Baron Helmut Zemo (Marvel Comics) during the 2000s

Baron Helmut Zemo


Two Baron Zemo have sworn enemies of Captain America. The first, Heinrich, was a World War Two Nazi super-scientist. Among other things, he’s responsible for the loss of Bucky (James Barnes). The second, Helmut, is his son.

Baron Helmut Zemo had bedevilled Cap ever since the 1960s, using his many talents to sow doubt and destruction. As the decades progressed, he was considerably developed as a character.


  • Real Name: Baron Helmut Zemo.
  • Other Aliases: Phoenix, Citizen V (II/IV), John Watkins III.
  • Marital Status: Widowed.
  • Known Relatives: Baron Heinrich Zemo (father – deceased), Baroness Heike Zemo (wife – deceased).
  • Group Affiliation: Former ally of the Red Skull, Masters of Evil IV, Thunderbolts, Redeemers, V-Battalion.
  • Base Of Operations: Varies.
  • Height: 5’10” Weight: 180 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Blond


Powers and Abilities

Zemo has no inherent powers, but usually carries hi-tech equipment such as lasers, mind control devices, and personal protection devices. He is a skilled swordsman and hand-to-hand combatant.

He is also a gifted strategist, tactician, and inventor.


(A general history of his time with the Thunderbolts can be found in the team entry.)

Helmut is the thirteenth in the line to hold the title of Baron Zemo. The first was Harbin Zemo, a minor official in the minor town of Zeulniz. He was made baron after he single-handedly held off Slav raiders on the town’s bridge in 1480.

Born in the 1930s to leading Nazi scientist Baron Heinrich Zemo, Helmut adored his father. Despite developing an early fondness for imported American popular culture, Helmut quickly became a fervent Nazi. His father became abusive after his defeats, and his disfigurement in one battle, but Helmut never lost faith with him.


His mother, Hilda, wasn’t as blindly obedient and died helping Captain America thwart the elder Zemo’s Medusa Effect. Helmut remained loyal, helping his father battle Captain America and Bucky.

In 1945 Heinrich seemingly slew Captain America and Bucky, and went into hiding in the Amazon as the Reich fell. Helmut had a more normal life, going on to become an engineer.

(Among the elder Zemo’s inventions was the age retarding Compound X, which is likely responsible for Helmut’s appearing to be in the prime of his life today (or offers a good excuse for it anyway)).


Eventually summoned to his father’s Amazon base, Helmut was witness to his father’s private army (whose number included Eric Josten, later to become Power Man and Goliath) harshly suppressing dissent among the natives.

News of Captain America’s survival led to Heinrich leaving his hideaway to face his old foe. He assembled the first Masters of Evil to attack the Avengers, but their clashes ended with Heinrich’s accidental death.

Helmut held Captain America responsible. He began training himself in combat techniques, and studying his father’s inventions. Taking the name Phoenix, he battled Captain America and the Falcon, but ended up knocked into a vat of Adhesive X by accident. He survived, but suffered hideous facial scarring.

Baron Zemo

Adopting his full title, Zemo continued his campaign against Captain America, allying with Primus, Arnim Zola and his mutated creatures, and the Red Skull and his daughter Mother Night. While he learnt from the Red Skull, Zemo grew tired of being a minion, and of the Skull’s extreme views. They parted ways with Zemo barely surviving a psychic assault by Mother Night.

Baron Helmut Zemo aims a broomhandle Mauser pistol

Deciding to target Captain America’s new family, the Avengers, Zemo recruited the largest roster for the Masters of Evil at that time. They invaded and took control of Avengers Mansion, captured and tortured the butler Jarvis and the Black Knight, and beat Hercules to his apparent death.

Zemo had Blackout lock them and the mansion inside a sphere of darkforce, and took petty vengeance on Captain America by destroying a number of old mementos he had stored there.

The remaining Avengers recruited assistance, and with dissent in his own ranks due to Moonstone conspiring against him, Zemo’s hold on the mansion was lost. The Masters were beaten, and Zemo took a serious fall after attacking Captain America.

Hiring Batroc’s Brigade to assist him, Zemo clashed with captain America and his allies in attempting to recover the Bloodstone with the intention of raising his father. He failed, and was further injured in his escape.

Helmut married the Baroness, a terrorist who’d adopted his family style and had once claimed to be his father reincarnated. Together they abducted abused children to be their family, only to be opposed and beaten by Captain America. Heike is reported to have died in prison.

Citizen V

With the apparent death of Captain America and the Avengers at the hands of Onslaught, Zemo saw an opportunity. His obsession with Captain America now no longer available to act on, he accepted it had been a distraction anyway, and that his father had destroyed himself with his obsession. He turned his attention towards gaining power.

Assembling a smaller Masters of Evil composed of Moonstone, Fixer, Beetle, Goliath (Eric Josten), and Screaming Mimi, he had them alter their appearances and costumed personas and they surfaced as the Thunderbolts, filling the void left by the absence of so many heroes.

Remembering his father’s boasts of having killed the original Citizen V, Zemo adopted the identity for his own as leader of the team. They were quickly accepted by the public, and remained popular when the heroes returned from supposed death. The return hastened his timetable, but Zemo didn’t consider it a problem.

More of a problem was that some of the Thunderbolts had grown to enjoy their new roles. He had their secret made public, forcing the others to join him as he enacted his plan for world domination. It wasn’t enough, and they turned against him. Even with the Avengers and Fantastic Four under his control they foiled his plan.

Only Techno (Fixer) stayed loyal, and Atlas (Eric Josten) helped them escape due to the debt he felt he owed Zemo.


Retreating to his father’s Amazon base, he continued to work on various plans, both alone and with Techno. He was harried by the new Citizen V (Dallas Riordan), who allied with Captain America to force Zemo to abandon that base.

Baron Zemo returns (Marvel Comics)

Not long after he was attacked in another base by Scourge (Jack Monroe). After a lengthy battle Zemo was killed.

A failsafe set up by Techno saved him, as Zemo’s consciousness was transplanted into the comatose John Watkins III, the heir of the original Citizen V. Again taking the identity of Citizen V, Zemo had to play the part of his host and work with the V-Battalion.

He helped them foil a plan by Baron Strucker to use mind control. When Strucker’s daughter Andrea realised who he really was from their previous encounters, Zemo killed her to keep his secret.

Citizen V was recruited to lead the government sponsored Redeemers following the disbanding of the Thunderbolts. The team went on a few missions before Graviton appeared looking for the Thunderbolts, whose base they used. Graviton killed most of the Redeemers, and Zemo ended up removed from Watkins’ body and stored in Fixer’s tech pack.


The reassembled Thunderbolts – including Fixer – were hurled to Counter-Earth, where they encountered the Heinrich and Helmut Zemo of that world. Fixer transmitted Zemo’s mind into his counterpart’s body, supplanting its host, and he rejoined the team despite the suspicions of the others.

He came to regard their attempts to save the world as a suitable challenge of his abilities, realising he could influence it far easier that way then by attempting to rule.

They eventually returned home and he convinced the team to follow him in trying a large scale project similar to those enacted on Counter-Earth to improve their own world. Project: Liberator brought them into conflict with the Avengers, Captain America not trusting anything Zemo was involved in.

Their interference resulted in the device going awry and Moonstone being empowered and sent mad. The teams worked together to stop her, and it ended with Moonstone comatose and Zemo disappearing to an uncertain fate as he stopped the amok moonstones that had empowered her.


Gaining control of the moonstones, he experimented with the limits of their power, and created his extra-dimensional Folding Castle base. Learning of a serious threat to the world, he began manipulating events behind the scenes, even making uneasy alliances with the American government and super-heroes.

He also took Songbird, then leader of the Thunderbolts, into his confidence – unbeknownst to the rest of the team. The two developed a relationship. She didn’t fully trust him and he knew she’d betray him, but also that she should. He formed a rival group of former Thunderbolts to confront the main team and deal with the threat Photon (Genis-Vell) posed.

That threat dealt with, the two forces combined and became the foundation of the Thunderbolts Army the government let him build as the super-hero Civil War broke out. He covertly met with Captain America, who mistrusted his claims of reforming.

Zemo showed his scarred face, gained while saving Captain America during the Liberator incident (and actually an illusion as the moonstones had fixed it) and restored the mementos he’d destroyed during the siege of the mansion. They parted on uneasy but not hostile terms.

When he finally used the Thunderbolts Army to oppose the Grandmaster’s plans, Zemo seized the power for his own. He insisted he’d use it to help the world, and told the depowered Songbird that would have been the moment she’d have betrayed him.

She managed to anyway, singing the right note to crack the moonstones. Zemo was swept up by the loosed energies and hurled into the time stream.

Born Better

Buffeted by the time stream, the moonstones lost to him, Zemo found himself in Germany, 1503, where he witnessed the death of Harbin Zemo. He continued skipping forward in time, visiting his ancestors and interacting with or manipulating them, staying for days or weeks with no apparent pattern.

After battling his own father in World War II, Helmut was finally pulled back to his original time. He met academic Wendell Volker, a distant cousin who’d killed others descendants of the Zemo line in order to draw Zemo back.

Heroic Age

Zemo kept to the shadows for a while, watching events unfold while making his own plans. He was drawn out on learning that Bucky still lived, and had become Captain America. Investigating he learned of Bucky’s time as the Winter Soldier, and what he’d done while brainwashed, even recently killing dozens on S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and assisting the Red Skull in acts of terrorism.

He manipulated events to have this information come to light, and to have Bucky act irrationally and draw public scrutiny. It worked, drawing calls of public outrage against the new Captain America.

Not stopping there, Zemo abducted Captain America and took him to the island where he’d last faced Heinrich Zemo at the end of the War. Zemo admitted he’d acted out of his indignity over how Bucky had been so quickly forgiven his sins, while Zemo’s reformation had met only suspicion no matter how many times he saved the world.

He placed Bucky in an easily-escaped deathtrap, and then let him free to return to the trial awaiting him in America.


Zemo has/had a horribly scarred face – it appears to have been melted as a result of his exposure to Adhesive X. In the body of John Watkins III, he was a young man with curly blond hair. He is now living in the body of his (Zemo’s) counterpart from Counter-Earth.


Zemo is a megalomaniac bent on revenge against Captain America and, at this point, his former subordinates in the Thunderbolts.

He is, however, more patient, forward-thinking, and innovative than most “criminal masterminds” as is evidenced by a) his structuring of the fourth Masters of Evil as an army of villains, rather than as a simply one-to-one match with the Avengers and b) his plot to gain the public trust with the Thunderbolts.


“I am a Zemo. And a Zemo never surrenders. All defeats are merely setbacks, all enemies merely obstacles to be overcome. It is my destiny—my birthright—to triumph. To rule. And rule I shall.”

DC Universe History

Baron Zemo and his family are too tied into Marvel History and Captain America to make an easy transition to the D.C. Universe, although the original Masters of Evil might have fought the earlier incarnations of the JSA, while those led by Helmut Zemo faced off against their children and students, both in Infinity Inc. and in the current JSA comic.

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats

Baron Helmut Zemo

Dex: 07 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Power Lust
Int: 09 Wil: 08 Min: 08 Occupation: Would-be World Conquerer
Inf: 07 Aur: 08 Spi: 07 Resources {or Wealth}: 011
Init: 025 HP: 050

Acrobatics*: 07, Artist (Actor): 06, Gadgetry*: 09, Martial Arts*: 07, Medicine*: 09, Military Science*: 09, Scientist*: 09, Thief*: 07, Vehicles*: 07, Weaponry: 08

Prior to becoming Citizen V, Zemo did not display the Acrobatics skill and his Dex (and linked skills) were rated at 5 APs while his Weaponry was 6 APs. During this period, his BODY was 4 APs. His Physical Attributes in the body of John Watkins as well as in his new Counter-Earth body are the same as listed above (7/4/5).

Advantages: (in All Identities)
Headquarters (Expansive), Intensive Training, Leadership, Language (European I), (Only as Citizen V, pre-Thunderbolts Secret Revelation) Popularity.

Former Connections to AIM (High), HYDRA (High).
Current Connections to Underworld (High), Thunderbolts, Redeemers, V-Battalion.

Dark Secret (true identity as Baron Zemo, both Citizen V incarnations), MPI (Zemo and Watkins share the mind), MIH/SIH (Captain America), Strange Appearance (Zemo’s Body Only – Usually disguised with mask).

While Zemo carries a Serious Irrational Hatred of Captain America, he has shown significant restraint in putting that hatred aside for the purposes of his masquerade as John Watkins III. As such, from the time he first takes on the role of Citizen V, the Drawback can be downgraded to Minor.


  • As Citizen V :
    • CITIZEN V COSTUME [/BODY/ 07, Full Vision: 05, Gliding: 07, Invisibility: 02, Life Sense: 08, Radio Communications: 07, Sealed Systems: 08, Shade: 08, Thermal Vision: 06].
    • Pistol [BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 04, Ammo 08, R#2].
    • Sword [BODY 07, EV 04 (05 w/STR, 08 w/Martial artist)].
    • Smoke Bombs (x4) [BODY 02, Fog: 06, Grenade Drawback].
    • V-Wing [STR 08 BODY 08, Flight: 06].
  • As Zemo :
    • 9mm Parabellum Mauser (aka “Luger”) [BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 04, Ammo 08, R#2].
    • 10 AP ABCD Omni-Gadget (x3).
    • While Helmut Zemo is a skilled scientist and inventor and often uses a wide range of advanced gadgets and weaponry, it is generally developed on a case-by-case basis, based upon the nature of his current plot.

By Andrew Lee (History by Gareth Lewis).

Source of Character: Captain America, Avengers and Thunderbolts Comics (Marvel Universe).

Helper(s): Jay Myers, Sébastien Andrivet, OHOTMU Deluxe Edition, The Unofficial HOTMU ; v1.0 from by C. Lee Davis writeup of Citizen V.