DC Animated Universe
Phantom Zone projector

The Phantom Zone Projector.

The Phantom Zone projector was a Kryptonian invention that sent the target into the Phantom Zone.


The projector was used to send "the most dangerous criminals in the galaxy" into the Phantom Zone for a designated amount of time to serve their sentence. Sometimes the penalty would be for life and due to the nature of the Phantom Zone, the occupants would never age.

Perhaps the most significant example of the Phantom Zone's use is the case of Jax-Ur and Mala. Jax-Ur attempted to overrun Krypton's High Council and put himself in charge. His plans were foiled by Kryptonian Scientist Jor-El. He was sentenced to eternal imprisonment in the Phantom Zone. Mala, Jax-Ur's second in command, received a shorter sentence for her smaller role in the plan.[1]

After failed attempts to convince the High Council of Krypton's impending doom, Jor-El suggested the Phantom Zone as a Safe House for all Kryptonians until they were released by one man (equipped with the projector) who had found a suitable home for them. In the end, it was too late for Jor-El's plan and he ended up sending his son,[2] Kal-El in this ship to Earth with the Projector still in the ship. Whether or not he meant to leave the Projector with Kal-El is unknown.

Many Years Later, after Kal-El had become Superman, he heard Mala through the projector from the Phantom Zone. With her sentence up, Mala demanded to be released. Considering it the right thing to do, Superman released Mala and welcomed her to life on Earth. After teaching her to control her newfound abilities under the yellow sun, Superman realized that Mala would not see humans the way he did and considered them beneath Kryptonians. This led Superman to consider sending her back into the Phantom Zone and even discussed it with Dr. Emil Hamilton. Unfortunately, Mala overheard this and decided to steal the Projector and free Jax-Ur so they could take over the world together.[1] After a short fight with Jax-Ur and Mala, Superman realized he could not take on the both of them even with his advantage in experience with their abilities so he decided to don his Anti-Kryptonite suit and go after them with a piece of Kryptonite. Superman found Mala and proceeded to weaken her with the Kryptonite until Jax-Ur appeared with the projector and sent both Superman and the Kryptonite to the Phantom Zone. He then destroyed the projector to prevent Superman from ever returning. Thankfully, Hamilton had studied the Phantom Zone projector in S.T.A.R. Labs and deduced that the Phantom Zone existed on a different vibrational frequency than Earth and built a new Projector to bring Superman back.

Superman released from the Phantom Zone

Emil Hamilton releases Superman from the Phantom Zone.

Unfortunately, a specific crystal was needed to tune the projector to the right frequency to get people in and out of the zone. Having built it himself, Dr. Hamilton realized that Superman's Anti Kryptonite Suit had its own unique vibrational frequency and he could use that to locate Superman within the Zone. After returning Superman to Earth, they recovered the crystal from the destroyed Projector and proceeded to dispatch Jax-Ur and Mala back where they came from.[3]

Hamilton would later conduct experiments with vibrational frequencies using what he'd learned from the projector. This resulted in the construction of a large portal device that inadvertently sent Lois Lane to another universe where she had died and Metropolis felt the effects of Superman's grief. Hamilton was eventually able to reopen the portal and send Superman through to retrieve Lois.[4]

PH Projector dispatching Doomsday

Superman dispatching Doomsday to the Phantom Zone.

Years Later, after Superman joined the Justice League, a creature known as Doomsday appeared and proceeded to fight the Justice Lords (who had recently arrived from their own universe[5]) and was not stopped until Justice Lord Superman lobotomized him. Some time after that (and the League had expanded), Doomsday escaped from his newfound captors (with the help of the recently fired Dr. Milo) and went after Superman. Not caring which Superman it was, Doomsday proceeded to fight Superman in a volcano and proved resistant to another lobotomizing attempt. After being sealed up in hardened lava, Doomsday was taken to the Justice League Watchtower and questioned about where he was from. After realizing he would not talk and his mind could not be read, Superman used the projector to send him to the Phantom Zone, so he would not be hurt and would not be able to hurt others.[6]

Sightings and references[]

Superman: The Animated Series

Justice League Unlimited


  1. 1.0 1.1 Goodman, Robert (writer) & Riba, Dan (director) (September 8, 1997). "Blasts From the Past, Part I". Superman: The Animated Series. Season 2. Episode 1 (airdate). Episode 14 (production). Kids WB!.
  2. Burnett, Alan, Dini, Paul (writers) & Riba, Dan (director) (September 6, 1996). "The Last Son of Krypton, Part I". Superman: The Animated Series. Season 1. Episode 1 (airdate). Episode 1 (production). Kids WB!.
  3. Goodman, Robert (writer) & Riba, Dan (director) (September 9, 1997). "Blasts From the Past, Part II". Superman: The Animated Series. Season 2. Episode 2 (airdate). Episode 17 (production). Kids WB!.
  4. Berkowitz, Stan (writer) & Geda, Curt (director) (September 27, 1997). "Brave New Metropolis". Superman: The Animated Series. Season 2. Episode 12 (airdate). Episode 25 (production). Kids WB!.
  5. Berkowitz, Stan (writer) & Riba, Dan (director) (November 1, 2003). "A Better World, Part I". Justice League. Season 2. Episode 11 (airdate). Episode 37 (production). Cartoon Network.
  6. McDuffie, Dwayne (story) & Goodman, Robert (teleplay) & Riba, Dan (director) (February 19, 2005). "The Doomsday Sanction". Justice League Unlimited. Season 1. Episode 16 (airdate). Episode 16 (production). Cartoon Network.