Zodiac is the name used by two criminal organizations, one composed of human beings
and the other consisting of sentient androids. Each of the twelve leaders of the
human Zodiac and each of the members of the robotic Zodiac was named and costumed
after a sign of the astrological zodiac. The android Zodiac, formed by Jacob Fury,
the Scorpio of the original, human Zodiac, murdered ten other leaders of the human
Zodiac; the remaining leader of the human Zodiac, Cornelius
van Lunt, subsequently died in a plane crash.
The original, human Zodiac
was founded by Cornelius van Lunt, a New York City area businessman who started
his career in legitimate real estate dealings, but who branched out into various
criminal endeavors. An ardent believer in astrology, van Lunt amassed a fortune
under the guidance of his personal astrologer. Van Lunt invested that fortune
in the formation and outfitting of a nationwide criminal network. Van Lunt hand-picked
the original eleven other Zodiac leaders, but long concealed his true identity
from them beneath his zodiacal personal Taurus. Van Lunt was originally the only
member of Zodiac who knew the true identities of all the other leaders. Each of
the twelve leaders of the Zodiac was born under the sign of the zodiac after which
he or she was named, and was based in a different American city.
of the twelve leaders of Zodiac possessed superhuman powers, but most of them
employed technology to give themselves special capabilities. Generally, the Zodiac
leaders each operated independently in the city that was his or her base of operations,
but they assembled for matters of collective importance. Whenever there was a
vacancy in Zodiac's leadership, either by death or expulsion, the remaining leaders
accepted applications for membership from criminals, who met certain qualifications,
chief among which was having been born under the zodiacal sign of the vacancy.
Traditionally, all of the Zodiac leaders were male except for Virgo. Following
his horoscope, van Lunt relinquished control over the group and Zodiac took on
a rotating system of overall leadership. Hence, leadership over the entire organization
changed from month to month according to the prevalent astrological sign, and
thus each of the twelve Zodiac leaders got to direct the entire organization for
a month each year. Each of the twelve Zodiac leaders also commanded his or her
own group of henchmen based in his or her base city.
The human Zodiac's
ultimate goal was that of world economic and political domination. Zodiac intended
to rule humanity just as its leaders believed that the astrological zodiac governed
The first recorded activity of a Zodiac leader as a member
of that organization was the unsuccessful attempt of Jacob Fury, the original
Scorpio, to assassinate his brother Nick
Fury, the Public Director of the international espionage and law enforcement
agency SHIELD. Scorpio wielded an ankh-shaped extradimensional
power object called the Zodiac Key, which was the most powerful weapon utilized
by the Zodiac organization. Jacob Fury was killed after his second failure to
murder his brother, and, after feigning his own death at the hands of the subversive
organization HYDRA, Nick Fury, now in possession of the
Zodiac Key, disguised himself as Scorpio in order to infiltrate Zodiac. At this
time Zodiac was led by Aries, whose term of leadership, under the rules by which
Zodiac then operated, was much longer than a single month. In the guise of Scorpio,
Nick Fury captured the Avengers and summoned the rest
of Zodiac to Avengers Mansion, planning
to free the Avengers and have them help him capture the other eleven members.
Unfortunately, the plan failed, although neither Fury nor the Avengers were seriously
harmed, and Zodiac escaped, with Aries taking possession of the Zodiac Key.
later, Aries, leading a small army, succeeded in capturing Manhattan Island and
sealing it off from the rest of the world within a force field. His attempt to
hold Manhattan for ransom was thwarted by the Avengers and Daredevil. Aries died
in an explosion in which the Key was apparently destroyed.
The Key was rediscovered,
however, and Nick Fury, Daredevil, Iron Man, Madame Masque, Aquarius, Capricorn,
and Sagittarius all found themselves transported with the Key to the dimension
of its true owners, the Brotherhood of the Ankh. The six Earthmen were returned
to Earth, but the Brotherhood retained the Key.
Van Lunt, as Taurus, became
the new leader of Zodiac and recruited a new Aries and what he believed to be
a new Scorpio. Actually, the new Scorpio, Jacques LaPoint, was the disguised Jacob
Fury, whom the sentient Zodiac Key had recreated as an android. Taurus embarked
upon a scheme to use a "Star-Blazer" device, powered by some form of
"stellar energy," to kill all the people living in Manhattan who were
born under the sign of Gemini as a means of displaying Zodiac's power. The Avengers
thwarted this scheme and destroyed the Star-Blazer. An internal power struggle
then occurred in which six of the Zodiac leaders turned against Taurus, who induced
both the rebellious leaders and the Avengers into a death trap. But the dissident
Zodiac leaders and the Avengers survived, and the Avengers succeeded in defeating
and capturing Taurus, the Zodiac leaders loyal to him, and the dissident Zodiac
leaders. The charges brought against the Zodiac leaders by the Avengers put them
behind bars, but they eventually all regained their freedom by various means.
It was at this point that van Lunt, who had been Zodiac's financier from the beginning,
instituted the system of monthly rotating membership.
Jacob Fury, once again
in possession of the Zodiac Key, used it to create the first version of his android
Zodiac, which was defeated by the Defenders and Moon Knight.
The human Zodiac
had been greatly weakened in power by the capture and temporary imprisonment of
its leaders. Van Lunt, as Taurus, planned to compete in certain criminal activities
with one or more of the New York City-based "families" of the criminal
organization called the Maggia. Learning of van Lunt's intentions, the Maggia
acquired the services of the android Taurus and sent it to wreak destruction at
van Lunt's new base of operations. Unable to defend himself against the android,
van Lunt contacted an associate who hired James Rhodes, the second Iron
Man, to defend van Lunt's property. Although Rhodes defeated the android,
thereby saving van Lunt's life, van Lunt regarded Iron Man as a threat to Zodiac's
future plans. Deducing Iron Man was Rhodes, van Lunt contacted Aries and Aquarius
and sent them to assassinate him. Aries and Aquarius failed, however, and were
Months later, Jacques LaPoint revealed himself as Jacob
Fury at a meeting of the human Zodiac's twelve leaders. The other eleven members
of the latest version of the android Zodiac broke in, and they and Jacob Fury
murdered all of the human Zodiac leaders except for van Lunt, who escaped. Van
Lunt sought help against the android Zodiac from the West Coast Avengers. The
android Zodiac was seemingly destroyed shortly afterwards, but the sentient Zodiac
Key intends to resurrect Jacob Fury, who will undoubtedly recreate the rest of
the android Zodiac. Van Lunt escaped the Avengers and planned to form a new human
Zodiac. But the Moon Knight found van Lunt and battled him aboard a plane in flight.
Van Lunt died when the plane crashed, but the Moon Knight escaped to safety.
FIRST APPEARANCE: (Zodiac as an organization) Avengers
FINAL APPEARANCE: (death of ten members of human
Zodiac) West Coast Avengers#26