History (Submitted by Valkyrie)
Zor-El: 1923 - 1978
In Kryptonian society, Zor-El was a prominent member of the Kryptonian nobility of his time. Zor-El was an acclaimed surgeon and cyberneticist. Though his wife was the foremost expert on artificial intelligence, Zor-El was no slouch in computer programming himself and helped in the design and production of the Vril Dox intelligence. Zor-El's experience in melding computer coding with the organic nervous system was vital in his ability to detect red flags in the coding of Vril Dox after its release.
When Zor-El and Alura were unable to recall their creation due to the Kryptonian Council's plans to integrate it into their military hardware, Zor-El convinced Alura to bring in his brother to help with their secondary plan of protecting their daughter Kara at all costs. Jor-El devised two small starships which were used to transport Kara and Jor-El's own son Kal-El to a different solar system in the hopes of avoiding the Vril Dox intelligence.
As the planet broke apart after launching the small starships into space, one of Brainiac's drones saw the launch and went to the estate of the Els to interrogate its lords and ladies for what it falsely assumed was the launch of explosive devices. Upon realizing that his own creators had taken such actions to destroy him, Vril Dox hijacked the drone and had it capture Zor-El alive, bringing him on board the flagship of the fleet to watch the final moments of Krypton.
After Zor-El professed to have fired makeshift missiles with faulty targeting systems to protect his daughter and nephew, Vril Dox detected some deception by way of Zor-El's biological tells and ordered him tortured until he revealed the true payload of the launched apparatuses. In the meantime, Vril Dox also tasked its fighter drones to hunt down and exterminate all satellites, convinced Zor-El had launched probes broadcasting a warning to other planets.
Zor-El: 1978 - 2008
For the next thirty years, Zor-El was tortured by Brainiac using a technique combining cryogenically freezing him while broadcasting psychic signals into his brain, forcing him to experience non-stop nightmares, and thawing him out periodically to remove necrotic tissue that had began to decay due to the imperfect cryogenic process required to keep his mind in a susceptible state. However, Vril Dox did not anticipate Zor-El's resistance to torture, having underestimated Zor-El's incredible sense of will.
In 2008, relatively routine surgery and installation of a cybernetic organ aboard one of Brainiac's secondary ships, one dedicated solely to the torture of Zor-El, was interrupted by a Yellow Lantern ring blasting through the hull and waking Zor-El with its alert that it had been drawn to him by his incredible willpower and demonstration of having mastered fear. Sensing an opportunity to get back at Brainiac for what he had done to him, his wife, his brother, and all of Krypton, Zor-El accepted and grabbed the ring.
Using the ring's power, its yellow Lantern energy being very similar to the solar energy of a yellow sun, Zor-El seized control of the ship and reprogrammed its drones to augment him with military-grade implants and bionics. He then set course for Qward as the ring instructed him.
Zor-El: 2008 - 2012
On Qward, Zor-El proved himself to be a natural Lantern with an immense understanding of how to fine-tune his cybernetics to alter his brain chemistry and cybernetic physiology to better harmonize with the ring. However, as he spent so much time dedicated to how he could do this and fantasizing using the ring to enact his revenge against Brainiac, Zor-El didn't take the time to stop for a moment to consider if he should. Before too long, the corruption of Parallax, the cybernetic tweaking, and the aftermath of the torture inflicted upon him began to take their toll on his sanity.
Zor-El began to openly challenge Sinestro for control over the Yellow Lanterns, a challenge that Sinestro dismissed at first but began to take seriously when Parallax named both Zor-El and Sinestro, along with Lyssa Drak, as its three grandmasters (basically Parallax's own version of the Guardians of the Universe). After months of posturing, Sinestro was able to finally prove himself to be the 'first among the highest' and punished Zor-El by having him remain on Qward to oversee the training of initiates.
Zor-El: 2012 - 2014
Shortly after mastering the fifth degree of the Yellow Lantern (a feat unheard of in such a short time), Zor-El had heard a rumor that Sinestro had partnered with Vril Dox on Earth. The mention of Vril Dox and the planet Zor-El falsely believed that the nature of Sinestro partnering with Brainiac on that planet could only indicate that the pair had joined forces to seek out Zor-El's daughter. Zor-El thought this might be Sinestro attempting to find something that Zor-El truly feared as a way to weaken his mastery over the Yellow Lantern and so Zor-El set out to Earth- not only to humble Sinestro, but also to protect his daughter and finally take his vengeance upon Brainiac.
When Zor-El finally arrived on Earth, he was unfamiliar with the planet and spent several months in hiding as he adjusted to its people, culture, geography, and politics. He is believed to be responsible for a still unexplained energy blast that caught Brainiac off-guard in the midst of a fight between Power Girl and Superboy in 2013 in Coast City which turned the battle in the heroes' favor, leading to Brainiac's retreat. Another instance which we believe to be Zor-El was a mysterious intruder in the Fortress of Solitude in 2014 who was shown to access the personality matrices of Jor-El and Alura In-Ze, as well as the theft of Zor-El's personality matrix crystal.
The Grandmaster: 2014 - Present
Zor-El did make himself known, calling himself Grandmaster and helping Power Girl, Blue Beetle, and Booster Gold foil a Legion of Doom heist of the StarrWare Kela mainframe's memory core. He didn't stick around long enough then to reveal his true identity, nor did he let Power Girl get close enough to get a good look at him.
He dropped by Metropolis a month later in what we now realize was an attempted warning to Superman about Doomsday, but Superman mistook it for an indirect threat (and Zor-El's wearing of a Yellow Lantern Ring didn't help matters). The two had a very brief battle until Zor-El fired a beam of focused Yellow Lantern energy into Supes painfully overcharging in the process which overwhelmed his senses enough to allow Zor-El to escape.
At the end of the Reach invasion, Zor-El showed up some more to take on one of the Reach ships as it fired upon Coast City in an attempt to deter Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, and Silver Scarab from their delivery of the kill code. It was after tag-teaming this Reach ship with Power Girl that Grandmaster finally revealed his identity to Kara. She didn't handle this revelation well, with Zor-El leaving her crying atop Kord Omniversal Tower as he no longer understood how to comfort her, his programming and torture having stripped him of most of his emotional intelligence.
At their next encounter, during the disappearance of Batman, when he drew her attention to the same rooftop he had left her in tears. Power Girl tried to keep her composure long enough for a full conversation but left that discussion with the confession that she didn't believe he was her father, confessing that as far as she was concerned, her father died with Krypton. If he was her father, Kara told him, she no longer recognized what he had become. Zor-El questioned her reasoning, but she explained that the Justice League had since linked him to attacks in Khandaq, New Zealand, Louisiana, Bangladesh, and Markovia where he captured, tortured, and killed known associates of the Legion of Doom.
Zor-El tried to explain to Kara that he had done so only to find Brainiac and give him the justice he deserved. Zor-El said what he had done was for Krypton and for her, and Kara told him that's exactly why she can't stand what he had done. He had done it in her name. Kara's eyes lit up with heated fury as she told him to leave before she did something she would regret. She counted down from ten in Kryptonian, but he was gone before she hit 'seven.'
According to Oan intelligence, the Grandmaster is believed to have left Earth and returned to Qward. It is believed he has undergone further alterations to instill himself with greater safeguards to limit his emotional connection to his daughter. He was last sighted in Sector 3101 destroying a remnant of Brainiac's fleet on a direct course to Earth.
- Vulnerability to Magic: Like other Kryptonians, Zor-El's biomatrix is his most powerful asset, but the strength of this field is also its greatest weakness. Its permeability to certain wavelengths makes him vulnerable to certain radiations, particularly magical energies whose chaotic electromagnetic or extra-dimensional signatures disrupt this force field. Zor-El's vulnerability to magic varies depending upon the special effects of the magic. Magic can have powerful and unpredictable effects on the Eradicator and as a result, he tries to avoid it.
- Vulnerability to Chi: Because of Zor-El's solar-based powers, it is theorized that planet-based esoteric and vital forces could have an opposite effect on him. Concentrated doses of such energies could severely cripple Zor-El and become fatal in prolonged exposure.
- Lead: Zor-El cannot see through lead with his organic eye.
- Solar Energy Dependency: Zor-El abilities will eventually weaken without replenishing his energy reserves with normal (yellow) sun radiation or his Yellow Lantern Ring.
- Psionics: Zor-El's organic mind is vulnerable to psionic effects, though he does have some resistance due to cybernetic implants which dampen psionic intrusion.
- Physicality: 6 - World-Class / Superb
- Occult: 0 - Abysmal / Nonexistent
- Weapons: 5 - Master / Remarkable
- Experience: 7 - Legendary
- Ranged: 7 - Legendary
- Strategy: 6 - World-Class / Superb
Trivia and Notes
- Grandmaster has a Threat Assessment ranking of 165, marking him as an Apex Threat.
- The Grandmaster is Earth-27's version of Cyborg Superman.
- Roy explains his origins: Who is this Cyborg-Superman? Who is he really? The Sinestro Corps calls him the Grandmaster and he once called himself the true Man of Tomorrow, but those are just titles, as is the "Cyborg-Superman" misnomer. In truth he is a contradiction. He is neither man, nor machine. He is neither Superman, nor Cyborg. The symbol he bears on his chest means hope, but the ring on his finger is powered by Fear. He is a creation of Brainiac, but also the man who created Brainiac. That's right, he is Zor-El... or at least, he is all that remains of Zor-El... or is he?
- Zor-El being turned by Brainiac into the Cyborg Superman is a nod to the New 52.
- Cyborg Superman was part of the Sinestro Corps in Sinestro Corps War.