“Kneel before Zod!!!!” I think everyone has heard at least once this line in his/her life. General Dru-Zod has become quite a remarkable villain especially after Terence Stamp‘s portrayal in Superman: The Movie and Superman II, so in the next Man of Steel the new actor, Michael Shannon, will have to do quite a job to make the audience forget Stamp. Zod also appeared in the long-running tv series Smallville, this time portrayed by Callum Blue (who sometimes imitated Stamp’s version of the character). So, let’s see together who he is in the comics.
A direct descendant of Admiral Zod, one of Krypton historical heroes, General Dru-Zod served as the leader of the military security defense of the Kryptonian Science Council, an important and enviable position. He had always been faithful to his duty, so, when scientists Jor-El and Non made their research about the forthcoming destruction of the planet, Zod, accompanied by his lieutenant Ursa, broke into their lab and arrested them for heresy (declaring that the Council had missed something as important as a global catastrophe was pure blasphemy, and moreover the scientists was creating panic among the population). Soon after the arrest, anyway, Zod learnt that Jor-El was right, and decided to support him and Non informing the population. When Non was lobotomized by the Council, Zod lost a precious ally and a friend, and decided to start a violent rebellion against the Council itself. Jor-El was a pacifist, and didn’t support Zod’s initiative, while the General had already put up his mind that violence was the only solution left to save the planet and avenge Non. Along with Ursa, Zod broke into the Council chambers and slaughtered five members of the government, but he was arrested before he could complete his quest. With the little influence he was left with, Jor-El convinced the remaining Counselors to spare Zod’s life, demanding and obtaining, for him and his accomplices, exile. Before being sent to the dimensional prison known as the Phantom Zone, Zod, seeing Jor-El as a coward for his stubborn refusal of joining his cause, swore vengeance against the whole House of El, with the popular words: “You will kneel before me, Jor-El. Both you and one day… your heirs!” Ironically, it was Jor-El’s decision that saved the lives of Zod, Ursa and Non, since, while they were trapped in the Phantom Zone, Krypton exploded, leaving but one survivor: baby Kal-El, son of Jor-El.
While in the immaterial Phantom Zone, Zod and Ursa found a fragment of Fort Rozz, a Kryptonian prison, floating in their jail: the structure was there due to a projection error, and inside it Zod and his allies were able to maintain a physical form. Taking advantage of this unexpected situation, Zod and Ursa conceived a son, Lor-Zod, a real Kryptonian born inside the Phantom Zone. Zod wasn’t interested in a family, and abused his son often, seeing him only as a vessel for his freedom. When the boy grew up, in fact, Zod built a rocket for him and sent his son to Earth with it (on Earth he would have met Kal-El, now the hero known as Superman, but Kal-El became for Lor-Zod the father figure he never had, thus spoiling Dru-Zod’s plans). Using the track left by his son to escape, Zod and Ursa, along with Non, came out of the Phantom Zone, and immediately went to Earth, in order to take revenge on Jor-El’s son. Once there, the three Kryptonians easily overpowered Superman with their newly found superpowers and sent him to the Phantom Zone in a cruel retaliation. With its most powerful hero missing, Earth was easily enslaved, and Zod started to rebuild Krypton on the planet. Something unexpected happened, as Lor-Zod betrayed his father and saved Superman, who managed to defeat the three Kryptonians thanks to the unforeseeable help of his nemesis Lex Luthor (who had a lot of anti-Kryptonian technology created for destroying Superman himself) and to send them back to the Phantom Zone. From that day, Zod had tried to take his revenge many times, representing one of the universe’s bigger threats.
General Dru-Zod is a strong and determined man, who strongly believes in a philosophy according to which the stronger ones are meant to rule over the weakest. Being a soldier, he doesn’t despise violence, quite the opposite, he considers it the best way to solve a problem. As a Kryptonian, Zod gains incredible powers under the radiations of a yellow sun, such as superhuman physical attributes (strength, speed, stamina, resistance and so on), flight, the ability of shooting heat beams from his eyes, freezing breath, and much more. Zod is also a well trained combatant (differently from Superman, who, growing up with his powers, never needed to learn how to fight) and a genius strategist. His violent and aggressive nature made Zod a formidable threat for all the known universe, a man with the same powers of Superman, without his moral code.