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DC’s strangest General Zod wasn’t even a Kryptonian

General Zod is a storied DC villain, but at one point the Superman antagonist was changed so drastically, he wasn't even from the planet Krypton any more.

Michael Shannon as General Zod in Man of Steel

We’ve only had one General Zod in the DCU so far, but being one of the best DC villains, he’s had a few different iterations. Usually, these versions maintain that he’s from Krypton, making his the perfect adversary for Superman.

But there was a point when he wasn’t, and it’s a strange, strange chapter in DC Comics history. Like a lot of oddities from DC, we need to look back to Crisis on Infinite Earths. As part of the aftermath of the universe-altering event, Superman could be the only survivor of Krypton.

That meant Supergirl needed to be rewritten, and that meant Zod had to be changed. Both DC characters underwent radical, and pretty dark, transformations, but one of the ways Zod was re-introduced is so strange, it’s just sort of funny.

In the early 2000s, while DC was still adhering to the idea Superman could be the only Kryptonian left, Zod made a comeback in Action Comics issue 779. Joe Kelly, Duncan Rouleau, Jaime Mendoza, and Rob Schwager were the creative team, and their concept was certainly novel.

Russian Zod in DC Comics

When Superman was arrived to Earth, an Eastern European space mission passed his ship. As they crossed paths, the cosmonauts inside suffered some radiation poisoning. One of them was pregnant, and her baby mutated as a result.

Their child, Avruskin, became quasi-Kryptonian, being powered up by the red sun, and weakened by the yellow sun. He was eventually taken in by the KGB for testing, and as he learned more about his powers, the original Zod visits him as a ghost.

See, Zod was killed in another timeline, and now he’s able to communicate through the afterlife. He detected the emergence of another like Superman, and through his advice, Avruskin builds a suit that amps up his strength and agility, making him a true force to be reckoned with.

Russian Zod after beating up Superman

Avruskin decides he’d like his home country, Pokolistan, to essentially rule the world, and starts building an empire. Superman’s not a fan of this, obviously, and neither is Lex Luthor, but they struggle to do anything about it.

Several times, Avruskin actually beats Superman in a fight. Genuinely, he beats down our great defender before he eventually dies by losing a game of chicken to Superman (seriously).

Known as the ‘Russian Zod’ to fans, Zed has faded into obscurity. A few short years later, we got Infinite Crisis, and Kryptonians were allowed roam free again. Genereal Zod returned to exactly how we know him, and we got Man of Steel, pushing the antagonist to the fore again.

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Will we ever see Avruskin again? He’d sure make a great movie villain, if James Gunn’s looking for curveballs for the Superman: Legacy release date. That’d be a curious addition to any Superman movies in order marathon or DC movies in order rundown.

We wouldn’t bet on it though. Check out our Superman actors list to ponder who could’ve faced down Zed, and for more from DC, we have guides to the Batman 2 release date, Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow release date, and the Brave and the Bold release date.