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Zen in a test tube
Zen in a test tube

Zen was born on the planet Baltoon, in the Rigel System. He is the result of an experiment in genetic engineering, designed to produce a superior being. Watched over by scientists Masur and Teslah, the experiment unfortunately failed when Zen displayed an averse reaction to an increase in genoids. Teslah was ordered to dispose of the body, but she was unable to, feeling she had disposed of too many already. She secretly put the infant Zen in a T-Pod and sent him away, saving his life. The pod crashlanded on the planet Om, where he was found by the Mystic Masters of Om. They raised and trained him. After giving him the Hypership, they gave him the name Zen, the most revered name in all of their traditions. Zen went into space and became a mercenary.


Coté (left) and Stern
Coté (left) and Stern

Zen was created by writer Stephen Stern. A struggling comic book artist, Stern wrote a synopsis for a story entitled 'Zen'. It was about an alien and had an environmental subtext. It was around the first official Earth Day. Unfortunately, no artist wanted to draw the story and ultimately the story was returned to Stern. Fifteen years later, Stern moved to Maine and opened up an agency ad. One of his first clients was Nancy Coté's Old Fashioned Ice Cream. Sitting in Nancy's office, he saw artwork displayed at her wall. Nancy explained they were drawn by her son Dan Coté. Stern met Dan Coté and they hit it off. Wanting to pursue a career in comics, Dan was asked to illustrate Zen. Dan Coté showed Stern an illustration of an alien he had already done several years earlier, and after some modifications that illustration became Zen. Together, they created the first story arc of Zen. Stephen Stern later worked with other artists.

Character Evolution

Zen and Jeremy Baker met in the first, self-published series of Zen, the Intergalactic Ninja. It was explained they shared a mental bond forged by the Jewel of Forgetfulness. Zen acts as Jeremy's spiritual guide and conscience.

Their relationship was rebooted by Archie Comics, who have Zen and Jeremy meet after Jeremy accidently digs up a geocrystal, which Zen is contracted to find. It is again revealed that Jeremy Baker is Earth's Starchilde, but this time Zen is to be Jeremy's first counselor. They no longer share a mental bond.

After Entity comics began distributing Zen's comics, Zen initially became more like his nickname says: an intergalactic ninja. A year later, he returned to Earth to Jeremy Baker and the Recycled Heroes.

While Archie Comics marketed Zen as kids-friendly, Entity comics, and later Zen Comics Publishing, made him more aggresive, targeting the market of teenagers.

Major Story Arcs

Young Zen (Entity Comics)

As a test of their abilities, the mystic masters of Om dropped Zen, Hammer, Spotclaw and Tail-Blade in a hostile area of the planet. Their goal was to return safely to home. When they did, they found the masters had been imprisoned by Tiberia, who claimed to be a former student of the mystic masters. She offered the group immortality. Tail-Blade took the offer and was turned into a machine by Tiberia. Tailblade was ordered to kill the mystic masters, but had enough will-power to overcome his order and free his masters. Together, they defeated Tiberia, who turned out to be an evil machine that was banished by the masters a long time ago and had returned to take revenge.

Jewel of Forgetfulness (self-published)

Working for El Nobus of the Zardeff Galaxy, Zen tracks down Queen Azuta who has the Jewel of Forgetfulness embedded in her forehead. He takes her down so he can take the jewel from her. On his way to his employer, Zen regrets killing Queen Azuta. He uses the stolen jewel on himself. Feeling free from his mission, the jewel established a mental contact between Zen and Earth boy Jeremy Baker. All this was later revealed to be a ploy by the Gordons.

Staying on Earth, made Zen a bit uneasy. Rigging Jeremy's TV, Zen talked to the Gordons, who offered him an assignment. Zen travels to the planet of the Gordons, taking Jeremy with him, and discovers that his mission involves travelling to a dying planet to retrieve a data collector. After beating members of several indiginous species, Zen takes the data collector, only to see Jeremy Baker in the hands of the planet's ruler Notan, claiming Jeremy Baker is the Starchilde. Notan takes Jeremy to the burial ground of Logon, queen Azuta's mad brother, to steal a sceptre which controls the Earth's elements. Zen stops Nolan and traps him inside Logon's tomb.

Defend the Earth (Archie Comics)

Digging in his backyard, Jeremy Baker finds a geocrystal. This triggers the rise of Lord Contaminous, who wants the crystal for himself. Zen, also contracted to find the crystal, saves Jeremy Baker, takes him aboard his T-Pod and flies him to his Hypership. Zen contacts the Gordons, who explain the role of the geocrystal, why Lord Contaminous wants it, that Jeremy Baker is Earth's Starchilde and must protect the Earth against pollution. Zen becomes Jeremy's first counselor. Pilot general Karl Lorenz has seen Zen taking Jeremy Baker to his ship and misinterprets this as the abduction of an Earth child by an alien. So now Zen has the army on his back, and he has to prepare for the attack of Lord Contaminous. Luckily, the Gordons left something behind in the cargo bay of Zen's Hypership: a Recyclotron. Back on Earth, Jeremy Baker gathers heaps of garbage and puts the Recyclotron to work. It creates the Recycled Heroes: Can-It, Pulp, Bottle Bandit, Lawnranger and Lights Out. Working together, Zen and the Recycled Heroes are able to defeat Lord Contaminous and his henchmen as well as holding off the army.

Alternity Saga (Entity Comics)

In space, Zen's hypership comes into contact with a Rygulian spaceship which has its weapons pointed at his ship. Feeling threatened, Zen shoots the Rygulian ship and it crashes into the nearby planet. Zen goes to the planet to confront the Rygulian. Unknowingly, he has entered another dimension through a portal. He learns from a surviving Rygulian that their ship malfunctioned and so it seemed it was attacking Zen's ship. The Rygulian buries his son, who was on the ship with him. At that moment Paradoxx appears.

At their homeplanet, the Gordons discuss the existance of Paradoxx and that the portal through which Paradoxx came must be closed. If the portal remains open, Paradoxx would be able to cross timelines infinitely, thus create infinite time/space chaos and cause the universe to collapse upon itself. The Gordons hire mercenary Nira-X to help Zen battle Paradoxx.

In his battle against Paradoxx, Zen is severely wounded. With intense concentration, Zen is able to heal himself. Paradoxx gets stronger and grows bigger. He picks up Nira. The Rygulian suddenly comes out of hiding and stabs Paradoxx in the back, who drops Nira on her head, thus breaking her neck and killing her. The Rygulian allows Zen to take the body of Nira back to his ship before letting a bomb explode. However, Paradoxx survives the explosion and swears revenge. He quickly follows Zen off-planet and enters the portal before Zen can. Slowly the two universes start to crumble and Zen's ship is caught in a blast. Zen is forced to enter his T-Pod and continue towqards the portal. The portal contains too much energy for Paradoxx to hold and he's thrown back into his own universe, just as Zen passes the portal in his T-Pod. Paradoxx is defeated, the universes are resetted. No one knows what has happened and Nira is alive again. She orders him to go with her to the Gordons.

The Hunter (Entity Comics)

On the planet Terania, Zen lookalike Hunter has killed several policemen to lure Zen. From the moment Zen set foot on Terania, Hunter tracks him down. Hunter uses a serum to pump up his body mass to get an advantage over Zen. Helped by Nira-X and sometimes police captain Hrokk, Zen is able to hold off Hunter for as long as the serum worked. Without the serum, Hunter began to wither away. Still trying to kill Zen, Hunter activated a bomb. Nira-X knocked Hunter down a well, thus shielding Zen from the explosion. Hunter is assumed to have been killed by the explosion.

A Fire Upon Earth (Entity Comics)

In Kuwait, Lord Contaminous and his group of eco-terrorists attack an oil refinery. Zen and the Recycled Heroes see this on the news and decide to try to stop them from spilling oil and thus destabilizing the economy. Zen's hypership is noticed by the United States army Major General Karl Lorenz. Still trying to catch Zen, he follows Zen to Kuwait, taking his lieutenant Capshaw with him. There, Lorenz strikes a deal with Lord Contaminous to side against Zen. Eco-terrorist Dump-It foolishly shoots down Capshaw's helicopter. Lights Out saves the helicopter from crashing, opening Lorenz' eyes about Zen and the Recycled Heroes. As Capshaw enters the battlefield, Lorenz orders her to attack the enemy. She shoots Lord Contaminous and Lorenz shoots at the other eco-terrorists. The terrorists withdraw, leaving the oil refinery. Zen and Lorenz end their uneasy truce and go their seperate ways.

Battle Beyond the Ozone (Entity Comics)

Lord Contaminous has a meeting with a business man, who points him towards a greater goal, the Earthlab One spacestation, where four astronauts conduct experiments for the benefit of mankind. Lord Contaminous and his eco-terrorists steal a space ship. The theft is broadcasted on the news and picked up by Zen and the Recycled Heroes, who chase the villains to the space station. The battle between the groups escalates quickly, especially when mercenaries also board the space station. A hole is blown into the hull and the four astronauts, Alexandra Winston, Glen Stoner, Go Mishima and Natasha Andrushka, are sucked into space. They are saved by an enigmatic being from another dimension, who physically trades places with them. The being calls itself Vox and quickly ends the battle aboard the spaceship by teleporting the villains away to a place "where they can no longer harm Earth's environment". Vox restores the order by leaving this dimension and thus returning the astronauts.

Ominous (Entity Comics)

Grok Bradok and his daughter Jade are the only ones to escape from the grasp of Notan the Destroyer, who is about to destroy their planet Penflax-4 by absorbing their energy. Sending out a distress signal into deep space, Grok gets help from the alien race called Gordons. The Gordons advise Grok to contact Zen and enlist his aid. Because Zen has an adversity for the Gordons, they advise Grok not to tell Zen that they helped Grok.

When Zen discover the involvement of the Gordons, Zen is about to withdraw his offer to help Grok save his planet. Jade convinces him about their sincerity. Zen finally agrees to help and even asks Nira-X to join his band. Together they travel to Penflax-4 to stop Notan. While Zen and Nira-X take on Notan and his Rygulian warrior, Grok and Jade try to disable Notan's ship which taps into the core of the planet, absorbing its energies. Jade has just discovered her powers to project plasma bolts and deduces she can also absorb them. Instead of blowing up the spaceship, as her father has suggested, she absorbs the plasma energy to use it against Notan.

Notan's ship is already in flight, when Jade unleashes the energy at him. Notan quickly teleports away, leaving Jade, Grok, Zen and Nira-X on a drifting ship. Disrupting the flow of the anti-grav thrusters, Jade saves her father, Zen and Nira-X, but at the cost of her own life.

Ground Zero (Zen Publishing Comics)

Nira-X's vessel is chased by Major Karl Lorenz of the United States Alien Control Group. Cloaked nearby, Zen ends the chase by damaging Lorenz' aircraft and rescues Nira-X. She reveals that she's chasing Vanaxx, a Rygulian, who came to Earth to do business. They decide to go after him together. Soon they discover that Vanaxx is part of an alien invasion force. They stop the invasion and capture Vanaxx.

Bounty Hunter (SSS Comics)

Zen with nose and mouth
Zen with nose and mouth

While on the hunt for the sadistic murderer Saldor, Zen wakes up one day with a nose and a mouth. Discussing this with one of the Mystic Masters of Om, Master Satva deduces it was a logical evolutionary step. His race has noses and mouths, so why not he? Because Zen came from a genetic experiment, it had to be a delayed genetic reaction. While adapting to his new situation, like eating with his mouth, Zen is able to defeat Saldor.

Powers & Abilities

When Zen had no mouth, he spoke telepathically with others. He ingested food by telekinetic metabolation. For bystanders, it seems that the food disintegrates, but in fact Zen telekinatically absorbed it. He breathed through his pores. With a nose and mouth, these abilities seem to have gone. Because his skin filtered out most toxics (such as polluted air or unbreatable atmospheres), he now uses a mask which covers his nose and mouth. The mask filters out the toxics for him.

Zen has a healing mantra, which heals him from most wounds in seconds. To activate his healing mantra, Zen recites 'Om, Konata, Sheringa, Zaged, Esten'.

Other Media

1990's ad for the latex masks
1990's ad for the latex masks

In 1990, Topstone Industries released latex masks of Zen characters, including ofcourse Zen himself. It also featured one of the Gordons, Notan and even one of Notan's lackey Dalos.

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In 1991, JustToys released a Zen action figure. They also released action figures of Jeremy Baker, Can-It, Lights Out, Lord Contaminous, Garbageman, Zen's Hypership and a vehicle for Lord Contaminous, which they called The Contaminator.

No Caption Provided

In 1992, JustToys released a Zen bend-em figure.

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In June 2011, GBJR Toys released a Zen action figure. It was the first Zen figure that portrayed his mask (which hides his nose and mouth).


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