CULT OF KÂLI

Membership: Balinor, Dahar, Jekin, Kâli, Amir Khan, Krago, Nekra, Nemah, Raga-Shah, Satma, Shaya, the Shroud, Ushas, Yannroth
Dacoits, Phansigars/Thugees

Purpose: Worship of Kâli, ritual murder

Affiliations: Fah Lo Suee, Fu Manchu, Kâli, Lassiter, Order of the Golden Dawn, Si-Fan, Zaran

Enemies: Laura Brown, Cult of Shiva, Deathtoll, Dry Academy, Firefly, Shan Greville, Jerry Hunt, Iron Fist, Kâramanèh, Bart Kerrigan, Man-Thing, Tony McKay, Moon Knight, Detective-sargeant Murphy, Ninja, Dr. Petrie, Henry Pym, Shang-Chi, Shanna, S.H.I.E.L.D., the Shroud, Jakuna Singh, Sir Denis Nayland Smith, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew), Alan Sterling, Colleen Wing, Professor Wing

Base of Operations: Mobile, including Nepal; India; Burma; England; California; Shriver Cove, Massachusetts; New York

First Appearance: (novels) The Mystery of Fu-Manchu (1913); (comics) Master of Kung Fu I#18 (June, 1974)

History: (Real world history) - The worship of Kâli through secret societies stretches back to at least the 12th century, although its members claimed to have been around since the 8th century. Concentrated in India and Burma, worshippers called Phansigars were treated as legitimate workers as they claimed the lives of others to worship Kâli.

(Marvel Premiere#22 (fb)) - The Book of Many Things, a mystical tome from K'un-L'un, fell into the hands of the Cult of Kara-Kai, worshippers of Kâli. They called it "the Sacred Volume of Kâli" and placed the tome upon a statue of Kâli, considering it a sacred relic. Eventually, the temple fell to ruin and was buried.

(Real world history) - In the 19th century, the British Empire set about to eliminate the Phansigars and Thugees in India. The last known Phansigar was hung in 1882.

(The Devil Doctor (fb)) - Unknown to the populace at large, however, some of the Phansigars and Dacoits survived, and allied themselves with Fu Manchu, the president of the Si-Fan.

(The Mystery of Fu-Manchu) - Fu Manchu brought 7 Dacoits and at least 1 Phansigar with him to England, as he began to assassinate important men in politics and science. They were opposed by Sir Denis Nayland Smith, Dr. Petrie, and Fu Manchu's own servant Kâramanèh, who slew at least 3 of the Dacoits herself. Ultimately, all of the Dacoits and the Phansigar were slain, and Fu Manchu's plot was foiled.

(The Devil Doctor) - Fu Manchu employed several Dacoits and at least one Thugee during his next mission, and attempted to have his Dacoits slay Dr. Petrie with a death-adder, but they were stopped by Nayland Smith. After Fu Manchu was apparently slain by Kâramanèh, a Thugee garbed as a mummy attempted to have revenge upon her, Petrie and Smith as they traveled aboard a ship, but he was slain while hiding in the ship's chain locker, and was plunged into the ocean when the ship lowered its anchor.

(The Daughter of Fu Manchu) - In 1930, Fah Lo Suee briefly usurped leadership of the Si-Fan from Fu Manchu, and exploited the beliefs of her father's Dacoit and Thugee followers, assuming a garb similar to that of Kâli. Fah Lo Suee met with members of the Si-Fan's Council of Seven in Egypt, where they were spied upon by Shan Greville and Nayland Smith. Fah Lo Suee had her Dacoits capture Greville, and hypnotized him into providing her with information. When Fu Manchu returned to resume control of the Si-Fan, the Dacoits and Thugees deferred to his leadership.

(The Mask of Fu Manchu) - The Thugee Amir Khan assisted Fu Manchu in his attempt to pose as El Mokanna, allowing him to obtain relics which the real El Mokanna had possessed.

(The Trail of Fu Manchu) - Fu Manchu again employed Dacoits and Thugees while in England. He had one of his Dacoit servants seemingly kill his daughter Fah Lo Suee, and guard Nayland Smith, Alan Sterling and Detective sargeant Murphy. This Dacoit was slain by Smith.

(The Drums of Fu Manchu, The Island of Fu Manchu) - Fu Manchu employed Thugees at his base in Jamaica as he attempted to raise armies of the dead using the Elixir Vitae. The Dacoits fought Nayland Smith and his ally, Bart Kerrigan.

(Emperor Fu Manchu) - Fu Manchu had the Japanese scientist Dr. Matsukata raise deceased Dacoits into Nectropolites-- or "Cold Men." Even in this state, the Dacoits could perform extraordinary acrobatics, and perform assassinations. Before Fu Manchu could perfect the Cold Men, they turned against him, and had to be destroyed.

(Master of Kung Fu I#18 (fb)) - When Shang-Chi invaded Fu Manchu's American headquarters, he was attacked by the Dacoit Satma.

(Master of Kung Fu I#18-19) - Shang-Chi defeated Satma, and Fu Manchu later used a mimosa chemical on him to speed up his strength and speed to redeem himself in battle against Shang-Chi. Although Satma could have beaten Shang-Chi and regained his honor, he was in such pain from the mimosa that he set himself on fire, and flung himself into a room of gunpowder, killing himself. Fu Manchu dispatched two of his Dacoits, Jekin and Dahar, to pursue Shang-Chi. They followed him into the swamp of the Man-Thing, where they were ultimately consumed by the Man-Thing's fiery touch.

(Marvel Premiere#19 (fb)) - Archaeologist Professor Wing discovered the Sacred Volume of Kâli while on a dig, and that very evening, found himself being hunted by members of the Cult of Kara-Kai, intent on possessing the book.

(Marvel Premiere#19) - Two members of the Cult of Kara-Kai made an attempt upon Iron Fist and Colleen Wing as they went to visit Professor Wing, but Iron Fist blocked their blows.

(Marvel Premiere#20) - Now the official bodyguard of Professor Wing, Iron Fist fought off several of the cultists.

(Marvel Premiere#21) - Returning from a battle with Batroc, Iron Fist found that the Cult of Kara-Kai had captured Colleen and Professor Wing. He followed an image of the mysterious Ninja to the temple where the cult resided, and faced their priestesses, Shaya and Ushas. Iron Fist managed to topple their statue of Kâli, and was aided by Colleen and the Ninja against their forces. During the melee, the Sacred Volume of Kâli accidentally fell into a brazier. This turned the Ninja against Iron Fist, as his spirit was bound to the book.

(Marvel Premiere#22) - As Iron Fist and the Ninja continued their battle, Shaya and Ushas fled to recover their strength.

(Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu#3) - Several Phansigars made an attempt on the lives of Shang-Chi and Clive Reston, but were defeated. Shang-Chi was later able to capture a Phansigar and subject him to truth serum to discern Fu Manchu's whereabouts. As Shang-Chi and his allies set after them, the Phansigars aided Shadow-Stalker in ambushing Sir Denis. Shang-Chi pursued them to Fu Manchu's base, and, with Reston, defeated them and Shadow-Stalker. Although Fu Manchu escaped, several Phansigars were captured alive.

(Savage Tales I#9 (fb), 9) - Raga-Shah, a leader in the Cult of Kâli, fought Shanna after sending his Thugees to kill Jakuna Singh. Raga-Shah used the lives of Shanna's panthers Ina and Biri to animate the elephant statue Ghamola, but Shanna overcame it. Raga-Shah fled from Shanna.

(Super-Villain Team-Up#7 (fb)) - Desiring to become a crimefighter, Maximillian Coleridge sought out the Cult of Kâli in Nepal, who accepted him as though they had been awaiting his arrival.

(The Shroud#1 (fb)) - Coleridge's sponsor was Balinor, who became a close friend, as did his daughter, Dalindra.

(Super-Villain Team-Up#7 (fb)) - The Cult of Kâli trained Coleridge in their arts, and finally, to represent his mastery of the arts of darkness, branded his forehead with the "Kiss of Kâli," leaving a mark in Kâli's shape upon his brow. This blinded Coleridge, and he fled from their temple into the snow. He soon discovered that he had gained senses which compensated for his lack of vision, but that the temple had disappeared, because members of the cult feared a prophecy that Coleridge would destroy them. Coleridge went on to become the Shroud.

(Rampaging Hulk I#9) - Shanna finally caught up to Raga-Shah in California, and defeated him in combat. She then fed him to her pet python.

(Spider-Woman I#16 (fb)) - Nekra happened upon the Cult of Kara-Kai in the sewers of Los Angeles, and presented herself to them as a sacrifice for Kâli. Unable to kill her because of her powers, the cultists believed she was their goddess incarnate. Nekra became their new leader, and had Shaya and Ushas put to death. Adopting the identity of Adrienne Hatros, Nekra began to lead the cult's activities in Los Angeles.

(Spider-Woman I#13 (fb, BTS)) - S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Jeff Cochren and Margaret Huff were assigned to investigate the cult, but were captured and sacrificed to Kâli before they could report in.

(Spider-Woman I#13) - The Shroud went to investigate the clinic run by "Adrienne Hatros," suspecting its ties to the Cult of Kâli, and was confronted by Spider-Woman, who had been attending the clinic as a patient. Just as Spider-Woman defeated him, she found herself surrounded by cultists who had come there to see Nekra.

(Spider-Woman I#14) - As Spider-Woman fought the cultists, they left the Shroud alone after noticing the mark of Kâli upon his brow. The Shroud managed to revive and slip away. Spider-Woman defeated the cultists and phoned the police, but they all escaped while her back was turned.

(Spider-Woman I#15 (fb)) - The Shroud followed the cultists back to their base, and overheard them mention they were being monitored by S.H.I.E.L.D. He brought this information to Spider-Woman.

(Spider-Woman I#15) - Nekra sent the cultists to capture Laura Brown and Jerry Hunt, two S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who had been assigned to complete Cochren and Huff's mission. They attempted to sacrifice them at their base, but Spider-Woman and the Shroud arrived in time to stop them. Nekra escaped during the melee, while her followers were defeated by the two heroes, who set Hunt and Brown free.

(Spider-Woman I#16) - S.H.I.E.L.D. attempted to interrogate the cultists they had captured, but were unable to extract any information. Subsequently, Spider-Woman was confronted by Nekra, who was interested in her pheromone powers, but was defeated by her in battle, bringing her operations with the Cult of Kâli to an end.

(Master of Kung Fu I#83) - Fu Manchu met with the Si-Fan, Phansigars, Thugees, Hashishin assassins, Knights Templar, Leopard Cultists, Light-Seekers, Followers of the Left-Hand Path, the Three-Cornered Sight and the the Twenty-Third Sect, at his base in South America and informed them that from now on, they would all serve together in the Order of the Golden Dawn.

(Master of Kung Fu I#85-86) - The Phansigars joined with the Order of the Golden Dawn in battling Shang-Chi and Black Jack Tarr when they invaded Fu Manchu's South American base, but Tarr and Shang-Chi were able to defeat several of them, and ultimately escape the base.

(Master of Kung Fu I#87) - In Morocco, Fah Lo Suee revealed that many of the Thugees in the Order of the Golden Dawn actually served her, and that she was plotting against her father.

(Master of Kung Fu I#88) - As Fah Lo Suee, Shang-Chi and their allies prepared to halt Fu Manchu's plot to destroy the United Nations, they were attacked by the Order of the Golden Dawn, which included several Phansigars. Shang and his allies managed to defeat them.

(Master of Kung Fu I#118) - As Shang-Chi, Clive Reston, and Black Jack Tarr invaded Fu Manchu's Honan fortress, the Si-Fan, Dacoits, Phansigars, Hashishin assassins, Leopard Cultists and Knights Templar present assaulted them. Several of them were slain during the conflict, and Fu Manchu himself was seemingly killed when Reston and Tarr destroyed the Honan fortress.

(Master of Kung Fu I#123) - Several Dacoits and Phansigars stood guard over Shang-Chi's mother as she held an audience with her son, and cast him out for allowing Fu Manchu to die.

(War Machine#6 (fb)) - At some point in the past, the government of India hired a band of mercenaries to wipe out Thugees operating in Benares. In the clash between the mercenaries and Thugees, only the American mercenary Saint Van Sant survived. Van Sant then received a vision from the goddess Kâli, who promised him a new life for each life he would take. Van Sant became Deathtoll.

(Web of Spider-Man#46) - Nekra later reopened the Hatros Clinic in Shriver Cove, Massachusetts, and used drugs to transform her patients into cultists, complete with traditional costumes and weaponry. Spider-Man and Henry Pym uncovered Nekra's operations, and Pym devised an antidote to release the cultists from Nekra's control.

(Marvel Comics Presents#54/4) - Krago, a high lord in the Cult of Kâli, was confronted by Firefly, a superhuman who was intent on destroying the worship of Kâli. The Shroud intervened in an attempt to prevent tragedy, but Krago wound up being slain by Firefly, before she died in battle against the Shroud, trying to pit her powers of light against his darkness.

(The Shroud#2 (fb)) - The Cult of Kâli's lama Yannroth made a deal with the New York crimelord Lassiter, promising their assassins' techniques in exchange for $2 million.

(The Shroud#1 (BTS)) - Balinor contacted the Shroud to inform him of the deal Yannroth was making.

(The Shroud#2) - The Shroud journeyed to the temple of the Cult of Kâli, which had manifested itself in New York, looking exactly as it had in Nepal. He met with Balinor, and learned of how Yannroth had corrupted the cult. He promised to help stop Yannroth.

(The Shroud#3) - Yannroth met with Lassiter alongside Kâli, formerly Balinor's daughter Dalindra. He was displeased by the involvement of the Shroud, thinking that he was Lassiter's ally, but the Shroud was actually assisting Lassiter's rival, Garrick King. Lassiter set up a meeting with King, and Kâli used this opportunity to attempt to slay the Shroud.

(The Shroud#4) - The Shroud barely escaped Kâli alive, and met with Balinor again, learning how Dalindra had become Kâli, and that if he was destined to save the Cult of Kâli, then he would have to slay Dalindra. The Shroud disguised himself as a priest of the cult to attend a meeting between Lassiter and Yannroth in which King was to be turned over to them, but King revealed the Shroud's presence, and they erupted into a battle. Spider-Man became involved in the fight, having been summoned by the Shroud's allies Cat and Mouse, and the Shroud was able to defeat Kâli, and halt Yannroth's dealings with Lassiter. Balinor determined that he would remain with the cult in the hope of halting Yannroth's corruption from within.

(Druid#2 (fb, BTS)) - Corpses of rapists and murderers slain by the Cult of Kâli in their California base were stolen by members of the Dry Academy, to transform the corpses into a false god.

(Druid#2-4) - Nekra approached Dr. Druid on behalf of the Cult of Kâli and informed him of the false god's creation. Druid destroyed the Dry Academy and their god, but was then slain himself by Nekra, who now served his enemy Daimon Hellstrom.

(Marvel Knights I#12-14) - Fu Manchu dispatched several of his Dacoits to assist Zaran against Shang-Chi and his allies, the "Marvel Knights." While some of the Dacoits fought the heroes, others placed explosives in the Marvel Knights' base. The Dacoits were defeated by the Marvel Knights, and many of them were slain when the base exploded.

Comments: Dacoits, Thugees and Phansigars adapted into the Fu Manchu novels by Sax Rohmer, adapted into comics by Steve Englehart, Paul Gulacy and Al Milgrom.
The Shroud's Cult of Kâli created by Steve Englehart, Herb Trimpe and Pablo Marcos.

You will still hear of Dacoits and Thugees in modern India and surrounding areas, but "Dacoit" usually means "rebel" and "Thugee" means "robber"-- it does not necessarily indicate a worship of Kâli, is likely not in reference to a secret society, and I'm pretty sure they don't answer to Fu Manchu either.

by Prime Eternal

CLARIFICATIONS:
The Cult of Kâli should not be confused with:


Cult of Kara-kai were worshippers of Kâli who valued the Sacred Volume of Kâli before all else, and were led by the priestesses Shaya and Ushas. They chased after Professor Wing when he unearthed the book, and fought Iron Fist, until the book was destroyed. Later, they encountered Nekra, who became their new priestess, and had Shaya and Ushas put to death. The cult operated out of Los Angeles under Nekra's direction, but was eventually brought down thanks to Spider-Woman and the Shroud.

--Marvel Premiere#19 (22(fb), 19(fb), 19-22, Spider-Woman I#16 (fb), 13, 14, 15, 16, Web of Spider-Man#46





 

 

 

 

 





Dacoits or Dakoits are worshippers of Durga (considered an aspect of Kâli) originating from Burma. Dacoity came to refer to any Burmese rebel, particularly during the Third Burmese War of 1886. Dacoits became favored agents of Fu Manchu in the Si-Fan, usually employing his insects such as the "Zayat Kiss" centipedes. Many of Fu Manchu's Dacoits were transformed by Dr. Matsukata into "Cold Men," the first members of an attempt by Fu Manchu to raise dead followers into new soldiers. Even in this state, the Dacoits could perform assassinations, and even their complex acrobatics. Ultimately, the Cold Men turned on Fu Manchu and had to be destroyed.

The Dacoits later joined the Order of the Golden Dawn, and often fought Shang-Chi. Fu Manchu also dispatched them alongside Zaran to fight the "Marvel Knights."

Dacoits carry curved blades, and communicate using wild animal-like cries.

--The Mystery of Fu-Manchu, The Devil Doctor, The Daughter of Fu Manchu, Master of Kung Fu I#100 (fb), Trail of Fu Manchu, Island of Fu Manchu, Emperor Fu Manchu, Master of Kung Fu I#18 (fb), 18-19, 118, 123, Marvel Knights I#12-14, Master of Kung Fu II#1,2,4,5,6
 

 

 

 

 

 




Phansigars, also known as Thugees or "Thugs" are worshippers of Kâli who were inspired by the tale of Kâli strangling to death an opponent who would divide into a new body whenever he was slain. The earliest references to the Phansigars are found in the 12th century, but their religion claimed they had been active since at least the 8th century. Phansigars would use a rope to perform ritual murder upon their victims, slowly strangling, then offering a prayer to Kâli, then loosening, then strangling again, in order to prolong the death for Kâli's pleasure. Phansigars wore the mark of Kâli upon their brow, and would communicate with each other in their own language (Ramasi), and with secret signals. India permitted the Phansigars to operate unhindered for centuries, but beginning in the 1830's, the British began to arrest and slay Phansigars by the dozens. The last known Phansigar was hung in 1882.

Of course, the Phansigars survived this attempt at extermination thanks to Fu Manchu, who brought them into the Si-Fan. Fu Manchu employed a Phansigar in England during an encounter with Nayland Smith, but he was killed. Later, the Thugee Amir Khan helped Fu Manchu obtain the relics of El Mokanna, in an attempt to cause a Jihad in the Middle East.

The Phansigars later joined the Order of the Golden Dawn, and are presumably still active as henchmen of Fu Manchu.

Some Thugees also followed Raga-Shah in India; others betrayed Fu Manchu and served Fah Lo Suee.

--The Mystery of Fu-Manchu, The Devil Doctor, The Daughter of Fu Manchu, Mask of Fu Manchu, Trail of Fu Manchu, Drums of Fu Manchu, Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu#3, Savage Tales I#9 (fb), 9, Rampaging Hulk I#9, Master of Kung Fu I#83, 85-88, 118, 123

Note that although many Master of Kung Fu stories treat Phansigars and Thugees as separate classes of assassins, they are the same thing in the real world.

 

 

 


Images taken from:
Spider-Woman I#15, page 22, panel 4
Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu#3, page 27, panel 1-2
The Shroud#4, page 22, panel 3
Cult of Kara-Kai- Marvel Premiere#21, page 14, panel 3
Dacoits- Marvel Knights I#12, page 19, panel 3
Phansigars- Master of Kung Fu I#83, page 6, panel 3
Thugees- Master of Kung Fu I#83, page 6, panel 4


Master of Kung Fu I#19 (August, 1974) - Steve Englehart (writer), Paul Gulacy (pencils), Al Milgrom (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Marvel Premiere#19 (November, 1974) - Doug Moench (writer), Larry Hama (pencils), Dick Giordano (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Marvel Premiere#20-22 (January-May, 1975) - Tony Isabella (writer), Arvell Jones (pencils), Dan Green (#20), Vinnie Colleta (#21) & Aubrey Bradford (#22) (inks), Roy Thomas (#20) & Len Wein (#21-22) (editor)
Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu#3 (March, 1975) - Doug Moench (writer), Paul Gulacy (pencils), Vinnie Colletta (inks), Len Wein (editor)
Savage Tales I#9 (March, 1975) - Carla & Gerry Conway (writers), The Tribe (artists), Gerry Conway (editor)
Super-Villain Team-Up#7 (August, 1976) - Steve Englehart (writer), Herb Trimpe (pencils), Pablo Marcos (inks), Marv Wolfman (editor)
Rampaging Hulk I#9 (June, 1978) - David Kraft (writer/editor), Tony DeZuniga (artist)
Spider-Woman I#13-16 (April-July, 1979) - Mark Gruenwald (writer), Carmine Infantino (pencils), Al Gordon (inks), Roger Stern (editor)
Master of Kung Fu I#83 (December, 1979) - Doug Moench (writer), Mike Zeck (pencils), Gene Day (inks), Roger Stern (editor)
Master of Kung Fu I#85-88 (February-May, 1980) - Doug Moench (writer), Mike Zeck (pencils), Gene Day (inks), Roger Stern (#85-86) & Jim Salicrup (#87-88) (editor)
Master of Kung Fu I#118 (November, 1982) - Doug Moench (writer), Gene Day (artist), Ralph Macchio (editor)
Master of Kung Fu I#123 (April, 1983) - Alan Zelenetz (writer), William Johnson (pencils), Mike Mignola (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)
Web of Spider-Man#46 (January, 1989) - Richard Howell (writer/pencils), Keith Wiliams (inks), Jim Salicrup (editor)
Marvel Comics Presents#54 (1990) - Steve Ditko & Hollis Bright (writers), Steve Ditko (pencils), Bob Wiacek (inks), Terry Kavanagh (editor)
War Machine#6 (September, 1994) - Scott Benson & Len Kaminski (writers), Gabriel Gecko (pencils), Pam Eklund (inks), Nel Yomtov (editor)
The Shroud#1-4 (March-June, 1994) - Mike Barr (writer), M.C. Wyman & A. Williams (#4) (pencils), Malcolm Jones III & Scott Koblish (#3-4) (inks), Mark Powers (editor)
Druid#2-4 (June-August, 1995) - Warren Ellis (writer), Leonardo Manco (artist)
Marvel Knights I#12-14 (June-August, 2001) - Chuck Dixon (writer), Eduardo Barreto (#12-13) & Mike Lilly (#14) (pencils), Nelson Decastro (inks), Nanci Dakesian & Stuart Moore (editors)

Last updated: 07/23/05

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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