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Hiss Hole

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Name: Snakeman (aka Hiss Hole)
Real Name: James Lloyd Allen
Species: human/chemical mutant
First Appearance: Belch Dimension Comics #1, 2005 ("Hiss Hole Comes to Town").
Abilities: high intelligence, knowledge of both science and the dark arts, hypnotism, toxic saliva
Affiliations: The Cobra Clan, The Nefarious Four (founder, not member)
Relatives: Demi-Jon (cloned son)

Hiss Hole is a Smoking Cat Productions supervillain. Created by Jonathan M. Sweet, he first appeared in The Belch Dimension Comics (May 2005). Born James Lloyd Allen, he studied herpetology at Jigaboo Junction State University before being transformed into a monstrous half-man, half snake by an untested serum. [1] Adopting the name "Snakeman", he seeks to subjugate mankind and turn them into a race of mutants like he. Snakeman, whom The Treehouse Warriors colloquially call "Hiss Hole" (amongst a host of other epithets) is one of the series' most enduring and frequent foes, appearing in nearly half of the stories from the comic's first three years.

Fictional character biography

Little is known about Hiss Hole's life before he became a criminal mutant mastermind. However, according to Jon his real name is James Allen and he was once a respected scientist. [2]


In issue #19 his personal history is expanded on signficantly more via flashbacks. Allen was a graduate student in herpetology at Jigaboo Junction State University. Although bright and ambitious, he was also reckless. One day Allen was milking a king cobra--one of the most lethal of the great snakes--when it slipped and bit him in the wrist. Hiss Hole recalls that death was "imminent...and perhaps preferable to the alternative". He injected himself with a sample of an antivenom which the lab had on hand, though it had not yet been tested. The chemicals bonded with the poison in his bloodstream and caused a frightful transformation, turning him into a snake-man.

Allen forewent his scholarship and left the university. He rented a cheap motel room off campus and disguised his hideous face and form with bandages, a large floppy hat, and an old trenchcoat. A one-time colleague, an Egyptology professor, told him of The Orb of Ashurbinapal, a talisman said to possess curative abilities. Allen procured it (where from and if through legal means or no is not recorded); however, while he was out a young girl broke into his room and stole it. Allen chased the girl down and shot her on a corner by the Red Cap Market. A young boy (Jon, then only nine) then siezed the orb before Allen could recover it and shattered it. Allen flew into a rage and attacked the boy, who stabbed him with a piece of broken glass before fleeing. Hiss Hole calls the scar that remains from the attack "his cursed mark".

Allen's life here falls into obscurity; it is only known that he presumably studied the black arts and traveled the world looking for people like himself--mutants, outcasts, freaks. He took the name "Snakeman" during this period, effectively renouncing his humanity. It was on his travels that he made the acquantence of men like Slobber Face, Noodle Nozzle, Jello Brain, Sydney Fruitcake, and Gorilla Man, who would become his greatest allies in his crusade to rule a world who shunned and failed to appreciate people like him.

He re-encountered Jon a whole three years after their first meeting, who now had his own superpowers, and who failed to remember him. However, spurred on by a promise he had made to the dying girl from those many years past, Jon fought Hiss Hole in a number of unrecorded and minor battles before the series began. Only a few are specifically recounted:

  • Josh recalls giving Snakeman his nickname when he said he looked like "a hissing asshole" at their initial meeting.
  • In "Untold Tales of the Belch Dimension" it is revealed that Hiss Hole moved into a rental house in Jon's neighborhood. Jon and his friends, upon learning their new enemy lived right on their street, planned a raid on the hideout. However, Josh's little cousin Jason overheard their meeting and decided to attack Hiss Hole and his men alone. His assault failed, and for his arrogance in trying to "make a monkey out of me", Hiss Hole used dark magic to turn him into a gibbon. He vowed revenge anew as he departed.
  • Hiss Hole first saw Jon's sister Marcie when she was a teenager. She had just brought Jon a soda to cool off with after a fight. Happening to spy her off to the side while being taken into custody by the police, Hiss Hole became instantly and obsessively infatuated. [3]
  • At some later unknown date Hiss Hole kidnapped Marcie, according to Joshua's account, and tried to inject her with the same mutagen that had turned him into a snake-man, intending to take her as his wife. He opened a portal to another dimension and, when her brother arrived with his friends to rescue her, channeled a demon named Bleroch into his body. However, Jon tricked him into entering the portal, sealing him in.

The series opens several months after the battle with Bleroch, with Hiss Hole re-entering our world via a stroke of lightning. He reassembles his forces and resumes his quest to enslave man and create a race of mutants, over which he proclaims he will be god and king.

The Schemes

Hiss Hole's plots range from the truly ingenious to the bizarre and even improbable. They've run the gamut from mind-control [4], drug trafficking [5] , genetic manipulation, cloning, travelling back in time to destroy his foe as a child [6], and assembling a squad of elite psychopaths to do in his enemy for him. He frequently uses a combination of science and sorcery in his schemes. He once separated Jon and Josh from their bodies with an arcane spell found in a forbidden book. [7] His scientific knowledge allowed him to construct a massive underground lair, The Cobra Pit, many miles underneath the city. Exterior shots of the lair indicate it is completely or partly surrounded by molten magma and subterranean caves, making it difficult to locate. He spends inordinate amounts of time spying on his enemies through a large videoscreen in his control room. He is capable of opening dimensional doors that allow him and his men to travel distances that would take hours or even days in mere seconds, and even to go far beyond this world.

Personality

Hiss Hole himself runs the gamut from an actually competent threat to a bumbling, ineffectual fool, prone to crying and throwing tantrums when a plan goes bust or he can't have his way. He has a brilliant mind and a sardonic and playful sense of humor, though quickly turns violent at the slightest provocation. He is a bully and somewhat of a coward, often running away or leaving the dirty work to others. Though of a scientific bent, he seems utterly computer-illiterate--for example, having trouble operating a webcam. [8] Creator Jonathan Sweet describes him as "two parts Skeletor and one part Col. Klink" .

Death

Their long years of fighting came to a head in the pivotal "The Cobra's Last Strike" arc (#37-41). Hiss Hole's Nefarious Four kidnap Marcie, and Jon and the Warriors are forced to navigate a maze called The Black Labyrinth, fight the team, and solve a riddle (based on a series of numbers), under penalty of death if they guess wrong to get her back. Meanwhile, Marcie is being held in a secret underground bunker back in this dimension. Hiss Hole, tired of her sass, pulls a Derringer pistol and prepares to kill her. The Warriors--having solved the riddle and defeated the Four--burst into the lair. Hiss Hole whirls around and shoots Buddy, Jon's dog, in the head. Jon becomes enraged and, seizing him by the throat full force, slowly applies pressure. Hiss Hole's last words are "No. Not this way. You aren't a kil--" before his neck snaps. The realization that he unthinkingly has taken a life sends Jon into hysterics.

In "Son of the Return of the Serpent II" (#41) Jon tells a psychiatrist that he's having strange nightmares; however, this session is itself revealed to be part of a dream. The dreams soon become more severe and debilitating, leaving him an emotional wreck. Molina, however, believes they are more than just guilt; they are Hiss Hole himself attacking him from the world beyond. Her supposition proves correct; Jon goes into convulsions and nearly dies while under a hypnotic trance. Buddy, however--inadvertently hypnotized as well--enters the dream and gives his master the courage to fight back, destroying the monster.

Character Inspiration and Design

Inspiration

As were a large number of Sweet's early characters, to create Snakeman/Hiss Hole he drew heavily on He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) for inspiration. Though he was inspired by the villainous Snake Men, the characters voice and physique owes a lot to the Shadow Weaver, a She-Ra villain. Elements of Hiss Hole's origin--the mutagenic compound that made him reptillian--recall the Spiderman foe The Lizard, as well as another more obscure scientist who was also mutated by a snakebite and an untested antivenom and turned to villainy. Sweet also cites Cobra Commander's transformation into a snake-man in 'G.I. Joe: The Movie and the fairly little-known and low-budget film 'Sssssss'. Perhaps not coincidentally, Hiss Hole shares many similarities--look, attitude, and a penchant for using magic and crazy schemes--with King Koopa, the villain from the Mario cartoons and video games (which Sweet enjoyed watching and playing as a teenager). He is also somewhat reminiscent of Coily, a reptillian foe from the Q-Bert video games (also later made into a cartoon).

Design

Hiss Hole has the face of a snake, though he walks upright on two legs and has arms, giving him a lizardlike appearance. For this reason he is often mistaken for a humanoid salamander, gecko, or frog, to which he takes great offense. He wears a long purple cloak with a hood to conceal most of his head; being part cobra, he has a natural hood behind his neck which becomes visible if he lowers his artificial head-covering.

Powers/Abilities

A onetime doctor of herpetology, Hiss Hole is knowledegable in the fields of chemistry, biology, and phsysiology, as well as being skilled in black magic. He is able to cast transformation spells, open dimensional warp portals, separate a person's soul from their body, and hypnotize people (possibly a reference to the old wives' tale about snakes being able to mesmerize birds). However, he prefers to handle matters scientifically, such as carefully studying his enemies' weakness in order to exploit them. He is actually physically quite weak, being frequently injured or embarrassed in the course of a scheme (such as being run through a cotton candy machine at a fair, learning that a formula for a powerful mutagen was actually a hair tonic--by taking it orally--or being dogpiled simultaneously by all his mutants, who slipped on a wet floor coming to his aid [9]). However, his sheer perseverance, hatred for humanity, and resilinance make him a credible and ever-present threat to the Warriors and the world.

Appearances

He was also heard but not seen in the wraparound to issue #30 (Oct 2007). Hiss Hole is also visible on two (fictional) comic covers in the series, one appearing in "Guidance System" (#16, Aug 2006) and a second in "SweetTart" (#26, Jun 2007).

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