This article contains Superman & Lois spoilers.
Superman & Lois Episode 12
Ever since Morgan Edge was unmasked as a Kryptonian (and not just any Kryptonian, but Superman’s biological half-brother), Superman & Lois has been revealing more and more about the villain’s plan, and by extension exploring the nature vs. nurture debate that has been the centerpiece of so many stories that explore the nature of the Man of Steel’s power. But Superman & Lois has been brilliant at misdirection from its very first episode, and the latest episode, “Through the Valley of Death,” might be the first example that we haven’t really had a complete understanding of what Edge/Tal-Rho has been planning all along.
But even here, we’re made to wait until the very end of the episode to get another indication of what this show is really getting at. The main thrust of the episode is about Superman fighting off the influence of “eradication” at the hands of Tal-Rho, and the steps being taken by General Lane and John Henry Irons to prepare for the worst case scenario of an evil Superman. During it all, we’re treated to the name drop and virtual presence of one of the most notorious villains in DC history. But even that might be more of that trademark Superman & Lois misdirection
As we’ve seen in recent episodes, Edge is using the Eradicator to re-house Kryptonian souls in human bodies. So why not house a Kryptonian soul in Kryptonian body, right? And Edge isn’t planning on housing just any Kryptonian soul in Superman, but that of one of his greatest enemies: General Zod.
Zod hasn’t been much of a presence in the Arrowverse to this point, despite appearing as a hallucination in an episode of Supergirl and having also been referenced by name a handful of times. One of those namedrops indicated that Superman had actually killed Zod (ala that awful, ruinous moment at the end of 2013’s Man of Steel film), although it’s later revealed that Zod returned in the 31st Century to battle the Legion of Super-Heroes. It’s likely that the little that we DO know about the Arrowverse version of General Zod has been retconned by the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, however, and we should just assume that Superman & Lois has a blank slate with the character going forward.
(For the record, the best version of General Zod on screen or in the comics remains Colin Salmon’s portrayal on the brilliant and gone-too-soon Krypton, but that’s a story for another time).
But despite Zod’s “presence” briefly inhabiting Superman’s body here, there may be another major DC Comics character waiting in the wings, based on this episode’s final moments.
For the last several episodes, the legendary piece of Kryptonian technology the Eradicator has been the key to Edge’s mission to bring Krypton back to life on Earth. In the comics, the preservation of Kryptonian culture and life was the central piece of the Eradicator’s programming. So much so that a 1990 comics story featuring the Eradicator called “Day of the Krypton Man,” it successfully (if temporarily) influenced Superman’s mind, submerging his human traits and bringing a cold, logical, Kryptonian way of thinking to the forefront, in the hope that Kal-El will start to shape Earth in the Kryptonian fashion.
While it’s not quite “putting a Kryptonian soul in another body” it’s certainly similar enough to note here. “Day of the Krypton Man” concludes with Superman seemingly destroying the Eradicator with his heat vision (note what Edge does to the device near the episode’s conclusion) and flinging it into the sun. A sequel followed in 1991, with the appropriate title of “Return of the Krypton Man.” But this time around, the Eradicator had formed a body for itself, and was using its tremendous power to terraform the planet, turn the sun red, and generally make Superman’s life miserable.
While Superman would (of course) defeat the personified Eradicator, it would return yet again down the road as one of the “replacement Supermen” who arrived in the wake of Superman’s death at the hands of Doomsday during the classic “Reign of the Supermen” story. From there, the Eradicator would continue to make sporadic appearances in DC continuity always as a cold antihero, and always with Krypton at the forefront of his mind.
“Through the Valley of Death” ends with Edge in D.E.O. custody, in a cell seemingly emitting low level Kryptonite radiation. But as he sits there, we hear the voices in his head, and his eyes flicker the way we saw Superman’s as his body was possessed by Zod. Given that Edge’s mission has been the very personification of the Eradicator’s programming, particularly as how it was outlined in the original comics, we may have just witnessed the origin story for the Arrowverse version of the “living” Eradicator.
Edge has practically been the “Krypton Man” character from the comics since the revelation about his Kryptonian heritage anyway, at least in terms of his goals. Superman & Lois has already shown that they’re more than capable of repurposing a well-known character from the comics for its own storytelling with its brilliant John Henry Irons reveal from episode 7. And considering that character’s ties to “Reign of the Supermen,” it might not be that much of a stretch to imagine that another key piece of that beloved era of comics has just been given a TV makeover and that this season has really just been an extended Eradicator origin story.
Need more evidence? Just go read some of the comics Eradicator’s dialogue in Adam Rayner’s voice if you don’t believe me!
We imagine we’ll find out all the answers soon enough, as there’s only three episodes of the first season of Superman & Lois left.
What do you think? Is Edge the living Eradicator, or will he end up being the new embodiment of General Zod? Let us know what you think in the comments!