Heinrich Zemo, the 12th Baron Zemo.
Art by Steve Epting.
The Avengers #4 (March 1964)
The Avengers #6 (July 1964)
The Death Ray of Dr. Zemo
Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #8 (July 1964)
|Created by||Stan Lee (writer)|
Jack Kirby (artist)
|Alter ego||Dr. Heinrich Zemo|
|Team affiliations||Legion of the Unliving|
Masters of Evil
Master swordsman and hand-to-hand combatant
Heinrich Zemo is a fictional supervillain that appeared in various American comic books published by Marvel Comics. He was first seen in The Avengers #4 (March 1964) in the Silver Age of Comic Books as the first depicted Baron Zemo. The character remains dead, but his legacy lives on in his son.
The original version of Baron Zemo was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and was first seen in a flashback in The Avengers #4 (March 1964); the character did not actually appear in person and was not identified by name until The Avengers #6 (July 1964) and Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #8, in the same month. Zemo was retroactively added into the history of Captain America upon the hero's reintroduction to the Silver Age two issues prior.
Fictional character biography
Dr. Heinrich Zemo (aka 12th Baron Zemo) was one of the top scientists in the Nazi Party. Zemo fought both Captain America and his allies the Howling Commandos during World War II. A brilliant and sadistic scientific genius, Zemo created many weapons of mass destruction for Hitler's army, including a large-scale death ray cannon, a disintegration pistol that was a miniaturized version of his death ray, and primitive androids of considerable strength and durability. Heinrich's intelligence was only matched by his sadism, as he routinely tested his deadly weapons on innocent people, both prisoner and civilian inside the Third Reich. This ultimately came to a head, during an early encounter with the Howling Commandos, when Zemo decided to test an experimental death-ray cannon on a nearby German town. The death-ray killed hundreds of innocent German civilians as a result, making Zemo a mass murderer. Though he arrogantly believed that he could frame the Allied Forces for his act of mass murder, Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos exposed Zemo's role in the town's destruction, resulting in Zemo becoming a reviled figure throughout Europe, even amongst his fellow Germans.
In an attempt to regain a level of anonymity, Zemo began wearing a reddish-pink hood over his face as he continued to build weapons for the Nazis. His activities ultimately drew the attention of Captain America, resulting in a confrontation just as Heinrich was ready to unveil his newest scientific breakthrough: Adhesive X, an extremely strong adhesive that could not be dissolved or removed by any known process at the time; it was only after the war that the adhesive-using villain Paste-Pot Pete found a way to neutralize it.
In order to ensure that the Nazis could not use Adhesive X against Allied troops, Captain America confronted Zemo in an attempt to destroy the limited supply. Captain America threw the shield at the vat to release the adhesive onto the ground. Zemo, however, was standing right next to the vat containing the chemical, which poured over his hooded face. The adhesive quickly seeped inside and permanently attached the hood to Heinrich's flesh, preventing Zemo from ever removing his hood.
Though Zemo could still see through the eye holes of the hood, as well as hear, breathe, and speak through the thin fabric of the cloth that made up the hood, Zemo could no longer eat normally (due to the hood having no mouth hole) and had to be fed intravenously. Heinrich quickly recovered but having his hood permanently attached to his face drove the Nazi scientist insane. Adopting a new costume to go along with his new hooded face, Zemo went from becoming a normal, if not infamous, Nazi scientist to become an active field agent for the Third Reich, leading German troops into combat and espionage missions.
When it became apparent that the Nazis would lose the war, Red Skull sent Zemo to London to steal an experimental airplane. At this point the plane would do them no good, but Red Skull made sure this knowledge was leaked to Captain America and young sidekick Bucky so as to ensure that Zemo would be caught, ridding him of his rival once and for all. Captain America would not learn of Zemo's scheme for several weeks, by which time he would defeat Red Skull for the final time during World War II, burying Red Skull alive in a state of suspended animation. By the time that Captain America learned of Zemo's plot, it was too late and both Captain America and Bucky were taken prisoner by Zemo. Zemo tied the two heroes to the experimental plane, which was now booby-trapped to explode, and launched to their deaths. Captain America fell from the plane as it exploded, and Bucky was apparently killed. Captain America landed in the Arctic Ocean and was frozen in ice for decades until recovered by the recently formed Avengers.
Believing that he had killed his rival at long last, Zemo fled to South America as Hitler and the Nazis fell and World War II ended. After the mask was permanently bonded to his face, Zemo abandoned his long-suffering wife and toddler son, toward whom he had become emotionally and physically abusive. With an army of mercenaries loyal to him, Zemo enslaved a tribe of natives and lived as a king as he tried desperately to find a solvent that would remove his mask. After decades passed, Captain America was revived by the Avengers. This causes Zemo to renew his rivalry with the Captain. Among his attempts included sending agents to take the place of participants of a hand-to-hand combat demonstration with Captain America in order to capture him. As Captain America learned that Zemo was behind this attack, he sent a taunting message on Zemo's minions' communicator to provoke the villain into becoming more carelessly aggressive against him and thus provide an opportunity for the superhero to deal with the villain directly.
To that end, Heinrich formed the original Masters of Evil to serve as a villainous counterpart to the Avengers; the other founding members included the villainous Black Knight, the Melter, and the Radioactive Man who were gathered by his pilot. He tried to have Adhesive X spread over New York, but the Teen Brigade seized Zemo's pilot, preventing him from speaking, then tied him up to stop him causing trouble. They switched the adhesive with remover made by Paste-Pot Pete. Zemo used his sceptre's hypno-ray on the Teen Brigade, placing them under his control. He then battled Captain America using combat skills he had gained, but Captain America began to beat him. The pilot freed himself from his bonds and shot at Captain America from behind. Captain America heard the sound and dodged the bullet, though his skull was grazed. Giant-Man was able to stop the pilot from killing Captain America, thus capturing him. Zemo was tricked into opening a container of tear gas while in his helicopter during his escape back to South America. He is later joined by the Enchantress and the Executioner, who had been exiled to Earth from Asgard by Odin. The Enchantress hypnotized Thor into attacking the Avengers, while the Executioner had disguised himself as a former ally of Zemo and lured Captain America to South America to fight Zemo. Iron Man broke Thor out of this trance and the Masters of Evil were sent to another dimension by Thor. Zemo later turned Simon Williams into the superstrong Wonder Man with his ionic ray, and said Wonder Man would die within a week unless given an antidote which Zemo possessed. Wonder Man was able to capture the Wasp and lead the group into a trap where they were defeated. Wonder Man, however, sacrificed himself to save the Avengers.
In his final battle with Captain America, Zemo lured the Captain to his jungle fortress by kidnapping Avengers ally Rick Jones using an attractor ray. His Masters of Evil were broken out of prison and attacked the Avengers, forcing Captain America to go on alone. Zemo raised a glass cage containing Rick out of the ground as Captain America fired at his men, hoping Captain America would kill Rick, but the gunfire only broke open the cage. Zemo tried attacking with his men, but Captain America was able to use a rockslide caused by his shield to block them. In the ensuing battle, Captain America used his shield to deflect the sun's rays and cause Zemo to shoot blindly. His ray gun's shot hit a rock, starting an avalanche that killed him, and Captain America felt that Bucky's death had finally been avenged.
In the Marvel Noir universe, Baron Zemo is one of a group of Nazis led by Baron von Strucker to repeatedly battle adventurer Tony Stark in the 1930s. This version is revealed to be Howard Stark chemically brainwashed by a combination of zolpidem, ethanol, chloromethane, and "ophentonyl", the acronym forming the name. Strucker says that Stark is not the first Zemo, and that they all wear the hood so that no one from their former life will recognize them.
In other media
- Baron Zemo appeared in several episodes of the Captain America portion of The Marvel Super Heroes, voiced by Gillie Fenwick. He is seen both on his own and later as part of the Masters of Evil.
- Baron Zemo had a non-voiced appearance in The Avengers: United They Stand. He was seen in the episode "Command Decision".
- Baron Zemo is a recurring villain in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, voiced by Robin Atkin Downes in a German accent. Shown as one of Captain America's arch-enemies and Hydra's founder, this version sports Helmut Zemo's characterization and first costume. He has an unnaturally long life-span due to exposure to his own germ warfare pathogen "Virus X" he sought to unleash against the Allied Power until being stopped by Captain America. After escaping The Raft, Zemo sought to reclaim Hydra's leadership from Baron Strucker. But Captain America's return motivated him to assault Avengers Mansion with help from Armin Zola and Doughboy but is foiled by the Black Panther. Zemo later returns in Masters of Evil's de facto leader, systematically defeating and capturing several of the Avengers, but Hawkeye and Black Panther later return with Hank Pym to defeat Zemo's group, causing a retreat. When the Masters of Evil fight the Avengers for the Norn Stones, Zemo betrays Enchantress which eventually results in the Avengers simultaneously destroying seven Norn Stones, subsequently revealing that Loki was Zemo's group's benefactor. Attempting to escape Enchantress's vengeance, Zemo attempts a truce with the Avengers. He personally uses the eighth Norn Stone to protect himself from Enchantress. After Enchantress's defeat, Zemo realizes that Captain America is a Skrull in disguise before being imprisoned once again.
- Baron Zemo appears in Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers.
- Heinrich Zemo appears in the Avengers Assemble animated series, voiced by David Kaye (in "Saving Captain Rogers" and "T'Chanda"), and by Danny Jacobs (in "The House of Zemo"). Baron Zemo first appears in Avengers: Ultron Revolution. This version is a high-ranking operative for Hydra, the maker of Adhesive X and two effective super-soldier serums. Briefly seen in the episode "Saving Captain Rogers", he fights both Captain America and Bucky Barnes. Heinrich's legacy is a primary reasons behind his son Helmut Zemo being one of the Avengers' dangerous enemies. In the episode "The House of Zemo", Heinrich is brought to the present by Helmut's time machine made from Kang the Conqueror's technology in order to restore the Zemo family's honor (via Hydra) to take over the world. When the Zemos fight against the Avengers, Heinrich gets disappointed in Helmut and uses the time machine to bring a Zemo from the year 2099 to help fight the Avengers. Helmut cooperates with Captain America, resulting in Heinrich sent to 1943 which erases Zemo 2099's existence. Once in 1943, Heinrich was knocked out by the younger Steve Rogers who notified the military police. Heinrich Zemo also has a non-voiced cameo appearance in Avengers: Secret Wars episode "Sneakers" which revealed Heinrich tried to obtain a Wakandan object. This resulted in Heinrich getting into conflict with the original Black Panther. In the episode "The Zemo Sanction," it was revealed that Heinrich had led the Shadow Council back in the 1940s.
- Baron Zemo appears in Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher, voiced by Eric Bauza albeit uncredited. During an auction involving stolen S.H.I.E.L.D. technology, he appears as a buyer for the Leviathan organization.
- Helmut Zemo refers to his father, among other family members, who perished during the Avengers' fight with Ultron in Sokovia, the impetus for the younger Zemo's plot in Captain America: Civil War.
- Baron Zemo appears in Captain America: Super Soldier, voiced by Steven Blum. Although he never appears himself, he is heard in Diary Entries that the player collects, revealing his family history, and his alliance with the Red Skull's forces to awaken the Sleeper beneath Castle Zemo (which Hydra has commandeered before the game). In the game's Nintendo DS and Wii versions, he speaks to Captain America himself as a voice on the radio, though his masked face is still displayed beside the subtitles as it seems to the player.
- Avengers #6
- Thunderbolts -1 Distant Rumblings
- Avengers #4
- Lee, Stan; Kirby, Jack (December 1964). "The Army of Assassins Strikes!". Tales of Suspense. 1 (60).
- Avengers #9
- Avengers #15
- Incredible Hercules #129
- JLA/Avengers #4
- Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham #16
- Iron Man Noir #1
- Iron Man Noir #4
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-10-07. Retrieved 2012-06-25.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "Ultimate Spider-Man and Avengers Renewed on Disney XD," Comic Book Resources. Retrieved December 21, 2016
- "Saving Captain Rogers". Avengers: Ultron Revolution. Season 3. Episode 3. March 27, 2016.
- "The House of Zemo". Avengers: Ultron Revolution. Season 3. Episode 19. October 9, 2016.