
I'm not so up on my voodoo, so let me know if my terminology and/or interpretations are off.
Clarifications: This Damballah obviously
takes his name (derived his power) from:
With respect to the two mythic Damballahs, Carycomix suggests: "The one who acted as eponym and power source for Brother Voodoo's first major bad guy was spawned by the Elder God Set. Set was probably trying to steal worshipers from the real Damballah, the same way some of his were stolen by Seth of Heliopolis! According to an issue of 'Nightmask' (one of the Marvel New Universe books that came out in the 1980's), the real Damballah was seen by his Afro-Caribbean worshipers as benevolent.", to which Snood replies: "It's name was Damballah at least as far back as 10000 BC, which is earlier than I might expect the African Gods to have been around. Perhaps the African Damballah stole the Set-spawn's thunder, much the way Seth did to Set." Carycomix replies that "If so, then Set's kid may have had another name. Perhaps, the Stygian equivalent of Apophis? According to the STARGATE: SG-1 website, the symbol for the actual Apophis of Egyptian mythology was a snake!"
Damballah's Amulet should be distinguished from:
Mambo Legba presumably takes her name from:
Strange Tales I#169-170 (September-October, 1973) - Len Wein (writer), Gene Colan (pencils), Dan Adkins (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Mystic Arcana: Scarlet Witch#1/2 (October, 2007) - Jeff Parker (writer), Juan Santacruz (penciler), Raul Fernandez (inker), Nathan Cosby (assistant editor), Mark Paniccia (editor)
First posted: 10/25/2001
Last updated: 06/08/2018
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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