"A good death is its own reward"
Ursa, also known as Faora and by other names in various continuities, is a Kryptonian supervillain, and companion (and lover, in some versions) to General Zod. She is a man-hater, although her two companions, Zod and Non, are both male (often the only men she has respect for). She often ends up as a prisoner of the Phantom Zone.
In nearly every depiction of the character, it seems that her primary crime was related to her hatred of men. In the silver age comics in which she was introduced, she ran a concentration camp for men, and killed 23 in the process.
In the movie Superman II, she was known as Ursa, still the companion of General Zod and a man-hater. In Superman: The Animated Series, she was known as Mala. In early seasons of the television series Smallville, she was known as Aethyr, which is the name of a different character in the comics. Despite her changing name, many elements of the character stayed constant throughout the various versions.
The current comics version of the character is called Ursa, and is active on New Krypton. In Smallville, the current version is Faora.
Ursa is depicted in both Superman films as a hater of any member of the male gender anywhere. The only exceptions to this appear to be Non and General Zod. In the first film, this aspect of her character is emphasized by Jor-El in his speech as he sentences them to the Phantom Zone. In the second film, as directed by Richard Lester, Ursa's male hating tendencies survive, but the reprise of Jor-El's speech emphasizes a different aspect of her character. In Lester's Superman II, Jor-El says "Ursa, the only feeling you showed was for your vicious general. Your only wish, to rule at his side." Lester altered the character slightly, making her softer, and at least to a degree, in love with General Zod. In Superman II footage shot by Richard Donner, Ursa is more vicious and expresses her desire to kill as many men as she can in one scene from an extended TV version. In Donner's footage, Ursa does not necessarily appear to be in love with General Zod, but does show respect for him as they share common goals.
Throughout Superman II, Ursa collects symbols and badges as she encounters law enforcement and military officers on Earth, and she keeps these badges on her costume as symbols of those she has conquered or killed. She takes a NASA patch from an astronaut, a Sheriff's badge, a badge from a military officer's uniform at the White House, and several more badges and symbols that can be seen attached to her uniform as the film progresses.Action Comics #471, May 1977. She was a man-hater, who ran a concentration camp of men. The men were lured there by her beauty and imprisoned. When she grew tired of tormenting a prisoner, she would arrange to kill him. Her behavior was responsible for 23 deaths. She was subsequently imprisoned in the Phantom Zone and given the second longest sentence of imprisonment within the Zone - three hundred years (Act No. 471, May 1977: "One Of Our Phantoms Is Missing!").
She was also an expert at the Kryptonian martial art of Horo-Kanu, which utilised the pressure points on the Kryptonian body.
Following the Crisis on Infinite Earths, another Faora appeared as one of General Zod's followers in the Pocket Universe created by the Time Trapper. For some reason, this version's name was changed to Zaora. As with her companions she was stripped of her powers and killed by Superman, following the destruction of that universe's Earth.
Phantom Zone entity
In the Eradicator miniseries, the Eradicator was pressured into embracing his programming by another construct of Kem-L's. This artifact, which was trapped in the Phantom Zone, claimed to be called Faora, after Kem-L's grandmother, and and to be the ultimate repository of Kryptonian mythology. However it is unclear how much of this is true.
The Eradicator rejected Faora, "downloading" all the aspects of Kem-L's programming that contradicted Dr.David Conner's morality into the Faora program. Unknown to him, this gave it a new, monstrous form and the ability to leave the Zone, and it targeted Conner's family. The Eradicator destroyed it, but not before it killed Conner's wife.
One of General Zod of Pokolistan's aides, introduced in Action Comics #779 (July 2001), was a metahuman who called herself Faora. Since the spirit of the Pocket Universe General had supposedly spoken to this Zod, it may be assumed that he suggested she take this name for psychological effect. Faora has the ability to disrupt molecular bonds. She was the creator of the mutagenic virus which was the linchpin of Zod's plan. Her whereabouts following the General's defeat are unknown.
In Action Comics #845 (November 2006), which is the second part of the "Last Son" arc by Geoff Johns & Richard Donner, the character was referred to by the name Ursa for the first time in Superman comic book canon. This version of her was shown to have taken a cue from the Lester version (even though Donner is co-writing this arc) where she is in love with Zod. Zod and Ursa may also be the parents of the Kryptonian boy that Superman & Lois Lane want to adopt.
In a flashback in Action Comic Annual #10 a fleshed out retelling of the story told in Superman II aligned partly her story to her movie counterpart. Lover of General Zod, and part of the Kryptonian guard along with his lover, she believed that Non and Jor-El were right about Krypton final fate, and sought to rebel the Council. When Non was kidnapped, lobotomized and turned into a brute with minimal intelligence and the inability to speak, Zod and Ursa snapped, instigating open rebellion, while Jor-El surrendered the Council, eventually using the Phantom Zone projector upon the trio during the trial told in the movie. Ursa stayed loyal to Zod, even in their "exile", and believing that eventually Jor-El could have been able to save Krypton, or at last his lineage, agreed with Zod in pursuing and taking vengeance over the House of El.
Superman: The Movie Continuity
In the first Superman film, Ursa appears alongside General Zod and Non as they are being sentenced to the Phantom Zone by Superman's Kryptonian father, Jor-El. Jor-El describes her as "the woman Ursa, whose perversions and unreasoning hatred of all mankind has threatened even the children of the planet Krypton." She, Zod, and Non are imprisoned in the Phantom Zone where they should remain for all eternity and are not heard from again in the first film.
In the theatrical version of Superman II, Ursa, Zod, and Non are freed from the Phantom Zone when a hydrogen bomb thrown into space by Superman detonates near the Zone, shattering it. The three villains encounter a group of astronauts on Earth's moon, where we see Ursa's hatred for males first-hand. She meets an astronaut, asking him what sort of a creature he is. When he replies that he is a man, Ursa rips the NASA emblem off his spacesuit, rupturing it and killing him.
Following the Lunar confrontation, Ursa and the villains make their way to Earth, which they believe is called "Houston", and proceed to lay waste to the small town of East Houston, Idaho. From there, they move to the White House, where the President of the United States (played by E.G. Marshall) kneels before Zod. When Ursa, Zod, and Non finally meet Superman, a climactic battle sequence takes place in the streets of Metropolis, which ends when Ursa and Non throw a bus onto Superman and he flees the scene. Lex Luthor then tells the villains he knows where Superman has gone and suggests taking Lois Lane along because of her relationship with Superman. The villains are led to the Fortress of Solitude in the arctic, where Ursa and Non threaten to tear Lois Lane in two if Superman does not kneel to General Zod. Superman attempts to trick the villains into a molecule chamber that will take away their powers but ends up being forced into it himself by Zod. However, Superman has actually tricked the villains: he reversed the effects of the molecule chamber so that its red sun radiation is beamed throughout the fortress while Superman remains protected inside the chamber. The villains are stripped of their powers and Ursa is last seen when Lois punches her, knocking her into a crevasse in the Fortress where she disappears into the mist.
In extended versions of the film that have screened on television, Ursa has a slightly expanded role. She is seen ripping a badge off a military officer's uniform at the White House while remarking how peculiar it is that men wear ribbons and jewelry on this planet. In one deleted scene, a boy in East Houston attempts to escape and get help, but Non rips the light from the top of a police car and throws it like an artillery round, killing the boy and his horse in the distance. A horrified woman remarks "He was only a boy!" to which, with obvious pleasure, Ursa replies, "Who will never become a man!" Also, in some extended versions, a powerless Ursa, Zod, and Non are seen being led into Arctic Police vehicles following the final confrontation at the Fortress. The theatrical version and the later reedited version Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut suggests that they are dead, as they are all seen falling into crevices inside the Fortress from which they never come out. But when Superman turns back time to avoid the devastation of the planet caused by the super-villains, Ursa and the others are re-imprisoned in the Phantom Zone.
In the 1988 Superman animated series meant as tribute to the Man of Steel's golden anniversary, Faora is seen in one episode, "The Hunter", where she and Ursa are separate characters. Her role is smaller, only being seen in the Phantom Zone expressing hatred for Jor-El, who sentenced her and her compatriots to this imprisonment, but she is later seen giving instruction to the monster known as "the Hunter" in how to kill Superman, showing a hologram of Kryptonite. This is one of the few instances the Zod trio has been predominantly female, with General Zod and two females, as opposed to the usual combination of two men and one woman.
In one episode of Superman: The Animated Series, Superman discovered Jor-El's portal to the Phantom Zone, and works with Professor Hamilton to test it. After mistakingly releasing a dangerous monster and subsequently returning it to the Phantom Zone, Superman thinks it best to turn the device off until he sees a Kryptonian woman pleading to speak to the Kryptonian council. She claims her name is Mala and that her sentence in the Phantom Zone is long over.
Superman confers with Brainiac for Mala's background check. She was a Kryptonian military officer who served under Jax-Ur, who the supreme commander of Krypton's military. (Apparently, he was meant to take the place of Zod in this version of the story; However, Zod was later introduced in the comic book adaptation of the Animated Series). Jax-Ur, dissatisfied with the ruling Science Council, inspires many of his men to depose the Science Council, converting Krypton's government into a junta. Jax-Ur and Mala did succeed at this, but a small contigent of Kryptonian soldiers still loyal to the Science Council, under the command of Jor-El, staged a successful counter-coup. At their court martials, Jax-Ur was sentenced to life in the Phantom Zone. Mala was sentenced to twenty years in the Phantom Zone, her lesser sentence being chalked up to fallen under Jax-Ur.'s influence. Realizing Mala was telling the truth, Superman elects to do the right thing and free her from the Phantom Zone and help her acclimate on Earth.
Superman began training her to use her powers, but she was too violent and rough, not understanding Superman's place in society or, in fact, human society itself. She also expressed romantic interest in Superman, but was rebuffed by him as her main interest in him was to reproduce pure-blooded Kryptonians. When she overheard Superman expressing his fear that he'd have to return her to the phantom zone, she turned against him, forcing his hand. He re-banished Mala to the Zone.
Aethyr is a Kryptonian female. When she encountered Clark in the Phantom Zone, she avenged Nam-Ek's death by stabbing Raya. It is possible that she may have emerged out of the Phantom Zone along with Clark and Raya through the gateway, but only time will tell. Aethyr has Zod's Kryptonian symbol on her lower back, like Lana Lang had the symbol for water (used by Countess Theroux for its transferal powers).
Later, a phantom escaped the Phantom Zone and inhabited the body of Lois Lane. She identified herself as Faora, the wife of Zod, making her the second version of the character to appear in Smallville, the first being Aethyr (see above). She claims to be the mother of Davis Bloome.
Aethyr-Ka is the daughter of an aristocratic family, but completely disavows her family, who spurns her for her difference.
Man of Steel Continuity
In the 2013 feature film Man of Steel, Sub-Commander Faora-Ul is portrayed by German actress Antje Traue. In the film, she is Zod's lieutenant, and is sentenced to 300 cycles in the Phantom Zone along with Zod and his forces. After Krypton's destruction, Faora and the other prisoners are freed from the Phantom Zone, and search for Kal-El and the Codex, a device containing the genetic code for all future Kryptonians, which were able to escape the planet's destruction due to Jor-El's last-minute actions. After finding him on Earth, Faora is responsible for bringing Kal-El and Lois Lane aboard Zod's ship.
After they escape, Faora and another powerful Kryptonian grunt (speculated to be the Kryptonian "Non" although his name is never confirmed in the film) confront Kal-El and the U.S. Military in Smallville, but are defeated because Kal-El is better adapted to Earth's environment. After Zod begins terraforming the Earth with a World Engine retrieved from a Kryptonian colony that they visited before arriving on Earth, Faora and all the other Kryptonians (except Zod) are sent back to the Phantom Zone after the ship that brought Kal-El to Earth is re-purposed into a strike weapon.
As in the comics, Faora is a major threat to Kal-El in hand-to-hand combat, outfighting him easily at first. However Kal-El is able to hold his own against the duo, since the the two Kryptonians have yet to attain heat vision and flight.