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Brew’s Crew: General Zod of Krypton

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(Editor’s note: This is another in a series of irregularly-scheduled columns by Managing Editor Byron Brewer, mainly dealing with cosmic comics and their many denizens. Mr. Brewer’s opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CosmicBookNews.com. He welcomes both raves and opposing views.)

By Byron Brewer

General Zod has always been an odd character and villain for Superman in that his existence came before the explosion of Krypton when Kal-El was just a child.

I really did not appreciate Zod until that bone-chilling speech before the Krypton Science Council in the first Christopher Reeves Superman movie, which of course became the basis of the sequel. Chilling!

Now Zod is slated to return to the New 52 this September during Villains Month in Action Comics #23.2: General Zod, written by Greg Pak, with art by Ken Lashley. Previously, a character resembling Zod made a cameo in Action Comics #5 (March 2012), as a prisoner in the Phantom Zone. Later, in Action Comics #13 (December 2012) a ghost in the Phantom Zone says “Kneel before…” multiple times while attacking Superman, a reference to Zod’s iconic saying. But Pak and Lashley will bring us pure Zod in a few months.

So who is he? Well, remember the reality-changing ways of DC Comics and take nothing for canon as we examine this Kryptonian.

Dru-Zod was a megalomaniacal Kryptonian in charge of the military forces on Krypton. He knew Jor-El, Superman’s father, when Jor-El was an aspiring scientist. When the space program was abolished after the destruction of the inhabited moon Wegthor (engineered 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 exile in the Phantom Zone for 40 years for his crimes, but was eventually released by Superboy when his term of imprisonment was up. However, he attempted to conquer Earth with his superpowers acquired under the yellow sun. With his threat now obvious, Superboy was forced to oppose him and ultimately returned him to the Zone.

General Zod appeared as a primary antagonist in the “Superman: Last Son” storyline. In a similar story to that of the movie, Superman II, Zod, Ursa and Non escape from the Phantom Zone and come to Earth to try to turn it into a “New Krypton.” This incarnation is the first Post-Crisis Zod who came from Superman’s Krypton, and not from an alternate reality.

The back-story for the three Kryptonians was revealed in Action Comics Annual #10.  Prior to the destruction of Krypton, Zod and his wife Ursa rebelled against their planet’s oppressive government, but soon became lawless would-be tyrants who lusted for power. The government sentenced the trio to death, but Superman’s father Jor-El pleaded for them to mitigate their sentence to imprisonment in the Phantom Zone, accepted on the condition that he would assume responsibility as their jailer.

While in the Phantom Zone, Zod and Ursa were able to have a child who was born immune to the Phantom Zone’s effects, ultimately facilitating their escape, and named him Lor-Zod. On Earth, the boy was discovered by Superman and his wife Lois Lane, who adopted him as their own son and named him Christopher Kent.

For the duration of the “Last Son” storyline in Action Comics, Chris Kent is depicted as an adopted son of Superman and his wife Lois across DC titles. Alongside Zod, Ursa and Non, 25 other Kryptonian criminals also escape the Zone and defeat a number of Earth’s heroes, beginning their quest to conquer the planet. Zod ambushes Superman in revenge for Jor-El’s actions and traps him in the Phantom Zone, which he later escapes the help of the heroic Phantom Zone prisoner Mon-El.

With assistance from his traditional enemies Lex Luthor, Metallo, Parasite and Bizarro (cool, eh?), Superman takes on Zod’s army. Out of nearly thirty Kryptonians, Superman’s temporary allies successfully kill several, driving the rest back into the Phantom Zone alongside Zod and Ursa, who take Chris Kent with them.

In the later “New Krypton” storyline, however, Zod is freed from the Phantom Zone once again by Supergirl’s mother Alura. The bottle city of Kandoris transformed into a populated Kryptonian planet (New Krypton), and Zod is appointed the leader of its army. In the “World of New Krypton” Action Comics storyline, when Superman decides to see what life is like on New Krypton, he is drafted into the Military Guild under General Zod.

Zod and Superman maintain a mistrustful professional relationship. Despite their past, neither seems prepared to behave with marked aggression toward the other. Later, during a Kryptonian ceremony, Zod is shot by the Kryptonian Ral-Dar (who is working with Lois’s father General Sam Lane), leading Zod to appoint Superman as temporary General until his recovery.

The two are involved in a Kryptonian political plot, but ultimately apprehend the planet’s traitor and see a reform of New Krypton’s Council. Peace is short-lived, however, due to an attack by the alien Brainiac, who had been responsible for the bottling of Kandor in the first place. In “Last Stand of New Krypton,” New Krypton comes under attack by Brainiac, and Zod engineers a plan to defeat him; Zod is driven by an urge to avenge his prior defeat at the hands of the Coluan Brainiac, when Kandor was bottled from Old Krypton.

The storyline ends with the planet’s destruction, leading Zod to declare war on Earth, sparking the “War of the Supermen” storyline. After a fierce conflict between Superman and Zod in defense of Earth, Zod is pushed back into the Phantom Zone by his son, Chris Kent, who had freed himself from the Phantom Zone and became active as an adult superhero on planet Earth.

What new wrinkles will Zod bring to the Man of Steel and the New 52? See you in September!

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Exclusive: Pak spills the beans on his terror trio for Villain’s Month: Darkseid, Doomsday and Zod

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Since the launch of the New 52 in the DC Universe in September 2011, the month has been a special one for comics readers. Last year saw the coming of Zero Issues of your favorite DC mags, featuring origins or untold stories of these “new” heroes.

This September, the villains are taking over, and in the thick of things is writer Greg Pak, who is scripting books with three titans of cosmic awe and power.

To discover the answers behind this trifecta, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer cornered Pak in a structure within the bottle city of Kandor and exclusively questioned the writer about his three fierce foes.

Cosmic Book News: First, Greg, for those who have been under a rock, tell us the concept behind DC’s Villains Month in September.

Greg Pak: In September, every regular DC book will be replaced by one-shot stories starring key villains. I’ll be writing the General Zod, Darkseid and Doomsday one-shots.

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:8910:]]CBN: How did you happen to get assigned three of the most powerful cosmic baddies in the DCU?

Greg Pak: I’m very grateful to editors Eddie Berganza and Mike Cotton, who pulled me on board. Eddie’s my Batman/Superman editor, so naturally we’ve been talking a ton about Superman and his various villains over the past few months. We’d also had a lot of conversations with Mike, who edits Earth 2, to coordinate the Earth 2 elements of the first Batman/Superman storyline. And of course in the New 52, Earth 2’s history is closely intertwined with Darkseid. So I guess over the weeks and months, we’d bounced around a bunch of ideas that laid the groundwork for some of these books.

CBN: With General Zod, will you be looking towards the Man of Steel movie in the building of this New 52 character?

Greg Pak: I actually finished the script a couple of weeks before I saw the movie, so the movie didn’t directly influence the story or characterization. But after seeing the movie, I think there’s some nice parallels there — they did some great things with Zod that resonate pretty nicely with some of the elements we’re introducing in our book.

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:8911:]]CBN: How will the New 52 Doomsday be different from past iterations? Is this the same entity every Kryptonian child had nightmares about?

Greg Pak: We’ll hear about Doomsday from three different characters during the course of the story. Readers will have to judge for themselves whose stories are the most reliable. But yes, this is a Doomsday that’s haunted Krypton in various ways for many, many years.

CBN: Darkseid was here at the beginning of the New 52 reality fighting the Justice League. What developments will we see in this classic cosmic baddie?

Greg Pak: We’re going to his homeworld of Apokolips to get the first New 52 glimpse into his terrifying origin. We’ll also learn the secret history of a character who’s having a huge impact on a few key DC heroes and who just might be the greatest thorn in Darkseid’s side.

CBN: Will the heroes whose books are being usurped this September make any appearances in your trio of tales?

Greg Pak: Darkseid is taking over Justice League, and yes, you will see a Justice League in the pages of the book. (Wink, wink.)

General Zod takes over Action and Doomsday replaces Batman/Superman for the month, and everything in those books will eventually have a huge impact on the world of Superman.

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CBN: What is the incentive for a reader to lay down four bucks to read about a villain?

Greg Pak: Because villains are awesome. In countless interviews, actors talk about how much fun it is to play villains. I think the same thing can be said of writers and readers. Villain stories can be enormously fun and scary. We’ve got some deliciously horrifying twists in here that we think you’re going to love. Also, we’re doing some surprising new things with these villains that could only be done in the New 52, so this is a great place to be surprised and get excited about what comes next.

CBN: I know it’s in the solicits, but tell me about the artists bringing your tales to life.

Greg Pak: Ken Lashley is drawing the Zod book. He’s bringing a great, jagged savagery to some key images in there that are blowing my mind. 

Brett Booth is taking on Doomsday. We’ve just started working together, but man, his enthusiasm is so exciting and he can draw anything, can’t he? He’s posted some concept sketches on his website that are already making me cackle. This is going to be an epically big, scary book.

Paolo Siquiera is drawing Darkseid, and if you’ve seen his Voodoo covers, you know he’s got the big imagination necessary to explore Apokolips in the New 52. I think there’s also something about his clean, beautiful lines that’s going to make big, craggy Darkseid even more scary. I can’t wait!

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CBN: Were you a fan of any of these villains? Anything major from their past appearances working its way into the New 52?

Greg Pak: Yes and yes. But I’ll say no more for fear of spoilers. Wait, I will say one thing… One of the glories of the New 52 is that we’re free to embrace awesome elements of classic characters while reimagining how they work in this new world.  I’m hoping long-time fans will feel the love we all share for these characters while thrilling to the big, crazy new stories we’re opening up here. 

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Greg Pak for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. We would also like to thank DC’s own Alex Segura and Alex Nagorski who helped make this interview possible.

Villain’s Month hits the DCU New 52 in September with JUSTICE LEAGUE #23.1: DARKSEID, ACTION COMICS #23.2: ZOD, BATMAN/SUPERMAN #3.1: DOOMSDAY, and more!

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