Zor-El is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. A Kryptonian, he is the younger brother of Jor-El, husband of Alura, father of Supergirl, and paternal uncle of Superman.

Traditional depictions of Zor-El in Golden Age and Silver Age DC Comics stories portrayed him as a benevolent scientist concerned for his daughter Supergirl, acting similarly to his brother Jor-El in sending his child to safety on Earth. In the mid-2000s, DC experimented with different characterisations of Zor-El, even briefly casting him as a mad scientist with a grudge against his brother. A similar depiction was used when the character was adapted for television in the series Smallville. In 2010s stories following DC's The New 52 reboot, Zor-El has been an antagonist for Supergirl and Superman, having been transformed into the villain Cyborg Superman by Brainiac.

Cyborg Superman (Zor-El)
Zor-El as Cyborg Superman on the cover of Action Comics #23.1 (November 2013 DC Comics). Art by Aaron Kuder.
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceAction Comics #252 (May 1959)
Created byOtto Binder (writer)
Al Plastino (art)
In-story information
Alter egoCyborg Superman
Place of originKrypton
Team affiliationsBlack Lantern Corps
AbilitiesUnder a yellow sun:
  • Flight
  • Heat vision
  • Freezing breath
  • Extrasensory powers, including X-ray vision

Publication history

Zor-El first appeared in Action Comics #252 (May 1959) and was created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino.

Fictional character biography



In pre-Crisis continuity, Zor-El was a climatographer on Krypton, and one of the only scientists to believe his older brother Jor-El's predictions about the impending destruction of Krypton. When the planet exploded, Argo City was somehow blown safely into space with a life-giving bubble of air around it (a later version of the story in Action Comics #316 (September 1964) has the city saved by weather dome that Zor-El had constructed). The explosion had turned the ground beneath Argo City into Kryptonite, but Zor-El and the other survivors covered the surface with sheets of lead. The Kryptonians managed to keep alive for many years, and Kara was born a short time after the destruction of Krypton. The end for Argo City came when a meteor storm punched holes into the lead sheeting, exposing the survivors to the deadly kryptonite radiation. Zor-El managed to build a rocket and use it to send his daughter Kara to Earth. Fearing that Superman would not recognize her because he had left Krypton as an infant, Kara's parents provided a costume based closely on the Man of Steel's own.

It was later revealed to Supergirl through Zor-El induced dreams that her parents had teleported away into the Survival Zone (similar to the Phantom Zone) during Argo's final moments. Supergirl was able to rescue them in Action Comics #310 (March 1964), and Zor-El and Alura went on to live in Kandor. When the bottle city was enlarged, Zor-El and Alura resettled on New Krypton/Rokyn.


In the alternate universe of Earth-Two, Zor-L and Allura (note different spelling) sent Kara to Earth Two where she became Power girl. This Zor-L was an expert in psychology, and created a virtual reality chamber for Kara inside her spacecraft. As she aged inside the rocket on her way to Earth-Two (taking a different, longer course than Kal-L did), she experienced the type of life she would have had on Krypton. Zor-L and Allura were killed when Krypton exploded. This version of Zor-L lived in Kandor and not Argo City. Zor-L only made one appearance, in Showcase #98 (March 1978).

Post-Crisis and Zero Hour (Birthright) and Infinite Crisis timelines

Zor-El (Birthright timeline version)
Zor-El (Birthright timeline version) as he appears in Supergirl #5 (March, 2006 DC Comics). Art by Ian Churchill.

In "The Supergirl from Krypton" story-arc in Superman/Batman #8-13 (May–October 2004), Zor-El rocketed his daughter away from Krypton before Kal-El left. It was expected that she would reach Earth first and could help raise Kal from his infancy. However, she stayed in stasis and her ship did not reach Earth until years later, so the infant she expected to help raise was a grown man when she arrived still in her teens.

After Lex Luthor uses Black Kryptonite to split Kara into good and evil parts, the evil Kara claims that Zor-El actually sent his daughter to Earth to kill his nephew, since he was resentful of his older brother and hated the idea of Jor-El's lineage continuing past Krypton's destruction. Regardless of the truth or falseness of this, Kara has rejected this aspect of herself.

In the new Supergirl series, new information on Zor-El's history and relations are ongoing.

Zor-El was featured in issue #16 as he appeared as an apparition and explained what truly happened to Kara, and why she was sent to Earth to kill Kal-El, in a dream sequence. Zor-El was against the use of the Phantom Zone as a prison because he felt that it would become abused, since no blood was shed, it became a clean way to deal with criminals. In the Argo City area he lived in he was a very trusted scientist, like his brother Jor-El, and was working at this time on Sun Stones. He fought with Jor-El over the use of the Phantom Zone and tried to stop him from supporting it. Zor-El began to see that each time someone went in, something was also coming out, in the form of Phantoms. These Phantoms possessed people, creating anarchy on Krypton. Zor-El discovered he could stop them using his Sun Stones, although the bodies of the possessed would be destroyed. However, Zor-El was not believed and began to be seen as a dangerous crank.

This tied together and explained fragmented flashbacks that had suggested Zor-El was a villainous character, including his dismissal of schoolchildren taunting Kara as "the dead" (they had already been possessed) and Alura telling Kara to kill her and "make your father proud" (she had also been possessed, and this was not a taunt but a genuine request from what remained of her original personality) as well as the original idea that he wanted Kara to kill Kal-El. As the story ended, it was revealed that the house of El was cursed by the phantoms as they saw them as their jailers. Wherever one of the El blood line went, the Phantoms would follow. To save Earth, he needed to send Kara to remove Kal and stop the El blood line from ever-growing.

At the end of this story arc, however, it was revealed that the images of Zor-El and the Phantoms subsequently invading Earth as predicted were all a ruse by the Monitors to see if Supergirl belonged in the New Earth universe. Upon discovering she was truly that universe's Supergirl she was left to her own devices to reconcile with all the people she harmed in the wake of the "test". The Monitor does, however, assert that the memories of Zor-El and the phantoms on Krypton were nevertheless real.

New Krypton

A subsequent flashback in #24 apparently contradicts the Monitor, revealing that "New Earth" Zor-El was not a scientist, although Alura was. In current continuity, Zor-El was a Ranger, and got on well with his brother. With his encouragement, Alura designed the ship that sent Kara to Earth, as both Kal-El's protector and the last living being who remembered Krypton (since Kal-El was an infant). Nothing further has been revealed about the real New Earth Zor-El, as yet.

In Action Comics #869 it is revealed the Zor-El saved Argo City from Krypton's destruction by engineering a protective dome with his wife Alura. However, Brainiac, who was the culprit for Krypton's explosion, returned to finish the job. He merged Argo with the Bottle City of Kandor and killed those he considered to be duplicate information. Superman finds the city in Brainiac's ship. Zor-El and Alura are able to make contact with Kal-El to enquire about their daughter. He was later murdered by Reactron.

In Supergirl #43, Zor-El is described as a noted member of Krypton's Artist Guild, and Kara as sharing his creative impulse.

In Blackest Night crossover, while Kara and Alura are visiting Zor-El's tomb, discussing the situation with Earth, Zor-El is reanimated as a member of the Black Lantern Corps, ready to attack his wife and daughter. The scientists of New Krypton manage to place a forcefield composed of a counter-energy to the black ring's power source around the planet, cutting off Zor-El's right hand and preventing him from continuing his attack.

The New 52

In September 2011, The New 52 rebooted DC's continuity. In this new timeline, Supergirl discovers an amnesiac Cyborg Superman living on the planet I'noxia. This turns out to be Zor-El, who was rescued from Krypton's destruction by Brainiac and reconfigured as a half-man half-machine to be his scout looking for stronger species in the universe.[1]

His backstory is that in spite of his jealousy and resentment, Zor-El listened when Jor-El claimed Krypton was doomed. Using Brainiac-based technology he built a dome around Argo City, and a space rocket to send Kara to Earth just in case Argo's force-field failed. He did not warn his wife and daughter about his plans, though. Minutes before the explosion he put his daughter to sleep, laid her on a space pod and blasted her into space. Argo City outlived Krypton but not for long. Without a way to sustain themselves, all Argoans eventually died. Zor-El was the only left when Brainiac found the city. Brainiac turned Zor-El into a cyborg, erased his memory and reprogrammed him to serve him.

Still Zor-El was not a compliant servant. He was obsessed with achieving perfection and getting his lost memories back. The new Zor-El met and fought Supergirl -who gave him the "Cyborg Superman" moniker- several times.[2] [3] Zor-El eventually rebelled against Brainiac. He was soundly defeated and left for dead. Still his systems rebooted, restoring his memory in the process. Zor-El was appalled at what he had become and what he had done and became obsessed with bringing Argo City back and recreating Krypton, convincing himself it was for his daughter's sake. [4]Unfortunately, his chosen method demanded the sacrifice of Earth people's lives, forcing Supergirl to stop him. After defeating him, Kara told her father he could have looked for another way to save Argo and she would have helped him but he never wanted that. Still she was not willing to give up on her father. So Zor-El was taken to Dr. Veritas's lab, and was placed inside a pod as Dr. Veritas went about removing his cybernetic components and reconstructing his body using TychoTech's technology. His daughter still visited him, unwilling to give up on her father, but Zor-El pretended to sleep and never talked back.

It was not until Indigo nearly killed Supergirl that he acted by tearing Indigo into pieces. Although he was only saving his daughter's life, the National City's townsfolk felt his actions confirmed Supergirl was protecting a murderer only because he was her father. Zor-El was captured by the D.E.O., taken to a clandestine base and locked up. There he was visited by Mister Oz, who gave him what he considered a mercy kill by activating the red plasma failsafe in his containment tank, leaving him to drown in it, powerless. [5]

In other media


  • Zor-El appears alongside his wife Alura in the Super Friends episode "The Krypton Syndrome".
  • Zor-El first appeared in the seventh-season episode of Smallville, "Lara". A replicant of Zor-El (portrayed by Christopher Heyerdahl), and his sister in-law Lara (portrayed by former Supergirl actor Helen Slater) returned in "Blue" due to a crystal technology developed by Zor-El. In the Smallville mythology, Zor-El and Jor-El were bitter rivals who refused to speak, specifically due to the actions of Zor-El. The recorded mind of Jor-El, confronted by his son Clark Kent in "Kara", reveals that Zor-El was a corrupt and evil branch of the "El" line and there was no reason for Clark to know that he was a relative of such a person, very different from the one in the comics. In the episode, it's revealed that Zor-El loved Lara and that he despised Jor-El because he believed he stole her away from him. Zor-El appeared in the 8th episode of the 7th season "Blue" as a replicant, created by a few strands left in crystal technology, when he tricked Clark in to setting a blue crystal sent with Kara into the Fortress of Solitude. It has been recently revealed in Smallville Legends: "Kara From Krypton" that Zor-El worked for Zod, yet in the 15th episode of the 7th Season "Veritas", Kara says that the only thing their fathers did agree on was their "mutual hatred for General Zod".
  • As a spinoff from the Smallville show, a series of animated shorts were produced called Kara and the Chronicles of Krypton. Originally streamed on the CW website and sent to the phones of Sprint customers, Kara and the Chronicles of Krypton showed the last day of Krypton. Zor-El is a miner in Kandor who is in league with Zod. He believes he is the subject of one of Rao's prophecies and that he will create a New Krypton on Earth where he would live as a god. Kara finds out about his scheme to destroy the planet and alerts Lara who thanks her for the warning that will lead to Kal-El's escape. In Kara's fight to escape him, Zor-El is impaled on a crystal. He erases his daughter's memory of the incident and prepares the blue crystal in time to send Kara on her way to Earth.
  • Zor-El has a brief appearance in the premiere episode and in the episode "For the Girl Who Has Everything" of CBS's television series Supergirl, played by Robert Gant. In "Medusa", it is revealed that he created Medusa virus which is not harmful to Kryptonians but lethal to other alien species in the case of potential invasion, but it was never used on Krypton after its creation. In later seasons, Zor-El is merely mentioned and is revealed to have died after having saved Argo City from Krypton's destruction. Due to their new unfamiliar surrounding, majority of Argo City's inhabitants grew weak and were dying. Zor- El was able to use the rock of Eudical to make Argo City inhabitable, but died in the process. His lab remains, where Kara, Mon-El, and Alura were able to use and finish his trans map portal, taking them back to Earth.


  • In the 1984 Supergirl movie, Zor-El was played by Simon Ward.
  • Zor-El appears in Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.
  • Zor-El appears in Superman: Unbound voiced by Stephen Root. When Superman visits Kandor, Zor-El and Alura tell him about Brainiac.


  • The Zor-El of Kevin J. Anderson's novel, The Last Days of Krypton, is one of Krypton’s most accomplished scientists, second only to his older brother Jor-El. Zor-El is also the political leader of Argo City, a coastal metropolis on a narrow tropical peninsula off the main continent’s southeastern shore. While investigating tremors originating in Krypton’s uninhabited southern continent, Zor-El discovers a new volcano, an indication of rising core pressure that could lead to the planet’s doom. After the theft of Kandor by Brainiac, Jor-El is able to convince Commissioner Zod to sanction the construction of the Rao beam, which Jor-El and Zor-El use to relieve the pressure at the core. When Zor-El discovers that Zod is consolidating power by kidnapping his most vocal opponents, he leads the cities of Krypton in a coordinated revolt against the dictator. Knowing that Zod plans to lay siege to Argo City, Zor-El commissions the construction of shield generators around the city’s perimeter. These shields are later used to save the city from the destruction of Krypton (though Anderson does not reveal whether Zor-El’s plan to save Argo City is ultimately successful).


  1. ^ Supergirl Vol. 6 #22
  2. ^ Supergirl Vol. 6 #2
  3. ^ Superman: Doomed #1-2
  4. ^ Supergirl: Reign of the Cyborg Supermen
  5. ^ Supergirl Vol. 7 #13

External links

Alternative versions of Supergirl

The article alternative versions of Supergirl focuses on stories published by DC Comics in which various incarnations of the character have been placed in storylines taking place both in and outside mainstream continuity.

Within mainstream continuity, several characters have claimed the mantle of "Supergirl" due to DC Comics' "Multiverse" system of alternative realities, continuity reboots, and stories involving time travel, a number of variant iterations of the character exist in various alternative universes. Alternative versions of Supergirl have been featured in various DC comic publications including the "Elseworlds" imprint.

Supergirl was originally introduced in Action Comics #252 as the cousin of the publisher's flagship superhero, Superman in the story The Supergirl from Krypton. In most depictions, she is an alien from the planet Krypton, possessing a multitude of superhuman abilities derived from the rays of a yellow sun. Other mainstream characters have taken the name Supergirl over the years, with decidedly non-extraterrestrial origins, such as that of a superhuman artificial life-form and later a troubled young woman reborn as an "Earth-born Angel."

Argo City

Argo City is a fictional extraterrestrial city appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Located on the planet Krypton, it is the birthplace of Supergirl. Argo City first appeared in Action Comics #252 (May 1959).

In many continuities, it is portrayed as having survived Krypton's destruction, due to a field created to protect the city.

Cyborg Superman

Cyborg Superman is a persona that has been used by two fictional characters in the DC Universe, both of which are supervillains that appear in comic books published by DC Comics.


Flamebird is the name used by six different fictional comic book characters who have appeared in books published by DC Comics, specifically from the Superman and Batman mythos.

The primary character to use the Flamebird name is Bette Kane, who was the pre-Crisis hero Bat-Girl. However, the original pre-Crisis Flamebird was Jimmy Olsen, who was later succeeded by a Kandorian scientist. Post-Crisis a Kryptonian hero used the name Flamebird, and in a "One Year Later" storyline, so has Kara Zor-El.

Flamebird characters are also often associated with characters who use the name Nightwing.

List of Supergirl characters

Supergirl is an American television series developed by Greg Berlanti, Ali Adler, and Andrew Kreisberg based on the characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in the "Superman" franchise and Al Plastino and Otto Binder's character Supergirl. The series stars Melissa Benoist in the titular role of Kara Zor-El / Kara Danvers / Supergirl, as well as Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh, Jeremy Jordan, David Harewood, and Calista Flockhart, with Chris Wood, Floriana Lima, Katie McGrath, Odette Annable, Jesse Rath, Sam Witwer, Nicole Maines and April Parker Jones joining in later seasons. In addition to original characters, several other characters from DC Comics universe also appear throughout the series. For its first season, Supergirl aired on CBS, before moving to The CW for its second season.The series follows Kryptonian refugee and Superman's biological cousin Kara Zor-El (Benoist), who, after hiding her powers on Earth for more than a decade, becomes National City's superhero as Supergirl, battles against extraterrestrial and otherworldly threats, criminal masterminds, being targeted by her cousin's rogues gallery, and encountering an emerging community of metahumans within her adoptive world and individuals from parallel universes. Supergirl also deals with Earth's populace's fears and hostility against extraterrestrials and other beings with superpowers, leading her into conflicts with industrialist Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli), Lucy Lane's (Jenna Dewan) father General Sam Lane (Glenn Morshower), and Project Cadmus. She is assisted by a few close friends and family who guard her secrets—most notably her cousin's longtime friend James Olsen (Brooks), her adopted sister Alex Danvers (Leigh), and the Martian survivor J'onn J'onzz (Harewood).

The following is a list of characters who have appeared in the television series. Many are named after (or based on) DC Comics characters.

List of Superman creators

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman, there are other contributors to Superman.

Malina Weissman

Malina Opal Weissman (born March 12, 2003) is an American actress and model, best known for her roles as Violet Baudelaire in the Netflix series A Series of Unfortunate Events, young April O'Neil in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and young Kara Zor-El in Supergirl.

Pilot (Supergirl)

The pilot episode of the television series Supergirl premiered on CBS on October 26, 2015. It was written by series developers/creators Greg Berlanti, Ali Adler and Andrew Kreisberg, and directed by Glen Winter.

The Supergirl pilot details the origins of Kryptonian Kara Zor-El, whose quest to follow in her famous cousin's footsteps would emerge while maintaining a mild mannered life as Kara Danvers.

The episode received positive reviews, especially for the performance of the series' star Melissa Benoist. It also became CBS' most watched new series of the 2015-16 television season, and the most watched new scripted series overall by Nielsen, with 12.9 million viewers tuning in and an estimated 19 million over the next week, once delayed viewing is tabulated. It also gave CBS its first successful series to target a younger demo in the 18-49 age group, which is favored by advertiser groups.

Satan Girl

Originally, Satan Girl was an evil duplicate of Kara Zor-El created by red kryptonite in Adventure Comics #313, 1963. She attempted to kill Supergirl's fellow female Legionnaires so she could sustain her independent existence.

Satan Girl reappears in Legionnaires #17 (Aug. 1994), as one of the time anomalies created by the events of Zero Hour.

The storyline in Supergirl vol. 5, #3–6 (Dec. 2005–Mar. 2006) is inspired by the original Satan Girl story, with black kryptonite producing a duplicate "Dark Supergirl".🤫


Seyg-El is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. He is Superman and Supergirl's grandfather and the father of Jor-El and Zor-El. He is the former head of the Kryptonian Council. He appears in the live action television series Krypton as a young man, portrayed by Cameron Cuffe.


Supergirl is the name of several fictional superheroes appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. The original and most well known Supergirl is Kara Zor-El, who is the cousin of the superhero Superman. The character made her first appearance in Action Comics #252 (May 1959) and was created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino.

Created as a female counterpart to Superman, Kara Zor-El shares his super powers and vulnerability to Kryptonite. Supergirl plays a supporting role in various DC Comics publications, including Action Comics, Superman, and several comic book series unrelated to Superman. In 1969, Supergirl's adventures became the lead feature in Adventure Comics, and she later starred in an eponymous comic book series which debuted in 1972 and ran until 1974, followed by a second monthly comic book series titled The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl, which ran from 1982 to 1984.

Due to changing editorial policy at DC, Supergirl was initially killed off in the 1985 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths. DC Comics subsequently rebooted the continuity of the DC Comics Universe, re-establishing Superman's character as the sole survivor of Krypton's destruction. Following the conclusion of Crisis on Infinite Earths, several different characters written as having no familial relationship to Superman have assumed the role of Supergirl, including Matrix, Linda Danvers, and Cir-El. Following the cancellation of the third, 1996–2003 Supergirl comic book series which starred the Matrix/Linda Danvers version of the character, a modern version of Kara Zor-El was reintroduced into the DC Comics continuity in issue #8 of the Superman/Batman comic book series titled "The Supergirl from Krypton" (February 2004). The modern Kara Zor-El stars as Supergirl in an eponymous comic book series, in addition to playing a supporting role in various other DC Comics publications.

Since her initial comic book appearances, the character later branched out into animation, film, television, and merchandising. In May 2011, Supergirl placed 94th on IGN's list of the Top 100 Comic Book Heroes of All Time. In November 2013, the character placed 17th on IGN's list of the Top 25 Heroes of DC Comics.

Supergirl (Kara Zor-El)

Supergirl is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. The character was created by writer Otto Binder and designed by artist Al Plastino. Supergirl first appeared in a story published in Action Comics #252 (May 1959) titled "The Supergirl from Krypton".

Kara Zor-El is the biological cousin of Kal-El (Superman). During the 1980s and the revolution of the Modern Age of Comics, Superman editors believed the character's history had become too convoluted, and desired to re-establish Superman as "The Last Son of Krypton". Supergirl was thus killed during the 1985 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths and retconned out of existence. In the decades following Crisis, several characters unrelated to Superman used the Supergirl alias.

Kara Zor-El re-entered mainstream continuity in 2004 when DC Comics Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Dan DiDio, along with editor Eddie Berganza and comic book writer Jeph Loeb, reintroduced the character in the Superman/Batman storyline "The Supergirl from Krypton". The title paid homage to the original character's 1959 debut. As the current Supergirl, Kara Zor-El stars in her own monthly comic book series. With DC's 2011 relaunch, Kara, like most of the DC Universe, was revamped. DC relaunched the Supergirl comic in August 2016 as part of their DC Rebirth initiative.Since the character's comic book debut, Kara Zor-El's Supergirl has been adapted into various media, including television and film, having being played by Helen Slater, Laura Vandervoort, and most recently Melissa Benoist in the Arrowverse.

Supergirl (Linda Danvers)

Linda Danvers, formerly known as Supergirl, is a fictional comic book superhero appearing in books published by DC Comics. Created by writer Peter David and artist Gary Frank, she debuted in Supergirl vol.4 #1 (September 1996). She is not to be confused with Linda Lee Danvers, the secret identity used by the Kara Zor-El incarnation of Supergirl prior to the events of 1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Supergirl (comic book)

Supergirl is the name of seven comic book series published by DC Comics, featuring various characters of the same name. The majority of the titles feature Superman's cousin Kara Zor-El.

Supergirl in other media

The fictional superheroine Supergirl has been adapted into pop culture several times since 1984. This includes a feature film and several animated and live-action television programs.

Superman dynasty

The Superman dynasty, an extension of the House of El, is a lineage of DC Comics superheroes. The term is used for the descendants of Kal-El, the original Superman, who continue to uphold his legacy of heroism well into the 853rd century, as depicted in the DC One Million crossover. Repeated references to members of the Superman dynasty as Superman's "descendants" and at least one reference to them as the "blood of his blood" would seem to indicate that they are, in fact, the biological descendants of Superman in some fashion.

Other media
Superman characters
Superman family

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