EDIT (21 MAY 2013): Originally posted on 11 FEB 2010. Nearly-yearly revisions and re-postings of it. Re-posting now with a “thank you from a fan” to WizKIds for the very cool update we just received in the 2014 Marvel HeroClix DEADPOOL set. Some of Arnim Zola’s “biological/technological creations” as generic soldiers would make great additions to a “Marvel Monsters & Villains” set. Would really like to see Doughboy or Primus, a couple of his creations, make it into the game. Other weird creatures, visible in the “main collage” would be appreciated as well, though. Also noted elsewhere, He once had Red Skull’s mind transferred into on of his spare android/cyborg bodies during Brubaker’s run on the Cap comics, and at one point “giant-sized” that body. Some potentially fun stuff here. And the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies have only added to his suite of abilities, while upping his profile.
Arnim Zola! One of Jack Kirby’s odder creations (and that’s saying something), and a great if heavily underrated villain of Captain America’s gallery of rogues. Jack Kirby could come up with the most bizarre concepts, blending myth and sci-fi. Stuff most creators today would be too cynical to attempt. Depending on who’s doing the writing, sometimes Zola’s Nazism is played-up, sometimes it isn’t. His colossal ego as a “creator of life” always is, though. “Creator” or not, he’s all about control of life. He’s at the top of his own self-created hierarchy. He’s a blend of concepts, from H.G. Well’s “Island of Doctor Moreau” to real-life Nazi SS surgeon/scientist, Josef Mengele.
Please hear me: I have enormous respect for real-life scientists and what they do.
There is something to the “evil scientist” trope, though: Corruption. Knowledge that could be used to help all, twisted by megalomania to horrifying extremes. It’s as popular a trope as the “crime boss” and “corrupt businessman”.
Arnim Zola: Make no mistake, he’s a “ret-con” character. He originally appeared in the late 1970’s, but his “history” has ties back into Cap’s WWII adventures now. And, well, comics is always “revising” a character’s history. Modern creative teams have managed to keep Jack Kirby’s influences, though: the fear of Nazism/Fascism and the brutality of such authoritarian ideologies, the fear of potentially beneficial technologies being twisted into weapons and used for evil ends. (All Hail, King Kirby! New Yorker of Jewish heritage, co-creator of Captain America in the days prior to the U.S.A’s entry into World War II, and a veteran of that war himself (drafted into the U.S. Army infantry, IIRC, serving in Europe in the later half of the war), member of “The Greatest Generation”.)
[EDIT: The following bits were originally posted in 2011, with revisions here and there in 2012 and 2013. The “Ret-Con Trait” shown is not the original I posted, just the most recent version. 2013. FYI.}
Ret-Con: I liked his FANTASTIC FORCES (2005) version (FF#087, a Unique clocking in at 82 points), even if it is expensive points-wise for what it does. It was derided at the time, considered overpriced for a support-role figure. That’s true. That’s why I made some homebrew “tinker’s tweaks” for him.
The FF#087 has 8 clicks of life. Stats-wise, he’s not a fighter. Slow, no move and attack abilities. Attack values start “average” and decline to “nearly unusable”; no attack powers. Defense values are lowish to begin with; he starts with 4 clicks of Toughness, ends with 4 clicks of Mastermind. That MM does protect something, however: Perplex and Probability Control. He has a “two by two” alternating thing going on, starting with 2 clicks of Perplex, changing to 2 clicks of PC, then back to 2 clicks of Perplex, then ending with 2 clicks of PC. Keywords are “Psychic” (not seen too much these days) and “Scientist” (a more popular keyword). He’s been hampered by the 2013 changes to Perplex and Probability Control, which I’m going to take care of today.
He’s not a “threat”. He’s 82 points of “support/utility powers” that can be found cheaper elsewhere. He was in need of some help.
First, I added “monster” to his keywords. My reasoning: This particular Nazi mad scientist’s original body is long gone, or at least in storage. Arnim Zola creates monsters, often from his own heavily manipulated tissue samples. The body he’s typically built for himself is part living tissue, part cybernetic implants. His brain is hidden in the torso. Where his head should be is his “psi-box” which he uses to control/communicate with his creations. The “face” on the torso is a holographic projection. He’s a form of monster, physically and mentally. He should have the keyword.
In keeping with the “monster making monsters” theme, I am using the Monster keyword for his homemade Trait (which has seen a lot of revision) —
Mental Energy Prod and ESP Box When Arnim Zola uses Perplex or Probability Control and draws lines of fire to friendly characters with the Monster keyword, his range value becomes 12 and his line of fire is only blocked by walls and blocking terrain.
Yeah, just emphasizing what’s already there. Nothing too complex or ground-breaking.
WISH-LIST: Could really use a new Arnim Zola, one in at least the 150 points range, maybe with alternate starting lines at the 100 and 75 point levels. Things to keep in mind: The bodies he uses are enhanced for survival, but he himself is not a fighter, not a physical combatant. Yes, he’s traded punches with “peak human super-soldier”, Captain America. Held his own. But that speaks more to the durability of the body he’s designed for himself than anything else. So, the original FANTASTIC FORCES version’s dial length and defense slot power selection was spot-on.
Existing HeroClix pieces to draw ideas from: The Chief (DC CRISIS #036 @ 63 points); Dr. Sivana (also from DC CRISIS, #020 @ 111 points); Mole Man (Marvel GALACTIC GUARDIANS #026 @ 47 points); Red Skull (Marvel AVENGERS MOVIE #016 @ 85 points); and Skrull Emperor (Marvel SECRET INVASION #053 @ 140 points); Egghead (Marvel CHAOS WAR #004 @ 50 points); Dark Beast (Marvel MUTATIONS & MONSTERS #061 @ 69 points).
Arnim Zola qualifies for: Leadership, Empower, Enhancement, Probability Control, Perplex, Outwit, Support. He’s all about being the “mad scientist”.
With the Ret-Con, experimented with his role as “Master of Monsters”. All that did was make me want to see some of his monstrosities appear in clix-form, with some appropriate “Minion” special powers. Have no idea what I want to see, though. Except, would like WizKids Game Design to make sure they are multiple starting line designs, preferably “split-dial”. One “side” has the “Arnim Zola’s Minion” special power, the other “side” does not (so it can be used as a “generic monster” on a broader swathe of team/force builds). The crazier looking the better.
Would like to see a “Unique”, specially-tailored version of Doughboy, the amorphous “Ubu” to Zola’s “Ra’s al Ghul”. Wouldn’t mind seeing an Arnim Zola & Doughboy Duo figure either.
Considering Zola’s ability to transfer his mind/soul/essence/whatever from body to body, Should he have some sort of “Morph” ability? Or, maybe just a “if K.O.’d, place a new ‘X’ in your starting area on click #’Y'” or something similar? Or the ability to draw lines of fire or use abilities through “surrogates”, similar to versions of Professor X and/or Mandarin? [EDIT: Holy Crap, I’d forgotten I wrote that. I can only hope, as a rabid fanboy, that I helped put that idea in some designer’s head for that DEADPOOL version of the character. Because that would be cool. Something to be happy about. Can’t get my hopes up, though: In a world of 7 billion people, the same idea is bound to crop up millions of time to many different people across time. It would be cool, though, to think “I helped!” ]
Hmm. Can’t decide.