Van-Zee is a Kryptonian, famous for having taken up the identity of Nightwing. He was also the cousin and look-alike of Kal-El, who originated the identity.
His lab assistant is Ak-Var, who would later become his superhero sidekick, Flamebird.
Van-Zee grew up in the city of Kandor, and was an admirer of Superman, who he studied. By studying Superman's life, he also fell in love with Lois Lane, even though he'd never met her.