Baron Helmut Zemo was thirteenth in the line of the Zemo Barony. When his father Heinrich died in battle with Captain America, Helmut Zemo sought revenge. After battlling Captain America and the Falcon as Phoenix, Helmut fell into a vat of Adhesive X and which seriously disfigured his face. He would return years later and assumed the family identity as his birthright.
Helmut Zemo was created by Roy Thomas, Tony Isabella and Sal Buscema and first appeared as Phoenix in Captain America #168. Nearly a decade later, he made his first appearance as Baron Zemo, in his now familiar costume, in Captain America #275 by J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Zeck.
Starting off as a generic revenge-seeking "villain-of-the-week", Helmut Zemo went on to become of Captain America and the Avengers' greatest foes in the 80s. However his greatest was in disguising his Masters of Evil as heroes, and the Thunderbolts were born. Eventually this plan even failed because the Masters of Evil started to enjoy being heroes and actively tried to achieve redemption.
Major Story Arcs
The Death of the Red Skull
Zemo allied himself with the Red Skull and his daughter Sin in a bid to once again destroy Captain America. It became apparent that the Red Skull was actually dying and was unhappy about his sole heir being a woman. After kidnapping, torturing and tormenting Captain America's closest friends, and in the Red Skull's final days, Zemo and Sin fought for the right of succession and in the ensuing battle Zemo appeared slain by Sin. Red Skull had been playing the two against each other and prior to his death rejected Sin.
Baron Zemo's first crowning glory game when he assembled a group of Masters of Evil and led them on an assault on Avengers Mansion. Destroying the mansion and several of Captain America's personal effects, Zemo's siege turned in the Avengers favor when his most powerful lackey ( Blackout) was defeated and Captain America gave Zemo a thorough beating.
The Bloodstone Hunt
Baron Zemo, obsessed with raising his father from the dead, allied himself with Batroc's Brigade and set out on world-spanning quest to collect the fragments of the powerful Bloodstone to do it. He was thwarted by Captain America and Diamondback but not before Zemo momentarily raises his father only to learn that his father is nothing but disappointed in him.
Justice Like Lightning
Zemo had abandoned Heike prison and organized a new team of Masters of Evil when the Avengers and Fantastic Four disappeared during the Onslaught crisis and were though of as dead. These Masters of Evil took false identities and had named themselves as the Thunderbolts. Leading them under the alias Citizen V, Zemo planned to have the Thunderbolts gain the world's trust in order to conquer it. The public took a liking to the team much quicker than Zemo or any of the other Thunderbolts expected and soon most of the team began to actually take interest and liking in being a hero.
When the missing heroes returned, Zemo had their true identities leaked, forcing them to flee with him into deep space to assist his plan to conquer the world through mind control. However, most of the Thunderbolts rebelled and foiled Zemo's plan. Zemo went into hiding and plotted revenge on his former teammates (who were trying to win back the public's trust by being true heroes). After another of Zemo's plans was foiled by Captain America and a new Citizen V ( Dallas Riordan), Helmut was killed by the new Scourge, though his mind was transferred via bio-modem technology into the body of a comatose John Watkins III, grandson of the original Citizen V. Now in possession of Watkins' body, Zemo again played the role of Citizen V, this time as a member of the V-Battalion until the Thunderbolts' final battle with Graviton, in which, his consciousness was removed from Watkins' body and transferred in electronic form, into his ally Fixer's mechanical "tech-pack".
A Change for the Good
On the artificial world Counter-Earth - the same world to which the Avengers and Fantastic Four had previously vanished - the Thunderbolts encountered Zemo's counterpart in that world, Iron Cross. Fixer transferred Zemo's mind into his double's unmutilated body. Zemo then took up leadership of the Thunderbolts who were on Counter-Earth; when this group was reunited with their teammates who had remained on the normal Marvel Universe Earth, Hawkeye briefly resumed leadership but then left the team to return to the Avengers.
For a while Zemo remained the leader of the Thunderbolts. In 2004's "Avengers/Thunderbolts" limited series he attempted to take over the world again -- this time with the belief that he could save the world by taking it over. Zemo now seems to be motivated by a twisted altruism rather than his original selfish desires; he feels he has grown beyond his father in that regard. However, the Avengers foiled his scheme, his teammate Moonstone went berserk, Zemo's new body was blasted while he attempted to protect Captain America, and he left the team and went into hiding after obtaining Moonstone's twin alien gems, two artifacts of great power.
Then it appeared that Baron Helmut Zemo saved the world by fighting an alien threat to the world. He fought with the stolen cosmic powers of twin gemstones. It was thought that this fight had saved the world, but had cost Baron Helmut Zemo his life. This was not true because instead of dieing the Baron had been sent back in time by the power of the twin gemstones. He would travel back in time to the home of his ancestors, or near his blood. He would slowly make his way back to the present because he would make jumps from one period of time to the next; always going back to his ancestors.
He traveled through several centuries. He witnessed the lives and deaths of his forefathers. He saw how the people lived in the Hamlet that was controlled by his family. He learned many things about his family and about himself. He found answers to questions he had about what caused his family to be the way it was.
In his next to last jump through time he came face to face with his father. Heinrich was an intelligent scientist who worked for Nazi Germany in World War II. He performed barbaric experiments on human subjects while trying to invent a death ray. Helmut Zemo confronted his father and a fight broke out. Helmut beat his father and started to turn away when his father called out to the German guards that protected him. However before they could kill Helmut he jumped to his last place in time, back to the present. When Helmut arrived in the present he was greeted by a distant cousin named Wendell Volker. Wendell intended to kill Helmut. However when he was confronted by the Baron he could not go through with it. He then tried to kill himself, but the Baron stopped him. Wendell asked the Baron why he saved him and the Baron told him that enough Zemo blood had already been spilled. The Baron wanted Wendell at his side as he tried to prove his point.
Helmut later returns to the present after Norman Osborn's defeat following his attacking of Asgard. After discovering that Bucky Barnes is alive, he decides to go after him with assistance from the Fixer. Baron Zemo starts to target the current Captain America (Barnes) and recruits Jurgen "Iron-Handed" Hauptmann (of Red Skull's Exiles) and Sin to help him. He orchestrates an explosion that ends up injuring Falcon. Then he sends Jurgen to attack Bucky while he is in the hospital while Bucky was drugged by nanites that was slipped in his martini. After the nanites were neutralized by Jane Foster, Bucky and Black Widow are attacked by a woman wearing the Beetle armor. But the extent of Zemo's treachery went as far as leaking to the public of Bucky's identity as the Winter Soldier. This prompted Bucky to face Zemo alone, only to be captured and sent to the island where he was meant to die. When Zemo launched James on a recreated missile of his design, Barnes freed himself from the missile and landed safely but Zemo had still won, as Captain America turned himself in for his crimes as the Winter Soldier. Zemo decided to implement his revenge schemes against Hawkeye as a result. Following the aftermath of the "Trial of Captain America", Baron Zemo freed Sin from her imprisonment and the two of them sought out the Book of the Skull in Egypt. The story of her father's greatest failure in trying to harness the powers of an ancient fear god for the Nazi's during the war. Sin takes the notes needed to find the hammer that was left guarded after the war ended and shoots Helmut's teleporter and steals his ship. Left alive in the desert, Zemo tells Sin that he hopes she succeeds where her father failed because today, she made a new enemy as he left to find his way out of the desert.
After years of plotting his revenge against Hawkeye (for his role in the Thunderbolts), Baron Zemo's plans begin to take shape. Zemo makes a deal with Hawkeye’s former mentor Trick Shot, whose cancer had returned, to train Zemo’s mystery acquaintance to become a master archer in exchange for medical care. When the training was complete, Zemo relented on the deal. Trick Shot, on the brink of death, was delivered to Avengers Tower to serve as a message to Hawkeye. Before he died in his former pupil's arms, Trick Shot warns Hawkeye of the threat he will soon face. Hawkeye decided to test out his new vision and prepare himself for Zemo's return but instead found his brother, Barry alive and as the new Trickshot.
Following the return of Steve Rogers to the identity of Captain America, Helmut has renewed his quest to kill off Captain America.
The moonstones grant a multitude of abilities such as energy/gravity/light manipulation, phasing, flight and more. Even without his moonstones Helmut is a genius leader and scientist. He is very skilled in hand to hand combat as well as being a very accomplished swordsman. Zemo is an Olympic-level marksman with firearms.He is very skilled in field tactics and even turning the tide of every debate that he is involved into his favor.
Avataars: Covenant of the Shield
In this Marvel Universe,Baron Zemo's name is Dreadlord.He is main villain of this universe.He was previously called Zymo of Z'axis,a general who fought in World War Two and after he lost the war he swore that he will never remove his hood until he is the triumphant again.
In the Spider-Ham universe,Baron Zemo is portrayed as a Zebra called Baron Zebro.
In this Marvel Universe,Zemo is working in a group of Nazis lead by Baron von Strucker who are fighting Tony Stark in the 1930's.In the end it turns out that Baron Zemo is actually Howard Stark who has been brainwashed.
Baron Zemo is shown in the Marvel Zombies Universe with his team of Thunderbolts fighting Thor.Thor smashes Moonstone's head completely(which is going by the name Meteorite) and the only thing Zemo says is 'Meteorite!'.
In the Ultimate Universe Zemo is shown in front of Agard's doors ready to open them and let in thousands of soldiers to attack Asgard.He is also recruiting Ice Giants but in the end this turns out to be Loki in disguise.
In Other Media
Helmut first received an action figure in Mattel's Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars toy-line. It should be noted that in the Marvel Legends Mojo Series, a variant figure of the Baron "Heinrich" Zemo "Unmasked" was available. The variant was actually not of Heinrich, but rather Helmut as he appeared in an issue where he was tricked into posing as his father.