The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – The Long and Short of Arnim Zola’s Back Story

by  in Comic News Comment
The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – The Long and Short of Arnim Zola’s Back Story

Every week, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Today, based on a suggestion by reader Charlie E., we take a look at the differing takes on the back story of the Captain America villain, Arnim Zola.

The evil Nazi genetecist Dr. Arnim Zola has long been one of Captain America’s most notable villains, primarily I think because of the design of the character. Introduced by Jack Kirby in Captain America #208, Kirby really made him standout…

The following issue, Kirby gives us the character’s origin…

A few things are at odds with each other in this origin. On the one hand, Zola notes that he was “ordinary,” but it is fair to say that when he notes he was a “little man” that Kirby DOES seem to draw him in such a fashion that you could believe that the intent was for him to be beyond simply short but specifically suffering from some sort of growth hormone deficiency. You could also believe that he is just supposed to be short.

When we see Zola in flashbacks in Super Villain Team-Up #17 by Peter B. Gillis, Arvell Jones and Bruce Patterson, though, Zola just seems to be a regular short guy (the Hate-Monger even calls him “ordinary” again)…

However, in X-Factor Annual #3 (part of the Evolutionary War crossover from the late 1980s), when Mark Gruenwald gives us a major moment in the life of the High Evolutionary (before he was called the High Evolutionary), it is clear that Zola IS, in fact, suffering from a significant growth hormone deficiency…

And since this is Mark Gruenwald we’re talking about, that became the accepted state for Arnim Zola. Here’s Marvel’s official bio of him:

The frail, dwarfish Arnim Zola was born in 1930’s Switzerland where he became the world’s leading biochemist. In his ancestral castle, Zola happened upon mysterious papers brought by his ancestors in the Crusades.

So…it is debatable about whether anything was abandoned or forsaked as of yet. Seems more like it is vague enough to be read that Zola being “dwarfish” is not a contradiction of Kirby’s origin of the character.

However, in the recent Captain America series by Rick Remender and John Romita Jr, it is clear that the “dwarfish” aspect is officially abandoned and forsaked (while it still clearly fits in with Kirby’s original take)…

That’s it for this week!

If YOU have a suggestion for a notable comic book retcon, let me know at