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Baron Zemo

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

ToyBiz has suddenly decided to make Captain America's life hell. We've gotten tons of villains for Spider-Man and the X-Men over the years, but almost nothing for the star-spangled avenger. Right at the end of their license, though, ToyBiz has given us a couple alternatives to the ML5 Red Skull: first, longtime foe Werner von Strucker, and now Baron Zemo.

Born into greatness and great darkness, Heinrich Zemo was a brilliant and terrible scientific genius whose quest for wealth and power would eventually consume him. Holding Captain America responsible for his failed attempts at world conquest, Heinrich was driven to the brink of madness in his plans to exact revenge. Horribly disfigured in a battle with his sworn enemy, Baron Zemo will stop at nothing - using the whole of his formidable wealth and resources - to see Captain America finished once and for all!

There have been two Zemos in the comics, but this is the first one. The original. The one Cap hates even more than the Red Skull. The one who killed his sidekick, Bucky. That dick! Zemo was born in 1900, and served in the German army during World War I. When Germany surrendered, Zemo felt betrayed, and was among the first to join Hitler in the National Socialist Party. He soon became the "most hated man in Europe," and took to wearing a mask to protect himself and his family. Aww, how thoughtful! Of course, when he was doused with his own super glue, Adhesive X, the mask was permanently attached to his face.

Zemo is 6⅜" tall, and has 33 points of articulation. The middles of his elbows and knees are a bit soft, but not as much as Longshot's. I had to return my first Zemo because his chest joint was far too loose - not even glue would help it. Unfortunately, that's not the type of thing you can watch out for before you buy: just hold onto your receipt until you've opened him. But that's good advice even for toys you don't expect any trouble with.

Herr Baron is wearing his classic costume: a purple, fur-trimmed suit. Wow, that makes him sound like a pimp. It's actually a poofy tunic with a belt that even a heavyweight champion would find oversized. The fur around his neck and boots is sculpted very nicely, looking less like plastic and more like real fur. Impressive! His mask shows slight evidence of the face beneath, and is held in place by his gold headband.

Actually, that's the one area of the paint apps seems to be consistently sloppy - the headband. The gold spills onto the maroon hood way too easily. Everything else is great, from the eyes peeking out through the eyeslits to the wash that brings out the detail on his fur. It's just that headband you have to watch out for. The white around his boots blips onto the legs a little bit, but only upon close inspection.

Zemo, like most of the ML14 figures, has a variant. But unlike all the rest, his isn't a costume change. He gets a new head and becomes a new character: his son Helmut Zemo. While trying to kill Cap in Captain America #168, Helmut was knocked into a vat of boiling Adhesive X, which hideously disfigured his face. The variant is an absolute horror show - Helmet is scarred and melted; all traces of his ears, lips and nose have burned away. The paint just highlights his wounds, making him look truly vile. But still, it's not the grossest thing they could have done.

Some folks have complained that this is a halfassed variant - Helmut wore a slightly different costume than Heinrich did. I'm sure customizers will snip the skirt off and move the fur from his neck to his shoulders, and that's great for them. However, people who say this Zemo's in the wrong costume are complaining about nothing. In Captain America #297, Helmut dressed as his father as part of a plot by the Red Skull, so yes, this particular head does belong with this particular costume - it's just much more specific than anyone realized.

The Zemos have one accessory: a golden eagle scepter, a more ornate version of the item Zemo carried in the comics. It tends to get bent in the package, so check it out before you buy. There's also a gun holstered on his hip, but it's not removable. Oh, I'm sorry, was Dr. Doom not released 12 freaking series ago? He had a scarred-face variant, too. Is the scepter the reason we didn't get a real gun? I'm sure most folks would have preferred the latter. To be fair, though, Zemo did use his scepter as a weapon, so it's not just ornamental. There's a peg on his palm to help hold the stick in place.

Zemo comes with a reprint of Avengers #6, his first modern-day appearance (he'd originally appeared in a flashback in #4). It's a goofy story, with Zemo assembling the Masters of Evil and gluing the entire population of New York to the streets. However, it does a really good job of introducing Dr. Zemo (he wasn't a baron until Daredevil Annual #1) and giving us his motivations, which is more than you can say about most of the reprint comics. Z boy also has a piece of this series' BAF, Mojo - Zemo gets the head, chest and arms, and they look wonderfully horrible. Mojo is going to be a monster.

ML14 continues the trend of including diorama backdrops printed on the insert card. Cut it out, stick in in the included stand and you've got a nifty little scene for your figure. Baron Zemo gets a filthy labratory, complete with the decaying bodies of experiment subjects. Thankfully, however, they're all in the background, not the center of the scene. This will work well for any number of sadistic villains, or heroes looking to liberate tortured souls.

-- 12/12/06

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