Ophelia Sarkissian was orphaned in Eastern Europe when she was young, when her parents were killed during a revolution in her country. Brutally trained early in her life by Kraken, she worked her way up the ranks and gained the respect of the criminal underworld. Sarkissian eventually became the leader of HYDRA and became known as Madame Hydra. HYDRA and Sarkissian constantly battle Captain America and SHIELD.
Viper was created by Jim Steranko. She first appeared as Madame Hydra in Captain America #110 in February 1969.
First appearing as Madame Hydra in 1969 fighting the Avengers and Captain America, this character has always been a maniacal opportunist and agent of general chaos and anarchy. Five years after her first appearance, she returned and took the name of another super villain who was using the code-name Viper, during an attempt to take over a terrorist organization named the Serpent Squad. The name stuck. Her longstanding relationship with Spider-Woman began in 1982 when she appeared in Jessica's solo series. As written by Chris Claremont, the idea that Viper was Jessica's real mother was introduced, but immediately ret-conned away the next year as a creation of Morgan Le Fay in Captain America #281 (written by J M DeMatteis). Over the years, she has battled pretty much the entire Marvel Universe, from the X-Men and New Mutants, to the Avengers, Daredevil and SHIELD and Nick Fury. Always known for crazy schemes, in the late 90's, a storyline was introduced whereby she married Wolverine (for real!) to become ruler/crimelord of Madripoor. Most recently, in the pages of Secret Warriors (2009), her true backstory as a longterm trainee, agent and servant of HYDRA was put in place, and she returned to prominence as Madame Hydra again, seizing control of the remnants of HYDRA, AIM, HAMMER and the Hand after the collapse of a crazy scheme by Norman Osborn.
Major Story Arcs
After the destruction of Hydra Island and the presumed death of Baron von Strucker at the hands of Captain Savage and his Leatherneck Raiders, Sarkissian killed off the higher ranking HYDRA members and assumed the title of Madame Hydra, in control of their New York operations. She burst onto the scene in a plan to poison the New York water supply. When Captain America and Rick Jones show up to stop them, Madame Hydra knocks Rick into a drain, allowing her to escape while Cap rescues Rick. After she attempts to kill Cap and Rick a couple more times, Cap fakes his own death. At his funeral, Madame Hydra places a poison gas-doped card in his coffin that takes out Nick Fury and the Avengers. Cap shows up alive to rescue them as does Rick. Madame Hydra seemingly dies when heat-seeking missiles blow her up, however it is later revealed that the Space Phantom had taken her place immediately before her death. When he stops using her form, she rematerializes back on Earth, but too ashamed and scared to rejoin HYDRA for fear of retribution.
Later, when Warlord Krang of Atlantis plans to raise Lemuria from the sea, he enlists her help. Sarkissian teams up with Princess Python to reform the Serpent Squad. After killing the previous Viper, Jordan Stryke, she adopts his codename as her own, while Princess Python breaks out the other Squad members from jail. The Serpent Squad kidnap Hugh Jones of Roxxon Oil and bring him back to their base, where Viper introduces them to her partner Krang, who is wearing the Serpent Crown. Using the Crown, Jones is forced to order the crew on one of his oil rigs to reverse the flow of oil, which starts to push the sunken land of Lemuria up to the surface. Namor and Steve Rogers (as Nomad) show up to stop things, and battle the Serpent Squad. Viper and Cobra escape with the Crown. Arriving in Seattle, Washington, the two get into a gun battle with local police and Steve Rogers shows up too. Viper starts to go crazy and shoots Cobra when he tries to run. Steve pulls Cobra to safety just before the building they are in collapses.
Viper survived the building collapse when the floor below her gave way. Escaping through tunnels, she is rescued by Ishiro Tagara of the Japanese Red Army and brought to Japan. With the help of the Silver Samurai, Tagara's ally, Viper constructs a teleportation ring. Using a hypno-beam, Viper evacuates SHIELD's New York HQ and steals the schematics to the Helicarrier. With the teleportation ring, they plant the hypno-beam on board the Helicarrier and use it to gain control of the entire crew. They plan to crash the huge aircraft into an address by the President to the assembled Congress and Supreme Court. Black Widow learns of their scheme, but is captured on board the Helicarrier and tortured, although she is able to escape. Viper uses the Helicarrier to send the Contessa and Nick Fury after Black Widow, who recapture her, despite the help of Spider-Man. Spider-Man is able to rescue Natasha again, and Nick Fury, realizing something is wrong, calls in Shang-Chi. The assembled heroes manage to defeat Viper and the Silver Samurai and prevent the Helicarrier crash, but Viper is thrown out the window, seemingly to her death (again).
Viper somehow escaped death from the huge fall, and returned with her lover, Silver Samurai, with a new plot. They plan to unleash a deadly virus, created by the Nazis and the Red Skull, contained within a man named Michael Kramer. They start by going after his daughter, Pamela, who contains the key to a cure to the virus. Pamela is coincidentally seeking the help of private investigator, Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman) in finding her missing father. Jessica - as Spider-Woman - rescues Pamela and leaves her with her friend Lindsay McCabe. Jessica tracks down Michael, but Viper sends Silver Samurai after them and he captures Michael. As Spider-Woman, Jessica goes after Viper and Samurai at their base but is knocked out by a trap. Silver Samurai challenges her to a fight but is beaten. Jessica finds that Viper's men think she looks exactly like their leader, and she uses this to pretend she is Viper and frees Michael. Meanwhile, Viper attempts to kidnap Pamela, but is beaten back by policewoman Sabrina Morrel and Lindsay McCabe. She returns to her hideout empty-handed to encounter Spider-Woman, who blasts her and escapes with Michael. After reuniting Pamela and Michael, Spider-Woman seeks revenge. She tracks down Viper, and despite a warning from Morgan le Fay, battles her enemy. During their fight, Viper unleashes a strange, magical blast from her eye that sends Spider-Woman into a portal, revealing the demon Chthon, who turns Spider-Woman part-demon, and then tries to control her, as he is already in possession of Viper. Chthon claims that Viper is Jessica's mom, Meriem Drew (Viper believes this too). Viper uses this moment of distraction to help Spider-Woman and the two fight off Chthon. The two women part on apparently good terms, as Viper teleports back to her yacht.
Snakes from a Plane... er... Hot Air Balloon
The fantasy relationship with Jessica Drew was short lived. A session using opium broke the false memories in Viper's mind and she furiously blamed Spider-Woman for tampering with her past, although in reality Morgan le Fay was responsible for the whole illusion. Back to her psychotic schemes, this time Viper infiltrated Hartsdale, Illinois, posing as a widow named 'Mrs. Smith.' Secretly, her agents built a command center under the town, where her scientists worked on recreating the Black Death Plague and giving it to snakes to carry to infect humans. Still angry at Spider-Woman, she sets up a trap for Jessica, who is attacked by two deadly snakes, although she easily fights them off. Next, Viper sends Constrictor to capture Captain America and brags to him about her plans. Gail Runciter (who had infiltrated the base) and Spider-Woman warn Nick Fury of what is going on, and he sends in Jack Munroe (as Nomad) and Dum Dum Dugan, however all the heroes end up captured as Munroe walks into a trap and Dugan suffers a heart attack. During Hartsdale's parade, Viper flies three hot air balloons, she and Constrictor in one, Dugan in another, planning to release the snakes at midnight. The drugged heroes join the parade, but the drugs wear off as Constrictor had deliberately not given them their full dose, realizing how insane her scheme actually was. Captain America takes out Viper and helps Dugan down to the ground as Nomad explodes the balloons with Viper's gun.
Team America and the New Mutants
Viper again survived and regrouped with Silver Samurai. They next sought to kidnap the Dark Rider, the mysterious protector of Team America, a team of stunt bike riders. They planned to use him to steal a crystal from AIM. Samurai and some agents of Viper attack the team at a fairground show attended by the New Mutants. When the Dark Rider duly appears to save the day, Samurai destroys his bike, revealing the Dark Rider to be - shockingly - Danielle Moonstar, one of the New Mutants! Samurai teleports back to Viper with Moonstar, where she is tested for her bike skills, but Danielle remembers nothing of the fair and has no knowledge of bikes. Viper goes to Washington DC and threatens another Team America member with the death of their captive, Moonstar if they don't comply with her demands and steal the crystal. Professor X and the New Mutants show up to help and reveal that Team America are mutants with an ability to summon the Dark Rider to possess a person when they’re in need. Professor X goes with Team A to Mexico, meanwhile the New Mutants seek General Nguyen Coy’s help with Viper, but he demands Karma’s services for a year in his criminal empire as payment. Team America break into an AIM base in Black Mesa, but on seizing the crystal, the building blows up and Professor X is knocked out by the Shadow King. The Team escape, pursued by AIM and summon the Dark Rider power to Wolf to take out their enemies. The New Mutants attack Viper and Samurai at Big Sur and rescue Dani. The two villains teleport to their yacht and destroy the base.
X-Men and Mariko
Viper and Silver Samurai flee to Japan to regain control of Clan Yashida from Mariko Yashida, Samurai's half-sister. Viper kills Mariko’s maid and gives poisoned tea to the X-Men, who are at Mariko's house for Wolverine’s upcoming wedding to Mariko. Only Storm is left unhurt and the others are taken to hospital. Mariko is invited to meet Samurai at the docks, but Yukio takes her place at the meeting and battles Samurai. Storm arrives and knocks out Viper, while Mariko escapes. Rogue and Wolverine recover and go to Yakuza leader Nabatone Yokuse’s estate to look for Viper and Samurai. They find his decaying corpse instead, and go back to the hospital to find Viper bringing assassins to finish the job of killing the X-Men and Mariko. Mariko stops Wolverine from killing Samurai, and Rogue saves Mariko, then Viper flees with Silver Samurai again.
Going small-ball, Viper and Silver Samurai sell a statue of Selene to Gerhard van Ostamgen, who hopes it will help him join the Hellfire Club's Inner Circle (Viper is driving the car the Samurai is in). When he shows it to Selene, she denounces it as a forgery and smashes it. The New Mutants are there with Magneto and challenge the Hellions to see who can find the swindler. The New Mutants learn it was Viper and Samurai and then follow the Hellions who are onto the trail as well. The New Mutants defeat the guards, then the sneaky Hellions show up having captured Viper and Samurai in the meantime, benefiting from them defeating the guards. Viper goes to jail.
Attack of the Serpent People
Solo again having fallen out with Samurai, when Sidewinder frees the Serpent Squad from jail and brings them into the Serpent Society, Viper stages a takeover of the amalgamated group. She then starts poisoning those members who refuse to submit to her leadership. Sidewinder himself escapes and finds Diamondback, who tips off Steve Rogers. He shows up at the Society's Citadel in his guise as 'The Captain' with D-Man, Falcon and Nomad. Viper flees to Washington DC with Cap on board her aircraft, but is shot down by Diamondback and knocked out by Cap when on the ground. However, Viper’s allies still manage to continue with her plan and drop poisoned water made by her agent, Slither, into the DC water supply, which turns a number of people including the president (Reagan!) into crazy serpent people. In the ensuing turmoil that breaks out, Viper frees herself and adds to the chaos with a mad shooting spree. She sets the snake-president and first lady on Cap, but is betrayed by Cobra and taken into custody.
While in jail, Viper is visited by Tyrannus, disguised as Dr. Tyrone. He is working for Ghaur and Llyra, who are in possession of the Serpent Crown and are trying to resurrect the God, Set. Their first plan, to make an army of serpent men by giving the serum made by Slither to the homeless and drug addicts, is defeated by the Punisher and Moon Knight. In response to Viper's failure, Tyrannus uses her as a sacrifice in a ritual to summon Set by himself, without Ghaur and Llyra, in order to take the serpent-men army and Set's power for his own. However, a different demon: Yiggorum, appears and Dr. Strange and Daredevil show up to stop its rampage. Tyrannus focuses all his efforts on controlling the demon and forgets about Viper, who angrily takes the opportunity to throw him into the pentagram, where he is swallowed by the demon.
Somehow Viper ended up behind bars again, only to be freed by the Red Skull, who wanted her as his partner. After a brief attempt to steal a Russian nuclear weapon and frame SHIELD for the theft, which was stopped by Nick Fury, Viper used some of Red Skull's financing to begin an operation to blind all of America via their TV sets. Thinking this would damage society so badly he could not carry out his own plans, Red Skull hired Silver Sable to stop her and bring her in. With the help of Captain America, Sable captures Viper. They drop her off at the agreed location, where Skull's agent, Iron Monger comes to pick Viper up. They listen in as Iron Monger brutally assaults Viper, hoping to get her to disclose the location of her base, but she refuses. When her own agents, The Fangs, come to free her, Cap and Sable follow Viper back to her base. Cap, Sable and her team, The Wild Pack, thwart the transmission of the blinding signal. In SHIELD custody, Viper reveals the location of Red Skull's base, but he has already left when they arrive.
Hawkeye and Beast
Viper continued to make new alliances to further her own schemes. Firstly she teamed up with the Secret Empire to create mutant animal-humanoid warriors. Hawkeye, with help from War Machine and Mack Mendelson tracks down her operation and destroys their base in Amazonia. After this, Viper partners with Spiral to take revenge on Tran, brother of Karma from the New Mutants and Karma's Uncle, General Coy for past enslavement of her. Spiral mutates Karma's twin siblings, Coy Leong and Coy Nga Manh into super-powered adults, and then brings Karma (whose mind has absorbed that of Tran), Cannonball and Beast to her Body Shop. Beast coaxes Viper and Spiral into an argument over whether Karma should be mutated and have her mind wiped or be kept alive, so Viper can have her revenge, and in the massive fight that ensues, the heroes duck out and escape with the help of Gateway.
The most audacious alliance of all was with Wolverine. In order to seize control of a power vacuum left in Madripoor after the death of Prince Baran, Viper claimed a long-held debt with Wolverine - a promise he had made to a dying Seraph to do anything that Viper wanted - and married him! Of course, she arranges things in her own insane way, poisoning Jean Grey, Rogue, Psylocke, Yukio, Tyger Tiger and Jessica Drew so that they chase down Shadowcat and Jubilee to get to Wolverine first. Once married to Logan, he helps her take down Hand and HYDRA operatives as well as Sabretooth so that she can take control of Madripoor for herself. After a time spent married, Wolverine's old mentor Ogun shows up as a wandering spirit, possessing random people in Madripoor and using them against him. Wolverine desperately tries to prevent Viper from killing the people he takes control of! Things come to a head when he possesses Viper herself and invites Wolverine out to an abandoned dock, wanting to take possession of Logan himself. However, Wolverine's mind proves too bestial and full of horror to stay in, and Ogun is forced back into Viper. Wolverine fatally stabs her and Ogun is forced to flee into the night sky. Viper, desperate for treatment for her wounds, finally agrees to a divorce.
Against the X-Men Once More
When an extra-dimensional invasion force led by Shaitan, working for their master, Khan, attacks and seals off Madripoor from the rest of the world, the X-Treme X-Men team up with Viper to fight them. Viper's tendency to execute prisoners angers Storm, leading to Viper brutally clawing her. Once the invaders are finally driven off, Storm gets revenge by shooting Viper, while Sage warns her never to threaten the X-Men again. Viper tries to retaliate by sending the X-Men to Murderworld and trying to shoot Sage, but it turns out Wolverine had disguised himself as Sage and he heals himself from the wound. The X-Men still have to save the Queen of England from a nuclear bomb right after this, of course! When Viper tries to assassinate Courtney Ross, Courtney makes her a better offer and the two revive the Hellfire Club. After an invasion of Zanzibar to try to gain control of Genosha, Viper then orchestrates an alliance between the Hand, HYDRA and Clan Yashida (through her old, romantic connection to Silver Samurai), and takes on the name Madame Hydra again. She also re-connects with Spider-Woman (although at this point in time, Jessica had been replaced by Queen Veranke of the Skrulls, during the Secret Invasion) and manipulates her by restoring her powers.
Tyger Tiger takes Madripoor
Tony Stark grows concerned about Viper's ability to launch terrorist plots from Madripoor and stages an overthrow of her regime. He solicits help from Tyger Tiger, whom he helps become ruler of Madripoor in exchange for shutting down HYDRA's operations there.
Viper retained a small operation in Madripoor and confronted Spider-Woman when she was hunting Skrulls. Viper still believes she is Jessica's mother and "rescues" her from the police by shooting them. Viper takes Spider-Woman to the HYDRA base. Spider-Woman tries to attack her but she has a force-shield that she stole from SHIELD. Viper also reveals that she has a Skrull held captive for Jessica, as a gift to get her to join HYDRA. When Spider-Woman escapes, Viper orders the building destroyed to hide their activities. Viper then makes one last attempt to regain control of Madripoor by seeking to obtain Predator X's from Kimura of the Facility. Although Predator X's usually only target mutants, Kimura promised they would have the ability to attack anyone Viper wanted. Wolverine, Punisher and Tyger Tiger team up to defeat Viper and set a Predator X on her, forcing her to agree to leave the island.
When Nick Fury learns of the true nature of the mixed-up relationship between SHIELD and HYDRA, HYDRA regroups its key leadership including Viper, who joins them in their Gehenna base, where they are joined by a new Madame Hydra. The main council is made up of Baron Von Strucker, Kraken, The Hive and Gorgon, plus the two ladies. Viper dies when she is captured by Leviathan forces who were seeking to obtain an alien power source from HYDRA. On discovering that she did not have it, the current Madame Hydra (in actuality The Contessa) shoots her at close range. When the other members of HYDRA reach Viper's location, they find her dead body. The Hive brings her back to life with one of his spawned creatures, giving her a new monstrous, tentacled form. She once again calls herself Madame Hydra and continues her terrorist actions.
In Control Again
After the collapse of Norman Osborn's Dark Reign, Viper joins with the assembled factions gathered by Norman Osborn (Hydra, AIM and the Hand) to get revenge on the Avengers. She regains her human appearance thanks to Superia and Caroline Washington of HAMMER. The groups strike at the Avengers publicly and physically, and are able to capture Captain America, whom Viper enjoys torturing. However, the few Avengers they manage to imprison are freed and when Osborn, Gorgon and the Dark Avengers are defeated, Viper seizes control of all the assembled groups herself.
Powers and Abilities
She has the strength, agility, and stamina of an Olympic athlete, and is a rigorously trained martial artist. She also has been trained to use various guns and firearms, and is very talented with knives. Viper is also gifted with disguises and acting. A brilliant strategist she uses fangs and lipstick that are poisonous and often fatal. Viper also employs a wide arrange of gasses and has used a sedative to make others susceptible to her control.
After her death she has a green mass on her head that keeps her alive. The mass also has tentacles that are controlled either by Viper or her instincts.
Earth-295: Age of Apocalypse
In the alternate reality known as the Age of Apocalypse, Viper was married to the Silver Samurai, she along with her husband fought their way from the Island of Japan through hordes of Apocalypse's Infinites. Viper was killed trying to save Samurai's life. Her death made the Silver Samurai to accept the offer of Magneto to join the X-Men.
On alternate dimensions where Madame Hydra has overtaken the world. This version of Madame Hydra is actually Susan Storm Richards. She leads a team of killers with her lover Wolverine, and their top assassin Slaymaster. She and her team escaped from their world and travel the omniverse to seek out other worlds to conquer.
Viper appears in Ultimatum: Spider-Man Requiem along with HYDRA. She attacks Tony Stark's offices in order to retrieve the Iron Man armor, but is subdued by Iron Man, with the help of Spider-Man, and taken into custody by S.H.I.E.L.D.
Viper appears as a member of Hydra in the X-Men: Evolution episode "Target X". She is head of Hydra and tries to capture X-23 and Wolverine. Omega Red and Gauntlet are working for her. She states to Wolverine that X-23 is hunting them and is trying to destroy every one of their bases. She and her agents tried to stop X-23 by setting traps, but failing each time. They finally find a way to capture her and try to wipe her mind of the bad memories that triggers her anger. Viper tries to make X-23 a weapon without emotion or free will, so they can fully control her. She leaves Omega Red to take care of Wolverine, but Wolverine knocks Omega Red out allowing X-23 to escape, Wolverine later finds her and asks her to come with him, but she wants to destroy the base. She jumps onto a HYDRA flier and goes into the cockpit to destroy Viper. She succeeds by blowing it up and the flier falls to the ground. X-23 fakes her own death so she can no longer be hunted. Viper appeared to perish. X-23 is seen crouched on a rock at the end, and runs around the forest. She was voiced by Lisa Ann Beley.
The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes
Viper appears in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, as one of Baron Strucker's top agents. In "Widow's Sting", she is defeated by Mockingbird and revealed to be a Skrull impostor. The real Viper appears in the episode "Prisoners of War", where she is revealed as one of the humans being held captive by the Skrulls. She works together with Captain America and the other heroes to escape and return to Earth. She makes her last appearance in "Along Came a Spider", where she is freed from SHIELD custody by the Serpent Society. She was voiced by Vanessa Marhsall, who also voiced Black Widow.
Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
In the movie, Sandra Hess portrays a villain who is a fusion between the Viper and Andrea Von Strucker. The character's real name is indeed Andrea Von Strucker, daughter of Baron Von Strucker, but she goes under the alias "Viper" and commands Hydra. She also possesses a Venomous Kiss, a power that allows her to kill transmitting poison with a kiss.
Russian actress Svetlana Khodchenkova will portray Viper in The Wolverine.
Captain America: Super Soldier
Viper appears (as Madame Hydra) as one of the lead villains of Captain America: Super Soldier. She was voiced by Audrey Wasilewski.