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Cornell Cottonmouth (Power Man Cage enemy) (Marvel Comics)

Cornell Cottonmouth

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


Cornell Cottonmouth is an early Luke Cage villain. He appeared in 1974, as can be surmised from his “period blacksploitation meets vintage James Bond” general style. He remains an obscure character, but made minor returns during the 2010s due to vintage Cage nostalgia.

Cornell Cottonmouth (who often goes by just “Cottonmouth”) shouldn’t be mistaken for the broadly similar Cottonmouth from the Serpent Society. Let’s keep our snakes straight, eh ?



  • Real Name: Presumably Cornell Cottonmouth.
  • Marital Status: Unrevealed.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: Boss of his own criminal crew.
  • Base Of Operations: New York City.
  • Height: 6’2” Weight: 230 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: White

Powers and Abilities

Cornell Cottonmouth used to be a major criminal on the East Coast. He was feared, charismatic, well-connected and wealthy.

In his original appearances, he had a superior talent for physical violence. That was backed with superhuman strength that was on par with Luke Cage’s. However, unlike Cage, he didn’t have a steel-hard skin and remained vulnerable to bullets and the like.

His teeth had been replaced by fangs made of surgical steel, much like the Harlem crime lord Piranha Jones or the James Bond villain Jaws.



Cottonmouth seemed much less powerful during his modern appearances. Whence his apparently superhuman strength came from, and why it disappeared, remains unexplored.

The 1974 art featured a oddly glowing, huge ruby-like gemstone that Cottonmouth wore as a pendant. Perhaps it was the source of his strength. Could it have some sort of minor, distant connection with Cyttorak ?


Cornell Cottonmouth (possibly his real name) was a major figure in the American heroin trade in the mid-1970s. His network was successful and wealthy. His headquarters encompassed the larger part of a floor in a midtown Manhattan office building.

His horse trade was described as the largest in the nation, which may have been briefly true. Back then, humble spices merchant Wilson Fisk wasn’t involved in narcotics.

Cornell Cottonmouth bites a police officer (Marvel Comics)

While Cottonmouth’s rise to power was never chronicled, he demonstrated manifestly superhuman strength and an intimidating physique. Why he was so strong was never revealed, but it presumably helped a lot during his early career.

Horse thieves

In the late 1960s, several kilograms of heroine were stolen from Cottonmouth’s men. The culprit was a minor crime boss also sporting a serpentine nickname, Diamondback (Willis Stryker). Stryker used the stolen heroine to frame his former friend Carl Lucas, who was sent to the Seagate prison.

Lucas would eventually return to Harlem as Luke Cage, resulting in Stryker’s death.

Cottonmouth’s enforcers doggedly investigated the missing heroine. They kept an ear out for more information for *years*. In his view, Cottonmouth couldn’t afford to let such a theft go unpunished. But they never solved that case.

After escaping from Seagate, Luke Cage became an established “hero for hire” in New York City. He started adopting the trade name “Power Man”. He also continued to investigate how he had been framed. His best informant, Flea, directed him toward Cottonmouth’s thriving criminal empire.

However, Flea’s investigation drew the interest of Cottonmouth’s enforcers. Assuming that Flea was tied to the theft that had taken place years before, they murdered the stoolie.

The deal

Learning that Cage was investigating, Cottonmouth sent him a package with live venomous snakes hidden inside. Two of his toughest enforcers, Mike and Ike, then came in to check whether Cage was still alive. Power Man was but moderately amused, killing the snakes, beating up the thugs and having them tell him where to find Cottonmouth.

However, when Cage came to confront the drugs lord, Cottonmouth made him an offer to work for him.

Cornell Cottonmouth (Marvel Comics) and an underage prostitute

Cage’s main objective at this point was to prove that he had never trafficked heroine. Though surprised by Cottonmouth’s offer, he thus agreed to it. Cage’s hope was that it would allow him to locate records about the heroine Diamondback had stolen years before.

The fall

Cottonmouth tested Cage by sending him to steal important documents from “Boss” Morgan. Though Cage ran into some determined defenders (including a man with a bazooka) he was successful.

Cottonmouth and his right-hand man Slick later found Cage rummaging through Cottonmouth’s desk. He was searching for records about the heroine package that had been planted in his flat all these years ago. Cottonmouth fought Cage toe-to-toe, but when Slick tried to intervene he was accidentally defenestrated and killed.

Shocked by this death, Cottonmouth told Cage that the reason why there were no records was because Slick had a photographic memory and had everything memorised.

Cage knocked Cottonmouth unconscious and the crime lord was arrested. He wasn’t seen in decades, and may have spent 30+ years in prison.


When Cottonmouth got out, he no longer seemed superhumanly strong. He also had lost his influence.

Cornell Cottonmouth with a blood-filled mouth (Marvel Comics)

He became one of the various criminal has-beens occasionally associating criminal genius Nightshade. However, he seemed to have a closer working relationship with her than most of the mercs did. Perhaps that was due to his experience in criminal management.

Cottonmouth made his living preying on human misery as a pimp. He used his metallic dentition and still-significant talent for violence to intimidate the girls and rivals. He adopted a flamboyant, over-the-top 1970s style with his colourful pimp attire, complete with feathered broad hat and pimp cane.


When the Hand took over a large swathe of Manhattan, Cottonmouth’s primary stomping ground became Purgatory. That was the area under the West Side highway, so named because it was outside of Daredevil’s stated zone of influence. In 2010, he ran into trouble, as the young hero Power Man was hired to rescue one of the underage prostitutes in his stable.

Power Man easily knocked Cottonmouth out and left with the young woman to hand her over to her family.

Coincidentally, Hand ninja then came to claim dominion over Purgatory. They forced the criminals there to evacuate after some bloody violence.

Cottonmouth replaced the teeth Power Man had punched out, and had his choppers plated with 18-karat gold as part of his general pimp image. Cottonmouth accompanied Nightshade when she tracked down Power Man, as he wanted to have his revenge.

However, Nightshade stopped him before he would bite off the face of the incapacitated Power Man. She had developed an interest in Power Man’s abilities and decided to hire him instead. Cottonmouth protested, but was forced to back down at gunpoint.

Thanks to Iron Fist’s arrival, Power Man declined the offer and punched out Cottonmouth by surprise. The former crimelord turned pimp hasn’t been seen since, but he presumably still works for Nightshade.

The future

In the alternate future of Spider-Girl (May Parker), Cottonmouth has resumed his old look. He also has become a crime boss controlling much of the Bronx.

Several other minor has-beens such as Man-Mountain Marko or Fancy Dan have also secured position of authority in the New York City underworld by that point.

Note that the MC2 continuity (Spider-Girl’s time) diverges from Earth-616 (the main Marvel Universe) circa 1997. Thus, in the MC2 continuity it is possible that Cottonmouth never became a pimp. He did seem smaller than in the 1970s, though, and did not demonstrate super-human strength.


See illustrations.


Cornell Cottonmouth was originally a surprisingly civil and accommodating crimelord. Presumably his immense strength and scary appearance meant that he didn’t have to make a show of power in speech and attitude. He seemed to make his decisions from the gut, putting too much trust in people he intuitively liked and not analysing things thoroughly.

Presumably, luck and good lieutenants played an important role in his ascension and he would have fallen soon even without Cage. After Slick died, he seemed to consider that it was now impossible for him to run his heroine trade. He also lost the will to fight.

In his modern appearances Cottonmouth was a bit(t)er has-been. But he played up his flamboyant, bantering 1970s pimp style whenever customers were present.


Cottonmouth (1970s)

“Mister Cage, I suggest you restrain yourself for one moment — before you do something you’ll certainly be sorry for !”

“This is why I sent you the [venomous] snakes… as a test of sorts. Had you failed it, I assure you I’d be remorseful — but you passed it as expected, and with splendid colours, I might add. Here, Mister Cage — the wine is from my private stock.”

Cornell Cottonmouth (2010s)

(In his green and yellow pimp suit) “From North to South they call me Cottonmouth, ’cause the scales tell the tale ! Green for the money and gold for the honey, ahehehehehehhe ! Oh yaaassss ! You have a fine eye for the finer things in life, playa !”

(Witnessing some crooked cops beating up a colleague) “The ham is fighting with the bacon is fighting with the pork ! If they made a TV show of this I’d never leave my damn house !”

“Watch your mouth, boy !” (bites off a chunk of somebody’s arm) “Wait, no. Watch mine ! So much prettier ! Aheheheheheheh !”

DC Universe History

The straightforward conversion would be to have Cornell Cottonmouth as a foe of Black Lightning, one of Tobias Whale’s lieutenants among The 100.


Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Cornell Cottonmouth (during the 1970s)

Dex: 06 Str: 08 Bod: 06 Motivation: Power
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 05 Occupation: Criminal
Inf: 05 Aur: 04 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 012
Init: 015 HP: 035

Charisma: 06

Headquarters (Expansive).

New York City mobs (Low), Heroine smuggling rings (High).

Creepy Appearances (Teeth, unibrow).

Cottonmouth (during the 2010s)

Cornell Cottonmouth’s more recent appearances depict him as being much less formidable. There is little material, a possible stats block for a modern Cottonmouth is :

Dex: 04 Str: 04 Bod: 04 Motivation: Power
Int: 04 Wil: 03 Min: 04 Occupation: Criminal
Inf: 04 Aur: 03 Spi: 03 Resources {or Wealth}: 012
Init: 012 HP: 035

Claw (Bite): 05

Charisma (Intimidation): 04

Area Knowledge (New York City).

New York City mobs (Low), Street (Low).

Creepy Appearance (Teeth, pimp suit).

Cottonmouth seemed a bit smaller than before — perhaps 6’ and 190 lbs. — presumably as a side effect of losing his superhuman strength.

I want muscle, hoo hoo hoo

Mike and Ike were apparently Cottonmouth’s primary enforcers during the 1970s. Likely stats for these two elite muscle types are :

Dex: 04 Str: 04 Bod: 04 Motivation: Mercenary
Int: 03 Wil: 02 Min: 04 Occupation: Criminal
Inf: 03 Aur: 03 Spi: 03 Resources {or Wealth}: 012
Init: 012 HP: 008

Charisma (Intimidation, Interrogation): 04, Detective (Legwork): 04, Martial artist: 05, Vehicles (Land): 03, Weaponry (Firearms): 04

Area Knowledge (New York City).

Street (Low), Cornell Cottonmouth (Low).

They were unarmed when they confronted Cage, but presumably packed heat (say, a .38 special revolver for Ike and a M3 submachinegun for Mike) the rest of the time.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Marvel Universe.

Writeup completed on the 30th of May, 2011.

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