Superman’s dad & General Zod’s more intimate original relationship explained

DC’s World of Krypton series reveals and exposes 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 highlight of the first issue of Krypton World (by Robert Vendetti, Michael Avon Oeming, Nick Filardi and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou) saw Dru-Zod heroically foil an assassination attempt against Jor-El, Lara and Zor-El during Kara Zor-El’s baptism ceremony ( the future Supergirl). General Zod later reveals that the instigator of the crime is 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 mutual respect for each other’s positions in Kryptonian society. Cracks in their friendship begin to appear after Zod banishes the offender to the Phantom Zone, much to the chagrin of Jor-El who considers such punishment “inhumane”.

While the series is yet to reach its midpoint, it already offers a fresh take on two of Krypton’s most important figures. Jor-El and Zod’s early friendship has been hinted at in the past, but has largely been put aside without much exploration. This more nuanced look at their relationship expands storytelling opportunities and offers a new angle for the general’s later evolution into the arch-nemesis of Jor-El’s son, Superman.

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This is not the first time that a friendship between the two Kryptonians has been explored. In the 2013’s opening scene Steel man directed by Zack Snyder, an old friendship between the two is evoked 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. TV series Small town also showcased a friendship between Jor-El and General Zod before their differences finally separated them. Another interesting development in continuities such as Earth One and the Krypton TV series saw Jor-El and Zod be portrayed as half-brothers, making Zod an uncle of Superman.

These interpretations depart dramatically from previous iterations of the Jor-El / Zod dynamic, which often has them as enemies from the start. Perhaps the most famous of them is that of Richard Donner Superman: the movie and Superman ii, as well as numerous before and after Crisis comics portraying Jor-El as a benevolent, pacifist scientist and Zod as a megalomaniac and authoritarian figure.

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This rendition gives Zod a unique role in Superman’s gallery of thugs, effectively portraying him as a dark mirror image of what Clark might have become without the loving guidance of the Kent family in Smallville. As a potential dictator who disregards the weaker beings, Zod can easily be turned 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.

Although Jor-El and Zod were close friends before their home planet was destroyed, this has not been explored as deeply as it is currently being reviewed in the Krypton World mini-series. Upcoming issues should provide a more in-depth look at the men Jor-El and Zod will become before the inevitable tragedies to come. This can 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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