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Taurus (I)

Real Name: Cornelius van Lunt
Occupation: Former businessman, then professional criminal mastermind
Identity: Publicly known
Legal Status: Citizen of the United States with a criminal record
Other Aliases: None
Place of Birth: Unrevealed
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: Zodiac I
Base of Operations: New York City
First Appearance: (as Taurus) AVENGERS #72, (as Van Lunt) AVENGERS #77

History: Cornelius van Lunt was 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, which he named Zodiac. Van Lunt himself chose the eleven criminals who led Zodiac along with him. Each of the twelve leaders of Zodiac was born under a different sign of the astrological Zodiac than the others, and took the name of his or her particular sign, and was based in a different American city. Van Lunt long concealed his true identity from the others beneath his zodiacal personal Taurus. Originally, van Lunt was the only member of Zodiac who knew the true identities of all the other leaders. As Taurus, van Lunt took New York City as his base of criminal operations.

Zodiac's ultimate goal was that of world economic and political domination. Zodiac intended to rule humanity just as its members believed that the astrological zodiac governed humanity's fate.

Van Lunt was Zodiac's financier from the beginning. However, following his horoscope, van Lunt allowed each of the twelve Zodiac leaders to take charge of the organization as a whole on a rotating basis. The length of each term of office at this point has not been revealed. Zodiac gained a tremendous source of power in the form of the Zodiac Key, an other dimensional power source that was found and wielded by Jacob Fury, the original Scorpio.

Van Lunt first contended with the team of costumed crime fighters known as the Avengers when Jacob Fury's brother Nick, the Public Director of the law enforcement agency S.H.I.E.L.D., impersonated Scorpio, captured the Avengers, and summoned the other eleven Zodiac leaders to Avengers Mansion. Nick Fury planned to free the Avengers and have them help him capture the other Zodiac leaders. The Avengers battled the costumed Zodiac leaders at Avengers Mansion, but the Zodiac members all escaped. Believing that Jacob Fury had perished, Zodiac recruited Jacques LaPoint as its new Scorpio.

Shortly afterwards, in his true identity, van Lunt attempted a financial takeover of Stark Industries, the company principally owned by Anthony Stark, who owned Avengers Mansion. At this time Anthony Stark had not yet placed the mansion under the control of the Maria Stark Foundation, which finances its support with funds separate from Anthony Stark's personal fortune. Anthony Stark was forced to require the Avengers to pay him the back rent that was technically due on Avengers Mansion in order to provide him with further financial resources with which to fight van Lunt. To raise the necessary funds, the Avengers, ironically, ended up performing certain tasks for van Lunt himself, such as demolishing a building standing on property van Lunt had bought. Van Lunt told the Avengers that he did not expect to succeed in taking over Stark Industries or bankrupting it, and had launched his attack on the company merely as a ploy in order to gain the Avengers' services as his temporary employees. It seems unlikely that van Lunt would have gone to so much trouble and expense merely in order to employ the Avengers for a week; perhaps he had truly hoped to take over Stark's company, and, upon seeing he could not succeed, decided thus to embarrass the Avengers by treating them as hired help in revenge for the trouble they had recently given Zodiac. The Avengers did not realize that van Lunt was Taurus, but they took an intense dislike to him. They fulfilled the services they had agreed to perform for him, and in return van Lunt dropped his financial attack on Stark Industries.

Soon afterwards, the Avengers met the American Indian costumed champion named Red Wolf, whose real name was Will Talltrees. Van Lunt had attempted to intimidate Red Wolf's father, Thomas Talltrees, into selling him his property. Thomas Talltrees refused, and in retaliation van Lunt had his henchmen massacre the Talltrees family. Will Talltrees was the sole survivor, adopted the persona of Red Wolf, and enlisted several Avengers in helping him bring van Lunt to justice. Red Wolf's mission of vengeance culminated in his hand-to-hand battle with van Lunt atop a collapsing dam. Red Wolf survived the dam's collapse, but for a considerable time van Lunt was believed dead. In actuality, van Lunt had survived, but remained in hiding to avoid criminal prosecution, controlling his financial empire in secret.

Shortly thereafter, Aries led a small army, financed by van Lunt, in capturing Manhattan Island and holding it for ransom. The Avengers and Daredevil thwarted Aries's scheme, Aries died in an explosion, and van Lunt, as Taurus, assumed control of Zodiac and appointed a new Aries to take the originals place.

As Taurus, van Lunt embarked upon a scheme to use an enormous "Star-Blazer" device, powered by some form of stellar energy, to kill all the people in Manhattan who were born under the sign of Gemini as a means of demonstrating Zodiac's might to the world. The Avengers thwarted this plot and destroyed the giant Star-Blazer. An internal power struggle then occurred in which six of the Zodiac leaders turned against Taurus, who manipulated both the rebellious leaders and the Avengers into entering a death trap. But the dissident Zodiac leaders and the Avengers survived. The Avengers succeeded in defeating and capturing Taurus and the eleven other Zodiac leaders. The Avengers publicly exposed Taurus as van Lunt, and he and the other Zodiac leaders were sent to prison. However, due to Zodiac's connections in the government, van Lunt and most of the other Zodiac leaders soon had their sentences commuted and were freed from prison.

Jacob Fury, whose human consciousness now inhabited an android body, used the Zodiac Key to create eleven other androids that would join him in forming his own Zodiac. Fury's Zodiac was defeated by the Defenders and Moon Knight, and for a long time the android Zodiac appeared to be inactive; Jacob Fury himself was again believed dead.

Van Lunt, as Taurus, planned to compete in certain criminal activities with one or possibly more of the New York City-based "families" of the criminal organization called the Maggia. Learning of van Lunt's intentions, the Maggia somehow acquired the services of the Taurus of the android Zodiac 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, thus saving van Lunt's life, van Lunt regarded Iron Man as a threat to Zodiac's future plans. Deducing that Iron Man was Rhodes, van Lunt contacted the current Aries and Aquarius and assigned them to assassinate him. However, both Aries and Aquarius failed.

Later, Jacob Fury, as Scorpio, led his new version of the android Zodiac in a surprise attack on a meeting of the human leaders of van Lunt's Zodiac. Fury had already killed LaPoint, and the android Zodiac murdered all of the remaining human Zodiac leaders except van Lunt, who escaped. Van Lunt sought out the original Iron Man and offered to act as an advisor to him and the other West Coast Avengers in capturing and destroying the android Zodiac. The West Coast Avengers battled the android Zodiac, which eventually met temporary oblivion. Van Lunt, however, escaped Avengers custody, intending to create the human Zodiac anew.

Van Lunt attempted to enlist the Shroud as the Pisces of a new human Zodiac he intended to organize. However, Van Lunt was confronted by the Moon Knight, and the two finally did battle aboard a small aircraft in flight. Van Lunt perished when the plane crashed; the Moon Knight, however, had safely escaped.

Height: 6 ft. 2 in.
Weight: 260 lbs.
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Black

Strength Level: Cornelius van Lunt possessed the normal human strength of a man of his age, height, and build who engaged in intensive regular exercise.

Known Superhuman Powers: None

Weapons: The horns of van Lunt's Taurus costume were constructed of an unknown hard material, making them formidable weapons. In combat he charged his opponent as a bull would, directing his horns toward his intended victim. Also as Taurus, van Lunt carried a "StarBlazer" handgun, which fired intense blasts of stellar energy.

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