snake-headed-statue-mtu111-released snake-headed statue

Classification: Magic item (Talisman of Mystic Power)

Creator: Unrevealed (presumably empowered by Set)

Possessors: Serpent Men, Spider-Man (Peter Parker), Spider-People;

Aliases: Serpent statue, serpent-headed statue, snake-headed totem

First Appearance: Marvel Team-Up I#111 (November, 1981)snake-headed-statue-mtu111-omm

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 strength.

    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.

    The statue was placed within the hands of the Temple of the Spider's Omm statue, which could act against Serpent Men or presumably other non-spider-beings attempting to steal it.

(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.

(Marvel Team-Up I#111 - BTS) - After saving Spider-Man from an attack by Serpent Men, the false Devil-Slayer told Spider-Man 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.

    "Devil-Slayer" then transported himself and Spider-Man to a valley in the mountains somewhere close to the Temple of the Spider, after which he told Spider-Man of the snake-headed statue, "the one arcane artifact with the power to destroy the Serpent-Cult."

(Marvel Team-Up 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.

    Spider-Man then scaled the pedestal to reach the statue and the totem. As Spider-Man reached for the totem, however, the statue's granite arms grated and moved, its razor-sharp claws (undulled by time) descending toward him.

     "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 in 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. liquid

snake-headed-statue-mtu111-shattered    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 Devil-Slayer teach 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 Men II."
--Per Degaton

    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.
--Per Degaton

    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)

Marvel Team-Up I#111 (November, 1981) - J.M. DeMatteis (writer), Herb Trimpe (pencils), Mike Esposito (inks), Tom DeFalco (editor)

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

First posted: 12/06/2020
Last updated: 12/06/2020

Non-Marvel Copyright info
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