Classification: Magic item (Talisman of Mystic Power)
Creator: Unrevealed (presumably empowered by Set)
First Appearance: Marvel Team-Up I#111 (November, 1981)
Powers/Abilities/Functions: The snake-headed statue was important in a ritual intended to resurrect deceased Serpent Men in human hosts.
It appeared to be roughly 18" tall, and it was constructed out of an unidentified rock/ceramic-like material.
It was hollow, shattering easily
when thrown against a stone floor by someone with Spider-Man's
It was filled with a liquid that steamed upon exposure to
room temperature and pressure. This liquid was, at minimum, unpleasant
on contact with the Serpent Men.
(Marvel Team-Up I#111 (fb) - BTS) - At some point, the Spider-People stole a "bejeweled snake-headed statue" from the Serpent Men.
(Marvel Team-Up I#111 (fb) - BTS) - In preparation for their plot to resurrect the spirits of slain Serpent Men in human hosts, the Serpent Men captured the Defenders (Clea, Devil-Slayer/Eric Simon Payne, Dr. Stephen Strange, Gargoyle/Isaac Christians, Hulk/Bruce Banner, Namor the Sub-Mariner, Valkyrie/Brunnhilde) to serve as the needed "seven warriors with the power to conquer the world."
Apparently unable to steal the
needed snake-headed totem/statue from the powerful Omm statue as it
would act against Serpent Men, one of the Serpent Men posed as
Devil-Slayer (utilizing his Shadow Cloak) and plotted to enlist the aid
of Spider-Man, figuring his spider-nature may allow him to claim the totem.
I#111 - BTS) - After
saving Spider-Man from an attack by Serpent Men, the false Devil-Slayer
of the Serpent Men's plot and that he (Spider-Man) was the seventh
warrior the plot. To confirm Spider-Man was not one of the Serpent Men,
"Devil-Slayer" gave him a card and had him say the phrase ""Ka nama
kaa lajerama," which the Serpent Men could not say.
I#111) - After reaching the Temple of the Spider, "Devil-Slayer" sensed that
the snake-headed totem lay downward through a crevice in the rocky
floor, and he and Spider-Man descended via web-line and found the totem in
the clutches of the giant statue of Omm.
"Devil-Slayer" urged Spider-Man not to resist or even to move, and when Spider-Man complied, the statue (presumably sensing his spidery-nature) ceased its motion, allowing Spider-Man to claim the snake-headed totem.
The Devil-Slayer imposter then
transported himself and Spider-Man back to Manhattan. Claiming
that telepathic probing had uncovered the whereabouts of the Defenders
the sewers, the imposter led Spider-Man to find them. They seemingly
encountered the Defenders (actually transformed Serpent Men), who
claimed to have already freed themselves and ended the threat of the
Serpent Men forever.
Noting that Spider-Man had no further use for the statue, the Dr. Strange imposter stated that he would like to examine its mystic properties. Alarmed by his danger-detecting "Spider-Sense," Spider-Man hesitated, and after the Valkyrie imposter urged him to give them the totem, he became more suspicious and asked the "Defenders" to say "Ka nama kaa lajerama." Unable to do so, the Serpent Men discarded their disguises and attacked Spider-Man.
Spider-Man hurled the statue to
the ground, shattering it "into a hundred gleaming shards" and dousing
the Serpent Men with the steaming liquid it had contained, which at
least proved unpleasant for them.
(Marvel Team-Up I#111 - BTS) - After Spider-Man destroyed the necromantic crystal that held them prisoner, the true Defenders helped him fight the Serpent Men until Dr. Strange banished the Serpent Men to the limbo of their dead. The human followers of the Serpent Men were allowed to leave unmolested.
Spider-Man subsequently collapsed due to the venom from a Serpent Man's bite.
(Marvel Team-Up I#112 - BTS) - Dr. Strange projected Spider-Man's spirit back to 18,500 BC where he obtained a cure for the venom.
Comments: Created by J.M. DeMatteis, Herb Trimpe, and Mike Esposito.
Why did the Serpent Man
Spider-Man the phrase that Serpent Men can't say? It was the final
nail in the coffin of their deception of Spider-Man when he used it to
expose the Defenders imposters as Serpent Men. Plot device, I guess.
Incidentally, the presence of the Serpent Men in the modern
era in Marvel Team-Up I#111 does seem to contradict the statement that the
Serpent Men became extinct because of Conan. The Official Handbook of the
Marvel Universe#11 (November 1983) in the Appendix page states that the Serpent
Men seen in Marvel Team-Up I#111 were human worshippers of Set who became
the hosts for the spirits of the long-dead original Serpent Men. This Appendix
page also refers to the Serpent Men from Marvel Team-Up I#111 as "Serpent
J.M. DeMatteis made a mistake in Marvel Team-Up I#111. In
a flowery narration on page eight, he called Japan "the birthplace of Lao-Tzu
and the Toyota". Lao-Tzu was born in China.
The cover of Marvel Team-Up I#111 shows the snake-headed statue as both green (as opposed to yellow) and much larger than it was in the issue itself. Thanks to Ron Fredricks for adding a cleaned up version of this image.
Profile by Snood.
The snake-headed statue should be distinguished from:
images: (without ads):
Marvel Team-Up I#111 cover (fully with statue, with artistic license);
pg. 13, panel 5 (with Omm statue; partial);
pg. 14, panel 2 (removed from Omm statue by Spider-Man);
pg. 18, panel 2 (shattered);
panel 3 (liquid spraying Serpent Men)
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
First posted: 12/06/2020
Last updated: 12/06/2020
Non-Marvel Copyright info
All other characters mentioned or pictured are ™ and © 1941-2099 Marvel Characters, Inc. All Rights Reserved. If you like this stuff, you should check out the real thing!
Please visit The Marvel Official Site at: http://www.marvel.com
Special Thanks to www.g-mart.com for hosting the Appendix, Master List, etc.!
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