Issue(s): Avengers #72
(Click the above image to embiggen.)
Steranko's Scorpio is revealed to just be one of the members of this dumb team, and not even the leader. It's also explicitly stated here that Scorpio was Fury's brother, something that was conveyed much more subtly in the SHIELD issues.
The Scorpio in this issue is actually Nick Fury in disguise.
Rick Jones tags along with the Avengers on this one and doesn't even bother turning into Captain Marvel to help take out these losers (for some reason, Rick is trying to keep his "secret identity" from even the Avengers). To be fair, the bad guys do manage to get away since they've got the Scorpio Key. So it's not a complete win for the Avengers.
During the course of the battle it turns out that Scorpio is really Nick Fury.
This doesn't so much wrap up any plot threads from the cancelled Nick Fury series as it just brings Nick back to life with a weird explanation that he had ducked out on Laura Brown mid-date to dress up as Scorpio, leaving an LMD in his place to coincidentally get assassinated.
There is a good scene in the beginning where Rick and Cap first see each other after the incident where the Red Skull was impersonating Cap, and they resolve their differences.
At the end, Cap sort of offers to take Rick back as a partner, but Rick has other things going on right now due to his bond with Captain Marvel.
This splash from Sal Buscema is very Justice League-ish. Very cheesy to see all the Avengers have chairs with their individual logos.
Quality Rating: D+
Historical Significance Rating: 4 - first Zodiac
Chronological Placement Considerations: The Black Panther is on leave of absence in Wakanda, and Thor and Iron Man have pleaded personal reasons for not attending the Avengers' summons. Captain America is here, however, so we need to place this in a gap in his appearances, and Rick Jones/Captain Marvel appear as well.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Super Action #33
Inbound References (9): show
Roy Thomas may have created the Zodiac in response to the Zodiac murders happening in San Francisco in 1969. the Dick Tracy strip also introduced its own "Scorpio" in mid-1969 in response to the same murders, and he had his own "Zodiac" as well as a Scorpio symbol tattoed on his face.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 10, 2011 6:26 PM
"embiggen" I like that
Posted by: William Quinter | October 28, 2013 6:32 PM
It's a perfectly cromulent word.
Posted by: Time Traveling Bunny | October 29, 2013 5:07 PM
Necrodamus would also seem to be a sure-bet as being created in response to the Zodiac Killer, although a few years after.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | October 29, 2013 9:30 PM
Now, now, the Zodiac is awesome. Just not the same way that the Steranko Scorpio stories were. (Or David Kraft's Scorpio/Zodiac story in Defenders 46-50, for that matter.) I just take them all as pieces of the whole; since the Brotherhood is all about creating conflict, naturally they would use the Key to bring diverse elements together.
Posted by: Dan Spector | July 9, 2014 5:20 AM
A rejected Buscema panel from this issue appeared in Comics Interview #66.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 9, 2015 11:53 PM
Our Pal Sal's work starts out great, and just gets better.
And yeah - love those DAK Defenders!
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | August 8, 2016 3:16 AM
The Zodiac needs a Quantum physics update along with the costume change of most of the members. Though Thomas truly had too many writing obligations on his plate, he still managed to leave crumbs to expand upon. The Zodiac perhaps recalibrated to exist as beings that could traverse parallel dimensions and multiple time-lines could give them more functional depth. Development of each characters psychopathic needs to exist for such individual Ego fulfillment along with the groups appetite for multiple layers of chaos has never been brought to fruition. Sadly the Zodiac only exists at face value at the moment but with the potential to be a much more worthy offering.
Posted by: Rocknrollguitarplayer | January 9, 2017 5:20 AM
I agree, RRGP. The idea of a bunch of un-powered international organized crime bosses dressing up in ugly costumes to fight superheroes never made sense to me. Engelhart's take on the characters gave them more depth, but not much more sense. Kraft/Giffen's LMD Zodiac looked cool, but never went anywhere. Geoff Johns did a nice cosmic take on Scorpio during his run on the book, but didn't stick around long enough to conclude the storyline. Dan Slott has done a nice job with Scorpio in his current run on Spider-Man's book. I'm hoping he can do a nice job wrapping it up, but I'm not holding my breath...
Posted by: Andrew | January 9, 2017 7:55 AM
On some level I liked the idea of the Zodiac - an international crime cartel is very cool. And the motif of the Zodiac is not bad. But it has never been properly implemented.
A supernatural or cosmic centered conspiracy based on Zodiac astrology is also cool, and has been the direction the Zodiac has more or less gotten into. But that hasn't been done well either. That has nothing to do with a crime cartel.
The major problem though are the individual characters. With a few exceptions, they are all ciphers. We know nothing about their motivations. They only have generic or gimmicky powers. They lack the power to really be a threat to the Avengers. There is no real creative thought put into them as individuals. And lastly, we know nothing about what each one contributed to the cartel overall, or how they relate to ordinary organized crime of the Maggia or Yakuza sort.
I do think the concept has tremendous potential, but it's never been developed.
Posted by: Chris | December 9, 2017 11:55 PM
I read this story as a 9 year old (in the Marvel Super Action Reprint) and thought the Zodiac cartel was cool. My friends and I made an effort to collect all their appearances. Now I read the old stories and find them ridiculous. They're just normal humans in costumes that don't even augment their abilities as far as I can tell. Thor, Vision, Scarlet Witch or Iron Man should be able to take down all 12 with little effort (maybe that's why Thor & Iron Man don't appear here, but they fight Zodiac in future stories). I think it was the 2-page centerspread with all the members of the team that made me a fan, plus good art from Sal B. & Grainger.
Posted by: J.A. Morris | April 28, 2018 2:20 PM
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