Zeus' first appearance was in the Golden Age comic "Daring Mystery Comics" #6, September, 1940. Zeus started out his life as the youngest son of Cronos. Cronos was the ruler of the superhuman extra-dimensional race called the Titans and he was married to the Titaness Rhea. Kronos and Rhea were the offspring of the sky god Ouranous and the primeval Elder Goddess Gaea. Cronos overthrew his father's rule by using a sickle, given to him by Gaea and cut Ouranous's genitals off. The Ouranous Uranus prophesied that Cronus would likewise be overthrown by one of his own children. As a result of this prediction upon the birth of each of his own children, Cronos swallowed his offspring, being immortal; they survived. The offspring he sent there were Poseidon, Hades, Hera, Demeter, and Hestia.
Appalled at the mistreatment of their children, Cronos's wife Rhea concealed her sixth pregnancy from him and secretly gave birth to Zeus on Mount Lycaeum in Arcadia, which is an area of the land now known as Greece. Rhea then gave the infant Zeus to the safekeeping of Gaea, who hid the baby in the cave of Dicte on Aegean Hill on the isle of Crete, where he was tended by various nymphs.
Zeus grew to adulthood among the shepherds of Mount Ida, Crete, and then set about taking revenge on Cronus. Zeus mixed Cronus's drink with mustard, and made Cronus vomit, thus freeing his siblings; who were adults by now. Zeus also freed three one-eyed giants called Cyclopes and three hundred-handed giants called Hekatonchieres, all six of whom Cronus had imprisoned there for fear they would help overthrow him. The grateful Cyclopes taught Zeus how to wield his energy-manipulating powers in battle. Zeus and his allies fought a ten year war with the Titans which ended with Zeus's victory, and thus Uranus's prediction came true. Zeus imprisoned most of the Titans in Tartarus and established himself in Olympus as supreme ruler of the Olympian race.
Zeus married the goddess Hera, however he engaged in many affairs with goddesses and also with mortal women both before and during the Heroic Age of ancient Greece. Some of his children were gods, while others were half-mortal demigods Hercules, Zeus's son by the mortal woman Alcmena. Hercules was born a half-mortal demigod, but Zeus transformed him into an immortal god upon his mortal demise. In Hercules' case, the fates prophesied the elder goddess Gaea would send her children, the Giants, to slay Zeus and the Olympians (overthrowing Zeus' rule) and that no god could slay these Giants; only a mortal bearing the lion's sign. To avert the end of the Olympian Gods, Athena arranged for Zeus to sire this champion who would be strong and mighty enough to defend the gods and slay the Giants. That champion was Hercules. Hercules fulfilled his destiny, protecting Zeus and the Olympian Gods against the Giants and has remained their mightiest warrior, champion and defender ever since.
Zeus' godly children are Ares, Hephaestus, Hebe and Eris (all mothered by Hera), Athena (by the Titaness Metis), Dionysus (by the mortal woman Semele), Apollo and Artemis (twins, by the Titaness Leto), Hermes (by the mountain nymph Maia) and Persephone (by Demeter) and Aphrodite (by Dionne).
Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Athena, Hephaestus, Hermes, and Aphrodite, comprised the membership of the high council of the Olympian gods known as the Pantheon. Hestia later resigned her seat in the council in favor of Zeus's son Dionysus. Zeus's brother Hades was not a member of the Pantheon, preferring to spend virtually all of his time within the Underworld, which he ruled.
In ancient times Zeus and his fellow Olympians successfully defeated challenges to their rule by the giants Otis and Ephialtes, by a small army of superhuman Giants, and, most dangerously, by the monster Typhoeus, father of Typhon, the Titan who has menaced the Olympians in recent times.
Marvel's version of Zeus is based on the corresponding character from Greek Mythology.
Major Story Arcs
After the end of the Hyborian Age, the Olympian Gods sought worshipers on Earth. Poseidon became the patron god of the water-breathing Atlanteans. Zeus sought that the Olympian Gods be worshiped by the people of the land known as Greece. Zeus learned that Greece's Mount Olympus, the location of the main inter-dimensional nexus between the Olympian dimension and Earth, lay near Olympia, the principal city of the Eternals. Zeus and his daughter Athena, goddess of wisdom, held a meeting with Zuras, the leader of the Eternals, and his daughter Azura. Noticing the strong physical resemblance between Zeus and Zuras and between Azura and herself, Athena suggested that the Olympian Gods and the Eternals form an alliance whereby the Eternals would act as the Gods' representatives on Earth. The other three enthusiastically agreed, and Azura took her current name of Thena to signify the signing of the pact. However, over the years many ordinary human beings came to think of many Eternals not as the Gods' representatives but as the Gods themselves. This led to a growing resentment by the Gods towards the Eternals which recently erupted into a brief war. However, today the Eternals and the Olympian Gods are again at peace with each other.
Worship of the Olympian gods spread from Greece to Rome and throughout the Roman Empire. The Gods intervened frequently in human matters at first, as in the Trojan War, but did so less as time passed. When Christianity finally replaced the worship of the Olympian Gods in the Roman Empire, Zeus decided that the time had come for the Olympians to break most of their ties with Earth. Poseidon, however, was still allowed to watch over his Atlantean worshipers.
Since the worship of the Olympian gods had died out, Zeus forbade his brother Hades, ruler of the Underworld, from collecting any more of the souls of the dead from Earth. Hades obeyed the edict resentfully. Finally, the bitter Hades convinced himself that Zeus had proven himself to be an incompetent leader by allowing the worship of the Olympians to come to an end. Zeus, noting Hades's increasingly ominous rebelliousness, warned him against attempting to overthrow him. Nonetheless, Hades has attempted unsuccessfully to overthrow Zeus, as has Zeus's own son, the war god Ares.
However, despite the end of the worship of the Olympian gods, Zeus has retained affections for and interest in the people of Earth.
A millennium ago Zeus' son Hercules led a band of warriors he had transported through time from ancient Greece to battle Norsemen who were under the protection of the Asgardian god Thor. This conflict led to war between the Asgardians and the Olympians. During the battles climax, Zeus secretly met with Odin, ruler of the Asgardians, and the two gods not only put an end to the war, but also formed an alliance to defend Earth from danger posed by the alien Celestials. Odin and Zeus formed the Council of the Godheads when they met with the leaders of the other races of gods, who were actively or had formerly been worshiped by Earth mortals, to discuss the Celestials possible threat to Earth. At this meeting it was decided that Odin, Zeus, and the Hindu god Vishnu would confront the Third Host of the Celestials on behalf of all of Earth's gods. These three sky-fathers did indeed confront the Celestials but were humbled when they were forced to pledge not to interfere with the Celestial Host (and their mission on Earth) when Arishem the Judge threatened to seal off the interdimensional passageways connecting the gods' dimensions with Earth. As a result of this pledge, the all the gods of Earth, including the Olympian Gods, had to lessen their contact with Earth. The gods did this, for the most part, although Zeus' offspring Hercules and Aphrodite spent periods living among Earth human beings during that time period and in recent years as well. The Celestials' Fourth Host eventually judged Earth favorably, deciding to spare it from destruction, and immediately left the planet.
The Reign of Zeus
For millenia Zeus remained the ruler of the Olympian gods and of Olympus itself, as well as a staunch ally of the Asgardians. In the centuries since the Celestials first appeared on Earth, Zeus formed a personal friendship with Odin, the Lord of Asgard and even lead and commanded the Olympian Gods' invasion of Eternal Olympia at Odin's behest. When Odin eventually fell in battle to Surtur and Thor ascended to the throne of Asgard, Zeus acted as advisor and mentor to Thor in matters of the Council of the Godheads and when Akhenaten threatened universal domination.
Zeus was eventually slain by the Japanese God Amatsu-Mikaboshi. Since then the gods have abandoned Olympus and have taken human guises. His wife Hera has since inherited his thunderbolt and his position as chief of the Olympians.
Death and Rebirth
After he died, Zeus was imprisoned in Tartarus, the hell of the Greeks, by his brother Hades to keep Zeus from interfering in his affairs. To check the growing power of Hera, Athena sent Hercules and Amadeus Cho into the Underworld to retrieve him. Hades intercepted them and placed Zeus on trial for being an imperfect god and no better than the worst criminal condemned to Tartarus before a jury of the damned. During the trial, Zeus's own temper and arrogance condemned him with only Hercules stepping up to defend him despite Zeus stating creating Hercules was a mistake. Hercules's valor in battling his own mortal shade and testimony about his nobility caused Zeus to begin to wonder if he had been wrong in condemning Hercules's humanity and love for mortals. To save Hercules' life, Zeus willingly drank from the River Lethe, thereby erasing his memory and casing him to be reincarnated on Earth as a child.
While reverted to the form of a child, Zeus went on several adventures with Hercules in the the process rediscovering his weather control powers and other abilities. When Hera threatened to destroy the universe Zeus was part of a team of Avengers sent to stop her. In the battle he was captured by Hera, but convinced her that she did not need to destroy the world because she could start over with a new Zeus. Typhon, Hera's slave-bodyguard, had unfortunately somehow freed himself from his band keeping him imprisoned. Using the Aegis to protect himself from their lightning he preceded to kill both Zeus and Hera allowing Thanatos to take their souls to the underworld.
When Amatsu-Mikaboshi returned as the Chaos King to return everything (the multiverse itself) to nothingness, he was opposed by Zeus' son Hercules, now with power on a level far beyond any ever previously wielded by a sky-father, and many of Earth's other heroes. During this 'Chaos War' the Chaos King resurrected many deceased heroes and villains to use as his army to oppose Hercules and his forces. Zeus, as well as several other Olympian Gods, was among those who returned to the land of the living. During the course of the war Zeus, now returned to adult form, and with his power amplified by the Chaos King was used to attack Galactus and Hercules before he fell once again; this time before the new-found might of his own son, Hercules. In the final battle with the Chaos King Hercules eventually prevailed and though the Chaos King was sent to the phantom zone, by Galactus. The damage he'd done remained. Hercules used the last of his awesome power to repair the damage to the 98% multiverse and put everything back to the way it had been before the war had begun. It was during this multiversal rebuilding process that Hercules resurrected a multitude of fallen heroes and villains including Zeus and Hera, many of whom had actually died before the events of the Chaos War.
Shortly after the defeat of the Chaos King and the end of the war, a gigantic vision of Zeus was spotted off the coast of upstate New York around the same time a new mountain appeared out of nowhere. Zeus was back and this new mountain was the new home of the Olympian gods. No sooner had Zeus and most of the other Olympian gods come to reside in their new mountain home than the incredible Hulk came calling in an attempt to get Zeus to help him and his fellow "Hulks" with each of their individual issues. The Hulk encountered much adversity in his attempt to scale the new mountain home of the Olympians, but successfully met and overcame them all until he finally met Zeus, but was quickly struck down by Zeus's lightning.
Hulk claimed Zeus owed him for the Hulk's role in saving the universe from the Chaos King and restoring Zeus to power. Zeus was enraged at the Hulk's presumption and how during a previous encounter Hulk turned his back on Zeus to side with his enemies. Acknowledging that Zeus could incinerate him with ease Hulk challenged the Lord of Olympus to a fist fight. Taking up on his challenge Zeus beat the Hulk within an inch of his life in a one-sided battle. Hulk's goal appeared to be to try and sacrifice himself in battle to impress the Cloud-Gatherer. It did not. To punish Hulk for his arrogance Zeus had him chained to a rock and left as food for the vultures. As a result of being hit by Zeus, the Hulk was left severely weakened and could barely heal fast enough to make up for the feedings of the vultures. Hulk was rescued after three days from his torment by Hercules and the other Hulks. Zeus observed it, but refused Hera's idea to pursue. He felt the Hulk had learned his lesson about the futility of challenging the king of the gods.
When Mephisto goes to The Infinite Embassy to seek answers to what the Gods plan on doing about The Serpent he is not allowed into the Council of Godheads but he can hear Zeus and Odin fighting it out on the other side of the door.
An alternate future of the 24th century has been glimpsed in which Zeus and the other Olympian gods, except for Hercules, leave Olympus for another plane of existence. Hercules remains behind, although he ventures into deep space, to father a new race of gods. Whether or not the Olympian gods will come to such an end in what becomes the "mainstream" future is as yet unknown. Zeus has now returned to his rightful throne.
Powers and Abilities
Zeus is a God of near limitless powers rivaling his Asgardian peer Odin and is the most powerful Olympian god. Zeus has superhuman strength and can lift over 90 tons without further increasing his strength with magic. He has superhuman stamina, agility and he is virtually tireless. Zeus possesses superhuman speed and is able to travel at the speed of light or even faster. All of Zeus's physical abilities are far beyond the human norm. He can augment his physical abilities to far beyond Hercules's level and withstand a direct blow from that level of strength without moving.
Zeus is immortal like all Olympian Gods and he does not age. Zeus cannot be harmed by conventional attacks, has a great resistance to physical attacks and is immune to all diseases.
Zeus possesses vast magical-energy powers he can use for almost any effect. These include but are not limited to: teleporting himself and others across dimensions, transforming others, enchanting objects, weather control, increasing his physical strength and speed. Zeus is a skilled shapeshifter and has often seduced women by turning into various animals and growing in size.
Zeus is most famous for projecting energy in the form of "thunderbolts." These thunderbolts are many times more powerful than a regular lightning bolt from a storm, but share the basic look if not characteristics as well. He can project thunderbolts powerful enough to bring down the Hulk with ease and kill or completely incinerate beings as powerful as Hulk and Thor.
As a weapon, Zeus possesses a power source known as the Thunderbolt. It signifies his status as head of the Olympians. It grants lightning powers to its wielder as seen with Hera and Athena. Zeus has lightning along with other weather control powers on his own. It is possible the Thunderbolt augments these and other powers to some unknown degree.
- Height: 6' 7"
- Weight: 560 lbs.
- Hair: Red
- Eyes: Blue's