Sunday, July 16, 2006

Reasons I love Comics (issue#2): "Come, son of Jor-El! Kneel before Zod!"

After watching Kevin Spacey's lacklustre display in Superman Returns, I want to hark back to the happy days of 1979, when Supes had proper baddies to battle with.
When Superman II came out, I was taken to see it by my father, but I'd heard that Superman got beat up in this film, so I flat out refused to go into the cinema. I didn't want to see Superman bleeding! We ended up going to see Popeye instead, the shit live action version with Robin Williams. My Dad didn't speak to me for at least a week after that!
When I did finally pluck up courage, I thought it was brilliant (subsequent viewings as an adult has dimmed this view somewhat. There is a lot wrong with it. People who say Superman II is better than the first one are talking out of their arses.) The main reason I thought it was brilliant: General Zod. (Still the main reason to watch the film today.)
In the comics, General Dru-Zod (his full name) was a Kryptonian equivalent of a neo-nazi. He was sent to the Phantom Zone for his hate crimes. In the movie, he is just a bog standard villain arrested for a few murders, and sent to the phantom zone by Superman's Biological father, Jor-El. Being sent to the Phantom Zone resembles being turned into an LP cover, which is then flung into the far reaches of space. (This bit always reminds of the cover to Queen's Greatest Hits.) Subsequently, Zod and his two cohorts, Non and Ursa, survive Krypton's demise. They get out after having a hydrogen bomb thrown at them by Superman, (He didn't know they were there!)and they try to take over Earth, each of them having the same abilities as Superman.
Terence Stamp is excellent as Zod.He portrayed Zod as a pathologically arrogant aristocrat. When Zod is told that "the whole planet" is watching him, his performance suggests narcissism. At times he seemed almost fed up with his incredible abilities, as new as they may be: "I win! I always win. Is there no one on this planet to even challenge me?!" When Ursa soothed him with, "You are master of all you survey," Zod replied, "And so I was yesterday, and the day before."
In the scene in which the U.S. President surrenders to the three super-villains, he utters, "Oh God!" He is quickly corrected by the general with a curt rejoinder: "Zod."
Zod's line "Come, son of Jor-El! Kneel before Zod!" has become part of popular culture, frequently referenced in other films and TV shows (such as Jay shouting it in Mallrats). It is delivered with such panache! Although, you have to wonder why he wants men to kneel in front of him all the time.
The climactic fight scene between the four Kryptonians is fantastic (although the 'jokes' like the roller-skater being blown backwards and the man continuing his conversation on the payphone once it has been blown over and sent down the street are just rubbish and spoil the tension of the scene.) Zod realises that Superman's weakness is his compassion for other people, and so throws a packed single-decker bus at him!
Zod is brilliant.It is almost certainly Stamp's portrayal that has led to Zod becoming one of Superman's best known villains. Most non-comics fans don't really know any Superman villains other than Luthor and Zod. Zod should take his place as rightful ruler of 'Planet Houston'. We must take his hand and swear eternal loyalty to him, or perish for our defiance. There is only one choice. We must KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!

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