DC’s World of Krypton series reveals and expounds upon a surprisingly close relationship between Superman’s father and the villainous General Zod.
Warning: The following contains spoilers from the first two issues of World of Krypton, on sale now from DC Comics.
The climax of the first issue of World of Krypton (by Robert Vendetti, Michael Avon Oeming, Nick Filardi, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou) saw Dru-Zod heroically foil an assassination attempt on Jor-El, Lara, and Zor-El during the naming ceremony of Kara Zor-El (the future Supergirl). General Zod later reveals the instigator of the crime to be Jor’s own cousin, Kru-El. As a result, a friendship between the two is established and Jor-El and Zod appear to be good friends with a mutual respect for each other’s positions in Kryptonian society. Cracks in their friendship begin to show after Zod banishes the offender to the Phantom Zone, much to the ire of Jor-El who considers such a punishment “inhumane”.
While the series has yet to reach its halfway mark, it already offers a fresh interpretation of two of Krypton’s most important figures. Jor-El and Zod’s early friendship has been alluded to in the past, but has largely been cast to the side without much exploration. This more nuanced look at their relationship expands storytelling opportunities and provides a fresh angle for the general’s later evolution into the archnemesis of Jor-El’s son, Superman.
This is not the first time a friendship between the two Kryptonians has been explored. In the opening scene of 2013’s Man of Steel directed by Zack Snyder, a former friendship between the two men is alluded to when Zod interrupts a meeting between Jor-El and the Kryptonian Council. Here Zod tells Jor that the last thing he wants is for them to be enemies, implying that they were once friends. The television series Smallville also featured a friendship between Jor-El and General Zod before their differences eventually set them apart. Another interesting development in continuities such as Earth One and the Krypton television series has seen Jor-El and Zod being depicted as half brothers, making Zod an uncle to Superman.
These interpretations are a stark departure from previous iterations of the Jor-El/Zod dynamic, which often has them as enemies right from the beginning. Perhaps the most famous of these is Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie and Superman II, as well as many Pre and Post Crisis comic books that portrayed Jor-El as a benevolent and pacifistic scientist and Zod as a megalomaniacal, authoritarian figure.
This interpretation gives Zod a unique role in Superman’s rogues’ gallery, effectively portraying him as a dark mirror image of what Clark could have become without the loving guidance of the Kent family in Smallville. As a potential dictator who disregards weaker beings, Zod can easily be made into a one-dimensional antagonist for Superman. Making him an old friend of Kal-El’s father adds depth and tragedy to the character and turns his battles with Superman into a more complex and personal rivalry.
While having Jor-El and Zod being close friends before the destruction of their home planet has been done before, it has not been explored as deeply as it is currently being reviewed in the World of Krypton miniseries. Forthcoming issues should give deeper insights into the men Jor-El and Zod will become before the inevitable tragedies to come. This may potentially lead to new angles for writers to explore in the ever-evolving relationship between the Houses of El and Zod.
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