In Ultimate Thor, Baron Zemo is a cunning and skilled Nazi officer until his attack on Asgard reveals him to be the Asgardian Lord of Chaos, Loki.
Baron Zemo was a 12th century German Baron who fought against Captain America and the Howling Commandos in World War II. A genius and sadistic inventor who wore a mask to conceal his identity, Zemo also founded the Masters of Evil, a villainous counterpart to Captain America’s Avengers, and continued to battle his foe decades after the war until he eventually perished. While his descendants have inherited his title, costume and enmity for Steve Rogers and his allies, the Baron Zemo from the parallel Ultimate Marvel Universe proved to be as cunning, resourceful, and dangerous as his mainstream counterpart. However, it was later revealed that Baron Zemo did not exist, he was just an alias for the exiled Asgardian God of Chaos, Loki.
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In Ultimate Comics Thor by Jonathan Hickman and Carlos Pacheco, Baron Zemo was a respected Nazi official who, in 1939, approached Heinrich Himmler about using one thousand SS soldiers for a secret mission. Zemo assured Himmler of the validity of his mission by revealing the mystical Norn Stones were in his possession. Zemo later showed his genius included arcane and historical knowledge when he used the Norn Stone to access the Rainbow Gate, revealing his plan was to take a massive army to Asgard, destroy it, and return to Earth with enough mystical plunder to help the Third Reich win the war and remake the world in their image.
Realizing human soldiers would not be enough, Zemo uses the Rainbow Gate to summon Frost Giants from Jotenheim, promising them victory against their undefeated rivals. When the new evil army arrives in Asgard, they find themselves unable to pass the Asgardian Heimdall who guards passage to his legendary homeland. Zemo takes advantage of Heimdall’s battle with the Frost Giants to procure an unusual bow, with which he kills the god. It is after this that Zemo removes his mask, revealing that Loki has finally returned home.
Hickman uses the mini-series to explore Thor’s origins up to the point where he chose to fight alongside the Ultimates in Ultimates #4, and that history includes exploring his relationship with his family, especially his brothers Loki and Balder. It was Loki, jealous of their father Odin bequeathing Mjolnir to Thor, who stole the Norn Stones and killed Balder when he walked in on the robbery. Originally banished from Asgard, Loki returned with an army of Frost Giants and magically enhanced SS soldiers to attack Asgard, killing any Asgardian they came across. When Loki confronted his father and brother, Odin sought to punish Loki for his crimes by using the world tree Yggdrasil to imprison him in the Room without Doors, dying shortly after in his battle with the Frost Giant leader Mammoth.
“Baron Zemo’s” secret mission was most likely deemed a failure back on Earth, with none of the soldiers recruited ever returning home to see the Third Reich fall. The Ultimate Baron Zemo lived on in Helmut Zemo, Loki’s second-in-command who, decades later, managed to free Loki from his imprisonment with the Norn Stones. Loki rewards the elderly man for his loyalty by slaying him, his return accelerating Thor on his path to becoming Earth’s protector and eventually joining the Ultimates. Although he is quite the formidable threat in the mainstream Marvel universe, the Ultimate Baron Zemo was just another mask for a far greater evil.
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