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A supervillain which is a half-woman, half serpent hybrid.


An orphan raised in Athens, Zanita Stefanos spent the first fourteen years of her life in an orphanage. An outstanding student of exceptional beauty with a passion for the classics of ancient Greece, she was often used as a “poster child” for orphanage fundraising campaigns. During one of these fundraisers she came to the attention of Duchess Henrietta von Drotte, a European corporate mogul well-known for her philanthropy... and less well-known as one of VIPER’s secret leaders. The Duchess was exploring the possibilities of a new operation code-named Superstar Viper recently submitted for her consideration by a team of sociologists and cultural anthropologists in her employ. The idea behind Superstar Viper was to recruit prepubescent children, preferably those without family ties, and groom them to become the next generation’s cultural icons and pop stars. They would only have the most tenuous ties to VIPER itself; their purpose was to subvert the zeitgeist of Europe’s next generation, infecting it with attitudes and beliefs that would make their fans and admirers more open to VIPER recruitment: greed, lust for power, and open contempt for legitimate authority. With its opportunity for good public relations and very limited exposure of her criminal connections, von Drotte gave the go-ahead for the project, and though Zanita was a little older than the researchers recommended, the Duchess chose her for the project. With thirty-three other children, mostly of Eastern European extraction, Zanita traveled to a remote chateau in the Swiss Alps, where VIPER had established a school called the Institute for Advanced Children. The children were divided into classes based on talents and predilections: pop musicians, television personalities, supermodels, artists, writers, and movie stars. In its own way, the training was grueling... yet slowly but surely many of the children were transformed into darlings of the media and youth culture. Only a handful either refused or were unable to conform, and among these was Zanita. She was homesick and had become a poor student. She refused to learn proper etiquette and alter her accent to something more acceptable, more “cute” than her heavy Greek one. She found frequent opportunities to rebel... and she was a bad influence on her peers. After two years her instructors deemed her too old and too set in her ways to mold into the type of person required by Superstar Viper. All of which left von Drotte with a problem, since she needed a way to remove Zanita and other failed candidates from public scrutiny and none of them were suitable as VIPER agents. Doctor Timothy Blank’s “Project Mendel” seemed the perfect solution; it had a high casualty rate and was far from Europe. At the age of 16, Zanita found herself along with five others on a plane headed for New Mexico. The rejects from Superstar Viper were the first teenagers Blank had the opportunity to experiment on. He wondered how the pubescent metabolism coupled with future physical changes would affect the outcome of his experiments. The other five died, but by the time he experimented on Zanita he had isolated the lethal anomalies in his subjects and had high hopes for the girl. He put off his final work until he defected from VIPER and transformed himself into King Cobra. His patience was well-rewarded. First injected with discrete amounts of irradiated serpent venom, then subjected to the Coil-Gene Touch, Zanita underwent a dramatic change. Some would consider it a monstrous and horrible transformation; King Cobra thought it magnificent, perhaps his greatest accomplishment. The beautiful young woman became the terrifying Gorgon: half�woman, half-snake. Strong, fast, and brutal, she was a glory in King Cobra’s eyes and a testament to his superior intellectual prowess. In her own eyes she’d become a gorgon from mythology; Zanita Stefanos disappeared and Stheno took her place.


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