Friday, October 31, 2014

Death Of A Salesman


Name This Marvel Villain??

The hit television series, Mad Men, has surely shown us that people who work in advertising aren't exactly pillars of society--but hopefully most of them fall short of super-villain material. Not so our featured villain, Jordan Dixon, a/k/a the Viper, who gave up a successful career on Madison Avenue to follow his calling. He started out working for the Cowled Commander, a suspended cop who concocted a twisted scheme to overhaul the police department--and, in the process, the Viper almost succeeded in murdering Captain America. That, in turn, brought down on him the wrath of Cap's friend and partner, the Falcon:

The Viper, of course, brings his trade with him in his exercise of villainy. You're never sure if he's more intent on causing your death, or selling it to you:

Fortunately, Cap, who had been laying low in order to draw out the Viper, arrives in time to help Falc by giving a beating to the Viper, and then forcing him to hand over the antidote to the poison the Falcon is dying from. And the Viper complies--by way of his own deadly style, of course:

It's a good thing that the Viper left that antidote tantalizingly within reach--because once he departed, Cap managed to use it to save both the Falcon's life and his own. (The Viper's mixture of ingredients also turned out to be responsible for Cap's period of having super-strength, until it finally faded.) Later, the Falcon caught up with our fanged fiend for a little payback:

But the Cowled Commander has been busy recruiting other super-villains, making it an unexpected family reunion when the Viper's brother is introduced:

Eventually, the Commander's scheme is foiled, and all the perps are captured and put behind bars. Though several reptile-based villains, including the Viper, have no intention of staying there:

Man, this guy can't turn off the sales pitch, can he? But speaking of advertising, you may recall when Captain America fell victim to an ad campaign that discredited him--paving the way for the villain, Moonstone, to frame him for murder and forcing him to become a fugitive. Well, you probably have a good guess by now as to who thought the whole thing up:

As we can see, the Viper and his new comrades have formed the first "Serpent Squad," and they don't waste much time gunning for Cap and the Falcon. Their first engagement ends up with Cap burning his hands on the Eel's electrical field--but in the final showdown, the Viper at last gets clocked for good:

I'd say the Viper has a future as an understudy for Jon Hamm--but once the Moonstone story has played out, and it comes time for Dixon to make the rounds in the courts, due to his involvement with setting up Cap, it turns out that he's actually not going to have much of a future at all, thanks to the murderous former Madame Hydra.

Dixon's cocky guard detail, however, is only a warm-up for this nihilist who's come looking for him:

For what it's worth, the new Viper is going to be a lot less concerned with salesmanship.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful post!
I like to joke around a lot (I'm a hilarious guy, I can't help it)
but Marvel Comics in the '70's was a big deal for me, it's more or less how I learned to read and informed my world-view. I was pretty young and there wasn't much else going on.
The Englehart/Buscema run on C.A. was one of the all-time classic runs from Marvel. I was drawn by the art and action, but left curious and wondering about some of the ideas expressed.
I remember reading Englehart's run on SUPER-VIILAIN TEAM-UP, (I was maybe six) and asking my mother, "Ma, who is Henry Kissinger and why is he hanging out with Doctor Doom?"
She said, "Don't look at me, I voted for McGovern."
She still laughs about that! mp

Anonymous said...

P.S. I'm a big Sal Buscema fan too. The art here is outstanding.
That guy is WAY underrated. mp

Comicsfan said...

mp, it's funny how Kissinger pops up in comics every now and then. There's a post in there somewhere. :)