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CERBERUS

Real Name: Cerberus

Occupation: Guardian to the Underworld

Legal Status: Citizen of Tartarus

Identity: The general populace of Earth is unaware of the existence of Cerberus except as a fictional being of mythological origin.

Other Aliases: None

Place of Birth: Unknown

Marital Status: Single

Known Relatives: Typhon (father), Echidna (mother, deceased), Geryon (uncle, deceased), Ladon, Orthrus, Chimaera (brothers, deceased), Hydra, Phaea, Sphinx (sisters, deceased), Medusa (great-grandmother, deceased), Chrysaor (grandfather), Callirrhoe (grandmother), Orion, Triton (great-uncles), Poseidon (great-grandfather), Zeus, Hades (great-granduncles), Hera, Demeter, Hestia (great-grandaunts)

Group Affiliations: ally of Hades and Hela

Base of Operations: Hades (Tartarus)

First Appearance: Thor I #130

History: Cerberus one of the denizens of the underworld of Hades, reserved for the spirits of the worshippers of the Olympian gods. Placed at the gates of the underworld, Cerberus is the spawn of Typhon, the ancient wind-god who once challenged the Gods of Olympus, and the snake-goddess, Echidna, the daughter of the giant Chrysaor, son of Poseidon and Medusa, and the ocean-goddess, Callirrhoe. Echidna and Typhon had conceived a brood of mismatched creatures supposedly because they mated while in the throes of shape-shifting into several animals, their children having taken on the forms of those animals. Another theory is that their traits are the result of a curse Athena inflicted on Medusa and the other Gorgons for willingly allowing themselves to be seduced by Poseidon. Their father, Typhon, might also be partially demonic since his father was spawned from the energies of Tartarus itself.

Zeus imprisoned Typhon within Mount Aetna on Sicily. Echidna later fled to Libya where she abducted children as sustenance to her offspring, giving rise to the later legends of vampires and monsters. Arges, one of the Cyclopes loyal to Zeus, later killed her to stop her bloodshed.

Hades eventually employed Cerberus in establishing order in the Underworld after the defeat of the Titans and the beginning of his domain of the underworld. Cerberus slew Keres, an ancient spirit that terrorized and punished the dead and later took his place at the gates of Hades. He unerringly fulfilled his role in keeping the spirits of the dead from wandering back to the world of the living, but he was oft times distracted and waylaid by a few mortal heroes. Orpheus, the half-mortal son of the Muse Calliope, came down after his adventures with the Argonauts to retrieve his true love Eurydice who had died. Singing a song of woe, Orpheus was able to mesmerize Cerberus into letting him pass into the Underworld. The mortals Theseus and Peirithous distracted Cerberus to let them pass on their way to abduct Persephone, but Hades himself captured them. Hercules on his last labor was able to forcibly drag Cerberus all the way to the court of King Eurystheus of Mycenae. The ordeal obviously gave many mortal men their first true appearance of the beast that they knew only by rumors. Having proved himself, Hercules freed Cerberus to flee back to the Underworld alone. With the help of Zeus and Athena, the Phoenician princess Psyche lulled Cerberus into complacency with cakes to prove she was worthy to marry Cupid.

After Zeus allowed worship of the Olympian Gods to die out, Hades was not permitted to accept the souls of any more mortals. According to some accounts, he began venturing to Earth in mortal guise going after earthbound ghosts and evil spirits. Realizing Cerberus’ might and ferocity, he gave Cerberus the gift of intelligence and the power to alter his appearance and even attain a humanoid appearance. Hades started using him as an agent in his concerns. In his presence, Cerberus could appear as a black rottweiler of extraordinary size with red eyes or as a huge intimidating African-American humanoid bodyguard.

In modern years, Cerberus often clashed with Thor and Hercules time and time again as they confronted Hades for his actions on Earth. Cerberus was present at the formation of the short-lived group of heroes known as the Champions of Los Angeles. When the Avengers escaped his realm, Hades held Cerberus at fault and stripped him of his sentience and ability to change forms in order that Cerberus could regain his ferocity as a watchdog. He stored these memories into his Havoc-Bringer arrow, which eventually ended up on earth under unknown means. Cerberus escaped the arrow and briefly possessed a mortal man on Earth where he confronted Hercules again. Hela claimed Havoc-Bringer afterward and lured Cerberus from Hades, reuniting him with his consciousness stored in Havoc-Bringer. Hela sent him against Doctor Strange entering her realm for the icy remains of Thor. It is possible that Hades lent Cerberus to Hela for the soul purpose of guarding Thor’s remains, but this is unconfirmed. Cerberus was returned to Hades afterward and was borrowed by Loki to be used as a steed for his minion known as the Flame.

Sometime later, Cerberus witnessed the young wards of the Fantastic Four invade Hades to rescue Caledonia from Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons. When Valeria Von Doom attacked him, Cerberus called upon the armies of the Underworld to attack her and her allies. The young wards had to be rescued by Hercules and the Fantastic Four.

Height: (humanoid) 7’ 3”
Weight: 725 lbs.
Eyes: Red
Hair: Black

Unusual Physical Features: In his true form, Cerberus resembles a large wolf with three heads. However, since his ability to alter his form, his appearance has often varied and he randomly resumes to his “true form” resembling a different breed of dog, such as a Doberman pinscher, rottweiler or pit bull.

Strength Level: In his human form, Cerberus possesses superhuman strength enabling him to lift (press) at least 50 tons under optimal conditions.

Known Superhuman Powers: Cerberus possesses the conventional physical attributes of the Olympian gods with whom he shares the same ancestors and relations. Like all Olympians, he is immortal: he has not aged since reaching adulthood and cannot die by any conventional means. He is immune to all Earthly diseases and is resistant to conventional injury. If he were somehow wounded, his godly life force would enable him to recover with superhuman speed. It would take an injury of such magnitude that it dispersed a major portion of his bodily molecules to cause him a physical death. Even then, it might be possible for a god of significant power, such as Zeus, Poseidon and Hades or for a number of Olympian gods of equal power working together to revive him. Cerberus also possesses superhuman strength and his Olympian metabolism provides him with far greater than human endurance in all physical activities. (Olympian flesh and bone is about three times as dense as similar human tissue, contributing to the Olympians' superhuman strength and weight.)

Cerberus has incredible superhuman strength, but he is no where as powerful as major immortals like Zeus, Hercules or Hades. He has the ability to mystically alter his form, becoming more humanoid and to regain his regular canine form, although he may be unconsciously influenced by different breeds and types of dogs from time to time, resulting in variations of his form as a "hell-hound." Possessed of great savagery and animal ferocity in this form, he can gather the shades ("souls") of the underworld en masse at his bidding by screaming or howling to the boundaries of Hades itself. He has several of the same attributes of dogs and wolves except at more superhuman levels. 

Comments: This bio pretty much encapsulates Cerberus of the Marvel Universe with aspects of his counterpart in the “God of the Dead” novella by William C. Uchtman. He has been briefly noticed a few times in “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.”

Cerberus has counterparts in other pantheons including Garm/Fenris Wolf of the Norse, Sarameyau from Hindu/Vedic myth, Ammit from Egypt, Pek from the Aztec underworld, and Surma (Manalan-Rakhi) from Finland.

CLARIFICATIONS: Cerberus is not to be confused with:

Updated: 12-29-07

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