Zor-El was a Kryptonian scientist and the father of Kara Zor-El, who would go on to become Supergirl. His brother is Superman's father Jor-El. He is a member of the House of El and the Kryptonian Science Guild as well as the former Kryptonian Artists Guild.
Zor and his wife Alura In-Ze survived the destruction of Krypton thanks to the dome surrounding Argo City. Later, their city would be demolished and they would be captured by Brainiac and relocated to the bottle city of Kandor, where they would be preserved. After being freed from Brainiac together with the whole city of Kandor, Zor-El was murdered by Reactron under the orders of Sam Lane.
In Prime Earth, he took part in the creation of the Worldkillers, a fact he would come to regret. Although he managed to save Argo city, all Argonians eventually died except for him, as he was "saved" by Brainiac and transformed into a brainwashed Cyborg Superman . Zor-El would be murdered by Mister Oz.