"Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made." - Genesis 3:1
Snakehead, VIPER's new trump card. It seems like this supervillain did appear in VIPER's ranks out of thin air . Since then he has been one of the most feared weapons in VIPER's arsenal of superhuman enforcers, known by the public as the Dragon Branch. Nobody knows where he came from and even his comrades seem to view him with respect and suspicion at the same time. There is just something... odd about him.
Snakehead is a tall man with tanned skin and a lean, athletic build. His features are strangely plain and nondescript, but for a casual observer he might seem of Arab or North-African descent. He wears his dark brown hair long in a slightly messy style, apparently not paying too much attention to it. However there are some distinctive features which make it obvious that he is not as plain as he seems. The most obvious are his strikingly green eyes with slit, snake-like pupils. He also seems to have retractable corneas, just like a real snake. When opening his mouth, his connection to snakes becomes even more obvious. He has a pair of retractable snake fangs in place of his upper incisors. He also has an about 1 ft long forked tongue he can roll back in his mouth to appear normal, though he seems to prefer to have it out as often as possible, both to unnerve his enemies and because he is able to taste the air with it.
His usual outfit is a simple, one-sleeved, dark green robe with a golden ornamental seam. Underneath it, he wears a simple, dark grey version of the VIPER Basic Combat Uniform (BCU). He completes his outfit with black fingerless leather gloves and black combat boots with dark gold highlights. The few pieces of equipment he carries with him are usually stored in compartments on his belt or carried in a small pouch on his left arm.
Much about Snakehead remains unclear. VIPER is careful not to reveal anything about their mysterious new enforcer, either due to secrecy or because they don't know too much about him themselves. Fact is that he is a member of the Dragon Branch and has been seen aiding VIPER operations all over the world, during which he came to blows with both superheroes and law enforcement. What most of those who encountered him agree upon is that he carries himself differently from most VIPER supervillains; there is an air of spirituality and purpose around him which is different from the mercenary or fanatical attitude most VIPER agents exhibit. There is no question however that he is dedicated and loyal to VIPER's goals and will use his range of snake-like abilities to fight against anyone standing in their way.
Snakehead seems to be radically different from what one would expect a VIPER supervillain to be like. His voice is hoarse and almost melancholic, his demeanor is calm and collected and he carries himself with a sense of purpose and integrity. Often it seems like is not completely in the here and now as he stares into the distance or right through whoever he is currently talking to. While he is able to engage in normal conversations, it seems he does not really have any interest in doing so. Even though he sometimes gets swept up in the heat of battle he still seems somewhat detached from whatever is happening around him.
One of the things which actually brings him to the here and now are snakes. He is fascinated and enraptured by snakes in all their forms and in many cases he will stop whatever he is doing at the moment to admire and observe a snake; many VIPER agents who saw him interacting with snakes swear that he can actually speak to and understand them, but if that is the case he never talks about what they have told him. His fascination with snakes does not end with live snakes as well. He is highly knowledgeable about the role of snakes in art, literature, mythology, religion and even pop culture and he often talks about it in an almost spiritual and philosophical manner. When listening to him many people can't help but get the feeling that he knows and sees things they don't.
As is due for a member of VIPER's feared Dragon Branch, Snakehead possesses a number of skills and abilities which make him a fearsome opponent in battle.
Hand-to-hand Combat Expertise: Like almost every VIPER agent, Snakehead has been going through an extensive martial arts training course at VIPER Academy. The basic fighting style taught there is a quick, dirty “art” that emphasizes brutal blows and defeating the enemy as quickly as possible. It’s not fancy or elaborate, but it provides the agent with much better fighting ability than the average street tough. However, Snakehead's extraordinary physical abilities soon made it clear that his talent was wasted with such basic training. After some consideration he was sent to train under the Takara-Shinja, VIPER's deadliest cadre of assassins. The Takara-Shinja practice a unique martial art called Hebijutsu, which most closely resembles Snake-Style Kung Fu. These fighting techniques along with Snakehead's enhanced body and reflexes make him a dangerous foe up close.
Standard VIPER Equipment Kit: Snakehead's abilities eliminated the need for VIPER to provide him with specialized equipment. Instead he was issued a dark grey version of the BCU and a slightly modified standard equipment kit. This kit includes the VIPER Fang, a combat knife made of drop-forged, case-hardened steel along with a simple VL-S1 “Redeye” laser pistol. Additionally it contains three VG-1 frag grenades, three VG-3 concussion grenades, one VG-7 strobe grenade and one VG-9 smoke grenade. Due to his regenerative abilities Snakehead is quite reckless with the use of his explosives. Finally he has been issued a standard VIPER communicator and wrist computer.
Snake Body: Snakehead's body might appear human enough, but he exhibits a number of snake-like traits that give him a range of superhuman abilites: Snakehead is unusually strong and durable. While he is not nearly on the level of most brick-type superhumans, he is easily able to lift and throw an adult human with one hand and survive a car crash without any sign of injury. Snakehead's senses are sharper than even other metahumans'. He also possesses several additional senses, which are commonly associated with snakes, like the ability to perceive even slight air and ground vibrations, taste the air with his tongue and sense changes in the ambient temperature. These senses along with his snake-like reflexes give him a phenomenally short reaction time and make it almost impossible to surprise him in battle. Furthermore, his body seems to be highly elastic. He has the ability to completely dislocate every single joint in his body while still having complete control over his limbs using muscle tension alone. This allows him to perform several spectacular feats. He can squeeze through the narrowest of spaces, the only limitation being the circumference of his ribcage. Just like a snake he can slither over the ground and scale obstacles at a very high speed. He can use his own body to capture and bind enemies in battle, subsequently constricting them. And finally the flexibility of his altered body along with his enhanced reflexes allow him to dodge attacks in seemingly impossible ways.
Healing Factor: Snakehead has impressive regenerative abilities. While the actual speed at which wounds inflicted on him heal is only slightly enhanced compared to normal humans, Snakehead has the ability to shed his skin along with any damaged muscle and tissue and regurgitate a greatly healed version of himself. In addition to healing himself, Snakehead also uses this ability to catch his enemies off guard due to its inherent shock and surprise effect. While powerful, performing this feet takes a bit of time and tires Snakehead out greatly.
Snake Manipulation & Empowerment: It is true, Snakehead can actually communicate with snakes and give them orders, although it is unknown if he has to convince them or if he can truly control them. Fact is that he is able to utilize snakes in a variety of ways in battle. He usually takes certain measures to have a number of snakes available to him at any given moment, sometimes even carrying them under his clothes, ready to strike. What makes this ability even more dangerous is the fact that Snakehead is able to 'empower' any species of snake by biting it. A yet unknown process occurs inside the body of the bitten snake, causing mutations in the form of rapid growth, greatly increased muscle mass as well as enhanced intelligence and aggression. The longer Snakehead bites a snake, the greater the effect. Usually Snakehead prefers to have several anaconda-sized snakes instead of one even larger specimen, but there is at least one documented case where he mutated a rattlesnake to the size of a Boeing 747.
Even though Snakehead's superhuman powers make him a fearsome opponent, he has several easily exploitable weaknesses.
Up Close and Personal: Snakehead is mostly dangerous up close when he can use all of his powers to their fullest. His options to fight from a distance are severely limited and a cunning foe who manages to stay out of his reach has a much easier time dealing with him. And while his snake-like reflexes and agility allow him to move quickly on the ground, his only weapon against flying foes is his laser pistol with which he is not particularily proficient.
Cold-blooded: Just like a snake, Snakehead does not deal too well with low temperatures. They slow down his metabolism and reflexes, dull his senses and weaken his regenerative abilities. While VIPER is careful to not send him on missions in cold climates, ice-based attacks can and have taken Snakehead out.
My Darlings!: Snakehead's strange relationship with snakes can be quite a weakness. Even though he readily uses his abilities to manipulate and empower snakes to help him in combat, he hates to see them injured or - even worse - killed. Opponents seeking to exploit this weakness risk a bit of a gamble though. In some cases Snakehead was melancholic and grief-stricken about his darlings' deaths, but on other occasions he started an (untypical) rage-fueled rampage.