THE SERPENT SOCIETY
-The Serpent Society are my favourite Jobber Villains ever. I mean, who else better represents that particular brand of D-league jobber that I find so utterly fascinating? It's odd- these guys aren't even well-developed as characters for the most part, and Mark Gruenwald specialized in fleshing out silly side-characters. It's basically just a collection of cool-ass codenames taken from real-life Snakes (who seem to have the biggest glut of cool names of the animal kingdom- I mean, you've got animals named DEATH ADDER and BLACK MAMBA here!), with one or two token powers attached to a costume design that is best-described as "whatever was lying at the bottom of the artist's 'Concept Pile'." These guys were not Kieron Dwyer's finest work, though not all of them look dumb.
But... but they're just so JOBBY! I love it! You can put three or four of these guys in one scene, and the superhero will just dive in and kick ALL their asses while joking about how sucky they are, and nobody of value is hurt by it. The villains aren't badly damaged and the hero looks GREAT for fighting against all odds... yet you can even do stories in which the villains WIN, because through sheer numbers they might get the drop on the good guy and start doing better than they normally should. But for the most part, you couldn't look any further if you wanted a group of eighteen jobbers, only a few of whom were any kind of challenge. And this is the beauty of the Serpent Society- they can beat a hero through sheer numbers, but they're great if you want to showcase the good guy doing something awesome and beating a ton of "name" characters (as opposed to simple Mooks), but without damaging a character with any kind of credibility to them- something that's befallen several once-respected villains. Plus their names are just AWESOME- I've tried to come up with Society-like teams inspired by them before, but there's just nothing that has the "snap" of the various snake names out there- Anaconda, Diamondback, Black Mamba and ESPECIALLY "Death Adder" are just amazing codenames. The only thing comparable comes from Spiders (derivative of Spider-Man, however), and Sharks (there's already a Tiger Shark, and pretty much everyone's name ends up with "Shark" in it, which comes across as same-y).
The Serpent Society always bring me way, way back to the original days of my thread. See, I got a bit of a rep at the time as being "the guy who stats the Jobber Villains"- with something like 20+ active builders at the time (the Golden Age of RPGs), it was something that made me stand out. And reveling in the glory of just how crappy BOOMSLANG (the villain so lame he was shot and nearly killed by STREET THUGS) was just created an epic running gag- as much as I later did when I discovered the Gamecock. This carried from 2nd Edition to the "Tournament of Suck"- a tournament between various Jobber Villain teams (the Acolytes, Zodiac Cartel, Dark Riders & others)- the Society not only WON the tournament, but their prize was that they became the very first builds I did in 3rd Edition. And so what you're about to see here are modifications of the very first things I did in this new system, when I was still trying to figure it out.
The Serpent Society were re-posted in Aug. 2014, since it'd been a few years, and Ronin Army had replaced the Atomic Think Tank. This time, it was more of a send-off to my "Captain America" set and naturally didn't draw as much attention (it hadn't been THAT long). But now, six years later, I have a NEW thread over here at Echoes, and the Society had waited longer than any of the other Jobber Teams to get re-posted. But no more!
History of the Society:
-The Society originally started out as "The Serpent Squad", and comprised of totally different guys than the jobbers we normally associate with it. The original Viper (a nobody villain), The Eel (apparently their creator was not a biologist) and The Cobra (later King Cobra) were the first team, and didn't do much. A couple upgrades followed, adding a few members, but were also forgettable. Since Luke Cage had several crimeboss villains with snake-themed concepts, there's some overlap of names (Bushmaster, Cottonmouth & Diamondback). It wasn't until Sidewinder, former of the third Serpent Squad, organized a much larger "Society" that the true nature of the team became known: It was basically a supervillain Labor Union- they did their own thing, giving a portion of money to the Society, who then promised them resources and "Get Out of Jail Free" benefits (Sidewinder was a Teleporter).
Sidewinder, Anaconda, Black Mamba & Death Adder went from the Squad to the first incarnation of the Society, and were soon joined by Asp, Diamondback, Cottonmouth, Cobra, Bushmaster, Rattler, and Princess Python formed the first team. Their first big mission "made" their name: Killing M.O.D.O.K. Following this, they became recurring Captain America foes, often getting beaten in small numbers, but always escaping prison. Gru gave each of them one or two minor personality traits, allowing them to stand out more than the usual "Squad of same-sounding losers" gimmick teams that came later, like the Dark Riders, Acolytes or The Mutant Liberation Front- all Jobber Villain groups that came later and had much less thought put into them.
Princess Python quit due to her own cowardice, and Death Adder was killed by the Scourge of the Underworld, but they were replaced by new characters Copperhead, Black Racer, Fer-de-Lance & Puff Adder, bolstering the roster. However, they were working in secret with Madame Hydra, The Viper (herself a member of the second Squad), who wanted ownership of the team. Coachwhip, Boomslang, Slither & Rock Python also joined Viper's side, and the team split its roster, as Sidewinder's loyalists (Asp, Diamondback, Bushmaster & Black Mamba) fled the group- only Bushmaster would stick around. Slither followed Viper and never rejoined the team.
Eventually, Diamondback allied with Cap, freeing the loyalists and Viper was brought down after a silly story that involved her turning Ronald & Nancy Reagan (plus half of Washington, DC) into snake-people- replaced with Cobra (later King Cobra). The Society engaged in some other activities, but their "Jobber" status soon became prevalent, as the members no longer had their "New Character stink" on them, and Cap arrested the whole lot of them after he & Diamondback had a big blow-off storyline featuring the group- they tried to execute her for treason (allying with, and dating, Captain America), but she was rescued, and the Society finally brought down. I actually have this arc now (it's part of Gru's The Captain
story, where John Walker takes the Cap role while Cap wears the black outfit that Walker later wore as "U.S. Agent"), and it's fairly good. The Serpents go down one-on-one with any of Cap's Allies (Nomad, Falcon & D-Man), but they can do okay if it's an uneven fight. This resulted in the capture of most of them.
The Serpent Society didn't last far past the '90s, as later versions were really just groups of jobbers in throwaway storylines, getting pounded on by various heroes. In the '80s, they ended up fighting The X-Men in an Atlantis Attacks
cross-over, and the mutants made a joke out of them, with some really one-sided beatings. Even Gruenwald had Boomslang nearly get killed by common street hoodlums when he came across a gang. After they left the Society, Diamondback, Asp & Black Mamba formed "B.A.D. Girls, Inc." and engaged in some mercenary activities off-and-on, though they only got used a few times- during The Superia Stratagem
, the few remaining free members (Rock Python & Puff Adder) were arrested after being injured by M.O.D.A.M., and the B.A.D. Girls were split off. The rest of the team only showed up a handful of other times in great numbers- they allied with Mr. Hyde in the Cap
arc that debuted Free Spirit & Jack Flag, who were supposed to be his trainees. Here, they were made to look like jobbers again (Hyde easily defeated a few of them). But Gru was soon off the book- he had REALLY started faltering on the book by this time, unfortunately). And then he sadly passed away, leaving most of his "babies" orphaned as Marvel went a different direction.
The Modern Serpent Society:
-The Society was thus largely disbanded. Diamondback was seen in a Hellions
Limited Series as a mercenary, and was dating The Constrictor in The Initiative
, while the others fought Deadpool as generic baddies. The B.A.D. Girls members were part of the "Women's Warriors" when "The Avengers Initiative" went down, which is how DB got linked to Constrictor. The rest of the society were seen as Background Villains a few times during the "Bendis Era", but were generally just minor nobodies. A few members were beaten by Hope Summers during Avengers (vs) X-Men
(which featured Asp, Anaconda & Bushmaster drawn by Frank Cho), while Elektra beat other ones.
The Society's "legacy" was thus pretty minor- they were just recurring villains in the Captain America
series aside from the Red Skull & his cronies, and they produced the "Diamondback" years of Cap's relationships with the ladies (a beloved era, but not even his main one- Sharon Carter trumps her in importance, especially since Ed Brubaker took over the series). Most of the team never went on to big things (Anaconda got something in the "Six Pack" run in a few books as a mercenary, and she's attained some notoriety as the most-well-known Big Ugly Woman on Marvel's roster), and many were treated like the jokes they are. It's only on the internet, where weird little side-characters and jobbers can get way more famous than they deserve, that they ever get to mean anything.
-Then, out of nowhere, Nick Spencer's run on Captain America
, featuring Sam Wilson as Cap, ended up bringing the Serpent Society back! But with the original Viper now as the leading member, rebranding the group as "Serpent Solutions". They included Diamondback in their number again, and were arrested by the authorities, but regrouped during Secret Empire
. Slither even rejoined! A new Constrictor debuted as a member in Iron Fist's new book and fought Danny Rand, while Johnny Storm accidentally hired the Society's women as strippers during the Thing's bachelor party, necessitating all the male heroes (plus Thundra) beating and arresting them. Finally, they are seen in a Kraven-related storyline in Spider-Man
, being captured along with other animal-themed villains for a big hunt- they fall under the leadership of the Vulture, but are beaten by the Avengers & Fantastic Four.
The whole line-up:
1) Sidewinder- originator, Teleporter.
2) Boomslang- Joke even for THIS team. Boomerangs. Has been defeated by common Thug gang members.
3) King Cobra- Failed 1960s villain who later got an upgrade as a KING. Took over the team when Sidewinder quit/was kicked out.
4) Diamondback- A recurring Captain America girlfriend, because this once-Bad Girl took a liking to the big lug and went straight for him. Uses gimmicked diamonds and is a REALLY low-tier super, but under Ron Lim's pencils, she was HAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWTT.
5) Asp- Stripper-turned-Supervillain (and again, it's hilarious that Marvel has at least three or four characters with that origin story), uses low-yield Venom Bolts.
6) Black Mamba- Sexy black-haired chick who uses Darkforce Images to choke people while taunting them with images of their loved ones.
7) Black Racer- Nobody member- just a speedster.
8) Coachwhip- Another nobody. Uses fancy Whips.
9) Puff Adder- Big guy with light Growth powers and poison breath.
10) Anaconda- One of the most-famous members: a big burly chick with elongated limbs and super-strength.
11) The Rattler- Crappily-designed snake-guy with a Vibration-Shooting Tail.
12) Death Adder- Inhuman-looking aquatic villain with a poisonous tail.
13) Bushmaster- Snake-like lower body and pointy wrist-blades. One of the more elaborated-upon male members.
14) Slither- A forgettable Viper minion and former ally of Magneto and his Animal Men. He only stuck around for a bit.
15) Cottonmouth- Has the distinctive trait of wanting to bite off people's heads. Like most insta-kill weapons in comics, it never hits.
16) Fer-de-Lance- Forgettable semi-strong chick with wrist-blades.
17) Princess Python- Circus of Crime reject who was kicked out of THIS TEAM for being TOO JOBBERY. That says it all. She's a Snake Charmer with a big python.
18) Rock Python- Gimmicked egg-thrower. In the funniest bit of the X-Men/Society fight, he voluntarily gave up the Plot Macguffin once he saw that the X-Men beat up his friends.
19) Copperhead- Blaster, usually in the background.
20) Sidewinder III- A replacement for the original, who has long since retired.