Nam-Ek (Antibiotic Man)

Nam-EkAt least for now, we’re at the last Kryptonian villains of our list of cameos from Man of Steel (there’s another one, and I’ll write a post about her as soon as I gain some picture), and this one is a character a little bit more relevant than the others: the hulkling Nam-Ek, portrayed by an unknwon (at least so far) stuntman. He’s the one who fights Superman at Faora‘s side, and that abruptly interrupts the battle crushing the hero under a train. This is the second live action appearance of Nam-Ek, who was featured in Smallville portrayed by Leonard Roberts. He appeared in Season Five as one of General Zod‘s disciples, wrecking havoc with his companion Aethyr and preparing the way of return for his master. He was defeated and sent back to the Phantom Zone, where he was killed by Raya. In the comics, Nam-Ek is quite a different character. As a beginning, he’s nothing to do with Zod.

It seems that on Krypton, in the last days at least, there was quite a huge number of mad scientists experimenting in wicked ways. Nam-Ek was among them: a genius healer specialized in biology, truly committed in making life for his fellow Kryptonians better. Duringnamekcomics1 his studies, Nam-Ek found out that most of Kryptonian medicine was based on the radiations emitted by the Rondor, a sacred beast of the planet whose horn could cure any known disease. Nam-Ek thought that a deeper study of the Rondor’s horn could have opened new frontiers for medicine and research, but he had a single, huge obstacle: Kryptonian law. According to the law, in fact, the Rondor was a sacred beast, and its killing and the removal of its horn were considered as an unforgivable sin and a grave crime, punished in ancient times with death. Nam-Ek considered that the potential benefits surpassed by far the risks, and decided to try all the same: he secretly captured a Rondor, and surgically removed its horn; the beast didn’t survived the operation. The healer studied the horn for days, until he was able to create a serum out of it. Sure that the serum would have granted immunity to any disease, Nam-Ek drank the serum, that had some unforseen side effects: his skin turned purple and leathery, his nails became claws and a big horn, just like a Rondor’s one, grew in the middle of his forehead. Transformed into a Rondor-Kryptonian hybrid, Nam-Ek was unable to conceal his crime, and was arrested and sent to the Phantom Zone.

Nam-Ek was to be considered lucky being imprisoned in the Phantom Zone, since Krypton exploded shortly after; also in the dimensional prison, however, the other Zoners saw him as a wicked creature, because both his hideous appearance and his past (even the worst Kryptonian criminals knew better than to kill a Rondor, and considered it a shame). Feared and distanced, Nam-Ek spent years in complete solitude, an isolation that affected badly his mental health. With the days, the sharp intellect and the scientific genius were replaced by paranoia and an incredible need for company. At last, Nam-Ek was freed by Amalak, a space pirate who hated everything that namekcomics2was Kryptonian, and was searching for an ally in his long time battle against Superman. Having become naive and gullible, Nam-Ek was more than happy to become Amalak’s “friend”, and joined his crusade against the Last Son of Krypton. Thanks to the serum, Nam-Ek had gained also the Rondor’s powers, not just his appearance, and was able to cure anything with his horn: for this reason, Amalak renamed him Antibiotic Man, something that the Kryptonian took as a compliment and was proud of. The two, together, attacked Superman with a series of physical and psychic attacks, with the Antibiotic Man healing both himself and Amalak everytime Superman managed to land a blow on them. Ultimately, Superman managed to defeat both of them, and while Amalak (appearantly) died by accidentally stabbing himself, Nam-Ek was closed in the Phantom Zone once again. He was freed again years after, when the space-time continuum was torn apart, and on Earth he managed to subdue many heroes, vanquishing with no effort even the powerful Wonder Woman. He was imprisoned once again when Aethyr, the physical embodiment of the Phantom Zone, was convinced by Mr. Mxyzptlk that torturing Kryptonians was fun, and brought him to collect his former prisoners.

Nam-Ek is an extremely brilliant man, who has a deep knowledge in medicine and biology, but the years spent in total isolation in the Phantom Zone made his mind weaken, to the point that he is now a deranged individual, with a desperate need for affection and company. As the Antibiotic Man, he’s invulnerable and immortal, immune from any disease and any arm or wound; plus, being a Kryptonian, he possesses all of Superman’s powers under a yellow sun: superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, reflexes and senses; flight; freezing breath; heat vision; x-ray vision; super breath and maybe something more. Broken and extremely powerful, Nam-Ek is a remarkable foe to face, even for the Man of Steel.

Advertisements

Tor-An

MAN OF STEELAnother Kryptonian for our collection of Man of Steel cameos, another one with no line, and no particular role at all in the movie. We’re speaking of Tor-An, portrayed on screen by Richard Cetrone. In the movie, he’s one of General Zod‘s followers, who participates to the riot on Krypton with him and is subsequently condemned to an eternity in the Phantom Zone. On Earth, he’s only briefly seen, and appearantly never leaves the ship. This is the first live action appearance of the character, and it’s likely to be the last one, since even in the comics he’s quite a secondary character, re-introduced after Crisis on Infinite Earths only four years ago and without much a backstory. Let’s see together.

The positive thing about Tor-An is that, being such a “young” character (in terms of publication history, of course), he doesn’t have all the different versions spawned during the continuity reboots of DC Comics. There’s only two Tor-An(s) in the comics, and both of them are almost unknown characters, minor villains who didn’t receive much an attention from the writers. The first Tor-An was a young Kryptonian scientist (there weren’t so many “good” scientists on Krypton apart from Jor-El, it seems…), a specialist in neurology from Argo City who disposed of groundbreaking technology…and, overall, ideas. Unfortunately, Tor-An was a power-seeker, and almost immediately started to use his knowledge to perform forbidden mind-control experiments: he managed to transfer his mind into other people, controlling their actions and will, something far too dangerous to be allowed. The Supreme Council had Tor-An arrested, and sentenced him to an eternity of imprisonment in the Phantom Zone. Tor-An’s work was discovered by another Kryptonian scientist, Jor-El, who exposed his research and put a stop to his work denouncing him to the authorities. Tor-An didn’t like Jor-El’s idea of professional courtesy, and, in the Phantom Zone, he kept thinking on an effective way to get his revenge. Unfortunately, torancomics1during the time he spent in the dimensional prison, Krypton was destroyed, and Jor-El died with it: when Tor-An finally found a way to escape the Zone (not such a hard task, it seems), his jailer was dead…but his son lived on. Finding about Kal-El, Tor-An travelled the galaxies, planning to get his revenge on his enemy’s son. Using his mind-control machines, Tor-An seduced Kara Zor-El, Kal-El’s cousin, planning to hurt her in order to damage an adversary that, as he had discovered, was absolutely invulnerable and unbeatable…at least with common means. Superman blessed their union, and brought Kara and the groom to a pastor from Kandor, the shrunk Kryptonian city he kept in his Fortress of Solitude. At the very last moment, however, Kal-El discovered Tor-An’s true identity, and interrupted the ceremony, sending the criminal into the Phantom Zone once again…and this time for good.

The second incarnation of Tor-An is once again a Kryptonian criminal, but not a scientist; above all, he’s a much different character from the first one under many aspects. This Tor-An was a soldier, who served under General Zod on Krypton and who followed him during his attempted coup d’etat. When Zod lost, Tor-An was imprisoned with all his comrades in arms in the Phantom Zone. Faithful to his leader even in the middle of nothing, Tor-An confirmed himself to be one of the General’s most faithful allies and followers, and, when the Kryptonians finally escaped the Phantom Zone, he was chosen to be one of the six dormant agents pretending to be Earthlings, part of a plan that Zod was conceiving to come back on Earth as a true savior torancomics2for all the Kryptonians living there. Tor-An assumed the identity of David Carter, an Australian businessman who became CEO of Empire Communication Network, one of the biggest companies in Sydney. When Superman managed to bring Kandor back to its original dimensions, Tor-An followed his instructions, and used his networking company to exacerbate the tensions between Earthlings and Kryptonians. After eighteen months of undercover “work”, Tor-An was unexpectedly attacked by two Kryptonians superheroes, Nightwing and Flamebird: after a fierce battle on the skies of Sydney, Tor-An was subdued and imprisoned in the Fortress of Solitude, shrunk using Brainiac‘s technology. When Ursa, Zod’s second in comand, came to Earth looking for her son Lor-Zod, she found Tor-An and brought him to his normal dimensions. The man thought to be free at last, but Ursa didn’t tolerate his failure, and slit his throat, killing him.

Tor-An, depending on the incarnation, is an extremely smart scientist, able to temporary transfer his mind into other bodies using his technology, or a well trained soldier, ready to kill and die for his leader. As a Kryptonian, when exposed to a yellow sun he gains the same powers as Superman (superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, reflexes and senses; heat vision; freezing breath; flight; x-ray vision and many more), made even more lethal by his military training. Considering Earthlings as mere insects, Tor-An is ready to annihilate any race in order to serve Zod and the Kryptonian people.

Dev-Em

MAN OF STEELIn Man of Steel, the army of General Zod‘s followers is a real mine of cameos. For a start, we’ll begin from the one who looks younger among the soldiers exiled in the Phantom Zone, the one who follows the General in his riot on Krypton but is among the ones that never leaves the ship once on Earth: it’s Dev-Em, portrayed on screen by Revard Dufresne. This one is the very first live action appearance of Dev-Em, but maybe the character deserved something more than a little appearance without even a line. Let’s see together who this teenager Kryptonian is in the comics.

One character, many stories, as it always happens for DC Comics characters. The first and most famous Dev-Em was a juvenile delinquent on Krypton, a rogue teenager who was known as the Knave of Krypton. Despite his really bad attitude, Dev-Em was one of the few Kryptonians who actually believed Jor-El‘s warning about the imminent planet destruction, and tried to save himself and his family with suspended animation in a space ship orbiting around Krypton. When the planet exploded, Dev-Em’s ship was blasted through the galaxies, and, while his parents didn’t make it, the boy survived; after some years of drifting away, Dev-Em finally arrived on Earth, where he discovered that another Kryptonian survivor was living. Plus, this Kryptonian was none other than the very son of Jor-El, Kal-El, now a boy around his own age who was called Superboy. Dev-Em befriended Kal-El, but, faithful to his nature, was already planning a way to ruin the hero’s reputation. Dev-Em arrived to the point of locking Kal-El in the Phantom Zone and replacing him as Superboy to achieve hisdevemcomics1 goal, but living as the best hero in the world for a few hours was more than enough to show him that a different life was indeed possible: Dev-Em repented, freed the real Superboy and left the planet. After a very brief galactic exploration, Dev-Em finally decided to let the XX century itself, travelling one thousand years in the future. In the XXX century, Dev-Em finally reformed, and became a member of the Interstellar Counter-Intelligence Corp, space secret agents fighting for the better good. He also became friends with Mon-El, a Daxamite alien who was also one of the most prominent superheroes of this time. Dev-Em fought at Mon-El’s side on several occasions, and he even allied himself with the entire Legion of Super Heroes (the most important and active super group of the XXX century); he also fought the villanous Darkseid, and after a hard victory he was offered a place in the Legion, but he declined in order to stay with the Corp.

Dev-Em suffered major changes during the various continuity reboot, and at certain points he also became a telepath from Titan who obtained Kryptonian-like powers thanks to his mind powers, or even a mad Daxamite powerful enough to beat the whole Legion and Superman, come to their aid. Finally, after the last (at least for now…) crisis, Dev-Em regained his Kryptonian origins, but with a completely different personality. In this version, Dev-Em was a Kryptonian criminal, arrested for murder, perversion and many other violent acts. Extremely dangerous, Dev-Em was sent to Fort Rozz to attend his own trial, and was condemned to be devemcomics2exiled into the Phantom Zone. Just before the Phantom Zone Projector was activated, however, a riot started, and the device got broken, sucking the entire fortress and its occupants in the dimensional prison. Since, being in Fort Rozz, the prisoners weren’t directly exposed to the Phantom Zone’s environment, and could mantain their physical body. Thanks to his strength and his cruelty, Dev-Em became one of the leaders of the prison, and his position allowed him to meet another famous host of the Zone, General Zod: recognizing in the military leader someone stronger than him, Dev-Em agreed to become his follower. When Zod and his officers escaped from the Phantom Zone, Dev-Em chose to stay behind, so that he could have become a leader once again: when Zod, on Earth, battled and defeated Superman, the hero was sent in the Phantom Zone, where Dev-Em was ready to face him. In the Zone, no Kryptonians retained his powers, and Dev-Em was a combatant far stronger than Kal-El: the latter was defeated and almost killed, but another Zoner, Mon-El, intervened, saving Superman and knocking Dev-Em out. When the heroes escaped from the Phantom Zone, Dev-Em was left behind, lingering in his prison.

Arrogant and characterized by an abrasive nature in every incarnation, Dev-Em is both an immature teenager with quite a vocation for troubles, but ready to take some responsibilities and fight for a better good, and a murderous psychopath with no ethics and no compassion at all. As all Kryptonians, if exposed to a yellow sun he develops amazing powers, such as superhuman strength, stamina, speed, durability and reflexes; invulnerability; heat vision; freezing breath; x-ray vision; super breath; flight and more. Depending on the incarnation, Dev-Em is either a formidable force for good, or a remarkable enemy to deal with.

Kelex

KelexNow, this one is a character I didn’t see coming: in the opening sequence of Man of Steel, while we’re following Jor-El‘s adventures on Krypton, we can see a robot helper always following the scientist, and always helping him escaping from General Zod‘s men: it’s Kelex, whose voice is provided by Carla Gugino. This is quite an obscure character for whoever doesn’t read the comicbooks, but don’t worry, I’m here exactly to provide informations about these unknown cameos. This is the very first live action appearance of Kelex, and it (she) is quite similar to its (her) comicbook version, even if aesthetically the robot’s design has been updated. Let’s see together.

Despite having a female voice in the movie, in the comics Kelex is supposed to be a male robot. He was built on Krypton, as one of the many servants of Seyg-El, from the famous and respected House of El. Kelex was somewhat defective, since he understood the livings’ emotions in much a deeper and wider way than the other robots. Kelex was assigned with the care of Jor-El, Seyg-El’s son, and he immediately understood that that single Kryptonian was different from all the others. He followed his master throughout all of his studies, until the day he found Jor-El extremely worried and nervous, an uncommon trait in him. Kelex warned his fellow servants to obey Jor-El’s orders the faster and the better they could, since he understood that something big was happening. Kelex himself helped Jor-El to bring his son, Kal-El, into the birthing matrix, and later into the ship that would have brought him to safety. Kelex stayed at Jor-El’s side when the core of Krypton became unstable, and ultimately exploded, destroying the whole planet: along with Kryptonopolis and the whole planet, also the faithful robot Kelex was destroyed and kelexcomics1erased from the universe.

Kal-El arrived on a distant planet, Earth, and grew up to become the world’s greatest and most powerful hero, Superman. One day, Superman found a Kryptonian device, called the Eradicator, that automatically started to recreate Krypton on Earth, beginning from the South Pole. The Man of Steel managed to stop the machine to save his adoptive planet, but not before it could build what would have become the Fortress of Solitude, a corner of Krypton on Earth that Superman adopted as his base. Along with the Fortress, the Eradicator built also a host of robotic servants, among which there was also a “reincarnated” version of Kelex. Always faithful to the House of El, Kelex became Superman’s main assistant, and he gained his trust to the point of becoming the Fortress’ caretaker. Unfortunately, since the Eradicator had been built by Kem-El (a distant, genocidal ancestor of Jor-El), he was a member of House of El too, and, when it came back to Earth as a being of pure energy (Superman had thrown it into the sun, destroying its physical body) Kelex helped him creating a new body for him, starting from Kal-El’s genetical pattern. When the real Superman was killed by Doomsday, the Eradicator used the new body Kelex built for him as a means to take upon himself the identity of the Man of Steel, along with Superboy and Steel. Kelex was almost destroyed twice after Superman’s resurrection, when the telepath Dominus brainwashed his master forcing him to destroy the Fortress of Solitude (with all the robots inside), and when Lex Luthor attacked his alien nemesis razing the Fortress. Kelex was severely damaged, and Superman managed to save only his head, making him able to speak again. Kelex’s head became the entrance to a ghost version of the Fortress, rebuilt in a dimensional pocket. He still had complete control of the Fortress, and also kelexcomics2managed to shut down a Superman Robot when it went mad and tried to kill Lois Lane, whom it was supposed to protect. Superman rebuilt also Kelex’ body the moment he fought Brainiac 13, and discovered that the alien cyborg was vulnerable to Kryptonian technology: complete again, Kelex led a team of Kryptonian robots against Brainiac, also giving instruction to Luthor (temporary an ally) on how to effectively attack the cyborg. Later, Kelex entered the services of John Henry Irons (the superhero Steel) and managed his company, the Steelworks, for a while. In this time, Natasha Irons, Henry’s niece, reprogrammed his personality matrix in order to update his vocabulary and to make him more user-friendly. Since then, Keelex calls Superman “the Big Blue” and cheers his masters with a “Yo mama!” everytime they come back.

Kelex is an extremely advanced robot, highly intelligent and with an uncommon understanding of human (or Kryptonian) emotions, due to a unique malfunction in his personality matrix. Loyal, faithful and helpful, Kelex knows how to make himself indispensable, even for the Man of Steel. He’s able to fly and to see through many visible spectrums; seldolmly, he’s been installed some weapons to face emergency situations, but most of the time the control he has on the Fortress of Solitude’s systems is more than enough to keep any invader at bay.

Steven Lombard

Steve LombardOnce again with a Man of Steel character, this time a human: Steven “Steve” Lombard, portrayed by Michael Kelly. In the movie, he appears as a reporter for the Daily Planet, an arrogant womanizer-wannabe who proves throughout the movie that he can act as a hero if he’s given a chance (he also tries to save intern Jenny Jurwich along with his boss, Perry White). This is the first live action appearance of Lombard, despite he’s been mentioned in Smallville in the episode Booster: in the tv show, he appears to have left Daily Planet for the rival Daily Star. Now, let’s see who Steve Lombard is in the comics.

Even Steve Lombard, as many other DC Comics characters, have been rebooted over the years following the universe’s major changes. In Earth One (the first DC Universe) Lombard was a professional football player known as The Slinger, and he played with Metropolis Meteors, one of the most important NFL teams. Unfortunately, Lombard’s career ended the day he decided to act as a hero, saving a child who had fallen from a building: the kid was saved, but Lombard suffered a major injure to his knee that made it impossible for him to continue playing. Desperate, Steve agreed to try an experimental radiation treatement, that actually managed to cure his knee; it also created a creature made of pure energy that resembled Lombard, and that acted just like him. The energy Lombard took the athlete’s life for himself, actually proving to be even better than the original; at first, Steve Lombard took credit for the stunning football career his bodydouble got, but when something went wrong in the creature’s “mind”, Lombard had too admit he was out of sports for a while, and exposed his double, who was going on a rampage. stevelombardcomics1Superman, Metropolis’ new protector, stopped the energy being, and Lombard lost any chance to continue his sporting. He was hired by Morgan Edge, a tv tycoon, as a sportscaster for Galaxy Broadcasting. Despite not being an athlete any more, Lombard had the chance to stay close to the sport’s world he loved, and took it. He worked on the Six O’ Clock News with another reporter, Clark Kent, a clumsy guy Steve enjoyed to prank on and to call “Clarkie”, but also one of the few people Lombard learnt to see as a friend. When a former college roommate that had obtained superpowers came after Steve, who was in Clark’s company, Lombard pushed his always mocked friend away before facing the attacker, only to be (obviously) saved by Superman immediately after. Mysteriously, every time Steve mocked Clark, the chair he sitted on broke…maybe because of Clark’s heat vision, a power Lombard never realized he had.

When universe was re-written after Crisis on Infinite Earths, also Steve’s life was changed, even if slightly. Steve played football in high school and college, but quitted with the latter when he was twenty in order to accept an offer from the Metropolis Sharks. His times in the pros were short-lived, since he broke his kness in a car accident and had to stop playing. He came back to college and got a degree in journalism, later becoming a newspaper’s journalist. After a while, he got bored with paper, and left his job to become a news anchor on WGBS-TV. He soon got bored once again, missing his beloved sports: he came back to press, accepting a job offer as the new editor of sports section of the Daily Planet. A real macho (at least, he thinks he is), Lombard enjoyed torturing his coworkers with pranks, jokes and mockings, always trying to get his stevelombardcomics2female colleagues’ attention. He started to despise particularly one of his colleagues, Clark Kent, the embodiment of everything Steve thought a real man shouldn’t be. When Lois Lane, one of DP’s most beautiful reporters, started dating with Kent, Lombard only started tormenting even more his coworkers, first of all Clark. Always eating donuts and hitting random colleagues with a football (laughing loud at their surprise and pain), Steve also proved to be a good teamplayer, and managed to cooperate with Ron Troupe (another reporter of the Daily Planet, the one Lombard clashed the most with) to save Cat Grant‘s life during an emergency, when alien robots invaded the newspaper’s building. Even in this version, anytime Steve’s comments upon Clark (or Lois, especially) are too rough, the legs of the chair he’s sitting on mysteriously break…

Steve Lombard is an arrogant, brash and overly self-confident bully, characterized by an overwhelming machismo that brings him to torment whoever he doesn’t find up to his idea of “a real man” (that means, everyone but himself). Despite his childish and immature attitude, Lombard can put aside his bad temper to use his strength and his talents for the common good.

Jax-Ur

Jax-UrThe long awaited movie Man of Steel has finally been released in several countries (not mine, not yet at least), and we can take a look to some more of the characters featured in the film. For first, we’ll speak about one of General Zod‘s Kryptonian followers, the scientist Jax-Ur, portrayed in the movie by Mackenzie Gray. This is the first live action appearance of the character, despite in Smallville, season 7, a character with a similar name appeared: Dax-Ur, the creator of Brainiac. Since this portrayal is quite different from Jax-Ur’s usual incarnation, we can assume that the two are not related, despite the many similarities. Now, let’s see who Jax-Ur is in the comics.

Like most of DC Comics characters, also Jax-Ur underwent several continuity rewritings, following the many Crisis and similar reboots. The first incarnation of the character was also the first and worst criminal ever imprisoned in the Phantom Zone. Jax-Ur was a genius scientist on Krypton, who committed himself in researching nuclear energy: he built a nuclear missile, and wanted to test it on a passing space rock. Unfortunately, Jor-El, another famous scientist, was testing his own spaceship around the same orbit, and the missile’s trajectory was modified. As a result, the colonial moon Weghtor was completely destroyed, along with its hundreds of inhabitants. The test was anyway succesfull, and Jax-Ur started the mass-production of his missiles planning to overthrow the High Coucil with them. Jor-El tracked the source of the first missile, and arrested Jax-Ur: showing no remorse at all for what happened to Weghtor, Jax-Ur was sentenced to eternal imprisonment in the jaxurcomics1Phantom Zone. Years later, other criminals arrived in the Phantom Zone, and Jax-Ur allied himself with some of them, like General Zod and Faora. From them, he learnt that Jor-El’s son had survived Krypton’s destruction, living on Earth. Driven by vengeance, Jax-Ur used his genius to escape the Phantom Zone and travelled to Earth, reaching the little town of Smallville. In here, he kidnapped Jonathan Kent and used his technology to imitate his appearance. Jax-Ur made young Clark Kent believe that his father had become a superhero too, but was unmasked the moment he signed an invoice with his true name (not so smart, in fact…). Clark fought him as Superboy, and imprisoned him again in the Phantom Zone. Jax-Ur kept planning and plotting against Kal-El from the Phantom Zone, until he managed to escape once again; this time, however, he allied himself with adult Kal-El, Superman, to fight Black Zero, the alien who had destroyed Krypton. Using the new powers obtained with the Red Kryptonite used by Black Zero himself, Jax-Ur killed the alien, avenging his home planet; he then came back to the Phantom Zone on his own will.

After Crisis on Infinite Earths, Jax-Ur was still the Kryptonian scientist responsible for the destruction of Weghtor. This time, his actions drew the unpleasant attention of Brainiac, the Coulan cyborg that “stole” Kandor, another colony. Jax-Ur was found guilty for the destruction of both colonies and the mass-murder of the inhabitants, and sentenced to imprisonment in the Phantom Zone. This one was used just as a storage until Jax-Ur’s incrimination, and became a dimensional prison only from that moment on. Years passed, and Krypton was destroyed during a natural planetary crisis. Jax-Ur was later released from his imprisonment by General jaxurcomics2Zod, a Kryptonian warlord who was searching for allies; wanting to help Zod with his conquest plans, Jax-Ur became one of his Sleeper Kryptonians, agents disguised as humans while posing on Earth as normal citizens. Jax-Ur was hidden behind the identity of Dr. Phillings, one of the most brilliant xenobiologists on the planet. Secretly, he was conducting a series of atrocious experiments on Earth creatures, humans included, while publicly he was one of the world’s top experts in Kryptonian DNA. When Dr. Light asked Phillings to do some research on Chris Kent‘s accelerate aging, the man used the occasion to investigate about the connection of Kent with Kryptonian demi-god Nightwing, and of his fellow Thara Ak-Var with Flamebird. His researches led Jax-Ur to understand that the boy and the girl were avatars of the demi-gods, just as him was an avatar of their nemesis, Vohc the Breaker. Using the heroes’ DNA, Jax-Ur/Vohc created a clone of Rao, the Kryptonian main god, and used it as a weapon to unleash on the world. Jax-Ur was ultimately defeated by Nightwing and Flamebird, who destroyed the Rao clone and left an unconcious Jax-Ur to be collected by the Justice Society.

Jax-Ur is a completely amoral and unscrupolous scientist, ready to crash anything and anyone who stands on his research’s path. As a Kryptonian, he possesses all Superman’s powers (superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, reflexes and senses; heat vision; freezing breath; flight; x-ray vision and many more), but, being a scholar and not a warrior, he doesn’t stand a chance in physical confrontation with Kal-El. His most dangerous weapon is his own intellect: a genius with no ethical limitations, he’s able to conceive and build any kind of weapon of unthinkable destructive power.

Xerxes I

xerxesfilmAnd here we are again, speaking of one of the most curious villains ever seen in a movie: Xerxes I of Persia, the emperor who tries to conquer Greece in 300 and its prequel-midquel-sequel, 300: Rise of an Empire. The first trailer for the last one has been released, and we got some shots from the movie. Xerxes will be once again portrayed by Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro. Leaving aside all the controversies that the character arose, especially in Iran (c’mon guys, the movie takes inspiration from a comicbook, not from the actual history…), we’ll try to learn who Xerxes was…in the comics, of course.

Xerxes (in Persian: Khashayarsha) was the son of Darius I of Persia and Atossa, the daughter of Cyrus II the Great. Xerxes was the eldest son Darius had from Atossa, but he wasn’t the firstborn prince at all. This proved to be quite problematic the moment Darius decided to start a military campaign against Athens, a Greek city which was starting a rebellion; at the same time, some satraps (the Persian governors) started a riot in Egypt, and the king was supposed to bring order again in all his territories. Being Darius old and with a failing health, he was supposed to name a successor before leaving, and he appointed Xerxes as the new Emperor in case of his death. Unfortunately, Darius’ illness got worse, and he died before leaving. Xerxes claimed the throne for himself, having been appointed as successor, but Darius’ firstborn, Artabazanes, claimed he had the right for it, being the eldest prince. Using the dialectic he was taught since he was a child, Xerxes convince the elders that the throne was his by right, since Artabazanes was the son of a commoner, a woman Darius had married when he was still a simple man, while he was the son of Atossa, the daughter of the man who had founded the Persian Empire, and the first son Darius conceived as xerxescomics1a king. Despite being his elder brother, Artabazanes was banished, while Xerxes was crowned King of Persia. As his first royal act, he brutally suppressed the rebellion in Egypt, and left his brother, Achaemenes, on the territory as the new governor. Then, he proceeded to punish Babylon, another city who tried to uprise against his father: in order to break the Babylonians’ spirit, Xerxes stole the statue of their god, Bel, and had it melted, committing the highest sacrilege in the city’s history. He then renounced to the title of King of Babylon, that belonged to his father, and named himself King of Kings, and also King of Nations: his ambition was just at the beginning.

Darius died before avenging the Persians’ defeat in Marathon, where a Greek army had vanquished his batallions. It was now Xerxes’ mission to finally invade Greece and to break the people that had resisted to the world’s most powerful Empire. The Great King, a cunning tactician trained to the art of war since his childhood, gathered an immense army from every corner of his empire, forcing Egyptians, Babylonians, Phoenicians and many others to fight for him. He also ordered a channel to be dug through Mount Athos, so that Greece could have been reached faster. He also began the construction of a bridge across the Hellespont (the strait now called Dardanelles), but a storm destroyed the first bridge. That was the time Xerxes deployed the divine powers coming from his royal nature: he ordered the Hellespont to be whipped and lashed three hundred times, and he also threw legcuffs in it in order to “chain” the water. Challenging the water god as a god his even, Xerxes unexpectedly succeeded, and the second bridge stood still, with the Persian army being more and more terrified by the inexplicable powers of their king. Xerxes proceeded with his plan, and forged an alliance with Carthage: this way, Greece couldn’t receive help from two powerful Carthaginian colonies, Syracuse and Agrigentum. With an army of more than one million soldiers and ten thousands Immortals, the Persian elite warriors, Xerxes xerxescomics2was finally ready to end the war his father didn’t have the chance to start. He first tried to negotiate the major Greek cities’ surrender, but both Athens and Sparta stubbornly refused; the Spartan king, Leonidas, arrived to the point of killing the Persian messenger, thus breaking every rule known to diplomacy. Xerxes corrupted the Ephors, the guardians of the Oracle, in order to prevent any reaction from the cities, but Leonidas, uninterested in religion, moved against him nevertheless, and awaited him and his army at the Thermopylae with three hundred warriors. Despite the enemies being so few, their exceptional prowess and the narrow fighting place they had chosen repetedly humiliated Xerxes’ forces. The Emperor tried once again to convince Leonidas to surrender, but the Spartan refused, even when offered a general position in the Persian army. Eventually, Xerxes won the collaboration of Ephialtes, a deformed outcast with a grudge against the Spartans that had always despised him. The traitor informed the Persians of another way around the Thermopylae, a knowledge that Xerxes used to crush Leonidas’ resistance…not before the Spartan king wounded him with a spear, thus demonstrating to the world that also a “god” could bleed. With the three hundred Persians vanquished, Xerxes was finally ready to complete his conquest plan.

Xerxes I is an ambitious and ruthless ruler, a man who believes himself to be a god and acts on consequence. He despises any human being less than exceptional, and treats everyone like slaves or mere items at his disposal. Gifted with a cunning intelligence, he’s a formidable tactician and a skillful speaker, able to win against his adversary both on the battlefield and outside of it. Strong, determined, absolutely self-confident, Xerxes resembles more an unstoppable force of nature than a normal king.