In one of my “Comic Haul” YouTube videos, I off-handedly remarked that the “serpent stuff” of Marvel was a hidden gem that I hoped would one day find its way into the MCU. The more I thought about this, the more I want to manifest it into reality.
So, let’s talk about Marvel’s Serpent Crown.
The Serpent Crown is an object of incredible mystical power that first appeared in Sub-Mariner #9 (1969), created by writer Roy Thomas and artist Marie Severin, one of my most beloved Marvel artists. The Serpent Crown is, duh, a crown that resembles a coiled, seven-headed serpent reminiscent of the wicked seven-headed exiled demon god Set.
Serpent Crown stories follow an enjoyable trope: An artifact of unimaginable corruptive power threatens all of civilizations, yet heroes ultimately prevail and banish the artifact into an unreachable crevice beneath the sea where it can never be a threat again…or can it?
Conan books were popular at the time when the Serpent Crown was introduced, so Roy Thomas obviously wanted to provide some connective threads between the Marvel superhero universe and King Kull – the ruler of Atlantis (Lemuria) and the Serpent Men – from Robert E Howard’s Conan mythos. Thus, the Serpent Crown appeared in the pages of Sub-Mariner but quickly took on a life of its own in further storylines.
Serpent Crown storylines will never appear in lists of the greatest Marvel tales ever told, but most stories that involve the crown are sneaky good and certainly entertaining. One such storyline was in Marvel Two-in-One, the great run of comics that starred the Thing from the Fantastic Four.
At one point in this Mark Gruenwald penned storyline, “The Serpent Crown Affair!“, Agatha Harkness describes the Serpent Crown as “an artifact of pre-cataclysm Lemuria,” the event Agatha referring to being the sinking of Atlantis that was caused by the Celestials centuries ago.
Yet the most well-known storyline that involved the Serpent Crown is certainly the highly entertaining “Atlantis Attacks” storyline that spanned 14 annuals in 1989. Yup, 14.
Any storyline that spans that many different books is bound to drift in places, but darned if Atlantis Attacks didn’t deliver. It’s just my opinion, but I prefer the Serpent Crown stories to the Infinity Gem stories and trips to the comic shops to try and collect each of those individual Atlantis Attacks annuals is a worthy quest.
The greed and power-hunger that the crown fed felt threatening to me. The Serpent Crown was an ancient power…and mysterious. The intertwined imagery of snakes, corruption, ancient artifacts, sinister power, undersea discovery really worked well together and lent itself perfectly to superhero stories.
Again, the Serpent Crown a hidden gem in Marvel comics and one that I hope will one day find its way into the MCU. The possible connections are there:
- There is an obvious Atlantis / Namor connection that could be introduced in Wakanda Forever.
- Set has an Egyptian mythology connection that could be explored in future seasons of Moon Knight.
- The Serpent Society has strong Captain America connections that could be picked up in Sam’s adventures.
- The Serpent Crown has heavy connections to The Thing, which could tease the Fantastic Four introduction.
- The Deviant connection could tie into the Eternals and possible storylines with those characters, not saying anyone wants that.
- There have also been Serpent Crown connections to Nova from Secret Avengers and that could tie to the Worldmind and an eventual Nova appearance in the MCU.
- And if they’d ever want to introduce Squadron Supreme, the Serpent Crown would be a handy way to do so.
So, I invite you to dig into Serpent Crown storylines if you’ve never done so. Atlantis Attacks is a good place to start. Reading lists are available online and the issues are available digitally via Marvel Unlimited. The storyline in Marvel Two-in-One is tighter is worth a read as well.
Or, with Namor’s introduction in Wakanada Forever, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to dust off those old Sub-Mariner comics from the 70s. They are a different era for sure, but you have to admit that they introduced some good stuff into the Marvel Universe.