Real Name: Astro
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Mr. Zodiac could take the form of any of the twelve zodiac signs. Usually he took a form of immense size (he might become a 50 to 100 foot tall human or proportionately large animal), strength, and great destructive power. He could apparently gain mass from an unspecified location (possibly extradimensional) and he gained the power of whatever form he took. As Aquarius he was a giant who used a seemingly bottomless pail to flood the city; As Aries, Cancer, Capricorn, Leo, Pisces, Scorpio, and Taurus, he took the form of an immense ram, crab, goat, lion, shark, scorpion, and bull, respectively. In each case, he had whatever claws, horns, stingers, etc. appropriate to that form. As Gemini, he was a pair of muscular "Kung Fu wrestlers." As Libra, he was a set of immense scales, which flew over the city. As Sagittarius, he was a giant archer. His most commonly assumed form was that of Jane Virgo, in which he appeared as a twenty year old, platinum blonde woman.
As a young boy in the Middle East, he studied astrology. Trying to get as close to the sky as possible, Astro climbed to the top of what he thought was an inactive volcano. One day the volcano erupted, the spout of lava ionizing the surrounding air, exposure to which baked the outer layer of his brain and permanently altered his body chemistry. Screaming, he fled into a cave-like hole, the mouth of which was instantly sealed by solidified lava. For four thousand years, Astro remained alive by remaining virtually motionless in a semi-inert state. Two to three times each day, his cells divided, re-divided, and redistributed themselves. As he had been thinking of the astrological signs, at the time of the eruption, those were the forms his body took with each transformation. This dividing somehow prevented his brain from realizing that he was aging, and his powers kept him young. However, if he failed to keep up his regular transformation schedule, his mind would recognize its true age and he would crumble into dust.
After 4000 years, the volcano erupted again, and the sealed cave containing Astro was cracked open. Realizing how long he had been trapped, Astro's mind cracked as well, and he sought to take revenge for fate's cheating him of a normal life. He destroyed several cities in the Middle East before moving on. Traveling to America, he realized that he still had to eat, and thus needed to make a living. As astrology was all he knew, he decided to write a newspaper column on the subject. Taking of the aspect of Virgo, he got a job working for the Daily Bugle as Jane Virgo.
"Jane" met Peter Parker, and the two shared a series of lunch pizzas together. Each night, however, they clashed as one of the zodiac aspects fought Spidey. Jonah criticized Peter's inability to get good pictures of Mr. Zodiac, but each day Peter shared his theories on where Astro might strike, and "Jane" used that info to strike somewhere else. Spidey showed up only after Mr. Zodiac had been rampaging for some time. Each night Mr. Zodiac escaped him, but at lunch each day, "Jane" slipped and made some comment that referenced her nocturnal activities. When Spidey pulled a horn off Aries on night, and "Jane" came in the next day with a headache and a band-aid on her head, Pete finally made the connection.
He confronted Jane, but she managed to escape in her car and flee back to her home in Long Island. Shortly after arriving, they ran into Peter's Aunt May and the young boy, Ben, she was watching for the summer. "Jane" took Ben hostage, and Pete was forced to stay behind to medicate his sickly aunt. After May was treated, Spider-Man pursued Mr. Zodiac relentlessly, but he managed to drive Spidey away by threatening Ben, or by putting others at risk. Each time, Mr. Zodiac was able to get 10 minutes of privacy to concentrate on another transformation.
This pursuit quite literally went on for days, until Spidey figured out that Zodiac need to concentrate in order to transform. He told Ben to recite his multiplication tables to distract Zodiac, and the villain remained unable to transform. Finally, Zodiac collapsed; Spidey webbed him up, but the villain crumbled too dust within seconds.
Jonah, of course, blamed Peter for driving off Jane Virgo.
First Appearance: Spider-Man Zaps Mr. Zodiac (1976) #1
View a chronological listing of this character's appearances
Big Little Book (1932)
Marvel Legacy: The 1970's Handbook (2006)
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z (2008)
Spider-Man Zaps Mr. Zodiac (1976)
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