Zod in Superman the Animated Series
Blasts from the Past centres around escaped Kryptonian prisoners from inside the Phantom Zone. Of course, following the success and impact of Superman II, it’s tempting to guess these characters would be some combination of Zod, Non and Ulsa. Thanks to Terence Stamp’s performance, Zod has managed to anchor himself among the very top-tier of Superman’s rogues’ gallery. The performance is so iconic and influential that many comic book writers have tried to incorporate Zod into the shared DC universe.
Different versions of the character have been presented in Brian Azzarello and Jim Lee’s For Tomorrow, Geoff Johns and Richard Donner’s Action Comics run and even Grant Morrison’s Action Comics reboot. That’s to say nothing of misguided early attempts to introduce “Russian Zod.” It’s hard to think of a comic book villain who has endured so many attempts to weave him into the tapestry of an iconic hero. And a huge amount of that is down to the impression that Terence Stamp made in the role.
Perhaps because Stamp was so iconic in the role, Bruce Timm and his fellow creators veer clear of using Zod in the cartoon. Instead, they opt for the villain Jax-Ur. Of course, Silver Age comics featured all manner of evil Kryptonians for Superman to go head-to-head with, but it does seem strange that Blast from the Past would go out of the way to use a character who wasn’t Zod in a role clearly emulating his part in Superman II.
The comic book version of Jax-Ur was a rogue Kryptonian scientist, who was bald, chubby and moustached. In contrast, the version of Jax-Ur presented here rather pointedly resembles the film version of Zod. He’s a military leader whose “thirst for power” inspires him to launch a military coup on Krypton. Much like Stamp’s Zod, Jax-Ur harbours a grudge against the House of El. “Where is Jor-El?” he demands. “Does he not have the backbone to face his condemned? Bring me Jor-El! Let me spit at him with my final breath!”
It feels weird that the show goes out of the way to avoid using Zod, when the characters are so clearly based on Zod and his followers from Superman II. Indeed, the role of Mala would be played by Sarah Douglas in the later adventure Absolute Power. Douglas is most famous for playing Ulsa in Superman II, Zod’s female sidekick. It seems like the producers are going out of their way to invite comparisons to Superman II.
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