Baron Heinrich Zemo became one of the top scientists during the Nazi reign and was in high demand. Agent Nick Fury invaded Zemo's castle where he came to destroy Zemo's death ray. Defeated, he took his wife and son into hiding and wore a disguise because of his disgrace. Zemo was once working on a substance called Adhesive X when Captain America invaded and destroyed the only batch available, spilling the adhesive onto his head and permanently affixing his hood to it; this drove him insane. As a result, Zemo formed a deep hatred for Captain America and humankind in general.
Baron Heinrich Zemo was created by Marvel legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The character made his first appearance in a flashback scene in the Avengers #4, but he was not officially given a name till two issues later, in the Avengers #6. Baron Zemo was added into the history of Captain America after the character's reinvention in the Silver Age.
Zemo led sabotages against the Allies several times, but also failing. Later in the war, Captain America and his first junior partner, James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes, came to defeat Zemo, but Barnes apparently died and Captain America was thrown into icy water which suddenly and rapidly suspended his animation for decades. Zemo, then left his family behind in Germany and escaped to the South American jungle. After some time, Zemo built a death ray where he would destroy many cities. Captain America reappeared, joining a team called the Avengers and Zemo created his own team called the Masters Of Evil. In his final fight against Captain America, he kidnapped Rick Jones, who was Captain America's junior partner at the time. Captain America rescued Jones where his shield reflected off a light and blinded Zemo temporarily. Zemo started firing his death ray wildly and caused his own death by an avalanche falling upon him.
In Tales of Suspense #98-99 and Captain America #100, a man appeared who claimed to be Zemo, having survived the avalanche, but it was actually his pilot, Franz Gruber, pretending to be him.
Major Story Arcs
Dr. Heinrich Zemo, the 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(actually a solid-state laser that Zemo had constructed decades before Theodore H. Maiman would reinvent the process), a disintegration pistol that was a miniaturized version of his death ray, and primitive androids of considerable strength and near invulnerability. Heinrich Zemo'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 his act of mass murder on the Allied Forces, Nick Fury and his fellow Howling Commandos exposed Zemo's role in the town's destruction, resulting in Zemo becoming one of the most hated men in 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 no process known to science at the time could remove or dissolve. It was only after the war that the adhesive-using villain then known as Paste-Pot Pete (see Trapster, The) found a way to neutralize it.
When Captain America confronted Zemo, to destroy his limited supply of Adhesive X so that the Nazis could not use it against Allied troops, Captain America threw his shield at the glass tank containing it to release the adhesive onto the ground. However, Zemo was standing right next to the tank, and when the shield crashed through the tank and spilled its contents, the Adhesive X spilled all over Zemo's hooded head and 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 Zemo quickly recovered, but having his hood permanently affixed to his face, never to be removed, drove the Nazi scientist mad. He even took his hatred out on his own family, his wife Hilda and his son Helmut. 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. His reputation in combat quickly grew and was rivaled only by the Red Skull; the two quickly became rivals, united only in their hatred for Captain America.
When it became apparent that the Nazis would lose the war, the Red Skull sent Zemo to London to steal an experimental airplane. At this point the plane would do them no good, but the Red Skull made sure this knowledge was leaked to Captain America and his young partner James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes, to ensure that Zemo would be caught, ridding the Red Skull 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 the Red Skull for the final time during World War II, burying the 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 Zemo took both Captain America and Barnes prisoner. Unable to stand the sight of the heroic uniforms of either, Zemo outfitted them in their Army fatigues. He then tied the two crusaders to the experimental plane, which was now booby-trapped to explode, and launched it to their deaths. Captain America fell from the plane as it exploded, and Barnes was apparently killed. Captain America landed in the Arctic Ocean, whose icy waters interacted with the Super-Soldier serum in his bloodstream to throw him into sudden and rapid suspension of his animation. He was left frozen in ice for decades, and by the time the then recently-formed Avengers eventually recovered and revived him, he was at least twenty years out of his own time.
Believing wrongly that he had killed his rival at last, Baron Zemo traveled to South America, leaving behind his wife Hilda and his son Helmut. With an army of mercenaries that were loyal to him, he enslaved a native tribe and made himself their king. While staying there, he tried to find a way to remove the hood from his face, but without success. After finding out in a newspaper that his enemy, the original Captain America, had not died, his hate for the Captain was renewed.
Heinrich formed the Masters of Evil to serve as a villainous counterpart to the Avengers; the other founding members included the original 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; they then tied him up to stop him causing trouble. They switched the adhesive with remover that Paste-Pot Pete, the future Trapster, had synthesized. Zemo used his scepter's hypno-ray on the Teen Brigade, placing them under his control. He then fought Captain America using combat skills he had acquired, 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 was later joined by the Enchantress and the Executioner, both of whom Odin Borson, AllFather King Of Asgard, had exiled from Asgard and imprisoned on Earth. The Enchantress hypnotized Thor Odinson, God Of Thunder, 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 him out of this trance, and Thor exiled the Masters of Evil to another, unrevealed dimension. Later, Zemo created the super-humanly strong Wonder Man with his ionic ray, and told him that he would die within a week unless given an antidote which he 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 his enemy to his fortress by kidnapping Rick Jones. His Masters of Evil were freed from prison, and they attacked the Avengers, forcing Captain America to face Zemo alone. Zemo raised the glass cage in which he was keeping Jones prisoner off the ground as Captain America was shooting at his men. Though Zemo thought his doing that would kill Jones, then attempting--vainly as it proved--to replace Captain America's World War II partner, James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes, all it did succeed in doing instead was opening the glass cage and allowing Jones to escape. Zemo attacked with his men, but Captain America dodged and deflected the shots with his shield. When reaching Zemo himself, he employed his shield to deflect the fire from the solar ray into Zemo's eyes, temporarily blinding him. The blinded Zemo's solar ray fired wildly, striking the stone mountain and causing a rockslide whose component rocks clubbed Zemo to his own death. Captain American buried Zemo's body himself.
The Known Powers And Abilities Of Baron Heinrich Zemo
Heinrich Zemo had no super-human powers. His other known abilities were his Longevity, the Combat Training he had undergone, and his Genius-Level Intellect.
Ultimate Baron Zemo (Earth 1610)
First appeared in Ultimate Thor Issue 1. In Germany 1939 Baron Zemo requests 100,000 SS men for an expedition into the forgotten realm of Asgard. Though the Reichsfuhrer Himmler is initially skeptical of the Baron's request, this doubt is shredded when Zemo reveals that he possesses the Norn Stones, artifacts required to open the gate to the rainbow bridge. In northern Germany, he accesses a lost pillar into the realm of Asgard causing Mammon and the Frost Giants of Jottunheim to materialize before the SS force. The Baron promptly strikes a deal with Mammon in order to bring down Asgard, and the Frost Giants subsequently clash with Heimdall in order to open a path into Asgard. Heimdall appears to be winning the fight, forcing the Baron to unveil his secret weapon, (a familiar Golden Bow), with which he kills the Asgardian gatekeeper. Turning to his men, the Baron removes his face-mask to reveal Loki, son of Odin and Lord of Chaos (see Loki Earth 1610).
The Avengers: United They Stand
Heinrich Zemo appears in flashbacks in the episode "Command Decision". It is shown that years earlier, Baron Zemo battled Captain America in front of his son, Helmut. Zemo inadvertently caused his own death when he began firing his pistol around blindly after his vision was impaired by a blast of sunlight reflected by Captain America's shield. One of the shots hit a nearby cliff, which caused a rockslide that crushed Zemo to death. Though his death was accidental and arguably his own fault, Zemo's legacy was continued by Helmut, who blamed Captain America for his father's demise.
The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes
Baron Heinrich Zemo appears in several episodes, voiced by Robin Atkin Downes. As in the comics, he is shown to be one of Captain America's long-standing enemies, given his signature mask and an unnaturally long life-span due to his exposure to "Virus X," a germ warfare pathogen he sought to unleash against the Allied Power until he was stopped by Captain America. Upon escaping The Raft in the episode "The Breakout" Pt. 2, Zemo is shown returning to Hydra in order to reclaim leadership from Baron Strucker. However, upon learning of the resurrection of Captain America, Zemo plots to kill him by assaulting Avengers Mansion with help from Arnim Zola and Doughboy, but he is foiled by Black Panther in the episode "Living Legend." Zemo later returns in "Masters of Evil" as the De-facto leader of the show's version of the Masters of Evil ( Enchantress, Executioner, Wonder Man, Crimson Dynamo, and the Abomination). The Masters manage to systematically defeat and capture several of the Avengers save for Hank Pym, Hawkeye and Black Panther, who later return to save the rest of the team and defeat Zemo, causing him and the rest of the Masters to retreat. Zemo is next shown arguing with Abomination over his ability to lead, until Enchantress tells the two to stop because it doesn't matter as neither of them is truly in charge, to which she reports to a shadowy figure in another room bearing the outline of Loki.
Baron Zemo appears in a flashback in the episode "S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy," where he is seen battling the Whizzer during World War 2.
Heinrich Zemo appears in flashbacks in the episode "Saving Captain Rogers", voiced by David Kaye. This version of the character was a HYDRA scientist who was captured by Captain America and Bucky during World War 2, and presumably died in prison. In the present day, his son Helmut seeks vengeance on Captain America and the Avengers or his father's imprisonment. It also revealed that before he was taken into custody, Zemo had managed to recreate two vials of Professor Erskine's Super Soldier Serum.
- Baron Zemo appeared in the teaser trailer for Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow. He is featured in the story as one of the villains that the Avengers defeated when an elderly Tony Stark mentioned "masters of evil."
- There were plans for Baron Zemo to appear in Captain America: The First Avenger as a member of HYDRA. However, he was cut from the script because the writers felt he would have been wasted in a supporting role (as the film's main villain was Red Skull).
- Baron Helmut Zemo appeared in the PlayStation, PC, Game Boy, and Sega Game Gear Iron Man and X-O Manowar in Heavy Metal video game as a boss.
- Castle Zemo appears in Captain America: Super Soldier, the video game tie-in to The First Avenger. Zemo himself does not appear, but a portrait of him can be heard in audio diaries and as a radio voice-over. Additionally, a portrait of him can be seen.
- Toy Biz released a Baron Zemo figure as part of the Mojo "Build-a-Figure" Marvel Legends wave.