ZOTA: Explanations are in Order

Well hot damn.
zota is the Truth Laid Bear new it-blog of the moment.

This seems like a good time to reveal the sinister hidden meaning of “zota”….

On a 1975 Superman children’s record (Power Records #8169) there’s a thrilling postmodern adventure called “Tomorrow The World.” It begins with manic screaming, bells ringing, rabble-rabble. Superman wakes up from a terrible nightmare that he’s gone on a demented rampage and destroyed ten city blocks. Good thing it was only a dream, he thinks to himself opening his window to get some fresh air… and instead getting a face-full of screaming chaos!

“Then, it wasn’t a dream!” he moans. “It was all… horribly real.” Turning on the TV news to find out what really happend (?!?), he discovers that witnesses agree that it was Superman who plowed down ten blocks. A brief monologue on the topic of suppressed memories ensues.

Before turning himself in to the Proper Authorities, Superman detours to nab Lex Luthor, who has used his “super-scientific wizardry” to hole up behind an impenitrable force field inside “a deserted pavilion left behind from the 1968 World’s Fair” (a strangely specific reference). There’s a nice little scene here of the cops using literal heavy artillery on their own city. This was the era of the Symbionese Liberation Army after all.

As the cops contemplate the use of atomic weapons, Superman busts in. He confronts Luthor who has a “gizmo” spraying a beam into space, which is promptly melted with heat vision. But it’s too late! Luthor reveals that the machine has already destroyed part of the Earth’s atmosphere.

“What layer? The ionosphere? The ozone layer”
“No Superman! Something even you haven’t heard of — the zota layer!”

Luthor explains that there’s a peculiar type or radiation that affects only Superman when he relaxes or goes to sleep. And with the protective zota layer gone, he’ll now go into a berserker rage if he so much as naps. Taking Luthor to jail, Superman reports to President Fairlane who exiles both Superman and Luthor from planet Earth.

Superman builds a spaceship in a week without any rest — lest he go crazy — and launches himself and his nemesis into space… only to suddenly notice that this “Lex” is unaffected by the forces of acceleration. The inertia-less android is quickly condemned to fiery destruction in the black void while Superman hastily returns to the Oval Office.

“President Fairlane” is actually Lex Luthor in a Scooby-Doo style latex mask! Superman tortures Luthor by melting the mask to his face, and in this fusion of plastic identities, we finally get the “real” story:

The gizmo in the 68′ world’s fair pavilion was actually a “dream projector” — Lex Luthor beamed a dream into Superman’s head that he was destroying the city. And while he was asleep, Luthor used a Superman animatronic droid to casue real destruction.

There was no zota radiation and there never was a zota layer protecting us from it. It was just a technological illusion used to make Superman fear sleep.

The whole story has plenty of paranoid Philip K Dick overtones: Was anything else actually a dream? Was Superman still dreaming? Was he sure he only killed an android? Was this android story actually another layer of illusion designed so that Superman would melt the president’s face off? Was it all just a Martian Memory Vacation? Fun!

ZOTA: dream machines, scientific wizardry, illusional fears, non-existent spheres of belief, conspiratorial politics, a charged relationship to sleep….

It was only much later on that I found more references to zota. Oddly enough, they’re all from the world of comic book supervillany:

There’s Zota of Pergamum, an evil ancient Egyptian with magical powers of illusion and time travel, who made his first appearence in September, 1964.

Carlos Zota, along with Maris Morlak, Wladyslav Shinski, form the Enclave, a cabal of scientific evildoers, who come to a bad end:

Carlos Zota, the youngest of the three men at merely forty-four years old, plucked at the gray mystery meat on his tray with a fork and said glumly, “I begin to think that there is in fact a God…and that he hates us.”

In episode 12 of L.A. heat (Faces of Fear), Alex Zota is the right-hand man of a drug lord. (One explosion. three car chases, six vehicles destroyed.)

There’s an issue of Space Patrol called Time Watch, where a Martian builds a sleep machine. (“Like all Martians, Zota was over 7 feet tall, strongly built with a bullet shaped head and spiky hair.”)

The Space Patrol uses a time shifting device to blow the evil Martian up. And the guy who kills Zota looks disturbingly like L. Ron Hubbard….