Real Name: Layla

Identity/Class: Human magic user

Occupation: Voodoo priestess/Mambo;
    former secretary at Garwood Industries

Group Membership: Voodoo cultists

Affiliations: Teddy Masterson, Zombie (Simon Garth);
    formerly Gyps
(Estephan Gomez)

Enemies: Dora, Gyps (Estephan Gomez), Eric Masterson;
    formerly Teddy Masterson

Known Relatives: "Doc Kabel" (Papa Doc, grandfather)

Aliases: Mambo Layla, Voodoo Queen

Base of Operations: New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A.

First Appearance: Tales of the Zombie I#1 (July, 1973)

Powers/Abilities: Layla was an accomplished voodoo priestess, very knowledgeable about the Vodu from her studies. She can raise the dead as zombies, and she has power over "creatures of nature," including animalistic humans.

    She has an intense fear of rats.

Height: 6'0" (by approximation)
Weight: 190 lbs.
(by approximation)
Eyes: Unrevealed
Hair: Black

History: (Tales of the Zombie I#8 (fb) - BTS) -  As a baby, Layla was raised in the ghetto of New Orleans. While in her crib she was attacked by a rat, which left a scar on her left cheek. From this attack, Layla gained an immense fear of rats. 

    As she grew Layla would play and dance through the streets and alleyways of New Orleans, where her grandfather "Doc Kabel" acted as a father to her. She learned voodoo from him when she was still a child.

(Tales of the Zombie I#1 (fb) - BTS) - As an adult Layla became a Mambo (Voodoo priestess) and became the secretary for Simon Garth at Garwood Industries. During this time she began to fall in love with Garth.

(Tales of the Zombie I#1 (fb)) - After Simon Garth had a particularly tense meeting with his business partner, Layla approached Garth and needed his signature for some documents, informing him that his upcoming flight to Haiti was booked.

(Tales of the Zombie I#1 (fb) - BTS) - Her particular "Red Sect" of Voodoo practitioners believed there was power in human sacrifice, and paid well for victims. One of their suppliers was Estephan "Gyps" Gomez, Garth's gardener.

    After Garth fired and assaulted Gyps for making unwanted sexual advances on Garth's daughter, Gyps contacted Layla's cult and agreed to sell them another sacrificial victim. They readily paid, and Layla traveled to the bayou to prepare, unaware Garth was Gyps' target.

(Tales of the Zombie I#1 (fb)) - Having ambushed Garth and restrained him, Gyps brought him to the cultists, and they tied him onto a stone slab to be sacrificed by Layla. Discovering their human sacrifice was her beloved, Layla promised Garth that he would not die by her hand.

(Tales of the Zombie I#1) - Layla pretended to perform the sacrifice, but instead cut Garth's restraints, allowing him to flee into the swamp and giving him a head-start against Gyps and the other cultists. However, Garth was eventually captured and slain by Gyps anyway. Garth was then buried in the bayou, but Gyps felt Garth had too quick a death and had not suffered enough, so he threatened to kill Layla unless she performed the ritual to transform Garth into a zombie. Garth was brought back as a shell of a person and attacked the cultists until one of the cultists was able to get one of the Amulets of Damballah around the Zombie's neck, giving its twin to Gyps, so that he could control the monster.

(Tales of the Zombie I#6 (fb) - BTS) - Layla was seemingly unaware of subsequent events surrounding the Zombie's time in the bayou and New Orleans, as his control transferred from Garth to a string of others, and continued practicing her Voodoo rituals near the Zombie's grave site.

(Tales of the Zombie I#8 (fb) - BTS) - Layla however, felt abandoned by both the practitioners and the Loa themselves. She continued working for Garwood Industries, and one of her fellow secretaries, Dora, felt that Layla lorded over her.

(Tales of the Zombie I#6) - Two years later (see comments), while performing another ritual, Layla's group was attacked by the Zombie (who had been trying to return to his grave, but was driven for vengeance by the sounds of rituals drums). The Zombie attacked the ritualists and they set him on fire. After seemingly killing all others, the Zombie turned to Layla, but Layla was able to convince him to stop (see comments) and was able to help him put the fires out by getting him to enter the swamp. Layla led the Zombie through the bayou in an attempt to return him to his grave, but she became lost. Spotting some lights, they came across a run-down hotel now being used as a house. While Layla made the Zombie wait on the outskirts nearby, Layla approached the house herself. Initially, Joan Masterson tried to get rid of Layla, but her deranged husband Eric Masterson lured Layla into the house, knocked her out, then carried her out to a heavily reinforced outhouse which held his monstrous son, Teddy. Curious to see what the feral Teddy would do to Layla, Eric locked her in with him.

(Tales of the Zombie I#6 - BTS) - Layla came to as Teddy began to tear at her, ripping her skirt as the pair briefly struggled, but Layla displayed no fear, confident that as a Mambo her voodoo power over the creatures of nature would protect her, and used this power to calm his troubled soul.

(Tales of the Zombie I#6) - Back in the house and unaware Layla was in no danger, Joan Masterson fled the house, refusing to be involved in Layla's death at Teddy's hands. Fleeing, Joan ran into the Zombie and her scream brought Eric to the scene, armed with an axe. However, attacking the Zombie with an axe merely served to annoy it, and Eric fled back to the outhouse, releasing Teddy to attack the Zombie. Seeing that Teddy was equally unable to damage the Zombie, Eric fled into Teddy's cell and locked himself in.

(Tales of the Zombie I#6 - BTS) - Seeing Layla was still alive, Eric tried to kill her, so she took the axe from him and killed him in self defense.

(Tales of the Zombie I#6) - Outside, Jean had just calmed Teddy down when they heard Eric's death scream, A few seconds later, Layla stepped out wielding the bloody axe and confirmed Eric's demise. Pausing briefly to comfort Teddy, she then took the Zombie's hand and returned with him to the bayou.

(Tales of the Zombie I#7 (fb) - BTS) - Layla and the Zombie continued through the bayou for another day and night, trying to find either his grave or the way out.

(Tales of the Zombie I#7) -  Layla observed the lights of what appeared to be cars on a highway and rushed to get help, but tripped and knocked herself out on a log. The Zombie wandered off, observing from a distance the mystery of the deceased Brian Collier and his relatives. Eventually, Simon returned to Layla and awoke her. The pair continued on their way and soon found the highway to New Orleans. Layla promised to take the Zombie to see "Doc Kabel" (now known as Papa Doc) to help lift his curse.

(Tales of the Zombie I#8) - Layla and the Zombie traveled through the streets until Layla stepped on some broken glass and while distracted, she was attacked by a rat. Overcome with fright, Layla struggled with the creature, but the Zombie stepped in and saved her. The pair then continued on to her grandfather, Papa Doc, in hopes that he could help her lay Garth to rest. Layla left the Zombie in an alleyway and continued to Papa Doc's alone. Papa Doc performed a ceremony and then gave her a gris-gris (a type of magical charm) that she could use to end the Zombie's curse. However, when Layla returned, the Zombie had wandered off again. Layla returned to her apartment and went to sleep. In the middle of the night, the Zombie entered her apartment and mortally wounded Layla, having been instructed to do so by Layla's co-worker Dora using the Amulet of Damballah. Before fully passing out, Layla removed the Amulet of Damballah from around the Zombie's neck, freeing him from its control. His mind again his own, the Zombie traveled back down to Dora and the other suburbanites, who were waiting nearby in their car, and he slew everyone in the car. 

(Tales of the Zombie I#9) - The dying Layla took the gris-gris, and had the Zombie carry her back to Papa Doc. Papa Doc attempted every ritual he knew to save her life, but he and the Loa spirits were unable to save her. There, Layla sacrificed her remaining life force, allowing Papa Doc to perform a ritual that returned Simon Garth to life for twenty-four hours. 

(Tales of the Zombie I#9 (fb) - BTS) - Layla's soul was judged to be good before the Loa and she became one with them.

Comments: Created by Roy Thomas, Steve Gerber and John Buscema.

    It was unrevealed how exactly Layla was able to convince the Zombie to stop attacking after he killed her cultists.

    As noted in issue Tales of the Zombie I#7's conclusion and issue #8 by Layla, Simon Garth had been dead for two years up to that point. Since the actual dates of Garth's zombification are never revealed, it is unrevealed if this is subject to the sliding timescale. I would argue that since he doesn't interact with the rest of the Marvel Universe at large until after the events laid out here, there is no issue in that statement being correct.

   The Eric Masterson mentioned here is not the same one that became Thunderstrike, and there is no known connection between the two namesakes.

   What I find most interesting is that Layla seemed perfectly OK with human sacrifice until it turned out to be someone she loved. 

    This profile was completed 03/04/2021, but its publication was delayed as it was intended for the Appendix 20th anniversary 's celebratory event.

Profile by Copeinator123.

Mambo Layla has no known connections to:

images: (without ads)
Tales of the Zombie I#1
p1, pan4 (main image)
Tales of the Zombie I#9, p10, pan5 (headshot)

Tales of the Zombie I#1 (July, 1973) - Story 1: Roy Thomas (writer), Steve Gerber (writer), John Buscema (penciler), Tom Palmer (inker), Roy Thomas (editor)
Tales of the Zombie I#6 (July, 1974) - Story 1: Steve Gerber (writer), Pablo Marcos (artist), Roy Thomas (editor)
Tales of the Zombie I#7 (September, 1974) - Story 1: Steve Gerber & Doug Moench (writers), Pablo Marcos & Alfredo Alcala (artists), Tony Isabella (editor)
Tales of the Zombie I#8 (November, 1974) - Story 1: Steve Gerber (writer), Pablo Marcos (artist), Tony Isabella (editor)
Tales of the Zombie I#9 (January, 1975) - Story 1: Tony Isabella (writer), Virgilio Redondo (pencils), Alfredo Alcala (inks), Dave Kraft & Don McGregor (editors)

First Posted: 09/05/2021
Last updated: 09/04/2021

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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