Who Is General Zod, Superman’s Kryptonian Nemesis?
DC Comics has General Zod among its range of supervillains. The character’s full name is Dru-Zod Corkript. He appears commonly in comics and is the adversary of the superhero Superman. The character first appeared in Adventure Comics #283 in 1961. Robert Bernstein is the creator of General Zod, and George Papp is his designer.
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General Zod’s Biography
General Zod’s appearance has changed over time. At first, he was a man of average height, bald and clean-shaven. Popular culture credited the portrayal of this character to Terence Stamp in the films Superman in 1978 and Superman II in 1981.
DC Multiverse took it upon themselves to reintroduce this supervillain with black hair and a goatee. His definitions in the Silver and Modern Ages show the character’s evolution.
The creation of General Zod dates back to the Silver Age of comics. Dru-Zod is a military Kryptonian character in charge of the forces on Krypton. General Zod is a megalomaniac who meets Jor-El, Superman’s father when Jor-El barely aspires to be a scientist. Zod rebelled after the space program’s abolishment. That happened after the destruction of the inhabited moon Wegthor, designed by Jax-Ur, a renegade scientist.
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The General attempted to take over Krypton using an army of robotic duplicates of himself, resembling Bizarro. For this action, and other crimes, he was sentenced to exile in the Phantom Zone for 40 years. After serving his sentence, Superman released General Zod from prison. However, this supervillain tried to conquer the Earth with the superpowers assumed by his Kryptonian body. Like Superman, Zod has the same energy source to acquire his powers.
When Zod demonstrated his capability, Superman had no choice but to confront him and return him to the Phantom Zone. That did not last long, as, before the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zod escaped alongside other inmates. Faora Hu-Ul, Jax-Ur, and others joined Zod in the fight against Superman and Supergirl. They confronted them countless times, defeating them every time and returning them to the Phantom Zone.
The first versions of Zod
After Crisis on Infinite Earths, there was a Zod who came from a “Pocket universe”, which had much resemblance to the universe from the comics. That made it possible to keep Superman as the last of the Kryptonian race. Time Trapper created that universe.
In this version, Zod and Quex-UI devastated that universe’s Earth. There Superboy died, and the survivors contacted Superman in the primary universe. Superman took away the powers of these three criminals. But they promised to get them back someday and return to Superman’s world to annihilate him. Knowing the danger of leaving these super criminals alive, Superman executed them in Green Kryptonite.
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In the 2001 story, there was another incarnation of General Zod, specifically in Return to Krypton. The character presented here was from an alternate reality created by Brainiac 13. At this time, there was a third attempt to bring Zod into Modern Age comics. This time, Zod was of Russian nationality, and his human origin connected to Superman’s.
This Russian was affected from birth by Kryptonite radiation. He was the son of two cosmonauts, and while they were on a mission, their ship passed close to Kal-El’s space rocket. Paradoxically, this Zod was weak under the yellow sun but acquired superpowers under the red sun. That was the complete opposite of Superman.
The final Zod appeared in the twelve issues of For Tomorrow, which Brian Azzarello wrote with Jim Lee’s art. This version lived alone in the alternate Phantom Zone and resented Superman.
The Return of the General
In Last Son, General Zod is the first to come from Superman’s Krypton after the Crisis. In this version, Ursa and Non accompanied Zod, and together they escaped from the Phantom Zone to reach Earth. The plan was to turn it into the “New Krypton”.
In 2007, Action Comics Annual #10 showed the backstory of the three Kryptonians. In 2007, Countdown revealed the origin of Zod. The story took place on Krypton before it was destroyed. Zod lived with his wife Ursa, and together with Non, they planned to rebel against the government that oppressed their planet. But, they became tyrants who only desire power.
After their failed coup attempt, all three received a death sentence. Superman’s father, Jor-El, intervened to eradicate them to the Phantom Zone. There, Zod and his wife had a son immune to that zone’s effects. The couple managed to escape and reach Earth. There, the child, named Lor-Zod by his parents, was discovered by Clark Kent and his wife, Lois Lane. Lois and Clark adopt Lor-Zod as their own son and call him Christopher Kent.
The New 52
For 2011, DC decided to renew several characters, including General Zod. All these stories were part of the editorial event The New 52. After that, Zod appeared in several narratives, such as:
- Action Comics #5 (2012): The character is a prisoner in Phantom Zone.
- Action Comics #13 (2012): A ghost in the Phantom Zone references the Zod icon.
- Action Comics #23 (2013): This time, Greg Park created the character, and Ken Lashley did the art.
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In this latest version of the character, the story gave a new origin to the supervillain. This time, Zod was the son of a pair of scientists. As a young boy, he traveled to the Kryptonian desert with his parents to discover new creatures. The family was stranded in the jungle by mysterious creatures. The parents died, but Zod managed to survive. Jor-El and his brother Zor-El eventually rescued him.
As an adult, Zod became a military man and was one of the best soldiers in Krypton’s army. That earned him a rapid rise to the rank of General within the ranks. Strangely, Zod developed an unfounded hatred for an alien species called Char and tried to wage war against them. When discovered, they banished him to the Phantom Zone.
General Zod in the DC Universe
In 2016, there was the DC Rebirth event, where DC Comics relaunched all its titles. Here, General Zod continued to appear in DC titles. But, by 2017, DC ended the Rebirth brand, opting to include everything under the DC Universe name.
In this new relaunch, General Zod was again in the Phantom Zone, trapped in Black Vault, a secret facility in the Laptev Sea. To steal the contents of the Black Vault, Amanda Waller sent the Suicide Squad into the Phantom Zone. But the Squad unlocked the area and allowed Zod to break the link between Earth and the Phantom Zone, breaking free.
After a long confrontation, Zod managed to rescue his family from the Phantom Zone and flee to Earth while fighting Superman. His idea was to try to establish his dictatorship.
By 2023 we will see General Zod again as one of the supervillains facing Ezra Miller’s Flash and Michael Keaton’s Batman in The Flash movie.
General Zod’s Powers and Abilities
Like all Kryptonians, General Zod assumes his power under a yellow sun. That’s where his source of superhuman endurance, strength and speed comes from. That gives him a high enough level to take on not only Superman but any Kryptonian.
Among his abilities are the following:
- X-ray vision.
- Microscopic, telescopic, and thermal vision.
- Virtual invulnerability.
- Super breathing and freezing.
- Accelerated healing.
As a young member of the military forces, Zod has a vast knowledge of military tactics. That makes him think of accurate strategies when facing his opponents. He is an outstanding and very competent leader.
He’s trained in the art of fighting, which is a great advantage when facing Superman. Zod possesses overconfidence in superhuman strength and knowledge of hand-to-hand combat. Despite all this, General Zod’s powers are inferior to Superman’s because the superhero was exposed to the yellow sun for a lifetime. That did not happen with the supervillain; he was exposed briefly and confined in the Phantom Zone.
Other versions of General Zod
DC Animated Universe
In the DC Animated Universe, General Zod does not appear in the animated programs. However, in Superman Adventures #21 and Justice League Unlimited #34, Zod appears as an Argosian criminal madman. There he teams up with Jax-Ur and Mala.
By 2013, a version of Zod came out in the digital series Justice League Beyond 2.0. Specifically in the futuristic setting of the Batman Beyond animated series. This story reveals that Zod turns out to be the son of Jax-Ur.
That marks the continuity of Bruce Timm’s Superman: The Animated Series. Here he is a younger, more innocent version of General Zod, who, contrary to what he usually does, helps the Justice League. Then, after some time, it is revealed that Zod is the son of Judge Lord Superman and Wonder Woman.
General Zod in Other Media
Zod is present in other media, such as in:
On the small screen, he appears in:
- Superman, with the voice of René Auberjonois.
- Legion of Super Heroes, with the voice of Fred Ellis.
- Justice League Action, voiced by Jason J. Lewis.
- The Looney Tunes Show, voiced by Jeff Bergman.
- DC Super Hero Girls, with the voice of Liam O’Brien.
- Young Justice: Phantoms, with the voice of Phil Morris.
- Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, played by Simon Templeman.
- Smallville, played by Callum Blue.
On the big screen, the character appears in:
- Superman: The Movie and Superman II, where Terence Stamp plays the character.
- In Superman Returns, they proposed Jude Law for the role, but Law declined, and they ultimately omitted Zod from the original script.
- Michael Shannon’s version of General Zod appears in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) movies Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures
We will soon see Shannon playing this supervillain role again in The Flash.
In what represents an alternate reality, General Zod is present in the flashbacks of Justice League: Gods and Monsters, where Bruce Thomas voices him. He also has a cameo in The Lego Batman Movie.
In video games, Zod appears almost always as a playable character in:
- DC Universe Online, where Alexander Brandon voices him.
- Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, voiced by Townsend Coleman.
- Injustice: Gods Among Us, voiced by Nolan North.
- Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.
- Lego Dimension.
The supervillain General Zod has been a bitter enemy of Superman. He is originally from the same planet as Clark Kent comes from, so he has similar abilities and powers. Even though he knows his powers are inferior to Superman’s, this strategist is willing to continue fighting the Man of Steel and is determined to beat him.
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures
Coming soon, under the starring role of Michael Shanon, he will be the villain in The Flash. Shannon will repeat his role from 2013 in the DC Extended Universe movie Man of Steel.