General Zod: DC’s Phantom-Zone Escapee Explained
Periodically escaping from the Phantom Zone to ruin Superman’s day, General Zod has all of Supe’s powers and none of his kind personality.
General Zod is one of the oldest and most powerful members of Superman’s enemies. He’s also one of the most famous DC supervillains, and commonly appears in comics, movies, and shows to this day. But who is Zod? Where does he come from? And what makes him stand out amongst all of Superman’s other foes?
General Zod’s Comic Book Origins
First Appearance: Adventure Comics #283, 1961
Creators: Robert Bernstein & George Papp
Like Superman himself, General Zod was once a resident of Krypton. Also known as Dru-Zod, he was a member of the Kryptonian Military Guild and knew Superman’s father, Jor-El back when he was just an aspiring scientist. After an attempt to take over Krypton with an army of robotic versions of himself, Zod was sentenced to exile in the Phantom Zone for forty years.
Much later, after missing the destruction of Krypton, he was freed by Superman. But thanks to Earth’s yellow sun, his own powers and strength gave him superhuman abilities. Abilities that Zod used to attempt to conquer Earth. superman had to defeat this new threat to Earth and ultimately return Zod to the Phantom Zone.
It’s not uncommon to see a version of him escaping or being freed from the Phantom Zone, trying to take over the planet, fighting Superman or Supergirl, and being defeated and returned.
General Zod’s Powers & Abilities
Like all Kryptonians under Earth’s yellow sun, Zod has some superhuman abilities. Strength, speed, and endurance are all pretty standard and help him stand up to Superman. As do x-ray vision, heat vision, super breath, and of course flight.
But unlike Superman, Zod’s history and education as a member of the Kryptonian Military gives him an advanced knowledge and understanding of battle and military strategy as well as more focused training at hand-to-hand combat. This should give him an edge, but while Superman has lived on Earth and absorbed the yellow sun’s rays for years, Zod’s exposure is usually short-lived between more lengthy stints of time in the Phantom Zone.
Zod in TV and Movies
General Zod has appeared on screen almost countless times. In animation, he is most recently voiced by Phil Morris in Young Justice but has also appeared in everything from 1981’s Super Friends to the Loony Tunes to The Lego Batman Movie. Though those appearances are a bit more spoofy and a bit less serious.
When it comes to live action, Zod shows up, even if briefly, in almost any media Superman does. He was in Lois & Clark as well as Smallville as “Major Zod.” And of course, we see Zod in 1978’s Superman: The Movie and 1980s Superman II. The most recent DC movies introduce Zod in 2013’s Man of Steel. But then he was seen as a corpse that Lexcorp had possession of in 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and then appeared just recently in an alternate timeline in The Flash.
Do you have a favorite appearance or storyline involving General Zod? Which is it? Do you enjoy when this character returns, or are there other villains you’d rather see challenging Superman? Let us know in the comments!