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Literature / The Last Days of Krypton

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The Last Days of Krypton is an origin story for Superman, written by Kevin J. Anderson in 2007. Drawing from over 70 years of Superman mythos, it gives readers a look at Kryptonian society before its planet explodes.

Jor-El is a brilliant scientist, whose research and progress is continually stymied by the Ruling Council of Krypton, more specifically the Technology Commisioner Dru-Zod, who confiscates many of his inventions 'for the safety of the public'. What Jor-El doesn't know is Zod is actually hoarding his devices for his own use at a later date. While researching a singularity he created that leads to a 'Phantom Zone', Jor-El meets an artist by the name of Lara Lor-Van, and the two quickly start a relationship. However, Jor-El is worried that their planet may be on the road to destruction...

The incredibly static Kryptonian society is given the shake-up of a lifetime when it is visited by aliens- the artificial intelligence dubbed Brainiac in particular, who steals the entire capital city of Kandor, creating a power vacuum on Krypton. Seeing this as his chance, Zod quickly takes control, and dubs himself General. As the power-struggle radically escalates, only Jor-El is worried about the planet's possible demise.

This novel contains examples of

  • Adapted Out:
    • In the comics, the Phantom Zone hosts scores of colorful prisoners convicted of crimes of varying severity. Here, Zod and his followers are the only inmates at the time of Krypton's destruction.
    • Jor-El and Zor-El's brother Nim-El, nephew Don-El, and cousins Kru-El, Van-Zee, and Thara all appear in the Silver Age comics the book borrows a lot from (all of them were in either the Phantom Zone or Kandor when Krypton was destroyed). In this book, none of them are mentioned and the house of El is seemingly composed of just Jor-El and his father and brother.
    • Lar-Gand, a traveler from a nearby planet who visits Krypton shortly before its destruction and befriends Jor-El in multiple continuities, is absent from this novel.
  • Allergic to Routine: Councilor Cera-Si frequently requests breaks during ponderous Council meetings and has declined multiple offers to join the priesthood because he dislikes the idea of standing around for hours and staring at the sun (with protective eyewear).
  • Altar the Speed: After he's framed for causing an accident that killed an alien envoy, Lara moves up her and Jor-El's wedding date. She does this out of a determination to stand by Jor-El through the worst. Zod volunteers to be the presiding official for the wedding (in a self-serving ploy to earn Jor-El's loyalty), speeding up the ceremony even further to accommodate his schedule.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Lara sometimes thinks of her brother, Ki-Van, as this, but she still loves him very much.
  • Anti-Villain: Brainiac is fairly eloquent and introspective while arguing that abducting whole cities is necessary to make sure that civilizations will survive in the event of Apocalypse How events like the one on his home planet. Brainiac also offers to shrink Zod to reunite him with any loved ones he may have in Kandor and doesn't mind when Zod declines.
  • Asshole Victim: In-universe example; Gur-Va is brutally murdered in his jail cell, but no one cares and when left with the mystery of who killed him, the Sapphire Guards barely look into it. The clues left behind would have clearly led to Nam-Ek if anyone bothered to investigate.
  • Awaken the Sleeping Giant: Zor-El spends a long time as a neutral figure who tries to dwell on the positive aspects of Zod's rule. Then Zod kidnaps Tyr-Us, a dissident whom Zor-El granted Sacred Hospitality. The rebellion against Zod promptly gains a charismatic and dedicated leader, game-changing force field technology, scores of loyal recruits (the citizens of Zor-El's city), and an eventual source of information in Zod's inner circle.
    Zor-El: Today, you have made a very serious enemy, Commissioner Zod.
  • Bad Boss: Zod randomly selects a completely innocent servant to send to the Phantom Zone as a test.
  • Beta Couple: Dru-Zod and Aethyr-Ka are a dark version of this.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Played with - Rather than allowing himself to be thrown unwillingly into the Phantom Zone after his trial, Zod runs and dives into it of his own volition.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: As Lara determines, this is the crux of the issue; Zod sees the remaining nobles as ineffectual fops who can't be counted on to do anything. The nobles see Zod as a power-hungry opportunist who refuses to consider any alternative that doesn't have him in total control. Both are right about the other and can't accept their own failings.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Shor-Em is described as brave but pompous when he denounces Zod as an usurper and a tyrant and doesn't fully grasp just how vicious and well-armed of an enemy he's made until it's too late.
    Shor-Em: Surely you are overreacting. That is not how we respond to political disagreements on Krypton.
  • Cain and Abel: Shor-Em, the ruler of Borga Ciy, is an unusually selfish and grasping "Abel," but his brother Koll-Em is a perfect "Cain." Koll-Em was exiled for a greedy coup attempt in the past and has no qualms whatsoever with Zod killing his brother (and half the population of Borga City) after Koll-Em becomes one of the dictator's lieutenants.
  • The Cameo: Jor-El's monitoring station picks up a message from J'onn J'onzz (The Martian Manhunter) who tells of the destruction of Mars and its people.
  • Call-Forward: Zor-El and Alura talk about how they'd like to have a daughter if they survive the impending destruction of Krypton.
  • Chariot Race: A staple of Kryptonian sports entertainment. The chariots are pulled by big, weird lizards.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Zor-El's wife Allura runs a massive greenhouse. In the final chapters, she mentions that she can use it to feed the people of Argo City if her husband's energy field saves them from the planet's explosion.
  • Citywide Evacuation: When Zod turns his super weapons on Borga City, the El brothers contact everyone they know in that city to warn them about Zod's plan. Not everyone flees in time, but thousands do.
  • Comet of Doom: A comet called Loth-Ur's Hammer typically passes over Krypton, but Jor-El realizes that radiation from the sun possibly going supernova has caused it to change course, steering it towards the planet. Jor-El is able to stop the Loth-Ur's Hammer by reprogramming Jax-Ur's ancient missiles to destroy the comet when Zod tries using one against Zor-El.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Shor-Em is a foolish, overly ambitious stuffed shirt, but he fights off men Zod sends to kill or kidnap him. Twice!
  • The Dandy: Councilor Pol-Ev is outright called a dandy, dresses opulently and wears cologne.
    [I]t was hard to tell whether he followed fashion or set it.
  • Demonization: Zod purposely paints The Brain Interactive Construct (given the more sinister name Brainiac by Zod) as a villain in order to use the possible threat of an alien invasion as an excuse to build power.
  • Despair Event Horizon: No-Ton slumps to the ground, crying, after the arks he's trying to build for a Homeworld Evacuation collapse due to the effects of an earthquake.
  • Did Not Think This Through: Bur-Al, a low-level functionary in Zod's office, confronts the commissioner about his secret: Zod has kept every invention he had censored instead of destroying them. He told no one, made no record of his discovery and agrees to meet with Zod in private, where the Commissioner promptly feeds Bur-Al to Nam-Ek's hrakkas.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In-universe example; parallels are drawn between Zod's policies and that of Jax-Ur, a conqueror from ancient Krypton.
    • After Zod's rise to power, his followers start wearing blue armbands.
    • Obstructive politicians ignore the El brothers' warnings about Krypton's geological instability because they don't understand their science and don't want to accept the reality of the situation if it's true. The parallels to the climate change debate are easy to draw.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: Zod delays attacking Argo City after its mayor turns against him due to Zor-El's earlier cooperation with him in eliminating environmental threats to the planet and because he doesn't want to alienate Zor-El's brother. He also gives Zor-El an hour to surrender peacefully when his army marches towards Argo City. However, once Zor-El outsmarts and humiliates Zod by unveiling a new energy shield that protects Argo City, this attitude vanishes, and Zod becomes very willing to destroy Zor-El (not that he succeeds).
  • Doomed by Canon / Foregone Conclusion: As anyone who is even remotely familiar with Superman's origins knows, Krypton's gonna go, no matter what happens. The only trick is how.
  • Doomsday Device: Zod reinforces his tenuous hold on Kryptonian society with a stockpile of doomsday devices. Three of them were once used to destroy an inhabited moon. Zod has fifteen.
  • Dumb Muscle: Defied - Many people think this of Nam-Ek, but he is actually quite intelligent, observant and is better at reading people than Zod at many points in the story.
  • Epic Hail: During the countdown to doomsday, Jor-El contemplates rigging some satellite dishes to appeal for help from neighboring star systems, before realizing that "[e]ven with a transmission spreading out at the speed of light, no rescuers could possibly hear him and respond soon enough. In the time remaining, Jor-El's call for help would barely reach the boundary of Rao's solar system."
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Zod took Nam-Ek in as a boy and genuinely cares about his well-being. The feeling is definitely mutual.
    • After Zod's downfall, he secretly wishes for Aethyr and Nam-Ek to denounce him so they won't suffer the same sentence as him: exile in the Phantom Zone.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Even the most selfish and abrasive members of the original council are disgusted when they watch the video of Gur-Va gleefully butchering endangered animals alive.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: One of Zod's defining characteristics and greatest weaknesses.
  • The Exile: Tyr-Us and Gal-Eth are both shown in malnourished, disheveled states after being forced out of their homes by Zod's loyalists.
  • Fluffy Tamer: Animal-lover Nam-Ek has a team of barely-domesticated hrakkas (big, vicious lizards) that he lovingly cares for.
  • Food Porn: The novel is loaded with extremely detailed descriptions of Kryptonian cuisine.
  • For the Evulz: The motivation behind Gur-Va, the Butcher of Kandor's slaughter of the animals in the Kandor Zoo.
  • For Want Of A Nail: As Zod realizes, if he hadn't been at officiating Jor-El and Lara's marriage, he might have been abducted with Kandor.
  • Freudian Excuse: Nam-Ek's father went crazy and killed the rest of his family when he was a child. Afterward Nam-Ek was raised by Zod, who cared for him but implicitly exposed the traumatized boy to a lot of scheming and violence during those impressionable years, causing Nam-Ek to see nothing wrong with being Zod's hatchet man.
  • The Ghost: Although he has been dead centuries before the beginning of the story, Jax-Ur and his war against Krypton effects the story as much as many of the book's principles.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Lara Lor-Van is a blonde idealist.
  • Heel–Face Turn: No-Ton starts out as a loyal recruit for Zod's Ring of Strength, impassively watching Vor-On get Thrown from the Zeppelin. However, when Zod decides to destroy Borga City, No-Ton tips off Jor-EL so he can warn people and try to change Zod's mind. When Zod destroys Borga City anyway, No-Ton is described as "moving ponderously, as if weary beyond description." He then begins resisting Zod in other small ways offscreen before joining the government that replaces Zod.
  • Homeworld Evacuation: Jor-El gives No-Ton and the other councilors who believe his warnings about a cataclysm plans for a space ark. Despite their best efforts, building a fleet of evacuation ships from scratch in just three days is impossible, so they focus all of their efforts on finishing just one ship in the last seven hours. They don't finish it in time.
  • Hufflepuff House: The only Kryptonian cities to actually appear in the novel are Argo City, Borga City, Kandor, and Kryptonopolis (which is uninhabited until halfway through the novel). Important characters from the lakeside district of Orvai and the mining city Corril appear, but the cities themselves don't. A city named Ilonia is briefly mentioned three times, but receives no description.The rest of the planet's cities (of which there are at least seventeen), towns and villages are unnamed and only mentioned in passing to describe how the main characters; efforts are influencing people elsewhere.
  • Ignored Expert: Jor-El and Zor-El, mostly because no one understands their science and by the end of the story, Zod's pet engineer No-Ton becomes this as well.
  • I Have Your Wife: when Jor-El realizes what a ruthless dictator Zod is, he tries to leave Zod's forces only for Zod to take his wife Lara hostage.
  • Important Haircut: Or-Om isn't a major character, but he's repeatedly described as shaggy-haired while he's a mining industrialist and dissident against Zod. After he becomes a member of the Kryptonian Council, it's briefly mentioned that he's cut his long hair.
  • Impoverished Patrician: In the past, Mauro-Ji's family invested heavily in a vineyard that was wiped out by a blight, and an earthquake destroyed one of their mansions. He's still prominent enough to have a spot on the Kryptonian Council, but his family isn't very rich anymore.
  • It's All About Me: Zod, of course. As Jor-El realizes, everything Zod does, first and foremost, is to benefit himself.
  • It's Probably Nothing: Downplayed when Jor-El first tells the Kryptonian Council of his concerns that their sun may go supernova. Most of the Councilors doubt that the sun is in danger of exploding in their lifetimes. Still, several of them acknowledge it's a problem future generations should have a leg up in studying.
    Mauro-Ji: I say he should draw up his plans, document his ideas. Centuries from now, when and if the sun does become slightly more unstable, our descendants might be glad we had such foresight.
    Pol-Ev: That does seem prudent. Let the historical record show that we did indeed plan ahead.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: When Zod uses the Rao Beam installation (Built to carve a hole in the planet and release the pressure that's building up) on a city that refuses to accept him as ruler, it's a clear sign to everyone that he's gone Drunk with Power
  • Kangaroo Court:
    • Zod sees his war crimes tribunal as this. He's not entirely wrong, Zod is denied council and is not permitted to cross-examine his accusers, something he openly points out during the proceedings. When he is finally permitted to speak in his own defense, he remains silent in protest.
    • Following Donodon's death, the Kryptonian Council makes it clear they intend to put Jor-El through one. Brainiac stealing Kandor ends up making this a non-issue.
  • Kneel Before Zod: Unsurprisingly, the Trope Namer has a moment where he browbeats several disgruntled city officials he suspects of sabotaging a superweapon and demands that they "kneel before Zod."
  • Late to the Tragedy: One resident of Kandor returns from a business trip to find that all four of his daughters were inside the city when Brainiac abducted it.
  • Life Saving Misfortune: When Krypton's core first begins to destabilize, this causes a series of massive tidal waves which strike Argo City, killing or injuring scores of people and causing a great deal of damage. This disaster motivates Mayor Zor-El to reinforce the seawall with a powerful force field to protect the city from future waves. Instead, that force field saves Argo City and everyone inside its boundaries from General Zod's army (which unsuccessfully attempts to invade and then bombard the city) and the destruction of their entire planet.
  • Loophole Abuse: Jor-El tries to get around a ban on space travel by building a device to explore worlds in other dimensions, accidentally discovering the Phantom Zone.
  • Man of the City: Zor-El is the mayor of Argo City and is devoted to bettering it with his inventions and civic plans. After standing against Zod, he works on protecting his city from retaliation with an energy field and is saddened about having to destroy a historic piece of infrastructure in the process. After the war, he declines a seat on Krypton's council (endorsing Jor-El in his place) to focus on repairing Argo City. When Zor-El speaks, all of Argo City listens to him and trusts him. When the destruction of Krypton is imminent, Zor-El spends the last few hours taking in Argo City's beauty while wondering if his energy shield will save them or not.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Tyr-Us tires just about anyone who has to deal with him and launches into lots of tirades. It's even lampshaded In-Universe by Zod. Tyr-Us also becomes a tyrant of sorts by abusing Krypton's democratic process when he doesn't even bother with the formality of formal council votes due to feeling confident about his majority bloc.
    • Or-Om owns a mining company that extracts ore.
  • Meet Cute: An odd sci-fi version- Lara meets Jor-El shortly after he trapped himself in the Phantom Zone and helps him get out.
  • Men of Sherwood: The Argo City guards. Not a a single one of them is named, but they do a good job of reacting to threats and helping Zor-El prepare the city's defense. They also form the core of the La Résistance army against General Zod and defeat his better-armed and more experienced army without War Is Hell levels of bloodshed. While they seem Doomed by Canon to casual Superman fans like in the comics, they survive the destruction of Krypton due to the force field surrounding Argo City.
  • Mirror Character: Zod and his rival Tyr-Us are more alike than either of them will admit. Both of them feel partially entitled to power due to each being the son of a previous head councilor. Both genuinely believe that their goals and methods are good for Krypton, when they're really endangering the planet. Both can be ruthless and bitter grudge-holders who won't listen to reason from anyone they dislike. And both of them have somewhat decent relationships with one of the Only Sane Man El brothers, although Zod and Jor-El eventually turn against each other.
  • Modest Royalty: Council Head Jul-Us is an Obstructive Bureaucrat (and possibly a Corrupt Bureaucrat if Zod is to be believed), but he makes short, succinct speeches at formal affairs and wears a simple white robe.
    To his credit, the Council Head was not a man who demanded attention and praise from the people of Kandor.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Tyr-Us spends his last few moments numbly taking responsibility for his role in Krypton's destruction.
  • Mythology Gag: One Kryptonian is named Nam-Ek, after a Silver Age Superman Kryptonian enemy.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Zor-El proposes that the new Kryptoniain Council make its decisions by a majority vote rather than requiring a unanimous consensus. His idea lets six selfish, boneheaded councilors completely ignore their five more reasonable colleagues (including Jor-El) due to having a majority vote, leading to Krypton's destruction.
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: The Kryptonian Council. Jor-El and Zod share a mutual disdain for them at the beginning of the book.
  • Official Couple: Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van. Zor-El and Alura In-Ze.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Zod has two examples. First, when Brainaic's ship arrives, Zod thinks it is Donodon's people come for revenge. Since Nam-Ek killed Donodon on Zod's orders, he was right to be concerned. Later, this is his initial reaction when Jor-El reports to Zod that his space-monitoring system has found something (a comet). Zod had honestly not expected any further legitimate threats from space.
    • Lara is hesitant to let Zod see a painting she made of him, feeling that it reflects a sense of troubling inner darkness. Her concern increases when Zod happily declares that the painting captures him perfectly.
    • No-Ton and Or-Om are both alarmed when Tyr-Us and his bloc decide to throw the Phantom Zone equipment into the planet's core. They already have some idea about how bad this could turn out when they tell Jor-El, who has his own Oh, Crap! moment when he confirms No-Ton's worries and can't stop Tyr-Us, Gil-Ex, and their friends.
  • Only One Name: Aethyr refuses to acknowledge her family name (Ka).
  • Only Sane Man: Poor Jor-El is the only one trying to focus on the big picture, namely, the possible ways Krypton could end, instead who's in charge.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: In-Universe, Jor-El recognizes that Gur-Va must be on trial for something particularly awful when Councilor Kor-Te requests that the Council not keep a record of the trial "so that future generations need not be sickened by it."
    Kor-Te read and quoted from the Council annals and documents as if they were holy scripture ... It was inconceivable that such a man would propose striking an event from the historical record.
  • Pet the Dog: As ambitious and obstinate as Tyr-Us is, he thanks Alura for her hospitality and refreshments while on the run from Zod and sincerely apologizes for briefly feeling paranoid that she was drugging him. He also declines to stay in Argo City out of fear that he'll endanger Zor-El and Alura by doing so.
  • Phantom Zone: Created in the first chapter and is a major plot device for the remainder of the book.
  • Please, I Will Do Anything!: Gil-Ex freaks out during the destruction of Krypton and is ready to do whatever Jor-El wants if the scientist who he's spent several chapters antagonizing can pull off an eleventh-hour miracle. Unfortunately for everyone involved, it's too late for that.
    Gil-Ex: Contact Jor-El again! Give him anything he wants. The Council will support him now, so long as he tells us how to save ourselves.
  • Pregnant Badass: A pregnant Lara doesn't flinch when confronted about her unflattering writings about Zod.
    Lara: Was my grammar incorrect? The spelling? Maybe you didn't like my descriptions. Too many adverbs? Or perhaps I should have taken more creative license in describing Zod. But you did want this to be a history instead of a fantasy, right? Or did I misunderstand you? I particularly like my account of the annihilation of Borga City. Quite vivid prose. I wanted to add interviews with all those dissidents who cheerfully changed their minds and conveniently retired, but I couldn't find any of them. Not a one! Do you suppose something terrible happened to them?' Maybe we should tell the General. He'll get to the bottom of it.
    Aethyr: Silence! I won't hear you speak of him that way.
    Lara: Oh, his actions speak well enough for themselves.
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: The final chapter centers around baby Kal-El's spacecraft flying away from the destruction of Krypton. Krypton and its people may be gone, but its last son will find a new home on another planet.
  • Released to Elsewhere: When Gil-Ex is at the crater where Kandor once stood to denounce Zod declaring himself the ruler of Krypton, Zod has a private meeting with him. The next morning he announces that Gil-Ex has come around to his line of thinking and decided to retire from public life as penance for disrupting Zod's wise and noble efforts. In reality, Zod banished Gil-Ex to the Phantom Zone. Zod goes on to repeat this process with several other opponents to his rule.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Zod's late father and former Council Head Cor-Zod was this. Even after his quick power grab, silencing of dissidents, senseless destruction of a rival city and pompous warmongering, General Zod sees himself as this.
    • Zor-El is a selfless and innovative mayor, resists Zod's tyranny, and pays attention to his brother's concerns about the safety of Krypton.
    • Councilors Cera-Si and Mauro-Ji can be a little reactionary but generally hear Jor-El out and consider his claims whenever he has the data to back them up. Cera is also the only councilor who actually wants at least some change in their stagnant society.
    Cera-Si: We cannot ignore a problem simply because there's no immediately obvious solution.
    • No-Ton is the only member of Zod's inner circle besides Jor-El to realize how unstable he is and defect. His efforts lead to him becoming part of the new council after Zod is defeated. No-Ton objects to efforts to phase out Jor-El, warns Jor-El about Tyr-Us and his cronies trying to destroy the Phantom Zone and endanger Krypton, and then spends the last few chapters of the book desperately working on a Homeworld Evacuation.
    • Councilors Gal-Eth and Or-Om help lead the resistance against Zod, show concern about the path Tyr-Us and his allies are taking, and join No-Ton's Homeworld Evacuation attempts.
    • Korth-Or initially doesn't believe Jor-El's warnings that trying to destroy the Phantom Zone will doom Krypton, but opposes doing so until they understand the science more. He is also concerned when Tyr-Us and his majority bloc confirm votes without even asking the other five council members.
  • Reluctant Mad Scientist: Jor-El is an interesting variant of the trope. He's a genuine Science Hero whose inventions are being used to save Krypton from various cataclysmic disasters. It's just that Zod, the man granting him the resources to carry out those projects, also finds ways to use those same inventions for tyranny and destruction once they've served their original purpose (to Jor-El's distress).
  • Rescue Romance: Lara meets Jor-El while rescuing him from the Phantom Zone projector he accidentally sealed himself in. A loving relationship quickly develops.
  • Revenge Before Reason: The members of the new Krytonian Council who were previously imprisoned in the Phantom Zone by Zod trigger Krypton's destruction by trying to lash out and destroy the Phantom Zone by dropping the projector into Krypton's core.
  • Scatterbrained Senior: In tragic example, the El brothers' father, Yar-El, once considered Krypton's greatest and most innovative architect, has lost most of his cognitive functions from "The Forgetting Disease" (essentially Krytonian Alzheimer's).
  • Sibling Rivalry:
    • Inverted: Jor-El and Zor-El are both brilliant scientists and engineers, mostly specializing in different fields. They have a great deal of respect for one another. Jor-El thinks his brother is a bit brash and impulsive (he's not wrong) and Zor-El considers his brother to be a bit naïve and idealistic (he's not wrong, either).
    • On Aethyr's suggestion, Zod takes advantage of the resentment many of the noble families younger members. Under the original regime, each families' firstborn would receive positions of power, while their younger siblings are reduced to empty luxury. Before Kandor's abduction, one Koll-Em attempted to launch a coup against his older brother Shor-Em in Borga City. Zod wins the support of the younger siblings by offering them status they would not have gained otherwise.
  • Science Hero: Zor-El is this from the get-go. Circumstances force Jor-El to become one.
  • Shout-Out: The alien visitor Donodon mentions an interstellar peacekeeping force, though he does not refer to it by name (The Green Lantern Corps).
  • Shrink Ray: Brainiac uses one to reduce the City of Kandor to convenient portable size. He's done this many times before.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Tyr-Us and Gil-Ex's four allies on the reformed Kryptonian Council have no names, little Back Story, and only three lines of dialogue between them, but their existence gives the troublemakers on the Council a majority vote, directly leading to Krypton's destruction.
  • The Smurfette Principle: The eleven-member Kryptonian Council only has one female member.
  • Social Climber:
    • Vor-On, a younger noble son with no prospects, goes out of his way to strike up a conversation with Zod at the racetrack. Zod considers him an annoying sycophant, although considering Zod's worldview, he may be misjudging the young man.
    • Councilor Mauro-Ji, an Impoverished Patrician, often invites Jor-El to parties (and unsuccessfully tried to set Jor-El up with one of his daughters at various points) "as if proximity to the esteemed scientist might increase his own standing."
  • Speak Ill of the Dead: Tyr-Us refers to his fellow dissident Gil-Ex as "vain and self-righteous" after he disappears and is presumed dead (although it turns out Gil-Ex is only being held prisoner in the Phantom Zone).
  • What, Exactly, Is Her Job?: Lara wonders this about Aethyr's role in Zod's government. While it could be said that Aethyr is Zod's chief advisor and propagandist, most of these tasks happen behind closed doors.
  • The World Is Always Doomed: Throughout the course of the story, Jor-El discovers not one, but three threats that could spell the end of Krypton. First, he was afraid that their sun, Rao, could go supernova. Then it was pressure building up in their planet's core. Then an impending comet collision. But in the end, it's none of these things. The Ruling Council decide to throw Jor-El's Phantom Zone projector into a giant hole created to deal with threat #2, despite Jor-El's repeated warnings that the projector is actually a self-contained singularity. Said singularity proceeds to eat the planet's core, causing the loss of mass to destabilize and destroy the world. Indeed, the fact that Jor-El was wrong about (or at least managed to avert) the other threats, is what makes the Council refuse to take him seriously about the dangers of their plan.
  • Thrown from the Zeppelin: Zod gathers several disgruntled younger sons of Kryptonian noble families to build his dictatorship. Only one protests.
    Vor-On: Commissioner, you're talking about overthrowing the established noble families. I wanted to be one of them, not destroy them. You can't expect us to take part in this .. this mutiny.
    Zod: Very well, Vor-On. I thought I could count on your support, but do what you think is best for Krypton. And I'll do what I think is best.
    Zod throws Vor-On off a cliff.
  • Token Good Cop: Bur-Al, the fourth-in-command of Zod's department, is actually prepared to report Zod for stealing technology earmarked for destruction and refuses to let Zod bribe or persuade him otherwise. Unfortunately, he's also Too Dumb to Live, and confronting Zod about this in private gets him murdered. Meanwhile, the rest of the guards assigned to him aren't evil or ill-intentioned to begin with, but are too easily awed by him, follow bad orders when threatened, and eventually end up Jumping Off the Slippery Slope.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Tyr-Us and Gil-Ex are overly entitled and somewhat stiff in their first scenes, but they don't come across as completely nasty and irrational until after spending the better part of a year imprisoned in the Phantom Zone.
  • Uncertain Doom:
    • The surviving Mooks and aristocratic younger sons from Zod's army are last mentioned as being kept under guard after his defeat. Whether any of them are confined to the Phantom Zone between Zod's trial and Krypton's destruction is unknown.
    • Gal-Eth and Or-Om are last mentioned as having joined No-Ton's failed Homeworld Evacuation efforts. However, they aren't mentioned in No-Ton's last scene, leaving a slight possibility that they may have gone to Argo City to seek the protection of its forcefield.
  • Villain Has a Point: He may have been an opportunistic tyrant, but Zod's critique of Krypton's Ruling Council, and their successors, wasn't unjustified.
  • Who Watches the Watchmen?: Zod is in charge of confiscating and destroying potentially dangerous inventions, but keeps them for his own ends. Zod himself discusses this trope when he confiscates the Phantom Zone projector. Jor-El says that it could be kept under guard to prevent misuse, but Zod replies that the guards could succumb to temptation as easily as anyone else.