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General Zod is a Kryptonian, and a significant adversary to the House of El.
General Dru-Zod is a general in the Kryptonian Army. However, Zod had ambitions to take over the planet Krypton and had little respect for the Kryptonian Council, and as such was banished to the Phantom Zone. For this reason he survived the planet's destruction.
Having served his term, he currently serves once more in New Krypton's military, of which he is the head.
Zod is a frequent enemy of Superman/his evil brother and of the people of Earth, as, prior to the rebuilding of New Krypton, Zod tried to take over the Earth.
There have also been other versions of Zod over the years; some of which from alternate worlds, or false versions of Krypton; Others have more mysterious origins. All of them, however, posess Zod's cold, merciless determination.
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 Superboy career) 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. General Zod has proven to be stronger than Superman. This could have something to do with Zod being a war general.
These were Zod's servants. They did whatever Zod told them to do. They hated the House of El. They killed many Kryptonians. They are skilled in hand to hand combat.
Later versions of Zod
After the Crisis on Infinite Earths rewrote much of the history of the DC Universe and its characters, it was initially established that there were no Kryptonian survivors other than Superman. Consequently, the four different incarnations of General Zod that have since appeared have had different origins from the original.
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, eventually forcing the Superman of the main universe to execute them with Kryptonite. This version of Zod is based closely on the Pre-Crisis version.
"Return to Krypton" Zod
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.
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). He grew up 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, and was killed.
Introduced in the twelve-issue For Tomorrow (Superman #204-#215) storyline, written by Brian Azzarello and penciled by Jim Lee, this Zod resides in the Phantom Zone alone and resents Superman for tampering with it. Supposedly, 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, and when unmasked, slightly resembles an older version of the film 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 the seemingly living beings.
One Year Later
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, began to write Action Comics in collaboration 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 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.
Prior to their release from The Phantom Zone, a back-story for the three was seen 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. 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 set to be executed. Jor-El appealed on their behalf, to exile them instead. The council accepted this on the condition that Jor-El be the jailer. And so Zod, Ursa, and Non were imprisoned, and embittered against Jor-El.
The origins of Zod, Ursa, and Non seem to be a fleshed out version of the story found in the film Superman II. Zod now closely resembles his movie counterpart, with the addition of a black trenchcoat.
In other media
- Superman: The Movie Continuity
At the beginning of Superman: The Movie, 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.
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. 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, 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. Predictably, Luthor betrays Superman and tells Zod about the chamber, and Superman is forced inside. After regaining his powers, Superman overpowers Zod, throwing him into an icy crevasse where he disappears into the mist. Non and Ursa are similarly dispatched. 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. His death in the Richard Donner Cut is reversed when Superman turns time back to restore the damage caused by Zod, and he and his gang are reimprisoned in the Phantom Zone.
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. It is almost certainly Stamp's portrayal that 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.
This movie version of Zod has immense popularity amongst comic fans, and may very well be the definitive version of the character. The recent reintroduction of Zod into DC comics continuity (Coauthored by Richard Donner and Geoff Johns) shares largely the same basic backstory as the movie version.
- Man of Steel Continuity
General Zod, played by Michael Shannon, is the main antagonist in the Zack Snyder film Man of Steel. Official description of the character: "Once Krypton was destroyed, General Zod, a warrior born from generations of warriors before him, led a small band of surviving Kryptonians in search of a new home and in the process discovered a planet called Earth and a man once known as Kal-El. Prepared for battle, General Zod, wears armor made of materials native to his planet of Krypton".
In this film, he is the head of Krypton's Military Guild and becomes so dissatisfied with the planet's ruling council's decisions that he attempts a rebellion. He learns of Jor-El's stealing the codex, the key to genetically-engineering Kryptonians, and his natural born son Kal-El (which is against Kryptonian Law, as all Kryptonians are engineered to be more efficient). Angered, Zod fights Jor-El and while he loses, he manages to kill the scientist before he and his forces, including his second-in-command Faora, are captured and sentenced to 300 cycles within the Phantom Zone. Zod then cryptically warns the widowed Lara that he will find her son. Although he is imprisoned within the Phantom Zone, a short time later, the destruction of Krypton frees him and his cohorts.
Thirty-three years later, Zod arrives at the planet Earth and threatens its people into handing over Kal-El, who now goes by the name of Clark Kent. Zod reveals to Clark how he and his team refit the Phantom Zone projector into a ship called "Black Zero", acquired a "world engine" device, scouted unsuccessfully for surviving Kryptonian colonies, and traveled to Earth due to Clark's triggering the distress signal of the scout ship he found in the Arctic. He then reveals his plan to terraform the planet with the world engine and use the codex (that Jor-El placed within Clark's individual cells as a baby) to repopulate the world with genetically-engineered Kryptonians, bringing an end to the Human race. When Zod arrives at the Kent Farm and threatens Martha Kent for the location of the codex, Clark, who escaped Black Zero, attacks him in a rage and defeats Faora and another Kryptonian in a destructive battle in Smallville, driving them to retreat.
Later, Zod releases the world engine on Metropolis and over the Indian Ocean to begin terraforming, but Clark, now dubbed "Superman", destroys the device while the U.S. Military use Clark's modified ship as an airstrike device against Black Zero, creating a singularity that sucks all Kryptonians (save for Zod and Superman) back into the phantom zone, foiling Zod's plans. Enraged, Zod engages Superman in an even, catastrophic fight throughout Metropolis and briefly in space; Zod having an advantage due to his combat experience and training and Superman matching that with his superior adeptness to his powers and higher solar energy supply (having grown up on Earth and therefore adapted to its atmosphere and conditions). Eventually, Superman gets the upper hand and subdues Zod, driving the general to attempt a murder on a family with his heat vision. Morally-torn, Superman is forced to snap Zod's neck, killing him and ending his threat.
- Super Friends
- Ruby-Spears Superman
Zod was featured in the Ruby-Spears animated Superman series in an episode titled "The Hunter".He appears very briefly near the end of the episode. His appearance in the episode differs from that of Superman 2.He is seen in a brown military uniform with a general's hat without any beard as oppossed to Superman 2 where he is seen with a beard and a plain black outfit.
- Superman: The Animated Series
Zod was not featured in the cartoon part of the show 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 Ursa. However, in the accompanying Superman Adventures comic book series (#21, which was also titled Supergirl Adventures), 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). This character looks physically like the Terence Stamp version from Superman: The Movie, Superman II, and Superman: the children of Krypton.
- Justice League Unlimited
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
Zod appears as a voice in the Legion of Super-Heroes animated series. Presumely and Considerably voiced by Terrance Stamp. Plus, a character named Drax appears. A young man who Clark Kent accidentally frees from the Phantom Zone, Drax has the typical array of Kryptonian powers, in addition to an immunity to Kryptonite. It is persumed and considered that maybe Drax is Zod's son. 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 to the one speaking to Drax.
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 some 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 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 an 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.
In the Ninth season Episode Kandor through a series of flashbacks we find out that Zod and Jor-El were once close friends. The then Major Zod even saved Jor-El's life when he was tried for treason for stopping production on the Orb afterwords Jor-El told Zod he was in his debt but when asked Jor-El to bring back his son Jor-El stated it was not possible be cause the clone could be mutated to which Zod said "You are now as dead to me as my son." ending their freindship and possibly causing Zod to eventualy betray Krypton.
In the novel The Last Days of Krypton by Kevin J. Anderson, General Zod appears as the main antagonist. In this incarnation, he is also known as Commissioner Dru-Zod who is head of the Commission for Technology Acceptance. Zod is the only son of Cor-Zod, formerly the head of the Kryptonian Council and legendary politician leader. 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 burly mute Nam-Ek (Zod's ward - similar to Non in the Superman movies) 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.
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!" For example, Jay does so in the Kevin Smith film Mallrats after knocking out the head of mall security.
- Zod's peculiar aloof mannerisms and catchphrases from Superman II, especially his penchant for demanding that people "kneel", has led to the creation of a number of websites dedicated to the General, such as GeneralZod.net, and General Zod for President in 2008.
- Various Zod scenes from Superman II were sampled and used in TeknoZod, a techno dance record by Samplesonic released in 1996 in the UK on Samplesonic Records.
- American Midwest rapper Tech N9ne says "I will make you kneel before Zod" in the song "Sinister Tech" from his album Anghellic
- Zod, as well as his two henchmen, have appeared in the Family Guy episode "Lethal Weapons". When Peter finds that Lois can fight extremely well, he walks into a local bar to start fights by saying insulting things, including "Krypton sucks." Zod and his minions are then thrown into the Phantom Zone mirror and sent into space.
- Zod appeared in the Robot Chicken episode "The Munnery" as the host of "Bod By Zod," in which he commands all to "kneel before Zod." After the camera zooms out to reveal he is in fact doing a workout video, he begins to command the viewer to do various aerobic exercises "before Zod."
- Both Superman: The Movie and General Zod are mentioned on an episode of the ESPN show Cheap Seats. Both the Sklar Brothers poke fun at a man who resembles both Zod and Non, and quote the famous "kneel before Zod" line.
- In an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Dr. Forrester practices his "world takeover speech", which included the line "You will bow down before me, son of Jor-El, bow down!"
- Russell Brand's Got Issues, a UK comedy discussion show on Channel 4, included a sidekick named Andrew Zod, who was supposedly Zod's nephew in its first few episodes.
- The video game review show X-Play, the disembodied head once said "They kneel only before Zod".
- The sixth Fedora Core distribution is called Zod. 
- In one of Stephen Colbert's Formidable Opponent sketches, President Bush is described in terms of Superman and now he must act as Zod has been released from the Phantom Zone, the losing Stephen is then shot with heat ray vision as the winning Stephen says the line "Kneel before Zod".
- Zod is the highest Rune in the computer game Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. It makes armor and weapons indestructible. The lowest rune is called El, and grants the player a slightly better attack and increased Light radius.
- In the Sally Forth comic of 1/16/07, the family is playing monopoly on a snowy day. Ted, the father, gains control of half of the monopoly board and says "KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!" Only to have Hilary the daughter say "ZOD?" Then Sally, the mother, said that if he is going to use references use ones that his daughter would understand.
- In the TV series Supernatural, a kid named Todd who is picked on by bullies makes a wish on a wishing well for super strength, and chases the bullies around, saying "KNEEL BEFORE TODD!" An obvious reference to "KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!"
- In the TV series Glee, Sue Sylvester calls herself "General Zod".
- Internet Comedian, Doug Walker, has portrayed the character of Zod in multiple sketches including his "Merry Zodmas" sketches, in which he portrayed a General Zod who is befuddled by the concept of Christmas. In the sketches, he examines aspects of Christmas and how they will be remodeled after him. In the Nostalgia Critic's Transformers 3 review, the judge is revealed to be Zod (portrayed by Doug Walker), and tells them to rise and then to KNEEL! 
Personality and comparisons
General Zod is a suave and sophisticated evil genius who regards everyone (with the possible exception of Ursa in Superman II) to be his inferiors. His tall, lean demeanour, prestigious title and villainous, erudite personality all give him an undeniable similarity to Count Dooku in the Star Wars films. The most probable inspiration for Zod is the Biblical character of Lucifer, also known as Satan or the Devil. Like Lucifer, Zod and his minions tried to take over Krypton but the ruler of Krypton, Jor-El banished them to the Phantom Zone. Years later Zod broke free and came to torment Jor-El's son, Superman. This is but one of many religious and mythological parallels running through Superman.
- Alan Kistler's Profile On: ZOD! - Comic book historian Alan Kistler of www.MonitorDuty.com does an in-depth article reviewing the long history of Zod from 1961 all the way to 2005, going into detail on the various incarnations and changes in the character. Includes several artwork scans of the different versions of Zod and a discussion of the show Smallville.
- Supermanica: General Zod Supermanica entry on the Pre-Crisis General Zod
- General Zod at the Injustice: Gods Among Us Wiki