J.C. Pennysworth was an executive at Richmond Enterprises and a good friend to Arthur Richmond. After the death of his father, Kyle Richmond left Pennysworth to run the company, as he had no interest in doing so himself.
Later, Pennysworth learned of the scientific experiments being carried out by Dr. Eliot Franklin on his own time. Franklin had learned to create a miniature gamma bomb, revolutionizing the work done by Bruce Banner. The work had been done on the Richmond Enterprises property, so Pennysworth stole Franklin's work and his notes, patenting them for the company. Franklin later broke into the facility trying to get his work back, but was arrested and sent to prison. Franklin escaped from prison and became a superhuman member of the Wrecking Crew and began destroying Richmond Enterprises buildings looking for his miniaturized gamma bomb. Pennysworth hired Power Man to protect Richmond Enterprises' investments and soon he, alongside the Defenders were embroiled in battle with the Wrecking Crew.
At some point Pennysworth began funding the Sons of the Serpent with Richmond Enterprises' money and became their Serpent Supreme. He felt no affinity to other members of the African-American race and devised a scheme to destroy the ghettos, thereby driving their tenants out into the suburbs where he predicted that a civil war between the races would ensue. As the Supreme Serpent, Pennysworth even appeared on television spreading his words of hate to the viewing public.
After escaping from the undersea prison of the Sons of the Serpent, Nighthawk and the other members of the Defenders found themselves in Pennysworth's office and Richmond realized that it was Pennysworth himself that was the Supreme Serpent. As Nighthawk, he confronted him and unmasked, shocking Pennysworth who said that he had never meant to harm him. Apparently everything he had done had been in an attempt to acquire more wealth for Richmond's business. He also noted that he had been investing company funds into questionable business ventures for years without Richmond seeming to care and felt that this was no different. Nighthawk learned the whereabouts of the Sons of the Serpents main headquarters from Pennyworth and the Defenders quickly surprised and defeated them.
Pennysworth was sent to jail for his crimes.
Pennyworth is a shrewd financial adviser and leader.
- Serpent stave which can be used as a club, fire energy bolts or transform into a lifelike serpent which can ensnare an opponent.
- Presumably he also has access to the other weaponry used by the Sons of the Serpent.
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