SERPENT

Real Name: Unrevealed (see comments)

Identity/Class: Unknown (see comments)

Occupation: Unrevealed

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: Other snakes

Enemies: Marvel Boy (Bob Grayson), zoo-keepers

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: "My slippery miss" (as called by Marvel Boy)

Base of Operations: A zoo in an unidentified American city; originally from India

First Appearance: Astonishing#5/2 (August, 1951)

Powers/Abilities: Along with having an affinity to snakes, "The Serpent" could alter its form and appear as a human female or as a venomous snake (see comments).

History: (Astonishing#5 (fb) (BTS)) - In India, a snake was stolen from a cult of serpent-worshippers who believed that the snake had the power to change itself into a woman at will. It was smuggled out of India and ended up in an American zoo.

(Astonishing#5 (BTS)) - The snake escaped from the zoo and warnings went out to the public because the snake was known to be vicious and deadly. The snake got into the head zoo-keeper's house and killed him as he slept with its poisonous venom.

(Astonishing#5) - When Marvel Boy went to investigate the death, he started at the reptile house at the zoo, where he noticed a young Indian girl looking at the snake cages -- the girl felt it was wrong for snakes to be imprisoned. Thinking the girl to be a snake-worshipper, Marvel Boy's curiosity was aroused, so he followed her to see where she lived. He found her room filled with empty snake cages, and no food...just many cases of raw eggs ("Doesn't she eat anything but eggs?") . But what attracted his interest most was a book written in the language of India opened to a page dealing with ancient and primitive serpent cults.

(BTS) - That night, two more zoo officials died in their sleep from the same cause -- snake venom.

(Astonishing#5) - Marvel Boy had a false news story planted which stated that he was taking charge of the zoo's reptile collection and that the next day he would destroy every serpent in the collection. That night, Marvel Boy stayed in the late zoo-keeper's house waiting to get a lead on the case ("...because a murderer always returns to the scene of his crime").

Hours later, while Marvel Boy lay in bed, the poisonous serpent slithered beneath the bedroom door. It lunged at Marvel Boy to strike, but he dodged it and blinded it with the light from his wristbands. As the snake retreated and began to crawl back under the door, the young crusader leapt upon it, breaking its back with his foot. Opening the door, Marvel Boy found the Indian girl lying injured on the floor. The girl cursed Marvel Boy for a fiend and crawled off.

Later, police found the venomous serpent dead and only the Indian girl's sari garment on the ground, but no sign of the girl anywhere...

Comments: Created by an unknown writer and Bill Everett.

This character was never actually named in the story, so I based the name in the profile on the story's title, "The Serpent Strikes!". This story was reprinted in Marvel Tales#16 (September, 1968).

Serpent's name became official in Marvel Boy's profile in OHOTMU A-Z HC#7.

"The Serpent" was never actually seen changing forms between woman and snake in this story -- that's just something that was left for the reader to infer.

The story's ending left it rather ambiguous as to whether "The Serpent" was actually a snake that could change into a woman, or a woman who could change into a snake -- maybe she was a mystically-enhanced agent of Set, although she could just as easily have been a mutant shapeshifter (similar to Scaleface).

This story reminds me of a movie that came out a few years after it was published -- from 1955, "Cult of the Cobra", which featured a woman who could change into a cobra (or vice versa).

Profile by John Kaminski

CLARIFICATIONS:
"The Serpent" has no known connections to:


images:
Astonishing#5, p11, pan1 (main image)

p12, pan5 (head shot)
p14, pan1 (snake form)


Last updated: 10/28/06

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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