To most of us, the signs of the Zodiac are a fun and harmless way of looking at people and their supposed “future.” In the Marvel Universe, however, the Zodiac inspires terror because it’s also the name of a super powered crime cartel. Writer Joe Casey and artist Nathan Fox [Dark Horse’s “Pigeons from Hell” mini-series] introduce readers to the latest incarnation of the group in “Dark Reign: Zodiac,” a three issue mini-series that kicks off in June. CBR News spoke with Casey about the project.
The first Zodiac crime group appeared way back in “Avengers” #70. It was a crime syndicate composed of costumed criminals who modeled their identities after the twelve different astrological signs of the Zodiac. Since then, there have been a number of different incarnations of the group, with their common modus operandi being that they operate as costumed supervillains. Some of the more notable members of the group include Taurus, a corrupt businessman and the organization’s founder and Scorpio AKA Jake Fury, Nick Fury’s brother, who committed crimes armed with an extra-dimensional weapon known as the Zodiac key.
For this latest incarnation of the Zodiac, Casey will introduce a new cast of characters, but they’ll play distinctly familiar roles. Besides their obvious criminal motivations, the new Zodiac members also share a unique condition which should lead to some interesting interactions between the group’s various members. “Well, they’re all dead, so I can’t imagine there’s much of a group dynamic at all,” Casey told CBR News. “I don’t know–if all of them being dead presents a united front, then I guess they do. Is there no such thing as honor amongst the dead? It’s an interesting question…”
They may all be dead, but that doesn’t mean the new Zodiac are without a goal. Over the course of the three issue series, the team will be after some very specific things. “What is anyone after, really? Freedom of expression–the right to fly your freak flag high–the wherewithal to simply ignore the rules of society and do whatever the f**k you feel like doing, whenever you feel like it,” Casey remarked. “Aren’t these the things we all seek in life?”
The new Zodiac’s quest to obtain the things they seek in life – or unlife – will take them to a wide variety of locales. “There’s a nondescript warehouse, an abandoned Hydra airship, a decommissioned S.H.I.E.L.D. base, the Baxter Building, a Fujikawa storage facility, Midtown Manhattan,” Casey said. “There are more, but you’ll have to read the book to find them out…”
As they travel to these various locations, the Zodiac will encounter an eclectic cast of supporting characters. “I can tell you that there *is* a supporting cast in this series,” Casey stated. “And I can tell you some of their names: the Clown, Manslaughter Marsdale, Paste-Pot Pete, the Death Reaper, Dave Cannon, Ronald Murphy – Agent of H.A.M.M.E.R., the Human Torch, Norman Osborn, and possibly Galactus.”
Considering that the new Zodiac is a team of villains coming together during Dark Reign, a time when evil is a very strong force in the Marvel Universe, readers shouldn’t expect “Dark Reign: Zodiac” to be a light and effervescent tale. Casey described the tone of the story as being very dark.
“Dark Reign: Zodiac” isn’t your typical supervillain comic. Casey has incorporated a number of different storytelling elements into the plot of the series. “There’s definitely a heist, there’s plenty of super-villain-styled action, and there’s a lot of something different,” the writer explained. “There are many obstacles, not to mention many adversaries. The real question is–who exactly is going to be forced to contend with them?”