After the people of Zambesi faced numerous attacks from their neighbors and nature, they prayed for protection. Their prayers were answered as the six great tribes were each presented a mystical totem harnessing the power of one of the elemental forces. One tribe was presented the Death Totem: the totem with the power to raise the spirits of the dead. Out of all of the Totems of Zambesi, it is the most volatile of them all. Presumably, the sixth tribe was driven insane by the totem's power of summoning spirits and sided with Mallus, but they were defeated, and Mallus was imprisoned by the other five tribes. For eons, the tribe and the totem were stricken from history and lost after the demon's defeat. The totem itself has a very strong link to Mallus.
The totem eventually found its way into the ownership of Robert Johnson, who had it pressed into his guitar. Because legend says that he sold his soul to be such a great musician, it was said that his guitar was cursed. The guitar – still equipped with the totem – was later placed into a pawn shop where it was bought by Elvis Presley; in fact, when Elvis still insisted on purchasing the guitar after the shopkeeper told him of its history, the shopkeeper was so glad to be rid of it, he gave Elvis the guitar for free. The Death Totem allowed Elvis to subtly communicate with the ghost of his late twin brother Jesse, which boosted his musical talent. However, the totem created an aberration by summoning the spirits of the dead, in which the citizens of Memphis fled their city and Elvis was committed, thus preventing the rise of rock and roll. This attracted the attention of the Legends, who attended church mass, during which Zari's Air Totem reacted to the Death Totem.
Wally West managed to steal the guitar but Sara Lance and Ray Palmer were unable to remove the totem. Jesse's ghost soon began to possess the guitar in a desperate attempt to get back to Elvis. Sara managed to calm the ghost by calling Jesse by name and stating that the Legends knew his brother, at which the guitar flew into her hand, after which they returned the guitar to Elvis. When the Death Totem summoned ghosts from the nearby cemetery, Elvis was able to put them to rest playing his guitar, singing Amazing Grace. Afterwards, Elvis, deciding to move on from his brother, removed the totem from his guitar and gave the Death Totem to Nate Heywood.
Mallus later manipulated Sara into wearing the totem and caused her to go on a rampage, attacking her teammates, ultimately leading to a confrontation between her and a Fire Totem-wielding Mick Rory.
Later, after realizing Mallus's freedom would be the death of his daughter, Nora, Damien Darhk peacefully approached the Legends, asking them to help him save her. In an attempt to get them to trust him, he gave them the Water Totem; the only one of the Totems of Zambesi the team didn't already have in their possession. The group, including Damien, devised a plan to save Zambesi from destruction, thereby causing enough damage to the timestream to release Mallus from his temporal prison. They intended, once Mallus was free, to use the totems to kill the demon, ironically, with Sara willingly trusting Darhk to wield the Death Totem alongside them. However, Damien, hoping to stabilize the timestream, secretly released Grodd (who the Legends had captured) in Zambesi to ensure that the village would be destroyed. When the Legends refused to allow this, he turned on them, with the Death Totem strengthening his powers.
Sara Lance used the totem when the Legends tried twice (failing the first time) to combine the totems' powers to form something that could defeat Mallus. After the demon was killed, the totem was left in Zambesi.
Powers and abilities
- Necromancy: The Totem allows the user to raise the spirits of the dead.
- Teleportation: Allows the user to teleport short distances.
- Telekinesis: Allows the user to move people or objects with their mind.
- Levitation: Allows the user to levitate.
- Hallucinations: This lets the user make people see dead family members, friends, etc.
- Totem connection: The totem connects to other totems when in the presence of them or from a far and can also let the other users know if a totem bearer has died.
- Immortality bypassing: By combing the powers of the Death Totem with those of its five fellows, it can create a being powerful enough to kill an immortal, as demonstrated when the Legends combined the powers of all the totems to create something to destroy the immortal demon Mallus.
- Dark Magic enhancement: The Death Totem can act as a power booster for this type of magic.
DC's Legends of Tomorrow