Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

The Serpent Squad (sometimes Serpent Society) Legacies: I’ve started to love these guys and I want to see more of them. I’m going to preface this post with the following statement: The Red Skull is a very, very bad man. In fact, he’s so bad that he almost has less acclaim than some of the other villains in the Marvel Universe. He is, after all, a Nazi soldier and a firm believer in the Third Reich’s twisted values. I mean, even Doom has ethics of a sort- the Red Skull is devoted to a disgustingly racist agenda. The Skull represents a very real kind of evil- The KKK, Neo Nazi’s, White Supremists…it’s disturbing. Also, he’s kept himself alive through all sorts of freaky ways, including having his mind transferred into a cloned body of Steve Rogers. So to begin with, he’s like Steve Rogers in that he’s from a different time- so in a way, all that hatred, that evil that started the World War II and the Holocaust never dies. Worse, it’s taken from that you might not recognize- it might be mistaken as the American Dream. I don’t know what issue or story this is from, but I remember this scene in which the Red Skull reveals to Cap that the Super Solider program was actually the Third Reich’s idea. After all, Cap has blond hair, blue eyes, and white skin- he’d be the Aryan poster boy if he wasn’t such a great guy. When all of the Nazi’s with Red Skull started hailing Steve Rogers and chanting his name, you were right there with him- completely FREAKED out. The Skull’s latest gift to the world is his creepy “heir”, Synthia Schmidt (or just “Sin”, as she likes to be called). She’s his daughter (directly this time- no genetic manipulation or anything like that) and she’s been raised to believe in all of her father’s whacked out values. In the past, she called herself “Mother Superior” and spent a lot of her time corrupting young girls and having them join this bizarre “Sisters of Sin” organization she and her dear old dad had put together to thwart Captain America. While Sin spent some time with S.H.I.E.L.D. getting re-educated to be a healthy, productive member of society- it didn’t work. Nowadays, she takes a very active role in her father’s plans. What is so creepy about her? She’s got bright red hair for starters- a nice allusion to her father’s legacy. But she’s got freckles too- so she has this cute-all-American-Catholic-high school-girl thing going on. But she just happens to be a murderous, Neo-Nazi psychopath. She is a well trained, hardened mercenary and is pretty skilled with firearms. She’s totally ruthless, but not above playing the “but I’m just a nice, young girl- how could I have done anything wrong?” card. She’s shacking up with Crossbones, who is among the most amoral, bloodthirsty criminals in the Marvel Universe. And these days? She’s heading up the most recent incarnation of the Serpent Squad. Really bad-guys you haven’t heard much about: The Serpent Squad have been long-term Captain America villains but have never really had much to brag about. All of their members have snake-related powers and character themes (obviously). Sounds kind of cheesy right? But before we judge them too harshly, let me point out what I really like about these guys- like the hero they have consistently battled, they lean much more towards being trained soldiers than cheesy super-villains. These guys are terrorists and mercenaries- and they’re good at it. They won’t think twice about gunning down (or chocking to death) any S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who get in their way and are as comfortable blowing up buildings in highly populated areas for money as they are robbing banks. These guys really are hardened, motivated, and organized criminals- three things you fear criminals might be. And these days, with Sin at the front, they seem to have maximized their potential quite a bit. Anyone who doesn’t believe me, please, check out The Death of Captain America for the sick killing spree of New York City police-men and just, well, PEOPLE, they went on. If anything has hurt their popularity, it’s probably that they bear a striking resemblance to a terrorist organization from a certain popular 80’s Saturday morning cartoon show soon to be made into a Hollywood movie which will remain nameless here. But regardless, I would love to see these guys used more because they are just so damn ruthless. The current line-up: The Serpent Squad has had a variety of members. At one point, they were even folded into a conglomerate of Marvel Super-villains called “The Serpent-Society” who were all snake-related in some form. The current incarnation of the team appears the least-cheesy and the most-bloodthirsty however: King Cobra: Klaus Voorhees, a former research scientist from Holland. Klaus was working close to a man who was researching a serum that would alleviate poisonous snake bites. After killing the man off out of jealousy for his success (using a Cobra no-less, making it look like an accident), he used the experimental antitoxin on himself. The end result wasn’t what either man had in mind and it mutated his body (big surprise, right?). Not for the squeamish- Klaus is double-jointed, and can snap parts of his body in and out of place, like a snake. His bones are flexible and nearly impossible to break and he’s a pretty adept contortionist as well. Freaky. Eel: The second criminal to go by this name, Edward Lavell. A career-criminal, Lavell inherited a costume that can absorb, conduct, and generate electricity from his predecessor. Appropriately, the damn thing even works underwater, usually with horrifying results towards anyone swimming anywhere remotely close to him. Viper: LOTS of people, male and female, have gone by this name in the Marvel Universe. The background of the current Viper has not been revealed. The Serpent-Squad’s old Viper wasn’t super-powered, but was a good example of the old adage- there’s no super-power better than being a well-trained bad-ass. He was good with weapons and a skilled chemist: venom tipped claws and darts were big favorites of his. The current Viper seems just as competent and deadly. Suggested Reading: The Death of Captain America (For the full effect of what I’ve been talking about. It features a who’s-who of Captain America bad-guys and allies, including everyone I’ve listed here) Toxin: Devil You Know (Really strange Spider-man/Venom/Carnage related hero goes up against King Cobra. Shows off how creepy the guy is) Ultimate Power (Brief cameo by an all-female ultimate version of the Serpent Squad fighting the Fantastic Four) Any old Captain America comics (They’ll show up, eventually, in one form or another)