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LEO ZELINSKY

Real Name: Leo Zelinsky

Identity/Class: Human

Occupation: Tailor

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: His clientele (Blob/Fred J. Dukes, Captain America/Steve Rogers, Captain Mar-Vell, Daredevil/Matt Murdock, Doctor Victor von Doom, Electro/Maxwell Dillon, Ferret, Speedball/Robbie Baldwin, Spider-Man/Peter Parker, Thing/Ben Grimm, Thor, War-Man and several others including members of the Avengers and the X-Men);
formerly
Killshot

Enemies: Killshot

Known Relatives: Michael Zelinsky (grandson), unidentified son (deceased), unidentified daughter-in-law, unidentified niece

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Leo's Tailoring on 23rd Street near Eight Avenue in New York City, New York

First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man I #502 (February, 2004)

Powers/Abilities: Leo Zelinsky possesses no known superhuman powers. A talented tailor and creatively gifted clothes designer, he has specialized himself in mending and constructing costumes for both superheroes and villains. Zelinsky prides himself on his fast work, professionalism and reliability, never betraying a client's trust or secret identity. Zelinsky deems himself somewhat of an expert on superhero fashion and codenames, always willing to share his (often unsolicited and slightly outdated) opinions on costumed couture. Zelinsky has some expertise in acquiring, installing or fixing the high end mechanical components some of his clients have incorporated in their costumes. A lifelong New Yorker, Leo Zelinsky can easily identify a fellow local by his or her accent. Zelinsky is Jewish.

Height: 5'6" (by approximation)
Weight: 115 lbs. (by approximation)
Eyes: Blue
Hair: White

History:

(Amazing Spider-Man I#502 (fb) - BTS) - New York born Leo Zelinsky made a living as a tailor, owning his own business called Leo's Tailoring on 23rd Street near Eight Avenue. For decades, he filled his working days hemming and sowing for regular customers while raising a family. His son joined the police force, married and had a boy named Michael. Arrangements were made that Leo would care for the child if something were to happen to his parents.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#502 (fb) ) - One night, Leo was about to close his shop, when the Fantastic Four's Thing walked in after a fight that had left his outfit in tatters. Zelinsky quickly fixed the hero's trademark trunks.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#502 (fb) - BTS) - So impressed with the tailor's handiwork, Ben spread word among his fellow heroes who soon started to call on Zelinsky to mend their garments as well. It didn't take long for Leo to start a side-business, catering exclusively to the superhero community. He set up a private shop area in the basement of his store where his clients could comfortably and anonymously wait until their clothes were ready.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#502 (fb) ) - Leo's clientele grew over time to include villains as well. A wide variety of supervillains began to rely on his services, including Doctor Doom, Blob and Elektro. To make sure there wouldn't be any unfortunate confrontations between heroes and villains, Leo instituted new policy. Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays he catered exclusively to heroes, while Tuesdays and Thursdays he strictly welcomed bad guys to his shop. Ever the consummate professional, he even changed up the magazines in the waiting area depending on what day it was. On Tuesday and Thursday, he put out Gun Magazine and Penthouse, for the heroes he offered Time, Newsweek and the papers. Much to his amazement, Thor preferred to read gardening magazines and Modern Bride, leading Leo to assume the thundergod might be somewhat light in the loafers.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#502 (fb) - BTS) - When Leo's son died in the line of duty, Zelinsky assumed custody of his grandson Michael who came to live with him in his modest apartment over the shop. In his spare time, he tried to teach him the tricks of the trade.

(Civil War: Frontline#10/2 (fb) - BTS) - Leo Zelinsky designed and created one of Robbie Baldwin's Speedball costumes early in the youthful hero's career.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#502 (fb) ) - Leo's place also became a hotspot for would-be heroes and villains. Zelinsky would offer his expert advice, helping them pick the right costumed identity and codename. During one such occasion, he told a wannabe hero set on "The Wolf" that the name was too generic, especially with a popular hero like Wolverine already out there. Instead, he told his client to consider the alias "Ferret", after all Leo's niece had two of them and he felt they were very cute, smart and tough. Zelinsky insisted his incredulous client at least consider the moniker.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#502) - One day, Leo overheard his client Killshot discuss an upcoming mission over the phone: he was to assassinate a high ranking New York official during an award ceremony at the Boys and Girls Club the following day. Though shaken by the notion, he nevertheless handed Killpower his new costume. Later that day, Zelinsky was discussing the matter with his grandson Michael who reminded him of his late father's wisdom and nobility. Though reluctant to breach clothier customer confidentiality, Leo nevertheless went out to try and prevent the murder. To do so, Zelinsy flagged down Spider-Man who he happened to spot slinging by. Faking an emergency, Leo got the wallcrawler's attention, eventually taking him to a local delicatessen where they had coffee and talked. Zelinsky shared his history, detailed his tailor business and even offered some unwanted fashion critiques on Spider-Man's costume before informing the hero of Killshot's plans. When they parted company, Leo surprised Spider-Man by identifying him as a fellow local because of his obvious Queens accent.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#502 - BTS) - Thanks to Leo's tip, Spider-Man was able to prevent Killshot from killing District Attorney Sam Whitehall. However, Killshot managed to escape when he forced Spider-Man to rescue a window-washer whose trolley had become unbalanced after he fired at it.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#502) - Killshot quickly concluded Zelinsky had ratted on him. Bursting through the door of the shop, just as Leo was teaching Michael how to work a sowing machine, Killshot threatened to kill Michael if Zelinsky didn't tell him who else he'd leaked the information to. In a heroic attempt to save his grandson's life, Leo jumped in front of Killshot's gun and was clipped in the shoulder. The situation was resolved when Spider-Man arrived and made quick work of the villain. An added wrinkle to be ironed out presented itself when D.A. Whitehall showed up with the police, acting on Killshot's confession there were illegal activities going on at Zelinsky's shop. The knowing D.A. realized what was truly going on and allowed Leo's unofficial side-business to continue with his blessing. After his wounds were taken care of, Leo had a brief conversation with Spider-Man. Not only did Zelinsky thank his savior for his aid, he also handed him a design for an improved Spider-Man costume. Calling it "Spider-Man of the Future", Zelinsky had dreamed up a look that included a reversible jacket and pants combo that could easily allow him the hero to mix in with a crowd if necessary. Leo assured Spider-Man that if he was interested, he'd give him a good price.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#528) - Zelinsky was having a late Thursday night fitting with aspiring supervillain War-Man, who deemed himself a night-killer in need of a sleek, formfitting outfit with a nylon jacket and parachute silk. Gently mocking his client for his garish choices, Leo was surprised by a knock at the door. When he went to see who was there, he found Spider-Man with a torn up costume asking if Leo could squeeze him in. Though Zelinsky reminded the hero that he'd come on a day he catered to supervillains, the tailor nevertheless acquiesced. The mere mention of Spider-Man's presence made War-Man beat a hasty retreat, though he insisted that Leo told the hero that it wasn't because he was afraid of him. Zelinsky then went to work to fix up the tears in the costume, not too subtly commenting on the shoddy fix up job someone had already performed on the garment (courtesy of Peter's wife Mary Jane). Leo was still working on the costume when an incident at a local construction site caused a blocks wide power outage, forcing Spider-Man to investigate the matter shirtless.

(Civil War: Frontline#10/2 - BTS) - Following the Stamford incident in which the New Warriors inadvertently caused the deaths of 638 civilians during a fight against the supervillain Nitro, Zelinsky was contacted to construct a very specific new uniform. He was somewhat puzzled when he read the instructions for the armor plated costume. It had to be equipped with over 638 razor sharp, energy conducting spikes on the inside, ensuring the wearer would be in constant agony (after Stamford, Speedball found his powers only worked when he was in pain). Though troubled by the idea what this torture device could be used for, the ever professional Leo nevertheless finished his work.

(Civil War: Frontline#10/2) - Zelinsky took the finished costume to Baldwin, who'd just finished burning the last of his spare Speedball uniforms. Though Leo didn't recognize his former client, he did express concern because of the cruel and unusual features he was asked to include. After receiving his payment, they talked for a while until Zelinsky realized the torture armor was actually intended for Baldwin. He refused to take the money but did stay to help him put on the Penance armor, strapping it tight while blood poured through the cracks. Before he put on the helmet, Leo suddenly remembered he'd once designed his client's Speedball costumes. Resigned to his fate, Penance told Zelinsky both Speedball and Robbie Baldwin were dead. Donning the spiked headgear, Penance marched off to right the wrongs he'd caused.

Comments: Created by J. Michael Straczynski (writer), John Romita Jr. (pencils), Scott Hanna (inks)

Because Damage Control merely covers the cost of costume repair and the Wasp only designs them: Meet Leo Zelinsky, tailor to the stars. He was such a natural addition to the Marvel Universe, it's a small miracle no one came up with him before JMS did (even though some might say he's basically a bargain basement Tinkerer who does sowing on the side). Leo comes across like a real mensch... It might be one of my favorite profiles and it only took me 375+ others to get to him.

Melvin Potter was doing a pretty good job before Leo at Spotlight Costumes and Custom Tailoring. Last we saw him he was cray-cray again, so Leo can take his clientele as well.
--Markus Raymond

Profile by Norvo.

CLARIFICATIONS:
Leo Zelinsky should not be confused with


Michael Zelinsky

Leo Zelinsky promised his police offer son that he would take care of his grandson Michael should something ever happen to him. When his father unfortunately perished in the line of duty, Michael went to live with his grandfather Leo in his tiny apartment over his tailor shop. Sharing a close bond, he was taught the tricks of the tailor trade. Michael was instrumental in convincing Leo that he needed to inform the authorities he'd overheard his client Killshot announcing he was going to assassinate someone. Leo sought out Spider-Man to make sure the hero stopped Killshot. Though he prevented the hit, Spider-Man didn't stop Killshot himself who quickly concluded Zelinsky had ratted on him. Bursting through the door of the shop, just as Leo was teaching Michael how to work a sowing machine, Killshot threatened to kill Michael if Zelinsky didn't tell him who else he'd leaked the information to. In a heroic attempt to save his grandson's life, Leo jumped in front of Killpower's gun and was clipped in the shoulder. The situation was resolved when Spider-Man arrived and made quick work of Killshot. In the aftermath, Michael briefly talked with Spider-Man, saying his grandfather saved his life to which Spider-Man replied that "clothes don't make the hero, what makes a hero is what happens in your heart".  Unimpressed, Michael remarked the webslinger sounded just as corny as his teachers.

--Amazing Spider-Man I#502






images: (without ads)
Amazing Spider-Man I#502, p13, pan1 (main image)
Amazing Spider-Man I#502, p12, pan4 (hired by Thing)
Amazing Spider-Man I#502, p14, pan1 (hired to mend Doom's cape)
Civil War: Frontline#10, p29, pan3 (shows Penance his new costume)
Amazing Spider-Man I#502, p6, pan3 (Michael Zelinsky)


Appearances:
Amazing Spider-Man I#502 (February, 2004) - J. Michael Straczynski (writer), John Romita Jr. (pencils), Scott Hanna (inks), Axel Alonso (editor)
Amazing Spider-Man I#528 (March, 2006) - J. Michael Straczynski (writer), Mike Deodato Jr. (pencils), Joe Pimentel (inks), Axel Alonso (editor)
Civil War: Frontline#10 (March, 2007) - Paul Jenkins (writer), Steve Lieber (pencils & inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)


Last updated: 03/11/16

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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