A group of villains published by Marvel Comics
Since the Garden, snakes in all their forms have gotten a particularly bad rap. Their reptilian nature and deadly venom have caused them to be feared and shunned as a rule, so what better motif to adopt if you are seeking to strike fear into the hearts and minds of others.
So was the thought process of many of the villains within the Marvel Universe and occasionally, these villains would band together for a particular objective. Often times they would adopt a serpentine moniker and though it has varied over the years, the basic idea has always been the same: villains with snake based powers and names (generally) banding together to commit evil and mayhem.
The first of these groups was called the Serpent Squad and banded together to fight that sentinel of liberty, Captain America. The team was made up of three villains, two of which were brothers. The first was called the Viper, a costumed ne'r-do-well who used high tech weapons to commit crimes. His brother was also a villain named the Eel who wore a costume that generated bolts of electricity. The final member of the trio was the villain known as the Cobra, the sometimes partner of the villain Mr. Hyde. Cobra possessed the extreme flexibility allowing him to move quickly and move through confining spaces. This with his arsenal of snake themed weapons made Cobra a deadly foe. None of the three seemed to be aware that an eel is actually a fish and not a snake or if they did, they also realized that a well-placed electrical blast seemed to put an end to any arguments from scientific-minded nitpickers. This first Serpent Squad first appeared in Captain America #163 in 1973 and was promptly defeated by old Winghead.
A second Serpent Squad appeared on the scene in Captain America #181 in 1974. This group was formed by the powerful magical artifact the Serpent Crown that was associated with the ancient evil of Set who was controlling the Atlantean warlord Krang (think Ming the Merciless with a fishbowl on his head). The group was led by the second Viper who would later be known as Madame Hydra. She was the sometime partner of the mutant villain the Silver Samurai and would later take part in a marriage of convenience with the mutant hero Wolverine. Returning from the first team were the Cobra and the Eel and they were joined by Princess Python. Princess Python was originally part of the Circus of Crime and possessed enormous trained pythons that did her bidding, usually to the tune of wrapping around a hero and attempting to crush them. The Princess herself had no natural powers and was a poor hand-to-hand combatant, so she constantly met with defeat. These four villains kidnapped the head of Roxxon Oil Hugh Jones so that he could be used by the Serpent Crown in its evil schemes. They were opposed by Captain America during his disillusioned time as the costumed identity Nomad.
The third Serpent Squad was made up of a completely new group of villains collected by Roxxon Oil to retrieve the Serpent Crown which was lost in the depths of the Pacific Ocean. This group appeared in Marvel Two-In-One #64 in 1980. The members of the group were:
- Sidewinder: Leader of this third incarnation of the Serpent Squad, Sidewinder's costume had the ability to allow him to teleport, but only sideways. Though he proved to be a decent leader, the fact that this man would entrust his well-being to a device that was going to shunt him into an alternated dimension or break down his molecular bonds and reform them somewhere else, but only sideways shows a distinct lack of wisdom.
- Anaconda: One of the first snake-themed villains to come out of the labs of Roxxon Oil, Anaconda was given prosthetic arms that would lengthen to allow her to wrap them around an opponent and then constrict them. The arms were made of adamantium making them unbreakable and extremely strong. Anaconda also had the ability to breathe under water.
- Black Mamba: Another of Roxxon's handiwork, Black Mamba possessed the ability to project dark material that would take the form of someone the victim most loved or trusted. The dark material would then suck the lifeforce out of the person. All of this was done by Black Mamba doing her hoochie mama dance, which made her one of the more colorful Marvel characters.
- Death Adder: Death Adder was a prime example that the doctors working for Roxxon Oil had no inkling of the Hippocratic Oath. Death Adder was given long fingers capable of tearing into their opponents and a long-tail, which was grafted to his spine. To add insult to injury, the doctors decided to cover up his mouth making him mute and seemingly for no good reason.
These four villains recovered the crown though three of them were brought to justice after being trapped underwater. Sidewinder
finished the assignment and began to plot a way to take this snake-themed organization to the next level. He eventually did with the establishment of the Serpent Society
, sort of a union for the serpent-related super-villains.