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Viper (Madame Hydra)

Viper (Madame Hydra)
File:Madame Hydra Viper.JPG
Viper/Madame Hydra
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Captain America vol.1 #110 (February, 1969)[1]
Created by Jim Steranko
In-story information
Alter ego Ophelia Sarkissian
Team affiliations H.A.M.M.E.R.
The Hand
Hellfire Club
Secret Empire
Serpent Squad
Notable aliases Viper, Merriem Drew, Warrior White Princess, Mrs. Smith, Leona Hiss, Green Queen
Abilities Excellent strategist and tactician
Skilled martial artist, swordswoman and markswoman
Immunity to most forms of venom and toxins
Enhanced lifespan

Viper, formerly known as Madame Hydra, is a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics universe. She is a foe of the Avengers and the X-Men.

Publication history

Viper was created by Jim Steranko and first appeared in Captain America #110 (February 1969).

Fictional character biography

Madame Hydra was orphaned as a child in Central Europe (Hungary). Part of her face was scarred at one time, although it has since been healed. Among twelve other girls, she was taken in by Hydra and raised by Commander Kraken. For twenty-two years, Viper excelled and became Kraken's best student.[2] She eventually rose through the ranks of Hydra and frequently came into conflict with Captain America and the organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D. She first appeared as a leader of Hydra under the codename Madame Hydra, and first fought and captured Captain America while trying to contaminate New York City's water supply.[3] She captured Rick Jones to bait a trap for Captain America,[4] and then subdued the Avengers with gas, planning to bury them alive, and battled Captain America again. However she was apparently killed when Captain America and Rick Jones dodged missiles she fired at them and she was caught in their explosion.[5] Some time later, it was revealed that the Space Phantom had exchanged places with her, and her whereabouts at the time were undisclosed.[6]

She severed ties with Hydra.[7] Madame Hydra helped Jordan Stryke, a supervillain codenamed Viper, escape custody in Virginia, only to proceed in assassinating him and usurping his codename and leadership of the group known as the Serpent Squad.[8] As the new Viper, she kidnapped Roxxon president Hugh Jones in order to put him in thrall of the Serpent Crown. She battled Nomad and Namor the Sub-Mariner.[9] The previous Viper was the founder and leader of the elite criminal underworld through sheer ruthlessness, treachery, and the cunning of her black heart.

Viper took over the SHIELD Helicarrier, and planned to crash it into the Congress building. She employed Boomerang and the Silver Samurai as operatives, and battled Spider-Man, Black Widow, Shang-Chi, and Nick Fury.[10] Viper later employed the Silver Samurai as her chief operative, and attempted to kidnap Michael Kramer, a man carrying a fatal experimental disease, in order to release it on America. The Viper battled the first Spider-Woman, and became convinced that she was Merriem Drew. Drew was the mother of Spider-Woman and was considered deceased since 1931. The issue revealed Merriem had become allied to Chthon and was granted longevity in return. The Viper revealed herself to have been a pawn of Chthon for fifty years, but saved Spider-Woman's life by defying Chthon.[11] Viper, employing Constrictor as her chief operative, captured Spider-Woman, believing she was responsible for making her think they were related. It was revealed that Chthon had actually granted Viper false memories of mothering Jessica as part of a plan to place both women under his control. Viper captured Captain America, and planned to release her new bubonic plague.[12] Whether Viper actually has extraordinary longevity was left uncertain.

Employing the Silver Samurai, Viper attempted to coerce Team America into stealing the cavourite crystal, and then battled the New Mutants.[13] In one of her many terrorist acts, she would try to gain control of the snake-themed organization called the Serpent Society, with Slither, Copperhead, Puff Adder, Fer-De-Lance, and Black Racer as her operatives. The latter four operatives infiltrated the Serpent Society in an attempt to take it over. Viper dispatched Cobra, Boomslang, and Copperhead to poison Washington D.C.'s water supply with a snake mutagen. Viper terrorized the White House and the President, and battled Captain America.[14] She attempted to assassinate the organization's former leader Sidewinder, but she was betrayed by Cobra and arrested by Captain America.[volume & issue needed] Viper was later freed from prison by Tyrannus. She used a snake mutagen on drug addicts, and then battled the Punisher.[15] She then turned against and battled Tyrannus.[16]

Madame Hydra has also had conflict with the X-Men. She first came into contact with them upon trying to assassinate Mariko Yashida on behalf of her ally and presumed lover Silver Samurai, and tried to poison the team while disguised as Mariko's unconscious maid.[17] She nearly killed X-Men members Rogue and Storm on two separate occasions, with Storm being nearly killed by Viper during the invasion of Khan.[18] She also faced the New Mutants and was considered responsible for the presumed demise of Karma (Karma was only wounded and was abducted by the Shadow King for his own reasons).[19]

Madame Hydra is a professional terrorist and has her own organization. She has come into conflict with many superheroes and supervillains over the years. Her nihilism and tendency to spread death around her has made it hard for other villains to associate with her. Only the Red Skull has found it a charming tendency and pursued a relationship with her for a while. The relationship ended when the Skull found out Viper was using his resources to finance massacres with no apparent financial benefit for either of them.[20]

For a time the Viper employed a team of doppelgängers (known as "Pit-Vipers") to impersonate her. However, acting on her own, Pit-Viper 12[21] became involved with the Punisher during an international crime conference in Las Vegas[22] and later tipped off S.H.I.E.L.D. to the real Viper's attempt to steal Russian nuclear missiles in Moscow.[23] For compromising her anonymity, the Viper personally killed her treacherous double.[24]

Later she blackmailed Wolverine into marrying her as a means to secure her criminal empire in Madripoor. Although this was a marriage of convenience, she did request to consummate the arrangement. Some time later, her body was briefly inhabited by the spirit of Ogun, and Wolverine mortally wounded her as a means of driving the spirit from her dying body. In return for seeking medical attention to save her life, Wolverine demanded a divorce.[25] It is later implied that she actually had feelings for Wolverine.[26]

Viper was then a member of an incarnation of the Hellfire Club, working with Courtney Ross, briefly under the title 'White Warrior Princess'.[27] She has also associated with the Hand and resumed her ties with the Silver Samurai. She has also retaken the name "Madame Hydra".[volume & issue needed]

For a time, Viper was the dictator of the nation of Madripoor, using the nation's resources to support global terrorism via Hydra.[volume & issue needed] She was overthrown by new S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Tony Stark and Tyger Tiger, the latter of whom is now ruler of Madripoor.[28]

In Secret Warriors #2 during the Dark Reign storyline, Viper is seen leaving her lover, the Silver Samurai, to rejoin Baron Von Strucker and the ruling council of Hydra.[29] It was revealed in Secret Warriors #3 that she is no longer Madame Hydra, as she was replaced by Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, taking up the mantle of Madame Hydra, wearing an elaborate tentacle headdress and elaborate Hydra robes.[30]

In Secret Warriors #12, Viper is kidnapped by the mysterious Leviathan group, who are determined to find out the location of a mysterious box that both she and Madame Hydra procured from the Yashidas. Madame Hydra arrived at the Leviathan headquarters and offered the box to its leader, much to Viper's dismay. Madame Hydra then shot Viper to death. However, when Hydra arrived, the Hive resurrected her, giving her tentacles that stemmed from her head, and she renames herself Madame Hydra.[31]

Following the Fear Itself storyline, Madame Hydra joins up with H.A.M.M.E.R. after Norman Osborn escapes from the Raft and regains his leadership.[32] After the defeat of Osborn and his Dark Avengers, Madame Hydra uses the resources of the now-defunct H.A.M.M.E.R. to begin rebuilding the Hydra organization.[33] She later tips off Spider-Woman and Hawkeye about a heist Mister Negative is planning on a S.H.I.E.L.D. warehouse. While the Avengers deal with Mister Negative, Madame Hydra attacks a different S.H.I.E.L.D. facility and steals several captive Skrulls left over from the Secret Invasion.[34]

Madame Hydra later led an attack on Avengers Tower while the team is away. She and the rest of her forces are defeated by Angel and his younger self from earlier in the timestream.[35]

In Death of Wolverine, she was revealed by Nuke as the "Green Queen" and current leader of Madripoor who sent out a contract to capture Wolverine.[36]

Powers and abilities

Viper has no superhuman abilities but her strength, speed, reflexes, agility, dexterity, coordination, balance and endurance are on the order of an Olympic athlete. She is a great swordswoman and even greater markswoman with most long range weapons, and has extensive training in hand-to-hand combat. Viper occasionally employs poisoned weapons with snake-motifs, such as venomous darts or artificial fangs filled with poison. She utilizes experimental weaponry, including a ring that enables teleportation, and in X-Treme X-Men, she made use of razor-sharp claw attachments apparently built into her gloves.[18] A brilliant strategist and tactician with extensive combat tactical experience, Viper is highly skilled in the management of criminal organizations and very well connected in the international criminal underworld. She is also a master of stealth and espionage. Perhaps her greatest strengths are her influence, the financial resources at her disposal due to her stature in organized crime, and an uncanny luck which has allowed her to cheat death in situations where lesser people would have died. Viper may or may not have supernaturally augmented longevity.

Viper is usually armed with various ray pistols and conventional handguns. She formerly possessed a teleportation ring. She has also used various other special weaponry, including poison-tipped throwing darts, knives, and whips. She has sharpened and elongated canine teeth with hollows inside them. She keeps a special poison in them, to which she has an immunity.

For a brief time, Chthon replaced her right eye with a black orb capable of projecting persons into a magical dimension.[volume & issue needed]

Second Madame Hydra

Madame Hydra
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Nick Fury vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. #3 (Aug 1988)
Created by Bob Harras and Paul Neary
In-story information
Team affiliations Hydra

Publication history

The second Madame Hydra was created by Bob Harras and Paul Neary, and debuted in Nick Fury vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. #3 (Aug 1988).

Madame Hydra received an entry in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Update '89 #4, under the heading "Madame Hydra VI".

Fictional character biography

This operative of Hydra impressed her superiors enough that, after only a short time in the organization, they promoted her to the level of Madame Hydra VI (The identities of Madames Hydra I through V, who rank above her, are unknown). One of her first missions as Madame Hydra was to capture Nick Fury and deliver him to the Deltites, a group of artificially created duplicates which were taking over S.H.I.E.L.D. After failing in her mission and discovering that the Deltites were manipulating her, she allied with the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents against the takeover. She was later turned over to federal authorities and was found to be criminally insane, and sent to Arnold Sanitarium for psychiatric treatment (the same sanitarium that Bigfoot was later imprisoned in).

Other versions

The Age of Apocalypse

In this reality, Viper was married to the Silver Samurai. She and her husband fought their way from the islands of Japan through hordes of Apocalypse's Infinites. Viper was killed saving Samurai's life, leading to the Silver Samurai accepting Magneto's offer to join the X-Men.[volume & issue needed]


One of the alternate dimensions that is visited in Exiles #91-95 has been overtaken by a version of Madame Hydra. This world (Earth 1720) was dominated by Madame Hydra (actually Susan Storm Richards), her lover Wolverine, and their top assassin Slaymaster. However, before the Exiles can exact retribution, Madame Hydra and her lackeys escape into the omniverse to seek out other worlds to conquer.[volume & issue needed]

Ultimate Marvel

Viper appears in Ultimatum: Spider-Man Requiem along with Hydra. She attacks Tony Stark's offices in order to retrieve the Iron Man armor but is subdued by Iron Man, with the help of Spider-Man, and taken into custody by S.H.I.E.L.D.[37]

In other media


  • Viper has appeared as Madame Hydra in the X-Men: Evolution episode "Target X", voiced by Lisa Ann Beley. She is shown as the leader of the Hydra organization. It is unlikely that she survived her base's destruction at the hands of X-23, but her comics counterpart has been known to cheat death on occasion.
  • Viper appears in the The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, voiced by Vanessa Marshall.[38] She first appears in the episode "Gamma World" Part 1. In the episode "Widow's Sting", she is captured by S.H.I.E.L.D., and is revealed to be a Skrull in disguise. In the episode "Prisoner of War", the real Viper was shown to be held captive in the Skrull ship, but was freed by Captain America and is forced to escape from the Skrull ship. She has a cameo appearance in the next episode "Secret Invasion" and is shown aiding the heroes in their fight against the Skrulls. Viper returns in the episode "Along Came A Spider" where she and King Cobra are rescued from S.H.I.E.L.D. by the Serpent Society, but are eventually recaptured by Captain America and Spider-Man.


  • Russian actress Svetlana Khodchenkova plays Viper in The Wolverine.[39] Jessica Biel was previously in the running for the role, but turned it down.[40][41] She is portrayed as a mutant with a reptilian tongue, immune to all toxins on Earth and able to shed her skin if she is ever infected (evident when Harada betrays her at the climax and shoots her with a poisoned arrow). As well as being a master of creating toxins, she is able to secrete her own, sometimes fatal, venom – licking it onto sharp objects to attack with (her nails, a pen etc.), spitting it into a victim's face or killing with a kiss. A brilliant scientist, she devises a means to negate Wolverine's healing factor using a micro-robot attached to his heart, and has helped to build the Silver Samurai armor out of Adamantium for her employer, Ichirō Yashida. She is defeated in the final battle by Yukio when a cable is tied around her neck and she is hauled into an elevator shaft, her neck is broken by the descending counterweight.

Video games

Live performance


  • An action figure of Viper was released in the 2012 series of Marvel Legends figures from Hasbro, one of two figures using similar body molds (with different heads) marketed as "Marvel's Madames", the other figure being Madame Masque.


  1. The Marvel Encyclopedia. Dorling Kindersley Publishing. 2006. p. 174. ISBN 0-7566-2358-8. 
  2. Secret Warriors #15
  3. Captain America #110
  4. Captain America #111
  5. Captain America #113
  6. Avengers #107
  7. Captain America #170 (February, 1974)
  8. Captain America #180 (December 1974)
  9. Captain America #181-182
  10. Marvel Team-Up #83-85
  11. Spider-Woman #42-#44 (February - June, 1982)
  12. Captain America #281-283 (May–July, 1983)
  13. New Mutants #5-6
  14. Captain America #341-344
  15. Punisher Annual #2
  16. Daredevil Annual #4
  17. Uncanny X-Men #172, August 1983
  18. 18.0 18.1 X-Treme X-Men #11
  19. New Mutants #6, August 1983
  20. Captain America #419, September 1993
  21. Pit-Viper at the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe
  22. Punisher War Journal #45-47, August–October 1992
  23. Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Vol. 2 #45, March 1993
  24. Silver Sable and the Wild Pack #15, August 1993
  25. Wolverine # 125
  26. Astonishing Tales vol. 2 #6
  27. Uncanny X-Men #452
  28. Iron Man Annual #1
  29. Secret Warriors #2
  30. Secret Warriors #3
  31. Secret Warriors #12-15
  32. New Avengers Vol. 2 #16.1
  33. Avengers (vol. 4) #24
  34. Avengers (vol. 4) #30
  35. All-New X-Men #8
  36. Death of Wolverine #2
  37. Ultimatum: Spider-Man Requiem #1 (June 2009)
  38. Findlay, Kurtis (2010-04-26). "Avengers Images from C2E2". Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  42. Jim Reilly (2010-10-05). "Captain America: Super Soldier Announced". Xbox 360 IGN. Retrieved 2011-01-11. 
  43. "LEGO Marvel Superheroes: Stan Lee Hulks Out - Comic-Con 2013". IGN. 20 July 2013. Retrieved 20 July 2013. 

External links