ZODIAC KEY

Classification: Extradimensional (Ankh Dimension) power object

Creator: Brotherhood (of Ankh)

User/Possessors: Aries (Marcus Lassiter), Capricorn, Death Sting, Nick Fury, Illuminati, Scorpio (Jake Fury), SHIELD

First Appearance: Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. I#1 (June, 1968)

Powers/Abilities/Functions: The Key is composed of an unknown mineral, and through it tremendous energies may be manipulated psionically. Its full range of power is unrevealed, but it can be used to fire powerful energy bolts, to teleport people and/or objects across space or dimensional barriers, and to serve as an energy source for machinery. The Key has been used to create and re-structure the Life Model Decoy members of Zodiac. It can also enhance the vitality of others, as it rejuvenated Jake Fury back into peak health when he would otherwise have been over 70 years old.

    The Key is apparently sentient and can speak to others. It can resist commands, but it will usually acquiesce if given direct and/or repeated orders. Acting on its own volition, the Zodiac Key has reconstructed Jake Fury's own body after it has been fatally injured. When such reconstruction was no longer possible, the Key created Fury's android body.

    The Key draws power from an extradimensional source, possibly the In-Betweener, and its power is somehow dependent on intense conflict between the forces of Order and Chaos. It is the struggle itself that affects the Key, and it functions best when neither side is able to entirely or permanently overcome the other.

The Zodiac Key also has the ability to create a stasis field, animate machines and transform his wielder into sentient water by remote control (Scorpio performed this feat by controlling the Key from a distance).

History:
(Avengers III#60 (fb) - BTS) - The Ankh dimension was created by the In-Betweener as a "sanction" (sanctum?); a place for reflection, but it grew a life all its own.

(Daredevil I#73 (fb) - BTS) - Many, many cycles ago in the Dimension of Ankh, what would become known as the Zodiac Key was fashioned from the carven stone of the earth and the spilled blood of a lamb, and thus, by its origins, it was bound into the lifeblood of the All-Creator. For many years, the Brotherhood held sole possession of the Key, and through its use they struck the eternal balance between Order and Chaos. The Key served as the mystic valve through which the power of Ankh was siphoned to its bearer.

(Daredevil I#73 (fb) - BTS) - In the fourth generation of the Century of the Leopard, something happened to the Key, causing it to weaken.

(Daredevil I#73) - The Lawholder discovered that as the world of the Brotherhood had grown calm and still, there was no longer a struggle between Order and Chaos. Without the energies they obtained through the Key, the Brotherhood's power-flames began to grow dim, signaling their dying might. The Lawholder decided that the Key must be sent from their world to Earth, which was still struggling under the eternal battle.

(Avengers III#59 (fb) - BTS) - <18th century> The secret society of the Illuminati (the historical version) got hold of the Zodiac Key, but all failed to understand the true meaning behind it's gift.

(Fury#1 (fb) - BTS) - Jake Fury somehow learned of and sought the Zodiac Key, but he lacked sufficient hate to be worthy of it.

(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe#17: Jake Fury (fb) - BTS / West Coast Avengers II#27 (fb) - BTS / Fury#1 (fb) - BTS)
- After Jake Fury had been discovered as a HYDRA agent by his brother, Nick, narrowly escaping death at his hands, Jake at last had the hatred he needed. The Key then sought out Jake Fury, and he became the first man on Earth to hold it. In addition to his hatred, Fury attracted the Key due to his great potential for doing evil. The Key became Jake's personal weapon, and he adopted the identity of Scorpio.

Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition #20: Zodiac (fb) - BTS) - Scorpio joined the Zodiac Cartel.

(Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. I#1) - As Scorpio, Jake wielded the Zodiac Key while ambushing a S.H.I.E.L.D. base in Las Vegas. When Nick arrived and confronted him, Jake used the Key to summon "solar force beyond belief," which Nick narrowly escaped. Scorpio then stunned Fury with a force blast, but Nick recovered and tackled Jake. Their clash led into the streets of Las Vegas, and Scorpio attempted to flee aboard an aircraft, but it was struck by a wild bullet fired by gangster Mitch Hackett, seemingly killing Scorpio.

(Defenders I#49 (fb), West Coast Avengers II#26 (fb)) - The Zodiac Key recreated Jake, hale and hearty on the corner of the street where he had just died, but planted false memories of Scorpio being another person to help him cope with the trauma. Finding the Zodiac Key where he had just "died," Jake took it to become Scorpio (once more).

(Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. I#5) - Scorpio confronted Nick again as he was in his S.H.I.E.L.D. flying car. Nick attempted to ram Scorpio with the vehicle, but Scorpio used the Key to create a force field that it crashed into. Later, a half-dozen S.H.I.E.L.D. agents shot Scorpio as he jumped from a window into the nearby harbor. Although the agents swore they had hit him, no body was recovered.

(Avengers I#72 (fb) - BTS) - The Zodiac Key was claimed by Nick Fury, who impersonated Jake/Scorpio in order to infiltrate the Zodiac Cartel.

(Avengers I#72 (fb)) - Rick Jones sought out Nick Fury and found him disguised as Scorpio; Fury blasted Rick with the Zodiac Key to protect his secret agenda. Rick recovered and swapped places with Captain Mar-Vell, who attacked the false Scorpio, only to be felled by another blast from the Key.

(Avengers I#72) - The false Scorpio then used the Key to stun and capture the Avengers (Captain America, Goliath (Clint Barton), Vision, Wasp, Yellowjacket) and Rick Jones, who had gone to them for assistance. The rest of the Zodiac Cartel then arrived, and Aries (Marcus Lassiter), who led the Zodiac at the time, demanded the Key. Scorpio surrendered the Key, but the Avengers then broke free. Aries used the Key to stun them, but Rick Jones jumped on him, stopping the assault. Aries then used the Key to blast a hole in the wall, enabling himself and the other ten Zodiacs to escape.

(Avengers I#80 + 81 - BTS, 82) - Aries used the Zodiac Key in his effort to hold Manhattan hostage. When Daredevil and the Black Panther confronted him, Aries used the Key to set the room on fire. Aries held the Key when Thor blew up his ship.

(Iron Man I#35 (fb) - BTS) - The Key was recovered by S.H.I.E.L.D., whose scientists were unable to figure it out.

(Iron Man I#35) - Fury brought Iron Man to the Key, intending for him to bring it to Stark to study. As soon as Fury touched the Key, it took control of his mind, forcing him to fire a series of energy blasts. Iron Man coated the Key in a repulsor field, separating it from Fury, and then brought it to Stark Industries, where he and Kevin O'Brian studied it. They were joined by Fury, but then ambushed by Capricorn--who had entered his period of leading the Zodiac Cartel, alongside Aquarius, Sagittarius, and a Zodiac agent or two. While the heroes fought the Zodiacs, the Key spoke to O'Brian, mesmerizing him and forcing him to grab the Key as the force field faded and then blast Iron Man and Fury. The two were imprisoned alongside Daredevil, Madame Masque, and O'Brian, as well, but then the Key commanded Capricorn to release Fury and give him the Key. It once again entranced Fury, forcing him to comply.

(Iron Man I#35, Daredevil I#73) - The entranced Nick Fury grabbed the Key, using it to transport himself, Daredevil, Iron Man (Tony Stark), Madame Masque (Whitney Frost), Kevin O'Brian, Spymaster, and the Zodiac Cartel's Aquarius, Capricorn, and Sagittarius to the Dimension of Ankh. There the Lawholder reclaimed the Key, and explained its origins and purpose. When Kevin O'Brian questioned the Brotherhood's right to deal in the lifeblood of men, the Lawholder banished him back to Earth.
    The Lawholder then instructed the visitors that they must battle in order to provide the energy for the Key to regain its former majesty; there would be a reward for the winners: a place among the most high of the Brotherhood. When Daredevil refused to be a pawn in their struggle, the Lawholder used the Key to influence them to fight. While Spymaster and the Zodiacs, and even Iron Man, Fury, and Madame Masque, all jumped readily into battle, Daredevil continued to resist. When Capricorn attacked Daredevil, he continued to resist, striving only for defensive actions.
    Suddenly "some sort of burning flakes" began drifting through the air; while the Lawholder was pleased as the Key began to throb with new life, another member of the Brotherhood spoke out, proclaiming, "Nay! By your interference, you have destroyed the balance we so delicately seek to weave! There must be an end! The red-masked one's heart is not in this conflict! There can be no just settling of the scales." He instructed the Lawholder to give him the Key, and he used it to send the humans back to Earth, where their continued conflict would restore the Key. The Brotherhood retained the Key.

(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe#20: Zodiac - BTS / Defenders I#49 (fb)) - The Zodiac Key returned to Earth, falling from the sky and striking the head of a homeless derelict, who had no idea of its true value.

(Defenders I#49 (fb)) - While at a bar, Jake overheard a patron mention how he had bought an object for his pawn shop which matched the Zodiac Key in description. Jake reclaimed the Key from the shop "for a song."

(Defenders I#49 (fb) - BTS) - Scorpio fell into a period of ennui, and retreated from the world to create the Theater of Genetics, hoping to have his own Zodiac to be his friends, and meant for his LMD of Virgo to be his lover. He also used the Nick Fury LMD he had stolen from S.H.I.E.L.D. as his companion as he grew increasingly distraught by the world outside.

(Defenders I#46) - Wielding the Key, Scorpio confronted Kyle Richmond at his Riding Academy, but ended up fighting the Defenders (Hellcat, Hulk, Nighthawk, Valkyrie (Brunnhilde/Barbara Norriss)). Hellcat tore the Key from his hand, but Scorpio activated it from afar, causing it to transform into water, allowing him to  reclaim the Key and teleport away.

(Defenders I#48) - Scorpio used the Key against Nighthawk, teleporting him away.

(Defenders I#49) - The Defenders led the Hulk to crash into Scorpio's base, where he was confronted by Scorpio, holding the Key, and his newly activated Zodiac.

(Defenders I#50) - Scorpio held the key as he led the Zodiac LMDs to attack the Hulk and the other Defenders, but a string of disappointments led Scorpio to kill himself with a bullet to the head.

(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe#20: Zodiac - BTS / West Coast Avengers II#26 (fb)) - The Zodiac Key created an LMD version of Jake, and transferred his consciousness (or created a near-exact replica of it) to inhabit the body. This also caused Scorpio to recall that he was the original Scorpio, having recognized the Key's false memories. Resuming his identity as Scorpio, Jake set the LMDs captured by S.H.I.E.L.D. free, and used the Zodiac Key to create new versions of those which had been destroyed.

(West Coast Avengers II#26) - At a meeting of the Zodiac Cartel in Dallas, Texas, Scorpio, who had infiltrated the Cartel while posing as his own successor, Jacques LaPoint, unmasked himself before the cartel as Jake Fury. He then let in his LMD Zodiac, who swiftly murdered the entire cartel, except for Taurus. Holding the Key, Scorpio pursued Taurus out of the meeting room and into a mall, but Taurus was able to evade him.

    Later, Scorpio held the Key while he led the LMDs to Wichita to rob businessmen at a cattle auction, where they were opposed by the West Coast Avengers (Hawkeye, Iron Man, Mockingbird, Tigra, Wonder Man) and Moon Knight. The Key proved powerful enough to drive off Wonder Man. During the fight, Sagittarius was slain by Hawkeye, and some of the others began to panic. Scorpio used the Key to create a diversion with a cattle stampede, then teleported his team back to their base. He was furious with them for fleeing, and had to contend with Leo jockeying for the position of leader. Scorpio sent the LMDs away while he used the Key to tap into the power of Sagittarius. He communed with the Key, who told him that he would live as long as the Key existed. Scorpio then used it to create an LMD of Hawkeye to serve as his new Sagittarius.

(West Coast Avengers II#27) - Holding the Key, Scorpio, aided by the Zodiacs, captured Hawkeye and replaced him with his Sagittarius doppelganger. Later, after learning that Cornelius van Lunt, the Taurus of the Zodiac Cartel, was aiding the Avengers against them, the LMD Zodiacs were split in their support of Scorpio, who had allowed van Lunt to escape. Scorpio threatened to use the Key to destroy Leo or any others who continued to oppose him. The Key then spoke to the irate Scorpio, consoling him.

(West Coast Avengers II#27 - BTS) - The Key guided Scorpio to create a new Leo LMD to replace the rebellious one. This Leo, in the form of Tigra, ambushed and replaced the original, who then infiltrated the West Coast Avengers.
    Scorpio used the Key to send Hawkeye and Tigra to the Ankh dimension.

(West Coast Avengers#28) - Holding the Key, Scorpio led the LMDs in robbing the Denver Mint, where they were interrupted by the Avengers. Scorpio managed to teleport them to Death Valley along with their loot, but the Key had begun to be slow to respond. Just as Leo made another bid to claim leadership, the Avengers caught up to them once more, and Iron Man concealed the Zodiac Key within an energy field to even out the odds. After the Tigra Leo took Iron Man out of commission, the Key was set free, and Scorpio revealed to the masculine Leo that he was no longer needed. Leo attacked Scorpio and tore him apart, but the Key brought Scorpio and the other damaged LMDs back together. Deciding to change the terrain, Scorpio asked the Key to bring them to the Ankh Dimension. The Key did not want to, but complied, and Scorpio was deactivated along with the other LMDs as soon as they arrived in the Ankh Dimension, unable to function there without the Earthly Zodiac constellations which powered them.
    The Key then traveled to the Brotherhood's side, at which point the Brotherhood called the conflict to a halt, as the power of the Key would have made the struggle too one-sided. The Brotherhood then sent the Avengers back to Earth, intending to someday send the Key back to Earth to create new conflicts for them.

(Iron Fist III#1 (fb) - BTS) - The Key was sent back to Earth.

(Iron Fist III#1 (fb) - BTS / Punisher III#7) - The Key was placed into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody after Mikel Fury was expelled from the organization.

(Iron Fist III#3 (fb) - BTS) - Sss'lethcott the H'ylthri conspired to obtain the Key to use its solar power to provide the photosynthesis web his people needed to restore them to life. Sss'lethcott revived the nearly dead Miranda Rand'Kai and Conal, using a serum which maintained their existence and the promise of restoring them to full life to blackmail them into obtaining the Key for him.

(Iron Fist III#1) - As Death Sting, Miranda directed a Sidewinder to try to steal the "Scorpio Key" from S.H.I.E.L.D., but he was slain by its protection grid.

(Iron Fist III#2) - Conal, posing as Sharyd, duped Iron Fist into believing he was was holding his sister Miranda hostage, coercing Iron Fist into stealing the Key. Iron Fist successfully obtained the Key and gave it to Sharyd, who then tried to kill Iron Fist. When Iron Fist began to gain the advantage, he pretended to threaten Miranda's life. Iron Fist defeated Sharyd, but Miranda duped Iron Fist into giving her the Key, and she framed Joy Meachum as Death Sting.

(Iron Fist III#3) - Joy convinced Iron Fist that she was not Death Sting, and Iron Fist joined S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Malik Shippinsky--assigned to learn who would try to steal the Key--in tracking down the real Death Sting and Conal as they met with Sss'lethcott. Death Sting used the Key against Malik and Iron Fist, but ultimately when Sss'lethcott attempted to kill Iron Fist, she used the Key to destroy Sss'lethcott instead. She then turned the Key on the H'ylthri pods, seemingly perishing in the explosion, but actually being exposed to enough of the chemicals from the pods to restore her fully to life. Malik claimed the Key for S.H.I.E.L.D..

(Avengers III#59 (fb) - BTS) - The Zodiac Key decayed into dust.

Comments: Created by Jim Steranko and Joe Sinnott.

    A footnote in Defenders I#49 incorrectly identifies the Zodiac Key from Iron Man I#35-36 and Daredevil I#73 as a different Key.

    According to Iron Fist III#2, the Zodiac Key from the Ankh dimension was the one used by Mikel Fury, and IF III#2 is supposed to be its appearance following Mikel's banishment from S.H.I.E.L.D. in Punisher III#7. I'll be covering Mikel Fury in the near future, and I'll have to sort out this mess at that point.

Thanks to Robert Wicks for pointing out that the historical Illuminati once held the Zodiac Key. If Scorpio is referring to the historical Illuminati, then that would place the Zodiac Key's appearance on Earth before or between 1776-1785. Thanks to Gammatotem for adding a bit to the power section.

The Zodiac Key has an entry in the All-New OHotMU Upate#3.

Profile by Snood (with help from Prime Eternal and Omar Karindu).

Clarifications:
The Zodiac Key should be distinguished from:


images:
Daredevil I#73, p9, panel 2
Nick Fury, agent of SHIELD I#5
Iron Fist III#1 (cover)


Fury I#1 (May, 1994) - Barry Dutter (writer), M.C. Wyman (pencils), Chris Ivy & Greg Adams (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)
Wolverine/Nick Fury: The Scorpio Connection (1989) - Archie Goodwin (writer), Howard Chaykin (artist), Gregory Wright & Mark Gruenwald (editors)
Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. I#5 (October, 1968) - Jim Steranko (writer/pencils), John Tartaglione (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Defenders I#46 (April, 1977) - Roger Slifer & David Kraft (writers), Keith Giffen (pencils), Klaus Janson (inks), Archie Goodwin (editor)
Defenders I#48-50 (June-August, 1977) - David Kraft & Don McGregor (#48) (writers), Keith Giffen (pencils), Dan Green (#48), Mike Royer (#49-50), Keith Giffen (#50), John Tartaglione (#50) & Dave Cockrum (#50) (inks), Archie Goodwin (editor)
West Coast Avengers Annual#1 (1986) - Steve Englehart & Mark Bright (writers), Mark Bright (pencils), Geoff Isherwood (inks), Michael Higgins & Mark Gruenwald (editor)
West Coast Avengers II#26-28 (November-December, 1987-January, 1988) - Steve Englehart (writer), Al Milgrom (pencils), Mike Machlan (inks), Mark Gruenwald (editor)
Iron Fist III#1-3 (July-September, 1998) - Jim Mullaney (writer9, Kevin Lau (pencils), Alan Tam (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)


Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

Last Updated: 07/17/16

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