#7. Zena Zarthos
30 years ago, Zachary Zarthos was one of the world’s most notorious supervillains. He would regularly terrorise Sky City with his latest giant robot or doomsday device, in his latest bit for global conquest. But always, he would be foiled by his arch-nemesis, The Standard. Repeatedly, The Standard would send Zarthos to prison, and each time he would find a way to escape and concoct a new villainous scheme. The bitter rivalry was well documented. Less well documented, however, was that Zarthos had an estranged wife, and a daughter called Zena.
Zena was a bright girl, inheriting her father’s intelligence and passion for science. She excelled in school and then in college, growing into a brilliant scientist and a promising entrepreneur. But her success was tempered by the suspicion that many peers and prospective employers viewed her with. Zena was not a malicious woman, but through no fault of her own, she was a Zarthos, daughter of Sky City’s greatest enemy, and that would always be part of who she was. She could have run away, started a new life with a new name, but she had too much integrity for that. Instead, Zena vowed to change the world for the better, and undo the disgrace her father had brought on the Zarthos name.
And over the following decades, that’s exactly what she did. Her mother died while Zena was in her twenties, and when The Standard retired, it seemed like her father lost the will to try to break out of prison, and instead remained behind bars, being gradually forgotten. Zena was left to forge her own legacy, and she did just that, building Zarthos Industries from the ground up. Today, Zarthos Industries is a multinational conglomerate, a world leader in the production of state-of-the-art medicines, security systems, military-grade weaponry, household appliances and home entertainment systems. Zena is one of the richest, most successful women in the world.
But still, there were some who questioned her morality. They looked at her, with all her money and with her enormous organisation, and assumed it must be the front for some villainous empire. They saw her as a natural nemesis for the new Standard – the sidekick of the original, who had grown up and inherited the mantle – and so she dealt with him the best way she knew how. She bought him. Yes, among its many side ventures, Zarthos Industries has also entered the field of entertainment production, and has become the primary sponsor of The Standard’s hit reality TV show. So as well as being rich and powerful, Zena Zarthos is now also famous and popular, and has the world’s greatest superhero in her back pocket. Now, the Zarthos name is associated with success, it’s associated with ingenuity, and it’s associated – positively, this time – with The Standard. Everything Zena Zarthos ever wanted, she got.
Well, almost everything. A few years ago, her father died of cancer in prison. Even on his deathbed, all Zachary Zarthos could do was babble about plans to get revenge on the original Standard. Zena Zarthos had gained the world, but the one thing that all her life she had wanted more than anything else – a father – was now forever unattainable.