Real Name: John Claude "J.C." Pennysworth

Identity/Class: Human, technology user

Occupation: Executive, Richmond Enterprises, racist cult leader

Group Membership: Sons of the Serpent

Affiliations: None

Enemies: Defenders, Elena, Amos Ferret, Harold Holliman, Thunderball, Mrs. Washington

Known Relatives: Joaquin C. Pennysworth (son)

Aliases: The Supreme Serpent, Serpent Supreme

Base of Operations: Richmond Enterprises building, 101 East 47th street, New York

First Appearance: (face unrevealed) Defenders I#15 (September, 1974); (as Supreme Serpent) Defenders I#22 (April, 1975); (face revealed) Defenders I#25 (July, 1975)

Powers/Abilities: J.C. Pennysworth was a brilliant but unscrupulous businessman greedy for power. As the Supreme Serpent, he wielded a Serpent Stave, and disguised himself as a white man.

History: (Defenders I#32 (fb)) - J.C. Pennysworth was a trusted executive to Richmond Enterprises. After the death of Arthur Richmond, Pennysworth informed his son Kyle that Richmond Enterprises was his company now. However, Kyle had no interest in running the company, and left it in Pennysworth's hands.

(Defenders I#19 (fb)) - While serving as a financial consultant to Richmond Enterprises, Pennysworth came to know Dr. Eliot Franklin, a scientist who had revolutionized the Gamma Bomb. Pennysworth raided Franklin's lab and stole his bomb and notes, then patented them for the company, protecting himself against legal action from Franklin. Franklin attempted to steal it all back, but he was caught breaking in and went to prison.

(Defenders I#15) - After Kyle Richmond decided to join the Defenders as Nighthawk, he contacted Pennysworth to have him purchase a riding academy where his teammate Valkyrie could keep her horse Aragorn. Pennysworth promised to do so.

(Defenders I#17) - Just as the Defenders began to move into the Richmond Riding Academy, Pennysworth contacted Nighthawk to inform him that the Wrecking Crew were assaulting Richmond Enterprises' property, as their membership included Eliot Franklin, now Thunderball. In addition to sending the Defenders to confront them, Pennysworth hired Luke Cage to guard one of the remaining buildings.

(Defenders I#25 (fb) - BTS) - Disgusted with members of his own race. Pennysworth used the Richmond Enterprises' fortune to fund a revival of the Sons of the Serpent, assuming the role of their new Supreme Serpent.

(Defenders I#22) - As the Supreme Serpent, Pennysworth sent out the Sons of the Serpent to destroy ghettos owned by black people, as he despised his "own people." This brought the Sons of the Serpent into a clash with the Defenders, but Dr. Strange temporarily ended it with his powers. The Supreme Serpent fled with his followers.

(Defenders I#23) - As the Supreme Serpent, Pennysworth appeared on television to spread the Serpents' hate campaign.

(Defenders I#24) - The Supreme Serpent gloated to the captive Dr. Strange, Yellowjacket, Valkyrie and Nighthawk how he intended to incite a race war by destroying the ghettos, forcing the "inferior" races into the suburbs, where white men would have to fight for survival against them, until the white men would (inevitably, of course) win.

(Defenders I#25) - When Nighthawk realized that Pennysworth was behind the Serpents he confronted him, and unmasked before him. He demanded to know how Pennysworth could turn on his own people, but Pennysworth noted that he had no sense of kinship to people just because they shared a skin color-- his intent had never been to harm Richmond, but to use the Serpents to gain more wealth. He also noted that he had been investing Richmond's money into questionable businesses for years without him ever objecting. Nighthawk forced Pennysworth to provide him with information on the Serpents' base, and the Defenders defeated the Sons of the Serpent.

(Avengers I#342 (fb)) - Pennysworth was sent to prison for his crimes.

Comments: Created by Len Wein, Sal Buscema and Klaus Janson.

Pennysworth's hands were colored white in his early appearances.

I had long thought that J.C. Pennysworth was based on Lucius Fox, Wayne Enterprises bigwig. However, Pennyworth was created a few years before Lucius Fox (who didn't debut until 1978). No coincidence as they were both created by the same writer!
--John McDonagh

His first names were revealed in Nighthawk's profile in OHotMU A-Z HC#8.

by Prime Eternal (with sub-profiles by Chadman)

J.C. Pennysworth should not be confused with:

Mrs. Washington

(Defenders I#22) - A resident in a low-income, poorly maintained apartment building, Mrs. Washington was distressed when the Sons of the Serpent set fire to the building, killing Amos Ferret. Elena rushed to comfort her. The landlord, Harold Holliman, was attacked by one of the building's tenants, leading to a brief battle between the super-powered Defenders and the racist Sons of the Serpent.

--Defenders I#22

Amos Ferret

(Defenders I#22) - A resident in a low-income, poorly maintained apartment building, Amos Ferret was killed when the Sons of the Serpent firebombed the building.

--Defenders I#22


(Defenders I#22) - A vagrant in New York City, Elena grew highly agitated when a rat prepared to attack her baby. She shrieked, feeling helpless, and the Valkyrie arrived and slew the rat. Elena was bitter toward Valkyrie for being flashy and rich, but Valkyrie took Elena and the baby back to Dr. Strange's mansion, offering to help her. Elena was served tea by Wong, and met Dr. Strange, Clea, Nighthawk, and the Hulk. The heroes agreed to look into help her apartment's building's destitute condition. Some of them returned to the building to help her retrieve the baby's supplies and found the building had suffered a serious fire, which killed Amos Ferret. Elena comforted Mrs. Washington before the landlord, Harold Holliman, arrived. He was attacked by one tenant, and the Sons of the Serpent attacked, needing to be repelled by the Defenders.

(Defenders I#23) - Elena and the baby continued staying at Dr. Strange's mansion. The hero Yellowjacket captured one of the Sons and the heroes interrogated him. They were then joined by Jack Norris, Valkyrie's estranged husband.

(Defenders I#24) - Elena saw on television that the Sons planned to murder Valkyrie and rushed in to Clea for aid. She and her allies Hulk, Son of Satan, Daredevil, and Power Man rushed off to help, as did Jack Norris.

--Defenders I#22-24

Harold Holliman

(Defenders I#22) - A wealthy real estate man, Harold Holliman tried to secure Kyle Richmond's investment at a party, but Richmond put Holliman in touch with his aide, Pennysworth, and rushed off. Holliman later responded to a call that one of his low-income, poorly maintained apartment buildings had been set on fire. He rushed in, accusing the tenants of setting the fire. Holliman was attacked by one tenant, but the present Defenders broke up the fight. The Sons of the Serpent attacked, professing to protect Holliman, but the Defenders drove them away.

(Defenders I#23) - Holliman made a run for it in the melee, the angry tenants cursing him. He returned to his large empty home, his servants gone for a time. When some of the Defenders approached him demanding to know if he had something to do with the Serpents, Holliman tried to hide from them, but Dr. Strange's astral form convinced him otherwise. He admitted to being glad about the tenement burning down, the heroes believed that he had nothing to do with it.

--Defenders I#22-23

Images taken from:

Defenders I#25, page 18, panel 6
Defenders I#23, page 15
(Mrs. Washington) Defenders I#22, p13, pan1
(Amos Ferret) Defenders I#22, p11, pan5
(Elena) Defenders I#22, p6, pan3
(Harold Holliman) Defenders I#22, p7, pan7

Defenders I#15 (September, 1974) - Len Wein (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Klaus Janson (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Defenders I#17 (November, 1974) - Len Wein (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Dan Green (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Defenders I#19 (January, 1975) - Chris Claremont & Len Wein (writers), Sal Buscema & Klaus Janson (pencils), Klaus Janson (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Defenders I#22-25 (April-July, 1975) - Steve Gerber (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Mike Esposito (#22), Vince Colletta (#23), Bob McLeod (#24) & Jack Abel (#25) (inks), Len Wein (editor)
Defenders I#32 (February, 1976) - Steve Gerber (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Jim Mooney (inks), Marv Wolfman (editor)
Avengers I#342 (December, 1991) - Fabian Nicieza (writer), Steve Epting (pencils), Tom Palmer (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)

Last updated: 08/27/08

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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