5718 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Black Mamba (Marvel Comics)

Black Mamba

(Tanya Sealy)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

To have the full context (and so we do not have to describe the same events in every single profile), we strongly suggest that you reads these two profiles before Black Mamba’s :

  1. Sidewinder (Seth Voelker) for all the background about the Serpent Squad and the Serpent Society
  2. Asp (“Cleo Nefertiti”) for all the background about the BAD Girls

Background

  • Real Name: Tanya Sealy
  • Other Aliases: Tanya Sweet
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: None
  • Group Affiliation: BAD Girls Inc. founder, Assassin’s guild contractor. Former member of the Serpent Society and the Serpent Squad, former member of the 2002 version of the Masters of Evil headed by the Crimson Cowl (Justine Hammer), former member of the ‘Secret Avengers’, former member of the Women Warriors Fifty States Initiative team.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile, formerly the Serpent Citadel (in upstate New York)
  • Height: 5’7” Weight: 115 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Black


Powers and Abilities

All members of the Serpent Squad were enhanced to be able to search for the Serpent Crown on the ocean floor without any equipment. Thus Black Mamba can breath or even speak underwater without apparent discomfort. She can also withstand significant pressure and pressure differentials.

The aptly-named Sealy can continue breathing deep underwater even when knocked unconscious. She is a good swimmer, and generally seems to be in very good physical shape.

Instant succubi for hire

Sealy’s gaze has some slight, snake-like hypnotic properties. These cause people watching her in the eyes to relax. However, she has only displayed this ability as a prelude to her main power.

Said power involves surrounding herself with a Darkforce  “skin”, which she then sends toward the subject. It will gradually take the naked shape of the most desired person on the subject’s mind. The “love phantom” (as some other Serpents call it) will then embrace the subject, talking to them in a romantic and longing way.

Diamondback, Black Mamba and Asp doing a sexy pose

This effect has very strong stupefying and hypnotic properties. Even highly resilient persons such as the Thing (Benjamin Jacob Grimm) or Captain America (Steve Rogers), who were aware that the presence of their lover was impossible, could only mumble incoherently and abandon themselves unto the grip of Black Mamba’s Darkforce “skin”.

When using her power on people reputed for their strong will and/or savagery, Mamba usually pumps Hero Points  into her attempt. This paradoxically means that she’s likely to succeed against such subjects.

Fatal attraction

The “love phantom” then mentally attacks the target. The full process has never been seen carried to term, but it seems that Black mamba can opt for killing or for subduing. Sealy doesn’t have to maintain control over the “skin” for the entire process. She can shift her attention elsewhere while the “skin” continues smothering the target’s mind.

The Darkforce “skin” can touch the subject and physically manipulate them, though that requires Sealy’s full concentration. For instance the Darkforce projection that attacked the Thing (mimicking Alicia Masters) gently removed his breathing apparatus while they were deep underwater.

Eventually, Mamba learned how to make her Darkforce “skins” reflect what her subject feared the most. She also learned to animate them better, for instance to act as decoys or illusion rather than being limited to “throw” them at her target.

She also once managed to “wear” a Darkforce skin, giving the impression that she had physically turned into the woman on Tony Stark’s mind. This minor trick is seldom tactically advantageous, though. Operating at a distance is safer.

Standing in the shadows of love

Much later, Sealy managed to keep a Darkforce “skin” wrapped around Captain America while he was walking. She thus hid him within a projection of Superia, the greatest fear of the two guards Cap was walking past.

At this point though it was still, in DC Heroes terms, a Stunt Power. Captain America suggested it and helped her focus to pull it off (Leadership). Nowadays, it seems to be a mastered application of her power.

While she was projecting her “skin” around Captain America she could hear him whispering. Our game stats thus assume that she project her senses into her Darkforce “skin”, just like she can use a “skin” to relay her movements like a waldo.

Black Mamba can throw multiple “love phantoms” at once, at multiple opponents. However she only ever tries that on guards and other very minor opponents. She isn’t strong enough to attack multiple strong minds at once.

She’s just stunning

During her Cable & Deadpool appearance, Black Mamba demonstrated that she had mastered a new trick. She blanketed an area in pitch-black Darkforce. Most everyone inside was immobilised for a short period as they experienced vivid hallucinations (usually sexual, and frequently homosexual, in nature).

The hallucinations fade away pretty soon, though for some subjects the discomfort may not.


History

Much of Tanya Sealy’s career as Black Mamba has been covered in other profiles. Specifically, see :

For brevity’s sake, this entry only covers events specific to Sealy.

Roxxon, you do have to put on the red light

Secondary sources have described Tanya Sealy as having been an escort before she was recruited by Roxxon Oil. This oil industry giant augmented her to become a superhuman, along with the other Serpent Squad members Anaconda, Death Adder and Sidewinder.

It seemed like she was in a relationship with Sidewinder during the Serpent Squad days. It certainly was the case later on during the Serpent Society era.

Diamondback, Black Mamba and Asp laughing

Our No-Prize Hypothesis  is that Sealy was a call-girl whom Sidewinder met before being augmented, and to whom he offered superhuman powers in exchange for her continued free services for several years. This guess is based on :

  • Voelker indicating that Sealy was indebted toward him
  • Voelker thinking that Black Mamba resented that deal, without explaining why

Voelker apparently worried for nothing. Black Mamba never told her best friends that she resented Sidewinder, and seemed very comfortable with her life and Voelker’s mild-mannered ways.

Serpent Squad

Black Mamba worked with the Squad on all the missions documented in the Sidewinder profile. After the recovery of the Serpent Crown by Sidewinder, the other three Squad members — including Sealy — ended up in prison. When they got out, Mamba seemed to be the de facto leader. As such, she headed a mission for an unrevealed employer to steal some Stark Industries technology.

The three Serpents reached their objective after Mamba killed a guard with a Darkforce projection of his wife. They then set free the animals of a nearby zoo to create a diversion. Stealing the McGuffin, Mamba inserted it into a weapon provided by her employer and used it on a random passerby, a test which proved successful.

Iron Man intervened. He defeated the Serpents since Black Mamba’s power failed to hold him long enough.

The Serpent Society

The three Serpents were arrested again, but escaped. Once free they resumed their other objective – finding Sidewinder, whom they thought had betrayed them.

As chronicled in the Sidewinder profile, Sealy and her cohorts discovered that Sidewinder had actually kept their money (plus interest) safe. They thus accepted his proposal to form a quasi-corporate structure, the Serpent Society.

Diamondback, Asp, Black Mamba (and Deadpool)

During her time with the Serpent Society, Sealy was hired for at least one solo contract. When Baron Helmut Zemo assembled his Masters of Evil and successfully invaded Avenger’s Mansion, Mamba was sent to neutralise Hercules. She didn’t even have to use her powers, and simply seduced him.

Cruising around in a limo, she invited Hercules aboard and had him drink enormous quantities of drugged alcohol. When she dropped him off in front of the Mansion, the Prince of Power was thoroughly inebriated. His angry and clumsy behaviour resulted in a beating by the Masters of Evil, with very nearly fatal consequences.

The coup

During her time with Sidewinder’s Serpent Society, Black Mamba also had a fling with Society member Puff Adder. Apparently, it was brief and went nowhere.

During the assault of the Viper (Ophelia Sarkissian) on the Serpent Citadel, Black Mamba was the first to be taken out. Sarkissian shot Sealy with a stun beam pistol, then changed into the French maid uniform Mamba was wearing for Sidewinder. This allowed the Viper to get close enough to him to bite him.

When Mamba recovered, she was held prisoner. Viper had correctly assumed that Sealy would remain loyal toward Voelker even under threat. After Black Mamba began spitting insults at the Viper, she was the first prisoner to be bitten and injected with a deadly snake toxin. However, the intervention of Captain America saved her life.

Sealy also regularly advised and defended her friend Diamondback (Rachel Leighton). She helped Rachel make important choices and reinvent her life when she stopped being a criminal. Tanya later acted as defence during the “trial” organised by the Serpent Society when they discovered that Diamondback had been clandestinely dating Captain America.

After Diamondback was condemned, Mamba was the one who risked her life by calling on Sidewinder for a rescue. Mamba knew that Sidewinder owed Diamondback his life.

The BAD Girls

The bulk of the Serpent Society was arrested in the wake of the Diamondback “trial”. Black Mamba, Asp and Diamondbak then formed the BAD Girls, as chronicled in the Diamondback profiles.

After the BAD Girls split up for a time, Sealy spent time in Los Angeles as an actress and model. There she became a friend of Lillian Truman – the sister of Jack Truman, a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent rebuilt using Deathlok technology. Apparently, Sealy was tempted to forego crime and concentrate on modelling.

The BAD Girls in their pink Hummer

When Jack Truman visited his sister, Lillian asked him to accompany Tanya to a social event. Though Sealy just needed to be accompanied by a guy in a tux, the situation degenerated. Puff Adder tried to rekindle their old romance from the Serpent Society days.

Truman, in a terrible mood due to psychological issues over being a cyborg, got in a brawl with Puff Adder until Sealy told him to leave. She then dealt with Puff Adder by having a talk with him.

Masters of Evil, and return to the BAD Girls

Some months before the BAD Girls reunited, Black Mamba was hired to join a cadre of super-villains assembled by the new Crimson Cowl (Justine Hammer). It was yet another version of the Masters of Evil that included Skein (the former Gypsy Moth), Man-Killer, Machinesmith, Cyclone and Hydro-Man.

Though this team went through complex treason and change of allegiances issues, Black Mamba stuck with her employer as usual. However, she and Hydro-Man ended up being swiftly defeated by the Thunderbolts.

Sealy was then presumably busted from prison by Diamondback and Asp to rejoin the reunited BAD Girls. At this point the Girls started working as classier mercenaries, specialising in snatch jobs.

Years later, during the Secret Invasion , Black Mamba was separated from her friends. Along with a small crew of panicking ex-Serpent Society members (Anaconda, the new Sidewinder, Copperhead, Fer-de-Lance, the new Death Adder) she took a rural community hostage. The Serpents intended to fortify it against the Skrull invaders.

The situation was defused when the first members of the recently rebuilt Nova Corps swiftly took out all Serpents and freed the prisoners.

Initiative and beyond

Mamba was freed from prison by the Serpent Society who needed her for a job. However, they ran into the New Avengers and Sealy was once again defeated by Captain America. Her stay in prison was brief, though. She was soon transferred to the Fifty States Initiative and assigned to the Delaware-based Women Warriors.

After the destruction of the Osborn regime in battle with Asgard, Black Mamba started taking solo contracts for the Assassin’s Guilds of New Orleans. One contract was to join a disparate crew of other Assassin’s Guild contractors to take on Wolverine and Domino to settle a personal score of the guildmaster, Belladonna Boudreaux.

Though Mamba nailed Wolverine with a vision of his deceased lover Yashida Mariko, Domino broke the illusion by shooting Sealy in the shoulder. Black Mamba managed to get back in the fight, but was badly stabbed through the sternum by X-23.


Description

See illustrations. Why do we have so many illustrations of Black Mamba ? I wonder.


Personality

Diamondback is a criminal because she never had much of a choice, and Asp seems to be a criminal out of hostility toward conventional authorities and morals. However, Black Mamba appears to be a super-villainess simply because she likes the power, the money, and the thrill.

Sealy does not seem to be especially malevolent, though she has no problem killing people and has frequently worked as a killer-for-hire. She just likes the lifestyle.

Black Mamba using her powers

Sex and romance obviously are very important for her. Mamba vigorously defended the right of a Serpent to have a love life with whoever they wanted during the Diamondback “trial”. She also was horrified to telepathically discover the Viper’s thoroughly celibate and loveless lifestyle.

Captain of their hearts

She is always happy to help her friends setting up dates and the like. Tanya also had considerable difficulties wrapping her head around the notion that Superia wanted a world without any free men. For Black Mamba a life without men was the most boring, pointless and stupid thing imaginable.

Likewise, Sealy seems to have a very active love life. She is experienced in matters of the heart – or at least to think she is. She also likes having a provocative image and making references to her attractiveness and that of her fellow BAD Girls. The strong sexual and romantic overtones of her power are pretty cool in her book.

Like Rachel and Cleo, Tanya puts a strong emphasis on loyalty toward comrades, and on friendship. She is prepared to brave considerable risks and threats to stick with her friends and colleagues.

Unlike the others she has a shallow, mercenary and greedy streak – but she jokes about it so it won’t make her look too bad.


Quotes

(As Anaconda is crushing the Thing from behind) “At least allow him one final pleasure before his end, Anaconda. Let him know a moment of ecstasy.” (sends a Darkforce “skin” at the Thing)

“The Trump, eh ? What a scoundrel. Went out with him once, and he stuck me with the check.”

“Ha ! You don’t think I know how far you’d go on a first date ? I’m your best friend, for cryin’ out loud !”

“If you go through with [the] execution [of Diamondback], the Asp and I quit.”

Black Mamba, Diamondback, Asp

“How’s macaroni and cheese sound ? It’s the only thing I know how to cook.”

“That’s a lot of paperwork and numbers. You know I don’t like numbers except on checks.”

(A large airplane crashes and skids rapidly toward the Women Warriors)
Diamondback: “We’ve got to stop it !”
Black Mamba: “With what, our looks ? Don’t be stupid Rachel ! Run !”

“Asp, Quicksand. Save the catfights for paying customers.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Black Mamba (classic stats)

Dex: 03 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Mercenary
Int: 04 Wil: 03 Min: 03 Occupation: Mercenary, occasional model
Inf: 04 Aur: 04 Spi: 03 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 011 HP: 020

Powers:
Illusion: 09, Mental freeze: 09, Mind probe: 12, Poison touch: 06, Stretching: 03, Water freedom: 03

Bonuses and Limitations:
See “The Miracle of Love” section below.

Skills:
Animal handling (Snakes): 04, Artist (Fashion modelling): 03, Charisma (Persuasion): 05, Vehicles (Land, Air): 03, Weaponry (Firearms): 03

Advantages:
Optionally: Pets (snakes, see below)

Connections:
Diamondback II (High), Asp II (High), Impala, (Low), Sidewinder (Low), Paladin (Low, possibly High), Lillian Truman (Low), formerly the Serpent Society (Low)

Drawbacks:
MPR (As long as she is conducting Dice Actions through a Darkforce “skin”, sufficiently luminous energy attacks hitting the ’skin’ will be treated as hitting Black Mamba with their normal AV/EV as Bashing damage)


Design notes

The potency of Mamba’s Mental Freeze is hard to establish, since she manages to nail very resilient guys (the Thing, Captain America, Wolverine) but fails against people who have but a fraction of their willpower (Iron Man, Havok). Thus her APs are a fuzzy compromise – the dice and HPs will handle the rest.

No, she doesn’t have the Attractive Advantage. She is just as socially adept with people who aren’t attracted toward women.


Kung-fu fightin’ — more recent stats

Starting with their Cable and Deadpool appearance in 2005, Asp and Black Mamba start displaying fighting moves and endurance that are significantly above what they ever managed to do in a brawl before. Those new abilities are not included in the main stats block, since they occur quite late in their long career.

The simplest explanation is that they were trained by Diamondback II, who during her adventures with Captain America gained considerable skill in the martial arts and streetfighting techniques.

Specifically, Black Mamba is put through enough of a regimen to raise her stats to DEX 04 STR 03 BODY 04, and she learns Martial artist: 04 (her Initiative thus goes up to 14). She probably also has been taught Thief Subskills, but none have been demonstrated so far.

In 2005, Black Mamba demonstrates a new Power — Darkness: 09. It is a Minor Marginal Power. Mental Freeze can be Combined with Darkness, and can be Active Throughout Darkness. When used that way Mental Freeze can be used against targets whom she has not Mind Probed. On the other hand, when Combined with Darkness, Mental Freeze can never get more than 3 RAPs.

During some modern appearances, Black Mamba is seen attacking with an energy touch. What it is is unclear. It might be a sort of contact electrical weapon (much like Asp started carrying a gun), or perhaps she has learned to use the Poison Touch component of her Powers by itself, without any other conditions. Or perhaps she learned to emit some sort of Darkforce shock at a touch.

It’s impossible to say from the available material.


The miracle of love

Here are the technical explanations for how Tanya’s Powers work. For something less game-oriented refer to the Powers & Abilities section as usual.

  • The whole setup is a chain which starts with Mind Probe in the first Phase, then follows with Mental Freeze in the second Phase, and may be followed by other actions (Poison touch, Stretching…). Mind Probe must gain one or more RAP for the rest of the chain to be available.
  • Mind Probe has a Range of but 04, and can only be used to scan for either the greatest love or the greatest fear within the subject’s mind. Furthermore, it will never provide more than one RAP of information – a single image. Mamba almost always scans for the greatest love.
  • This image can only be manifested as a Darkforce “skin”. If Black Mamba wants to discover the results of her scan, she has to conjure a “skin” to see how it looks. It does not appear in her mind.
  • Certain characters simply do not have a greatest love (such as the Viper (Ophelia Sarkissian)). It is possible that other characters do not have a greatest fear. It would seem that in both cases it must be a person rather than, say, an abstract concept or ideology.
  • Mental Freeze is its own AV (+1 or +0 depending on house rules), has a Range of 03, and only works if Mind Probe has gotten its RAP from the same subject in the previous Phase.
  • If Mamba can no longer see her Darkforce “skin”, the Mental Freeze is automatically broken at the end of the Phase.
  • Poison touch can only be used on a currently Mentally Frozen subject. Mamba’s Poison Touch attacks INT/MIND, with RAPs being inflicted to MIND
  • Stretching can only be used to sense and manipulate through a Darkforce “skin” attached to a Mentally Frozen subject. The “skin” acts as a remote-controlled waldo and probe.
    Thus, Black Mamba can concentrate to hear, see, etc. though the “skin” rather than use her normal perception, and/or to have the “skin” execute her movements to push the target, wrestle the target, Take Away something from the target, etc.
  • Illusion has a Range of 03, and as long as it is active Black Mamba cannot perform any Dice Action. Furthermore, Illusion can only manifest the creature perceived through Mind Probe.

Union of the snake

Black Mamba often has three or four snakes coiled around her body. Though secondary sources state that those are live, venomous snakes they never actually *do* anything in the actual stories. In fact, upon reading the stories, the simplest assumption is that those snakes are flexible, unusual ornaments on her costume – an eccentric fashion accessory.

Only two stories (chiefly Thunderbolts #64) have the snakes look like real animals rather than rubber doodads.

If you want Mamba to have dangerous snakes wrapped around her and enjoying the heat, the stats for cobras (from writeup.org’s ever-indispensable Animals File) are reproduced below for your convenience.

Venomous Snake

Dex: 02 Str: -02 Bod: 01
Int: 00 Wil: 00 Min: 01
Inf: 02 Aur: 00 Spi: 02
Init: 06

Powers:
Analytical Smell/Tracking Scent: 07, Paralysis: 05, Poison Touch: 03, Shrinking: 04, Ultra Vision: 04

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Paralysis and Poison Touch have Combined Power bonus – this is for species who combine hemotoxins (represented by Poison Touch) with the more common neurotoxins (represented by Paralysis)
  • Poison Touch does not attack every Phase – try having successive attacks every 3 minutes
  • Drawbacks:
    Attack Vulnerability: -1 CS vs. cold.

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Marvel comics

Helper(s): R. Lyon, Mark Ayen, Darci, Roy Cowan, Adam Fuqua

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