Rachel Leighton was born in Austin, Texas as the only girl among three brothers. As a youth, she moved with her family from Texas to New York City and proceeded to grow up with the wrong crowd. Two of her brothers joined a notorious street gang known as the 'Savage Crims,' led by Brock Rumlow (the criminal later known as Crossbones). At the age of fifteen, Rachel attempted to join the same gang by approaching Rumlow alone and claiming that she would do anything to join. The sadistic Rumlow took advantage of the offer by beating and possibly raping Rachel. Her two brothers in the gang retaliated by attacking Rumlow, but it went badly and her elder brother Ricky was killed in the fight. Her other brother, Danny, survived and went on to become the mercenary known as Cutthroat.
After Rachel recovered, she realized that she never wanted to be victimized again. She enrolled for elite combat training at one of secret criminal academies run by the Taskmaster and became a deadly fighter, demonstrating a particular skill for hurling objects with great accuracy. While in the academy, Rachel befriended a woman named Sheoke Sanada and the two trained alongside each other. Their friendship took a very bad turn when Rachel inadvertently violated Sheoke's unusually strict code of honor, and Sheoke swore revenge. Rachel remained oblivious to the fact that the other woman was nursing a grudge until years later, when Sheoke would return as the villainous Snapdragon.
Another fateful contact Rachel made at the academy was with the super-powered Anaconda, a combat instructor who became intrigued by Rachel's potential. Anaconda introduced Rachel to Sidewinder, who encouraged her to join his new gang of criminals called the Serpent Society, the members of whom based their identities on dangerous snakes. Rachel became a founding member of the Serpent Society and took the identity of Diamondback, designing a colorful costume to match. As Diamondback, she developed a bolder, sassier, and more seductive personality than she ever had as Rachel Leighton, even dying her hair a bright magenta color as a reflection of this change. To take advantage of her mastery of thrown weapons, she was armed with an array of 'throwing diamonds' created by the criminal genius known as the Trapster.
Diamondback was created by writer Mark Gruenwald and artist Paul Neary in 1985, and first appeared in Captain America vol. 1 #310, the issue that also introduced the Serpent Society. Diamondback was one of the Society's original female members and also one of the few with a completely human appearance. She exhibited an immediate attraction to Captain America and eventually became his unlikely love interest, exploring the classic theme of romance between two characters from completely opposite backgrounds and allegiances.
Major Story Arcs
The Serpent Society
Diamondback's first mission with the Serpent Society was to help locate and assassinate MODOK, the leader of the rival criminal organization known as AIM. Captain America intervened, and Diamondback found herself intensely attracted to the superhero, openly flirting with him even as they fought each other. The battle ended in a draw, but Diamondback could not stop thinking about the Captain afterward.
Her second mission with the Society was to help steal a pair of mystical artifacts for the super-powered criminals Llyra and Ghaur, but the X-Men attempted to stop them. Both sides then ran afoul of the bizarre and ancient wizard known as Mister Jip, who kidnapped both Diamondback and the female X-Man known as Dazzler. Mister Jip used his magical powers to switch the bodies and minds of the two women.
In Dazzler's body, Diamondback briefly teamed with the unsuspecting X-Men, while Dazzler (in Diamondback's body) did the same with the Serpent Society. While working with the X-Men, Diamondback managed to locate and steal the artifacts that Llyra and Ghaur desired. A solution was found to restore the minds of the two women to their proper bodies, after which Sidewinder teleported Diamondback away from the X-Men the moment they realized that she had possession of the artifacts. Diamondback's success in carrying out the mission greatly enhanced her standing in the Society.
Later, the Serpent Society was torn apart when it was revealed that several of its members were secretly working for the villainess known as Viper, who then staged a coup and took over the Society. Diamondback and Sidewinder escaped, but other members loyal to Sidewinder were taken prisoner by Viper. These included Asp and Black Mamba, who had become Diamondback's closest friends on the team. Diamondback, still deeply impressed with Captain America and his heroism, went to Cap and managed to convince him to help free her friends. With Cap's help, Viper was defeated and the imprisoned Serpents freed, but both Diamondback and Sidewinder abandoned the Society after the battle.
To Diamondback's delight, Captain America actually began to reciprocate her romantic interest after she quit the Serpent Society, and she even became privy to his civilian identity of Steve Rogers. The two went out on their first date. Diamondback's friends Asp and Black Mamba worked behind the scenes to ensure that the date would not suffer any hostile interruption. It went well and romance blossomed between the two. During the time that she was seeing the traditional-minded Captain, Diamondback felt that brightly-colored hair was inappropriate and reverted it back to its natural light brown color, though she also experimented with being a blonde and a redhead.
Unfortunately, this relatively idyllic period in Diamondback's life did not last long. The Serpent Society had regrouped under a new leader, King Cobra, and Cobra soon learned of Diamondback's involvement with Captain America. He decided that she was a traitor for consorting with the enemy, and incorrectly assumed that she must have betrayed the Society's secrets as well. Cobra had Diamondback tracked down, captured, and put on trial. Asp, Black Mamba, and Bushmaster (another Serpent still loyal to Sidewinder) voted for Diamondback's innocence, but the other Serpents voted guilty and Diamondback was sentenced to death by lethal injection. Cobra told Diamondback that he would lift the sentence if she revealed Captain America's secret identity, but Diamondback refused, sealing her fate.
Asp and Black Mamba then contacted Sidewinder, who reluctantly used his power of teleportation to rescue Diamondback just before she was executed. Upon learning of their betrayal, Cobra imprisoned Asp and Black Mamba. Sidewinder wanted no further involvement so Diamondback turned to Captain America, but Cap said that he could not guarantee that Asp and Mamba would not be turned over to the authorities afterward. Angered, Diamondback hired the mercenary Paladin to help rescue her friends. The two infiltrated the Serpent Society's headquarters, but were then captured. This finally spurred Captain America into action, and he broke into the Society's headquarters and freed Diamondback, Paladin, Asp, and Black Mamba. The five then combined forces to rout the Serpent Society.
Despite the successful outcome, the crisis had the unfortunate effect of underscoring fundamental differences in Diamondback's and Captain America's personalities and values. This was exacerbated by the presence of Paladin, who made sardonic comments about the unlikely nature of the couple at every opportunity. Though Cap and Diamondback still cared deeply for each other, their relationship slowly began to deteriorate as both realized that complications between them were difficult if not impossible to work out.
Diamondback was later confronted by her arch nemesis Snapdragon, in the ensuing fight Diamondback seemingly drowned Snapdragon. Diamondback feeling as though she was a murderer felt that there was no way that she could be accepted by Captain America. Captain America still supported Diamondback and vowed to help her find out if Snapdragon was truly dead or not. While attempting to find out the truth Diamondback and Cap traveled to New Orleans where they were confronted by Sumo warrior Kono, Snapdragon's brother and other associates of Snapdragon.
Later Diamondback becomes aware that Captain America's Super Solider Serum is beginning to fail him and that he is slowly dying. Diamondback becomes aware, while on a mission with Captain America to recover missing children that Baron Zemo had kidnapped, that Superia might have a way of curing Captain America from his failing Super Solider Serum. Superia confirms to Diamondback that Snapdragon is indeed dead and that Diamondback owes Superia for killing Snapdragon. Snapdragon was an operative with a contract serving Superia. Diamondback agreed to fulfill Snapdragon's contract and work for Superia, if Superia agreed to cure Captain America.
At one point, Diamondback became infected with some mind-control nanomachines that had invaded her blood stream. This lead her to run-in with Citizen V, who at the time was possessed by Baron Zemo. After a quick scuffle, the Zemo-possessed V ripped the machines out of Diamondback, paralyzing her until she was brought back to full health under SHIELD care. Captain America would later have a run in with what he thought was Rachel, but in the end turned out to be a LMD ( Life Model Decoy) duplicate of Diamondback as part of Red Skull's plans. The real Diamondback met up with Cap after this arc and Cap suggested that they "get a room," indicating that they still apparently shared an on-and-off-again relationship.
Diamondback also ran into the X-Men's Hellions while trying to steal a virus with Paladin. A misunderstanding lead to her being crushed by a table, though she eventually recovered.
B.A.D. Girls, Inc.
Now on their own, Diamondback, Asp, and Black Mamba realized it was only a matter of time before the Serpent Society regrouped and sought revenge on the three of them. To protect themselves, they decided to form their own group of mercenaries-for-hire called B.A.D. Girls Inc. (a name derived from the first letter of each of their codenames). Diamondback became the leader of the group and dyed her hair again, this time a bright pink.
One of the B.A.D. Girls' popular appearances was with Deadpool, when they were hired to gain possession of an advanced computer virus called the Dominus Objective, housed inside a hard drive. They wound up battling Deadpool, who had also been hired to steal the virus, only to discover that it had already been stolen by Shen Kuei (a.k.a. the Cat). The Girls tracked down and confronted the Cat, who revealed that they all had been hired to steal the virus by the same people: Cable and Black Box. They then helped Deadpool battle and defeat an army of Makeshift and Rive clones, who had been sent to obtain the virus by force. Cable ultimately used the Dominus Objective and to enhance his cyberpathic powers.
Though Diamondback's romantic relationship with Captain America was mostly over, they remained friends and her admiration for him remained unchanged. During the Civil War, Diamondback had the B.A.D. Girls join Cap's cause against the Super-Human Registration Act. Fighting on the losing side of the massive conflict eventually led to the three of them being defeated and apprehended by the pro-registration heroines Ms. Marvel, Wasp, and Black Widow.
After the war, Diamondback and the other B.A.D. Girls were freed on the condition that they work for the government. Diamondback became a staff member of the Initiative, and stayed on even when Norman Osborn took over. Osborn expanded the B.A.D. Girls to include Skein and Quicksand, both former villains, and the team was renamed the Women Warriors. Diamondback was appointed the leader of the Women Warriors, though she secretly became a double agent who also worked for the Avengers Resistance. During this time she met the mercenary known as Constrictor, who saved her life when she was nearly hit by a crashing plane. There was a strong mutual attraction between the two and they began a romantic relationship. Constrictor found out about Diamondback's secret position in the Resistance and decided not to tell, though he was extremely worried about what might happen to both of them if the secret was uncovered.
Both Diamondback and Constrictor were unwilling participants in the Siege of Asgard. Diamondback secretly tried to contact the Resistance, but could not get through. She debated whether or not to reveal her true allegiance and help Thor when Osborn and several other villains ganged up on him. After Maria Hill came to Thor's defense by firing a rocket launcher at Osborn and his men, Diamondback added to the explosion by surreptitiously dropping several explosive diamonds into the mix. Constrictor rescued her from the consequences of this action, and the two argued about her reckless behavior. Soon afterward they witnessed the Sentry killing Ares. This brutal act made Diamondback even more determined to help the Resistance.
Diamondback then noticed Steve Rogers, as Captain America, enter the battlefield. Since she (like most of the world) believed that Steve had died at the end of the Civil War, she was emotional upon seeing him alive and well, and tried to get his attention. This resulted in a misunderstanding between Constrictor and Diamondback, causing Constrictor to leave the battlefield thinking that Rachel intended to get back together with her old flame. This was a blow to Diamondback, because her true feelings were now for Constrictor. The battle ended with the total defeat of Osborn and his forces, and the Avengers Resistance disbanded with their mission accomplished. Diamondback was invited to the victory party at Avengers Tower. During the party, Captain America unexpectedly offered Diamondback a position as head of the voluntary Fifty State Initiative. Diamondback replied that she needed to think about it.
- Height: 5' 11"
- Weight: 142 lbs (65 kg)
- Eyes: Green
- Hair: Light Brown
- Defining Features: Diamondback prefers to keep her hair dyed a bright color, which varies between magenta, pink, or lavender, depending on her costume.
- Citizenship: American
- Place of Birth: Austin, Texas
- Marital Status: Single
- Occupations: Costumed adventurer, former professional mercenary
- Known Relatives: Mrs. Leighton (mother), William "Willy" Leighton (brother, deceased), Richard "Ricky" Leighton (brother, deceased), Daniel "Danny" Leighton ( Cutthroat, brother)
Powers and Abilities
Diamondback's greatest talent is the ability to pitch small ballistic objects with great velocity and accuracy, much like the supervillain Bullseye (though not as extreme or deadly). She is armed with a powerful array of specialized throwing "diamonds" (properties detailed below) to take full advantage of this ability. She can hurl multiple diamonds at a time at multiple targets with little loss of accuracy, and can even do so while running, leaping, or somersaulting through the air. Though thrown objects are her specialty, she has also demonstrated uncanny marksmanship with other types of projectile weapons.
Diamondback is a superb athlete in peak physical condition. While serving Superia Rachael was injected with the super soldier serum she had created to test it's effectiveness, thus her physical abilities were enhanced to peak human capacity. At the Taskmaster's academy, she was intensively trained in acrobatics and is an Olympic-level gymnast. Diamondback is a formidable hand-to-hand fighter and has mastered many street-fighting techniques, as well as jujitsu. She has developed considerable skill at espionage and infiltration, and can defeat many types of locks and other security measures while avoiding detection. She is also an expert at piloting small aircraft. Over the years Diamondback has developed strong leadership qualities, partially learned from her involvement with the ultimate field leader, Captain America. She has served as a capable leader of B.A.D. Girls Inc. and the Women Warriors during her time with both teams.
Diamondback's equipment was originally created by the Trapster, but after she left the Serpent Society she turned to the Tinkerer to design and manufacture her weapons. Her personal weaponry consists of throwing 'diamonds,' which are actually four-inch zirconium octahedrons that have the shape and appearance of diamonds. Some are solid and razor-sharp, and Diamondback employs these much like throwing daggers. Others have hollowed-out centers and are designed to release their contents or explode on impact. Known specialized diamonds in her arsenal include:
- Acid diamond: filled with highly-corrosive nitric acid.
- Tear gas diamond: filled with concentrated tear gas.
- Smoke diamond: acts like a smoke grenade.
- Armor-piercing diamond: loaded with spent uranium for piercing heavy armor.
- Sleep diamond: filled with a curare-derived narcotic that renders victims unconscious in a matter of seconds.
- Exploding diamond: filled with a nitro-based explosive, packing a concussive force equal to 10 pounds of TNT.
- Electric diamond: contains a supercharged micro-battery that releases a powerful electrical discharge.
- Venom diamond: filled with a lethal snake-derived poison. After quitting the Serpent Society, Diamondback has avoided using such diamonds unless absolutely necessary.
Diamondback wears a skin-tight yet highly protective costume made of a unique synthetic fabric lined with a Kevlar weave, and two bicep and two thigh belts which each carry a row of throwing diamonds. More diamonds are carried in visible or concealed pockets in her belt, collar, boot tops, boot heels, glove tops, and specially-designed brassiere. To maximize her carrying capacity, she also wears smaller throwing diamonds as decorative jewelry (earrings, necklaces, and hair ornaments). This method comes in especially handy when she is working undercover as a civilian and does not want to appear armed.
Ultimate Alliance 2 (2009): Diamondback is a boss-level adversary in this game, loosely based on Marvel's recent Secret War and Civil War storylines. When the Latverian villainess Lucia von Bardas attacks New York, Diamondback is a participant in the battle. Later, Diamondback's mind is overcome by mind-controlling nanites and she becomes an enemy of the player. Alongside the villains Moonstone and Whirlwind, Diamondback attacks the player once in the vicinity of the Negative Zone prison's escape portal.