Cottonmouth (comics)

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Cottonmouth is the name of two distinct, unrelated fictional villains appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The first Cottonmouth, Cornell Cottonmouth, first appeared in Power Man #18 (June 1974) in a story written by Len Wein and drawn by George Tuska. The second Cottonmouth, Burchell Clemens, is a snake-themed super villain, mainly associated with the Serpent Society. He first appeared in Captain America vol. 1 #310 (October 1985), created by writer Mark Gruenwald and artist Paul Neary.

Cornell Cottonmouth, or just Cottonmouth, started out as a drug kingpin in New York City, involved in the events that led to Luke Cage gaining super powers becoming "Power Man". Cottonmouth tried to recruit Cage to his organization, but ultimately Cage knocked Cottonmouth out and turned him over to police. During the Shadowland storyline Cottonmouth returned as part of Nightshade's gang where they come into conflict with Daredevil as well as a new Power Man, who, like his predecessor, knocked Cottonmouth out and turned him over to police.

The second Cottonmouth, Burchell Clemens, was artificially enhanced and given the ability to extend his jaw to over a foot and bite through solid materials such as concrete. He first showed up as part of the Serpent Society, often teaming up with Society member Asp. The team came into conflict with Captain America during a paid hit on M.O.D.O.K. After being arrested Society leader Sidewinder freed Cottonmouth and others from custody. When Viper took control of the Serpent Society Cottonmouth was one of the members who opposed her, siding with Captain America to take Viper down. Cottonmouth remained a member when the Serpent Society was reorganized as Serpent Solutions.

The character will be portrayed by Mahershala Ali in Luke Cage, which is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Cornell Cottonmouth[edit]

Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Power Man #18 (June 1974)
Created by Len Wein (writer)
George Tuska (artist)
In-story information
Alter ego Cornell Cottonmouth
Team affiliations Flashmob
Abilities Superhuman strength
Sharp teeth
Good knowledge of the different poisons

Not much is known about Cottonmouth's history except that he has established himself as a drug lord in New York. When Willis Stryker wanted to frame Carl Lucas, he stole a shipment of heroin from Cottonmouth's organization.[1]

Upon changing his name to Luke Cage, Carl decided to track down the drugs that were used to frame him. Luke Cage used a number of informants in his search. The informant Flea was successful in his search yet his investigations were discovered. Before dying from the poisons inflicted on him by Cottonmouth's men, Flea managed to inform his discovery to Luke Cage.[2] Upon learning who sent Flea to infiltrate his organization, Cottonmouth got the idea of recruiting Luke Cage to his organization. He sent his trademark of snakes to Luke Cage's office "to show him that he means business." Cottonmouth then sent his henchmen Mike and Ike to make an offer to Luke Cage. Luke Cage managed to take out the snakes and defeat Mike and Ike. Mike ended up snitching to where Cottonmouth was located. Luke Cage then met Cottonmouth somewhere. After a scuffle, Luke Cage agreed to join his organization (obviously for Luke Cage to learn where his records were kept). Cottonmouth then began to test Luke Cage's loyalty by sending him to steal a shipment of heroin from the rival crimeboss Morgan. Luke Cage succeeded in that. Luke Cage earned Cottonmouth's trust and began working for him until Cottonmouth caught Luke Cage attempting to steal his records. Cottonmouth attacked Luke Cage and was assisted by his henchman Slick. Luke Cage then knocked Cottonmouth into Slick who fell out the window to his death. When Cottonmouth stated that the supposed records were in Slick's mind, Luke Cage slammed Cottonmouth into an oak desk where Cottonmouth fell unconscious and then called the police to come pick up Cottonmouth.[3]

During the Shadowland storyline, Cottonmouth appeared as a member of Nightshade's gang called the Rivals. Cottonmouth established a section of turf where he sold drugs and hired out prostitutes only for him to be attacked by Hand ninjas that were sent by Daredevil. However, Power Man arrived dispersing the Hand ninjas and then Power Man broke Cottonmouth's teeth.[4] Cottonmouth later had his broken teeth replaced by gold-capped sharp teeth. When Power Man was apparently beaten and defeated by five corrupt police officers, Cottonmouth prepared to bite off a part of Power Man's face only to be leashed by Nightshade. At first, Cottonmouth was surprised when Nightshade offered Power Man to become her enforcer. Cottonmouth then became pleased when Nightshade had set up Power Man to fight Iron Fist.[5] To Nightshade's surprise, Power Man managed to side with Iron Fist and knocked out Cottonmouth while Nightshade escaped.[6]

During the Spider-Island storyline, Cottonmouth alongside Nightshade and Flashmob (consisting of Chemistro III, Cheshire Cat, Commanche, Dontrell "Cockroach" Hamilton, Mr. Fish II, and Spear) tried to leave a spider-infested Manhattan by crossing a bridge only to be stopped by Misty Knight and her Heroes for Hire (consisting of Black Cat, Falcon, Gargoyle II, Paladin, and Silver Sable).[7]

Burchell Clemens[edit]

Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Captain America vol. 1 #310 (October 1985)
Created by Mark Gruenwald (writer)
Paul Neary (artist)
In-story information
Alter ego Burchell Clemens
Team affiliations Serpent Society
Notable aliases Quincy McIver
Abilities Bionically enhanced jaw and neck muscles
Superhuman strength in his jaw
Steel teeth
Ability to open his mouth larger than the size of a human head

Originally from Mobile, Alabama, Cottonmouth was chosen by Sidewinder to join a snake-themed villain group, the Serpent Society.[8] With the ability to extend his jaws over a foot wide, he was given steel fangs, possibly by the Roxxon Oil Company, which he uses to torture his victims in an almost cannibalistic way. His jaw muscles are superhumanly strong, and can bite with sufficient force to crush cinderblock or metals that are softer than iron. However, very little is known about his past, other than the fact that he was an active criminal in the southern portion of the United States.

Cottonmouth was often paired up with Asp, such as when the two were to advertise the Serpent Society to Kingpin.[9] The Serpent Society was hired by A.I.M. to hunt down MODOK. During their confrontation with MODOK, Cottonmouth and teammate Death Adder were able to slay him, which was a big win for their organization. Cottonmouth also battled Captain America for the first time.[10] They were soon defeated by Captain America, but were able to escape. He also participated in the mission to retrieve the retired Porcupine's costume, which turned out to be a trap by Captain America. Cottonmouth was injured during the battle, his teeth being destroyed by the star-spangled hero's shield. He, along with teammates Rattler and Death Adder were eventually defeated and taken into custody. Not for long, however, as Sidewinder soon teleported them to safety.[11] Cottonmouth and Rattler next confronted the Kingpin's men over Death Adder's murder.[12]

During the Viper's invasion, Cottonmouth sided with Diamondback and the other members who refused to take the leadership away from Sidewinder. He later betrayed Diamondback, attempting to bite her head off after she saved him, proving that his loyalties lied with Viper. He fought Steve Rogers as The Captain during this confrontation.[13] Cottonmouth participated in the Serpent Society's mission to recover mystic objects for Ghaur and Llyra, and battled Psylocke and Storm of the X-Men.[14] He voted against Diamondback during the Serpent Society's trial against her. Alongside the Serpent Society, he combatted Captain America. Paladin, and Diamondback.[15]

He has also battled other super-heroes such as Black Panther and Luke Cage.[16] He was eventually imprisoned, but escaped with Hawkeye, Plant-Man, and Headlok in Thunderbolts.[17] He took Bushmaster's real name, Quincy McIver though his actual name has not been revealed.

Cottonmouth was later tracked down by American Eagle in Arizona.[18] Serval Serpent Society members including Anaconda, Black Mamba, Bushmaster and Cottonmouth, fought members of the New Avengers in a semi-tropical locale. Cottonmouth was defeated by Wolverine.[19]

Cottonmouth has been seen working with the Serpent Society on several occasions. During an encounter with Deadpool, Cottonmouth was shot in the skull.[20] He somehow recovered, as he was seen robbing a bank with the Society, where he was defeated by mutant Hope Summers.[21]

As part of the All-New, All-Different Marvel event, Cottonmouth appears as a member of Viper's Serpent Society under its new name Serpent Solutions. He alongside Black Racer and Copperhead attacked Captain America and Diamondback where Captain America learned too late that Diamondback is a member of Serpent Solutions where she knocks him out and brings him to Serpent Solutions' headquarters.[22]

Powers and abilities[edit]

The first Cottonmouth has super-strength that rivals Luke Cage. He also has sharp teeth that he had sharpened to resemble fangs. Cottonmouth also has a good knowledge of the different poisons.

Due to bionic reconstruction, the second Cottonmouth possesses enhanced jaw and neck muscles, and steel teeth enabling him to bite with sufficient force to crush cinderblock or deform metals softer than iron, hang from a rope by his teeth for up to an hour, and to open his mouth larger than the size of a human head. His teeth (including abnormally large canines) have been replaced by steel, and his jaw and neck have been bionically enhanced and specially hinged to enable his mouth to open larger than the size of a human head, and he has superhuman strength in his jaw.

In other media[edit]


Video games[edit]



  1. ^ Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1
  2. ^ Power Man #18
  3. ^ Power Man #19-20
  4. ^ Shadowland: Power Man #1
  5. ^ Shadowland: Power Man #3
  6. ^ Shadowland: Power Man #4
  7. ^ Spider-Island: Heroes for Hire #1
  8. ^ Captain America #310
  9. ^ Captain America #311
  10. ^ Captain America #312-313
  11. ^ Captain America #315
  12. ^ Captain America #319
  13. ^ Captain America #341-342
  14. ^ Uncanny X-Men Annual #13
  15. ^ Captain America #380-382
  16. ^ Black Panther #16-17
  17. ^ Thunderbolts #55-58, 60, 61, 63
  18. ^ American Eagle #1
  19. ^ Wolverine vol. 3 #73
  20. ^ Battle Scars #3-4
  21. ^ Avengers vs. X-Men #0
  22. ^ Captain America: Sam Wilson #4
  23. ^

External links[edit]