Ursa (comics)

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Ursa
Ursa Action Comics Annual Vol 1 10.png
Ursa in Action Comics Annual #10 (April 2007)
Art by Rags Morales
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Film:
Superman: The Movie (1978)

Comics:
Alternate version:
JSA Classified #3
(November 2005)

Canonical version:
Action Comics #845
(January 2007)
Created by Mario Puzo
In-story information
Species Kryptonian
Place of origin Krypton
Team affiliations Kryptonian Military Guild
Partnerships General Zod
Non
Abilities
  • Superhuman strength, speed, durability, and longevity
  • Flight
  • Heat vision
  • Freezing breath
  • Extrasensory powers, including X-ray vision

Ursa is a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics, commonly as an adversary of the superhero Superman. She first appeared in the 1978 film Superman: The Movie, where she was portrayed by actress Sarah Douglas. Nearly three decades later, the character made her in-continuity comic book debut in Action Comics #845 (January 2007).

The character is a co-conspirator and accomplice of General Zod and is typically depicted as having been imprisoned in the Phantom Zone, along with Zod and Non.

Film[edit]

Superman: The Movie[edit]

In the first Superman film, Ursa (played by Sarah Douglas) appears alongside General Zod and Non as they are being sentenced to eternal imprisonment in the Phantom Zone by Krypton's Ruling Council of Elders. The chief accuser is Superman's biological father Jor-El, who declares that Ursa's "perversions and unreasoning hatred of all mankind have threatened even the children of the planet Krypton." Ursa, Zod, and Non are imprisoned in the Phantom Zone where they should remain for all eternity and are not heard from again in the first film. Once in the Phantom Zone, she desperately screams, "Forgive me!" repeatedly.

Superman II[edit]

In the theatrical version of Superman II, Ursa, Zod, and Non are freed from the Phantom Zone when a hydrogen bomb thrown into space by Superman detonates near the Zone, shattering it. The three villains encounter a group of astronauts on Earth's moon, where we see Ursa's hatred for males firsthand. She meets an astronaut, asking him what sort of a creature he is. When he replies that he is a man, Ursa tries to tear the International Space Exploration emblem off his spacesuit. The astronaut attempts to get away, but Ursa flies around and cuts him off. She then rips the emblem off his suit, decompressing it and killing him. A pleased Ursa then sends him into space with a swift kick to his rear.

Following the Lunar confrontation, Ursa and the villains make their way to Earth, which they believe is called "Houston", and proceed to lay waste to the small town of East Houston, Idaho. From there, they move to the White House, where the President of the United States (played by E.G. Marshall) is forced to kneel before Zod. When Ursa, Zod, and Non finally meet Superman, an epic battle sequence takes place in the streets of Metropolis, which ends when Ursa and Non throw a bus onto Superman and he flees the scene. Lex Luthor then tells the villains he knows where Superman has gone and suggests taking Lois Lane along because of her relationship with Superman. The villains are led to the Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic, where Ursa and Non threaten to tear Lois Lane in two if Superman does not kneel to General Zod. Superman attempts to trick the villains into a molecule chamber that will take away their powers but ends up being forced into it himself by Zod. However, Superman has actually tricked the villains: he reversed the effects of the molecule chamber so that its red sun radiation is beamed throughout the fortress while Superman remains protected inside the chamber. The villains are stripped of their powers and Ursa is last seen when Lois punches her, knocking her into a crevasse in the Fortress where she disappears into the mist.

In extended versions of the film that have screened on television, Ursa has a slightly expanded role. She is seen ripping a badge off a military officer's uniform at the White House while remarking how peculiar it is that men wear ribbons and jewelry on this planet. She easily manages to defeat one man in a game of arm wrestling, knocking him unconscious, and when another of the men challenges her, General Zod throws him through the wall into the street. In one deleted scene, a boy in East Houston attempts to escape and get help, but Non rips the light from the top of a police car and throws it like an artillery round, killing the boy and his horse in the distance. A horrified woman remarks "He was only a boy!" to which, with obvious pleasure, Ursa replies, "Who will never become a man!" Also, in some extended versions, a powerless Ursa, Zod, and Non are seen being led into Arctic Police vehicles following the final confrontation at the Fortress. The theatrical version suggests that they are dead, as they are all seen falling into crevices inside the Fortress from which they never come out.

Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut[edit]

In Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (a retooled 2006 version of the film as conceived by its original director, Richard Donner), Zod, Ursa and Non are released from their imprisonment when Superman redirects a nuclear missile headed for Hackensack, New Jersey into space. The resulting explosion destroys the Phantom Zone, freeing the criminals.

At the end of the film, Superman uses a time warp to reverse all the damage Zod, Ursa, and Non had done to Earth, as well as re-imprisoning them back into the Phantom Zone, as Superman is totally against capital punishment under any circumstance.

Unlike the slightly more campy portrayals in the Richard Lester cut of the film, the villains, including Ursa, in this version are portrayed as far more serious and menacing.

Live-action television[edit]

In the Smallville season 10 episode "Dominion", a character that may have been Ursa appears as one of General Zod's minions in the Phantom Zone. Toward the end of the episode, there is a scene that mirrors a scene in Superman II, which shows Zod, Non and Ursa stuck in the dimensional "glass," as it's represented, and floating off into space.

Character[edit]

General Zod (Terence Stamp, center), Non (Jack O'Halloran), and Ursa (Sarah Douglas) in Superman II.

Ursa is depicted in both films as a hater of any member of the male gender anywhere. The only exceptions to this prejudice appear to be Non and General Zod. In the first film, this aspect of her character is emphasized by Jor-El in his speech as he sentences them to the Phantom Zone. In the second film, as directed by Richard Lester, Ursa's male hating tendencies survive, but the reprise of Jor-El's speech emphasizes a different aspect of her character. In Lester's Superman II, Jor-El says "Ursa, the only feeling you showed was for your vicious general. Your only wish, to rule at his side." Lester's inclusion of this material (shot by Donner) alters the character slightly, making her softer and, at least to a degree, in love with General Zod. In Superman II footage shot by Richard Donner, Ursa is more vicious and expresses her desire to kill as many men as she can in one scene from an extended TV version. In Donner's footage, Ursa does not necessarily appear to be in love with General Zod, but is with him because they share common goals.

If there is one female whom she truly despises, it is Lois Lane. This is likely because of her close relationship with Superman, the only real threat to Ursa and the trio's reign of terror on Earth.

Throughout Superman II, Ursa collects symbols and badges as she encounters law enforcement and military officers on Earth, and she keeps these badges on her costume as symbols of those she has conquered or killed. She takes a NASA patch from an astronaut, a Sheriff's badge, a badge from a military officer's uniform at the White House, and several more badges and symbols that can be seen attached to her uniform as the film progresses.

In Kevin J. Anderson's Last Days Of Krypton novel, the character of Aethryr is analogous to Ursa in appearance and role as sidekick to Zod, although little mention is made about her attitude towards males.

Comics[edit]

Until 2006, the character of Ursa had never appeared in the Superman comic books, but a similar character, named Faora, made several appearances in the Pre-Crisis Superman comics. Faora was a Phantom Zone villain who first appeared in Action Comics #471 (May, 1977).[1] Like Ursa, Faora hates all members of the male sex and was in fact sentenced to the Phantom Zone for "wantonly causing the death of 23 Kryptonian men in her own male concentration camp."

In JSA Classified #3, Power Girl (who was unsure about her true origins, at the time) was confronted by an escaped prisoner, from the Phantom Zone. He claimed that Power Girl's true identity, is Ursa, who had escaped the Zone with their help and promised to help the others escape. However, the prisoner was later revealed to be an illusion, created by the Psycho-Pirate.

Action Comics #845 (January 2007), which is the second part of the "Last Son" arc by Geoff Johns & Richard Donner, finally introduced Ursa to the Superman comic book canon. This version of her contains elements similar to the originally released version of Superman II (even though Donner is co-writing this arc) where she is in love with Zod. Zod and Ursa are the parents of the Kryptonian boy that Superman and Lois Lane adopted.

In a flashback in Action Comic Annual #10 a fleshed out retelling of the story told in Superman II partly aligned her story to her movie counterpart. Lover of General Zod, and part of the Kryptonian guard, she believed that Non and Jor-El were right about Krypton's final fate, and sought to rebel against the Council. When Non was kidnapped, lobotomized and turned into a brute with minimal intelligence and unable to speak, Zod and Ursa snapped, instigating open rebellion, while Jor-El surrendered to the Council, eventually using the Phantom Zone projector upon the trio during the trial seen in at has been the movie. Ursa stayed loyal to Zod, even in their "exile", and believing that Jor-El should have been able to save Krypton, or at least his lineage, agreed with Zod in pursuing and taking vengeance over the House of El.

Ursa appears in another flashback alongside Zod in Action Comics #866. Here, she and Zod encounter Brainiac, who shrinks Kandor. During this encounter Brainiac killed the whole unit under Ursa's command. This paralyzes her with fear, changes her into the more vindictive person she is now. She runs a Black Ops squad that has been living on earth in secret. After Zod's attack on New Krypton she seem to be unable focus on her work and goes to Zod's side. Superman and even Non, lobotomized, seem to know her pain and seems to want to comfort her at this time. She is along with Superman or Commander El and Commander Gor now the leader of the Kryptonian military.

Despite her initial, brief joy in motherhood, she still shows the brunt of her misandric belief on her son, Lor-Zod, who was abused on a regular basis on the account of his perceived weakness (due to his conception in the Phantom Zone, Lor ages in uncontrollable grow spurts and exhibits weaker powers than the rest of his race under a yellow sun). As a result, Ursa is now completely estranged from Lor, who arrived on Earth and was raised as Chris Kent—the foster son of Clark Kent and his wife Lois Lane. Chris, upon returning to Earth one more time, openly defied his own legacy, mercilessly beating Ursa to save Thara Ak-Var, his current paramour. Ursa no longer considers Chris part of her family, and still resents Lois Lane for her bond with her estranged son.[2]

This version has developed a weakness to bright light and wears goggles. This apparently came about as a side-effect of being imprisoned in the Phantom Zone repeatedly.

Following DC Rebirth, Ursa has been reintroduced in the new continuity as Zod's wife, along with their son Lor-Zod. After joining Henshaw's Superman Revenge Squad and making believe them to free his army, General Zod used the Phantom Zone projector to free them. Along with the Eradicator II, they fled to another planet, planning to create a New Krypton.[3]

Powers and abilities[edit]

As a Kryptonian, Ursa derives her superhuman abilities from the yellow sun of Earth's solar system. Her basic abilities are high levels of superhuman strength, superhuman speed and superhuman stamina sufficient to bend steel in her bare hands, overpower a locomotive, outrun a speeding bullet and leap over a tall building in a single bound as well as heightened senses of hearing and sight including X-ray vision as well as telescopic and microscopic visions; virtual invulnerability; accelerated healing; longevity; heat vision; powerful freezing breath; and flight. Being female, her power levels are more akin to Supergirl and Wonder Woman.

Similar to other Phantom Zone escapees, Ursa typically never experiences the full measure of her abilities as she is never given enough time to absorb and metabolite the yellow solar energy of Earth's sun before she is defeated and banished back to the Zone. As such, Ursa could prove more powerful than even Supergirl and possibly Wonder Woman as well due to her being a fully matured Kryptonian female while Supergirl is a later adolescent Kryptonian female and Wonder Woman is an Amazon. Her full strength would also make her a sufficient threat to Superman due to her combat prowess.

Beyond just her superhuman strength and experienced hand-to-hand combat skills, Ursa is a ruthless killer who will do anything immoral to achieve her ends. She is fiercely loyal to General Zod and is willing to fight and die for his loyalty. Ursa is also a radical feminist with an extreme sociopathic hatred of males with the only apparent exception being General Zod and her Phantom Zone cohorts. This sentiment seems to extend to a lesser degree to her own son, Lor-Zod, as she willingly and gleefully stood by while Zod violently and physically abused the young boy.

Like all Kryptonians, Ursa is vulnerable to Kryptonite and red solar radiation. Her virtual invulnerability does not provide protection from mind control or magic and can be overpowered and cause her to experience significant and even fatal injuries with significant force such as that of several atomic explosions or strikes from an opponent with superior strength and durability such as Doomsday. Her superhuman strength is inferior to the likes of Doomsday and her superhuman speed is inferior to Speedsters like the Flash. Her superhuman strength is limited due to her natural limits even while within the empowering light of Sol.

Other appearances[edit]

Television[edit]

  • Ursa appeared in the Superman episode "The Hunter," voiced by Ginny McSwain.
  • Ursa has only appeared in the Superman movies, comics, and a cameo with General Zod in Legion of Super-Heroes. Although a very similar character named Mala appeared in three episodes of Superman: The Animated Series. Seemingly based on both Ursa and Faora, she was played initially by Leslie Easterbrook and then by Sarah Douglas in her second and final appearance on the series.
  • Ursa can be seen as one of the many Phantom Zone prisoners attacking the Legion of Super Heroes. She is seen alongside General Zod. Drax, a character bearing a "Z" symbol similar to Superman's "S," mentions his parents throughout the episode (leading to speculation that Zod and Ursa are Drax's parents).

Video games[edit]

  • Ursa appears in the DC Universe Online video game, voiced by Adrienne Mishler.
  • In Injustice 2, Ursa makes a cameo appearance in Sub-Zero's character ending where she, Non, and General Zod are shown to have joined forces with the One Earth Regime's Superman who had been imprisoned in the Phantom Zone after the defeat of Brainiac. The Kryptonian villains and Superman manage to escape when Batman's Justice League accidentally create a portal to the Phantom Zone while trying to create a portal to Earthrealm for Sub-Zero. Sub-Zero feeling responsible for their escape joins forces with Batman's Justice League. In the ending, Ursa and Non are shown fighting with Batman while Supergirl clashes with General Zod, and Sub-Zero faces Superman. Additionally Supergirl also has two alternate color palettes called Fury of Ursa in reference to her.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jimenez, Phil (2008), "Faora", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 118, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017 
  2. ^ Action Comics #876 (April 2009)
  3. ^ Action Comics #984 (July 2017)