The origins of the Python are mostly a mystery, by his own accounts he was a contortionist who was part of a circus freak-show in Germany before the outbreak of World War II. His talents earned him a place in the Nazi army and he was assigned to capture American scientists and force them to use their talents to help the German cause. He claims that his success in this mission would have earned him the leading rank in the German Gestapo.
Upon arriving in the Untied States, he began capturing prominent scientists including Miss Harris, a chemistry professor who had developed an antidote for a new chemical gas. He hoped to torture the information out of her, as she had memorized the formula and had no written copies. The mysterious disappearance of all the scientists attracted the attention of the Angel who tracked the Python to his hideout in an abandoned Westchester mansion. There the Angel was captured, but when tortured, he laughed instead of cry out in pain. When attempting to torture Harris, she cracked and gave him the antidote formula. To make sure she wasn't lying, the Python injected the Angel with it and placed him in a gas chamber to see if it worked. As a jest he tossed the Angel a knife, telling him that those who were exposed to gas attacks during World War I often were so desperate to breath they slit their own throats. When the gas was poured into the chamber, the Angel pretended that the antidote did not work and feigned cutting his neck. The Python fell for this and got close enough for the Angel to beat him and his minion into submission. The Angel then tied the Python into a human knot and learned of the of his mission before he was taken away by authorities.
The Python was sentenced to death in the electric chair for his crimes. However, thirsting for revenge against the Angel, he staged a prison riot in an attempt to escape. Managing to break free from the electric chair with his contortionist skills, the Python held the warden hostage and managed to free the other prisoners. Storming to the prison courtyard, they were met by military draftsmen sent to quell the uprising. The Python took over a tank the drafters were using to attempt to push the prisoners back.
The Angel (having come to watch the execution) caused the prisoners to flee back to their cells with sticks of TNT. When the Python refused to surrender, the Angel tossed dynamite into his tank causing an explosion. Strangely enough, while the Angel was willing to let the Python die on the electric chair, he could not bring himself to let the Python burn alive in the tank and attempted to save him. Believing himself doomed, the Python attempted to pull the Angel into the flames so that they would both die together. However, the Angel broke free, leaving the Nazi spy to burn alive alone.
Somehow surviving, the Python was relocated to Alcatraz prison. In the summer of 1942, Adolf Hitler ordered that the Python be broken out of prison in order to capture Professor Horton, the creator of the Human Torch, so that they could use his genius to slay his creation. The Python succeeded in capturing the professor and using the device that created the Torch to turn the Torch into a massive slave loyal only to the Python. After rampaging through New York City, and causing a massive battle between American and Nazi forces on the Hudson river, the Python was choked to death in the New York subway system by the Sub-Mariner and the Torch was restored to normal.
It appears that aside from being able to contort his body (which is a learned ability) the Python was able to stretch his limbs to a limited degree. The nature of this ability is unrevealed.
The Python was a skilled contortionist
The Python is prone to fits of childish rage when his torture victims do not scream in pain or (worse) laugh at him instead.
During his attempted prison break he briefly commandeered a riot tank.
The Python used a whip to torture his prisoners. He also had access to a lethal gas. Later when he staged his prison break he got hold of a pistol.
In his last appearance, the Python was depicted as a criminal as opposed to a Nazi spy, and Professor Horton even calls him a "traitor to his country", implying that Horton believed him to be American. This was clearly a mistake on Horton's part.
Real name revealed in the Marvel Mystery Handbook: 70th Anniversary Special #1 (2009)
Die Riesenschlange & Die Tigerschlange are German words for The Python.
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