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Nagraj made his first appearance in 1986 in Raj Comics #14, in an eponymously titled comic book written by Parshuram Sharma and illustrated by Pratap Mullick. In his debut issue, he was depicted as the creation of Professor Nagamani for the purpose of spreading terrorism. However, due to the interference of a powerful sanyasi called Baba Gorakhnath, he vowed to dedicate his life to fighting crime. Nagraj resides and operates in the fictional Indian city of Mahanagar. His alter ego is Raj, who is the Chairman of “Bharati Communications,” a news channel.

Nagraj’s body is inhabited by thousands of poisonous snakes who give him superhuman strength. He can unleash these snakes from his wrists in order to bind or attack people. His blood is the most poisonous venom in the world and a single bite from him can melt any living organism. Nagraj possesses remarkable healing powers and is adept at martial arts, especially snake style kung fu fighting. Additionally, he can hypnotize people, slither up walls and has psychic powers.  He keeps acquiring numerous powers during the course of his adventures, for example in Ichchadhari Nagraj, he becomes a shape-shifter or “ichchadhari.” However he isn’t the only “ichchadhari” in the world, a shape-shifting woman – Saudangi – dwells within his body, and there’s an entire island, Nagdweep, inhabited by such beings.

In Visarpi Ki Shadi, he is proclaimed the king of Nagdweep and it is here that he meets his lady love – Visarpi. However, in Shakura Ka Chakravyuh, he is exiled from Nagdweep because he refuses to sever contact from the rest of the word and as a result, he is unable to marry Visarpi. In Funkaar, Nagraj meets Nagrani, who is his female counterpart from a parallel universe and circumstances force him to impregnate her through mystical means.

Nagraj’s origin story is revisited and given an elaborate treatment in Nagpasha and Khazana. It is revealed that Professor Nagamani did not create Nagraj, the latter was only raised by the evil scientist. Nagpasha, Nagraj’s uncle, tricked Dev Kaljayi, the supreme deity of snakes, to strike Lalita, Nagraj’s mother, with venom while she was pregnant. In order to save Lalita, Dev Kaljayi’s poison was diverted to the womb. Fortunately, the baby managed to survive even after absorbing the venom. It is Vedacharya, the royal physician, who helps Nagraj to discover his past. The idea of creating an alter ego was also supplied by Vedacharya and his grand-daughter, Bharati.

Nagraj frequently teams up with Super Commando Dhruv and his arch enemy is the immortal Nagpasha. In the Nagayan series, which is inspired by the Indian epic Ramayana, Nagraj is cast in the role of Rama while Nagpasha takes the place of Ravana. Nagraj’s stories borrow heavily from Indian myths and folklores. There are other formidable foes like Miss Killer, Nagdant, Nagina, and Shakura. In fact, he once rescued Superman, Batman, and Spiderman from the clutches of Shakura.  Nagraj frequently travels to other countries in order to combat terrorism.

–Shaswata Basu

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