Our Dread Lord and Master Brian Cronin deigned to fill in on this lowly column for a week and some change, and I shall be forever thankful for it. He’ll be thankful too, because he won the bet that I wouldn’t make it a whole year. Well, I had a good run. Your hookers are on their way, Brian!
Anyway, now that I’m off my deathbed and I don’t sound like Kathleen Turner anymore, it’s time to get back to the column. Brian talked to you about brilliant artists and marvelous intellectual publishers. It must be time to get back to wacky crap no one cares about! Hurray!
Now: let’s bring on the bad guys! (And bring on the archive link!) Today’s featured villain (and send in nominations for your favorite baddies– I’m all ears, like some horrifying patchwork auditory monster) has got a good head on his shoulders. Wait. No, he doesn’t.
283. Arnim Zola
Dr. Zola has a lot of criteria going for him, in terms of his success as a villain. Is he a Nazi? Check! Nazis make great villains because everyone hates them. Is he weird looking? Check! His face is in his torso and he’s got a little security camera (read: “psychotronic device”) where his head should be. The man probably invented ModBlog (you really don’t want me to link you to it). Actually, the torso-face is a hologram or somesuch, but, still– it’s weird. What else? Oh, right– He was created by Jack Kirby, back during the King’s spectacularly mad 70s run on Captain America. That’s, like, another half a dozen checks just for imagination’s sake.
The world’s first geneticist, beating even the High Evolutionary to the profession, Arnim Zola became a master of human cloning. He cloned Hitler, even, turning der fuehrer into the original Hate-Monger. He’s also noted for creating the montrosity known as… er… Doughboy. Hey, even crazed headless Nazi scientists have their off days. Zola also caused the creation of super-powered beings like Vermin, into whom J.M. DeMatteis breathed life, and Jolt, who ended up joining the Thunderbolts.
Arnim is constantly teaming up with the Red Skull, probably because it pays well. He’s saved the Red Skull from certain death before, transferring his mind into a cloned body of Captain America himself. That one eventually got killed off, too, but it’s the thought that counts.
So how does Arnim Zola find himself as a Reason to Love Comics? Well, he’s a crazy mad scientist with a face for a torso that dresses in a ridiculous get-up and goes around cloning Hitler. That, my friends, screams “comics!” and pounds its chest like a giant ape would. In the end, that’s all comics need to succeed– relentless imagination, bizarre characters, and Nazis with their heads in the wrong spot. As far as mad science and body horror goes, you really can’t beat ol’ Arnim.