General Zod

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Contents

Facts

  • First appearance: Adventure Comics #283 (April 1961)
  • Powers: Superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, senses, intelligence, regeneration, and longevity; super breath, heat vision, and flight

Summary

General Zod is a DC Comics supervillain. The character is an enemy of Superman and has appeared in various Superman media spin-offs. Wizard magazine rated him the 58th greatest villain of all time.Wizard #177

Silver Age Zod

Dru-Zod, or simply Zod, was often portrayed as a megalomaniac. Zod was originally one of a number of Kryptonian villains trapped in the Phantom Zone. He first appeared in Adventure Comics #283 (April 1961).

Once Military Director of the Kryptonian Space Center, Zod had known Jor-El, Superman's father, when he was an aspiring scientist. When the space program was abolished after the destruction of the moon Wegthor (caused by renegade scientist Jax-Ur), he attempted to take over Krypton. Zod created an army of robotic duplicates of himself, all bearing a resemblance to Bizarro. He was sentenced to the Phantom Zone for his crimes.

Zod was first released by Kal-El (during his career as Superboy) when his term of imprisonment was up. However, he attempted to conquer Earth with powers gained under the yellow sun. Zod was sent back into the Phantom Zone, occasionally escaping to target Superman.


Later versions of Zod

Pocket Universe Zod

This Zod came from a Krypton in a pocket universe created by the Time Trapper. He, along with companions Quex-Ul and Faora, devastated the Earth of that universe following the death of its Superboy, despite the best efforts of a Supergirl created by this world's heroic Lex Luthor. Eventually, the survivors of this world managed to contact the Superman of the main universe to help them, and he was able to take away the powers of the three super-criminals with gold kryptonite (As he was not from that universe, the Kryptonite of that reality would have no effect on him). However, as the three vowed to some day regain their powers and return to Superman's world to kill him, Superman was forced to execute them with Kryptonite, and it was this action that caused him to question his powers and how to deal with evil doers. This version of Zod is based closely on the Pre-Crisis version, the significant difference is he has killed everyone on the pocket Earth rather than conquering them with ease since there's no Superboy/Superman to stop him.

"Return to Krypton" Zod

This incarnation of General Zod was introduced in the 2001 storyline "Return to Krypton." He was the head of the Kryptonian military in an alternate reality created by Brainiac 13. Like the Pre-Crisis version, Zod held the Kryptonian equivalent of fascist beliefs. He sent aliens to the bottle city of Kandor and planned a military coup. Zod was defeated by Superman and the Jor-El of that Krypton.

Russian Zod

This General Zod is a Russian who was affected prior to his birth by Kryptonite radiation because he was the son of two cosmonauts whose ship was too close to Kal-El's rocketship. This Zod is unnaturally weak under a yellow sun, but superpowered under a red sun (the opposite of Superman). After his parents died of the radiation, he grew up from birth in a KGB laboratory under the name "Zed."

Apparently spoken to by the spirit of the Pocket Universe Zod, Zod created a suit of red armor that filtered the sunlight and declared himself ruler of the former Soviet state of Pokolistan. After several inconclusive encounters with Superman, he revealed his long-range plan to turn the sun red and take Superman's place. This was temporarily successful until Lex Luthor rescued Superman, gave him a blast of yellow solar radiation to regain his powers, and worked to restore the sun. Superman returned to battle Zod, but refused to kill him. When the sun turned yellow again, the now vulnerable Zod still struck Superman with all his power, but was killed.

Phantom Zod

Introduced in the twelve-issue For Tomorrow (Superman #204-#215) storyline, written by Brian Azzarello and penciled by Jim Lee, this Zod resides in an alternate Phantom Zone alone and resents Superman for tampering with it. According to him, he comes from the same Krypton as Superman, and was exiled to the Phantom Zone by Superman's father Jor-El. This Zod wears black armor (which resembles that worn by the villainous Baron Karza from the Micronauts), and when unmasked, slightly resembles an older version of the film Zod. This interpretation also uses a variation of 'Kneel before Zod'. It is possible that this Zod is not a real Kryptonian, however. He appeared in Metropia, a version of the Phantom Zone created by Superman to resemble a living world, including seemingly living beings. Since Superman created the world of Metropia to bear similarities with Krypton, it has been revealed that this, yet again, is not the real Zod.

One Year Later

General Zod depicted in Action Comics Annual #10.
General Zod depicted in Action Comics Annual #10.

One year after the events of Infinite Crisis, Lex Luthor used a shard of sunstone, which had the word "doomsday" engraved upon it in the Kryptonian language, along with a stockpile of Kryptonite to reactivate the Kryptonian battle cruiser, Doomsday, which had been dormant within the earth for an unknown period of time. Luthor revealed that the vessel was in fact the flagship of the Kryptonian fleet, had belonged to an Admiral Dru-Zod and scoured entire planets clean of life.

In October 2006, film director Richard Donner, noted for his work on the first two Superman movies, became co-writer of Action Comics along with Geoff Johns. At the end of Action Comics #845, Zod, Ursa, and Non have apparently been freed from the Phantom Zone by someone he refers to as his and Ursa's son, implying that the Kryptonian boy that landed on Earth in the story is his son. Somehow owing their freedom to the landing on Earth of Dru-Zod and Ursa's son, after a brief stop to the newly restored Fortress of Solitude to gain information from Jor-El's projection they fly to Metropolis, where Ursa confronts Lois to win her unwilling son back and Zod sends Kal-El to the Phantom Zone after freeing the other Kryptonian inmates.

The back-story for the three Kryptonions was revealed in Action Comics Annual #10; Non had once been a brilliant scientist on par with Jor-El. Both were researching the event that would ultimately destroy Krypton. Zod entered their lab with troops (at this point Zod was still working for Krypton's Council). Both Jor-El and Non were arrested by Zod and given a warning by the High Council to halt their research, then released. Jor-El set to work creating the rocket that would send his son Kal-El to Earth, while Non began to spread the word of the planet's impending doom. Non's message swayed both Zod and Ursa that Krypton was soon to be destroyed. Non then disappeared from public life, only to return with a mutilated brain. The council had transformed him into a mindless brute and this act inspired Zod and Ursa to rebel against the Kryptonian government. Without any sense of right and wrong, Non now fought along side Zod and Ursa. Zod attempted to recruit Jor-El to their cause; however Jor-El saw the plans were fueled by greed, a lust for power and violence.

This rebellion was short-lived and the rebels were again arrested and set to be executed. Not wishing to resort to execution, Jor-El appealed on their behalf, to exile them instead. The council accepted this on the condition that Jor-El would be the jailer. Thus Zod, Ursa, and Non were imprisoned, and embittered against Jor-El for years to come. In addition, it is hinted that the revolution and war they attempted resulted in instability of Krypton's core.

The origins of Zod, Ursa, and Non are similar to the events shown in Superman II. Zod now closely resembles his movie counterpart, with the addition of a black trenchcoat.

Alternate versions

The General Zod of Earth-15 became Superman instead of Kal-El, and is semi-retired but is on call if needed. This version of Zod first appeared in Countdown #30 when the Red Hood, Donna Troy, Kyle Rayner, Bob the Monitor and the Jokester traveled to Earth-15 where Jason, Kyle, and Donna met their own counterparts, who has assumed the roles of Batman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman respectively, along with that world's Superman and the Atom. This Zod, along with all of the heroes of Earth-15 were killed by Superman Prime.

Zod in other media

Books

General Zod is the main antagonist of The Last Days of Krypton, a novel by Kevin J. Anderson In this incarnation, Dru-Zod is the son of Cor-Zod, formerly the head of the Kryptonian Council. Rather than taking his famous father's place on the Council, the younger Zod is put in charge of the Commission for Technology Acceptance. Commissioner Zod reviews, and at the instruction of the Council, usually rejects the inventions and theories brought forth by Jor-El. After Brainiac shrinks the capital city of Kandor, Zod steps into the now Council-free power vacuum and begins a military build-up with the help of Jor-El who is unaware of his more sinister plans for Krypton. Zod marries Aethyr-Ka in an unorthodox ceremony and begins to eliminate dissidents, trapping them in the Phantom Zone which, among many of Jor-El's devices, Zod has secretly hoarded in an effort to build up an arsenal. Although Jor-El receives long-awaited cooperation from Zod, he comes to distrust the new leader of Krypton. Zod moves his capital city to Xan City, formerly inhabited by Jax-Ur, a warlord responsible for a very dark period in Kryptonian history. With the help of the mute Nam-Ek and his wife Aethyr-Ka, Commissioner Zod declares himself General Zod and declares war on Zor-El, brother of Jor-El, attacking Argo City. The attack fails and Zod and his cohorts are captured and banished to the Phantom Zone. ISBN 006134074X

Movies

The movie version of Zod has immense popularity amongst comic fans. The recent reintroduction of Zod into DC comics continuity (co-authored by Richard Donner and Geoff Johns) shares the same back-story and Svengali-influenced appearance as the movie version.

Superman

At the beginning of Superman, Zod (Terence Stamp) is introduced as one of three Kryptonian criminals on trial. Zod was originally a member of the Kryptonian military, who was entrusted with the defense of Krypton by the governing council. Conspiring with Non and Ursa, Zod was planning to overthrow the Kryptonian government and replace it with his own. The three were captured, and the council unanimously agreed to cast Zod, Ursa, and Non into the Phantom Zone. Before Zod is imprisoned, he attempts to persuade Jor-El to join them. When Jor-El refuses, Zod becomes enraged, swearing revenge upon him and his offspring. The Phantom Zone portal is launched into space shortly before Krypton's destruction.

Superman II

General Zod (Terence Stamp), Ursa (Sarah Douglas), and Non (Jack O'Halloran), as seen in Superman II.
General Zod (Terence Stamp), Ursa (Sarah Douglas), and Non (Jack O'Halloran), as seen in Superman II.
In Superman II, the detonation of a hydrogen bomb that Superman throws into space destroys the Phantom Zone portal that has trapped Zod and his cohorts. For the 2006 Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, the original written scene was created, tying into the climax of the first film (which was the original ending). In this version, their escape is made possible by the shock wave created by the exploding XK-101 nuclear missile flung into space by Superman.

After discovering that their Kryptonian physiology gives them each the same powers as Superman under Earth's yellow sun, they quickly subdue the U.S. Army and force the President of the United States to abdicate his position to Zod. This occurs shortly after Superman, unaware of their escape and presence on Earth, has stripped himself of his powers to be with Lois Lane as an ordinary human. After witnessing Zod's megalomania and defiance on a television news broadcast, Superman realizes the terrible mistake he has made.

While Clark treks back to the Fortress of Solitude in a desperate attempt to regain his powers, Lex Luthor approaches the Kryptonian villains at the White House. In exchange for Zod's promise to give him Australia (another attempt to acquire "beachfront property" after failing to do so in the first film), he offers to bring them to Metropolis to confront Superman. The villains invade the Daily Planet; although Superman is not present, Luthor quickly points out that Lois Lane, Superman's "favorite" human being, will be effective bait to draw the Man of Steel out.

Superman, with his powers restored, arrives and accepts Zod's challenge. This leads to a devastating, comic-book-style battle throughout downtown Metropolis. It quickly becomes clear that the villains have the upper hand. They outnumber Superman, and, significantly, they care nothing for the lives of the city's inhabitants, and Superman is continually distracted trying to save people endangered by the battle. Finally, Superman realizes he needs to rethink his strategy and move the battle away from a populated area, and he withdraws to the Fortress.

Luthor offers to tell Zod about the Fortress of Solitude if Zod spares his life, and the three villains pursue Superman north, bringing along Luthor to guide them and Lois Lane as a hostage. In the climactic battle, Superman outwits the villains and gains the advantage, almost defeating Zod. But Non and Ursa grab Lois and threaten to tear her apart, forcing Superman to surrender. In a whispered aside, Superman tells Luthor about the molecule chamber which earlier stripped away his own powers and proposes tricking the villains into it. Luthor betrays Superman and tells Zod about the chamber, and Superman is forced inside. After seemingly losing his powers once again, Superman overpowers Zod, throwing him into an icy crevasse where he disappears into the mist. Non and Ursa are similarly dispatched; Non tries to fly over a pit, but falls down it, and Lois punches Ursa down another pit. Luthor realizes that Superman used him to trick the Kryptonian villains: knowing that Luthor would betray him, Superman reconfigured the molecule chamber so that its red sun radiation would be projected throughout the Fortress, robbing Zod, Non, and Ursa of their powers while Superman was protected inside the chamber.

A scene deleted from the movie (but shown in some TV versions) shows the trio alive and in custody, implying that they lost their powers permanently and were captured. The 2006 reedited version Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut retains the original theatrical film's implication that Zod and his colleagues are dead, though the footage of their arrest by Arctic police is included in the deleted scenes.

Terence Stamp portrayed Zod as a pathologically arrogant and pompous aristocrat, almost bored with his incredible powers and disappointed with the ease of overtaking Earth. Stamp's portrayal has led to Zod becoming one of Superman's best-known villains. Zod's line "Come to me, son of Jor-El! Kneel before Zod!" has become part of pop culture.

Animation

Super Friends

A Phantom Zone villain named Zy-Kree, who resembled the movie-version of Zod, appeared in the Super Friends animated series.

Ruby-Spears Superman series

Superman (1988 TV series) Zod was featured in the Ruby-Spears animated Superman series in an episode titled "The Hunter", where he is in the Phanton Zone and creates a monster called the "Hunter" in an attempt to free the Zod trio from the Phantom Zone. He appears on Earth very briefly near the end of the episode. His appearance in the episode differs from that of Superman II. He is seen in his 'silver age' Pre-Crisis grey military uniform with a general's hat without any beard as opposed to Superman II, where he is seen with a beard and a plain black outfit. Being Kryptonian like Kal-El, Zod is superpowered under the yellow sun of Earth and is seen flying like Superman. However, in the Ruby Spears animation Zod's criminal companions are two women, rather than a woman and man as the Zod trio is usually portrayed as. Rene Auberjonois provided Zod's voice.

DC animated universe

Zod was not featured in Superman: The Animated Series, although a similar villain named Jax-Ur did. Jax-Ur had been featured previously in some Silver Age stories of Phantom Zone criminals. In the animated series, he appeared along with a new character called Mala, who was seemingly based on Faora/Ursa. However, in the accompanying Superman Adventures comic book series in issue 21, Zod was portrayed as an Argosian (like the animated Supergirl) who co-opted Jax-Ur and Mala as his lieutenants (essentially giving Jax-Ur the Non/Quex-Ul role). It is revealed that in this universe Zod had staged a coup d'etat on Supergirl's homeworld of Argo, killing all of Argo's leaders and anyone else who he wanted.

General Zod had prepared a fleet to attack Krypton when his colonels had secretly felt Zod had become too murderous and power hungry, and they had turned on Zod, banishing him to the Phantom Zone. Following Zod's removal the colonels took over as the new leaders of Argo and worked to reinstate Argo's republic as it was before the coup. From that point on the name of Zod instilled fear in all Argosians, and he was used as a "boogeyman" to Argo's children. This character looks physically like the Terence Stamp version from Superman: The Movie and Superman II. When Supergirl uses Kryptonite to weaken Jax-Ur and Mala, as it has no affect on her Argosian body, she suddenly realizes who she has met when it has no effect on Zod. It is unrevealed if General Zod suffers any weaknesses. This version of General Zod later appeared issue #34 of the Justice League Unlimited comic based on the series, he was established as having previously been part of a group of criminals on Krypton that included Mala and Jax-Ur. This issue, released June 2007, marked the first meeting of Superman and Zod in the animated continuity.

In the Justice League Unlimited episode "For the Man Who Has Everything", while under the influence of an alien plant, Superman has a dream in which he has a wife and son on Krypton. His wife briefly mentions her son will be attending a birthday party for "little Zod."

Legion of Super-Heroes

Though Zod himself does not appear in the Legion of Super-Heroes animated series, a character named Drax appears. A young man who Clark accidentally frees from the Phantom Zone, Drax has the typical array of Kryptonian powers, in addition to an immunity to Kryptonite. On his chest, in a sort of parallel to Superman's "S", you can see a "Z". The Phantom Zone criminals are capable of contacting him, prompting him to attempt to free them. Drax has a hatred of Superman, as well an air of superiority about him, and taunts the young Clark with the fact that he has no idea of his future or what he will become. He was born in the Phantom Zone and claims that's where he gets his powers from.

The Pre-Crisis version of Zod can be seen as a cameo as one of the many Phantom Zone villains attacking the Legion members when they were temporarily trapped there. He is shown speaking to the trapped Legionnaires in a similar voice as the one speaking to Drax.

Smallville

In Smallville, the voice of Jor-El is provided by Terence Stamp. This, combined with the apparent difference in character from other versions of Jor-El, led to fan speculation that Jor-El was really Zod. Series creators Miles Millar and Alfred Gough denied this rumor, and it is later revealed that Jor-El's characterization was misinterpreted. Recent portrayals of the character are somewhat closer to his normal characterization.

In the series' fifth season, General Zod was featured as an off-screen presence. The episode "Arrival" featured two Kryptonian disciples of Zod searching for Clark shortly after their arrival on Earth following the recent kryptonite meteor shower that bombarded Smallville in the previous episode, "Commencement."

In the episode "Solitude", Milton Fine, the human identity of the Kryptonian artificial intelligence known as Brainiac, persuades Clark to take him to the Fortress of Solitude. After arriving at the Fortress, Fine tricks Clark into freeing Zod from the Phantom Zone, temporarily opening a vortex in which the image of a figure similar to Terence Stamp's Zod can be glimpsed. It is also insinuated that Zod was a fascist leader on Krypton and ruled with an iron fist, and apparently considered Jor-El as his primary nemesis.

At the end of the episode "Oracle", Chloe deciphers a Kryptonian message which Clark reads as, "Zod is coming." In the following episode, "Vessel", Jor-El reveals that Zod was imprisoned in the Phantom Zone for crimes that resulted in Krypton's destruction. Zod's physical body was destroyed to prevent him from escaping from captivity, and therefore, he now required a vessel to inhabit on Earth. Brainiac had earlier injected Lex Luthor with a vaccine that granted him Kryptonian superpowers, and therefore, Lex was to be the vessel for Zod's consciousness. Through the actions of Clark and Brainiac, Zod is freed. After inhabiting Lex's body, Zod imprisons Clark inside the Phantom Zone, leaving no one to stop him, and begins his plans to conquer Earth as the trapped Clark is sent flying into space.

In the sixth season premiere, "Zod", after a brief sojourn in the Phantom Zone, Clark escapes with the help of a Kryptonian woman who claims to have been Jor-El's aide. She gives Clark a crystal bearing the sign of the House of El (Superman's characteristic stylized "S"). Back on Earth, Clark confronts Zod/Lex, but Zod, a trained soldier, easily pummels Clark into submission. In homage to the climactic scene in Superman II, Zod issues his infamous command, "kneel before Zod" although in a much more serious tone, and then wordlessly commands Clark to take his hand. But instead of crushing Zod's hand as in the movie, Clark takes the opportunity to press the crystal into it, evicting Zod from Lex's body and sending him back into the Phantom Zone (in another allusion to the movie, the face of Zod's spirit as it is forced out of Lex strongly resembles that of Terence Stamp as Zod). Lex returns to normal with no memory of these events. However, he later discovers a shard of a Kryptonian device that Zod left on his laptop; Brainiac's hard drive.

Novels

In the novel The Last Days of Krypton, General Zod, (also known as Commissioner Dru Zod who is head of the Commission for Technology Acceptance), appears. Zod is the only son of Cor-Zod, former head of the Kryptonian Council and legendary politician leader. He is assisted by Nam-Ek, Zod's ward -a burly mute similar to Non of the Superman movies.

In popular culture

  • Zod is perhaps most popularly quoted as a Superman villain with the phrase, "Come to me, son of Jor-El! Kneel before Zod!"

See also

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