SuperFriends Comic Book Character
Van Zee
Real name: Van-Zee
AKA: Nightwing
Species: Kryptonian from the city of Kandor
Homeworld: Krypton
Universe: Earth-1A
Relatives: Sylvia (wife)[1]
Nim-Zee (father)
Jor-El (uncle)
Kal-El (cousin)
Var-El (grandfather)
Occupation: Scientist
Base: Shrunken City of Kandor
Affiliations: Flamebird (crime-fighting partner)
Nightwing (Superman Family 184)

Van-Zee as Nightwing.

Van-Zee (SF 189)

Image from Superman Family, #189 ((May/June 1978).

Van-Zee is a Kryptonian vigilante who operated as the second ‘Nightwing’ after Superman first used the name. He was also a scientist and looked strikingly similar to Superman. His vigilante partner and assistant, Ak-Var is the vigilante known as Flamebird. Van-Zee possesses no super-powers in his natural state, but he is an excellent hand-to-hand combatant. He is one of many residents of the bottled city of Kandor who survived the destruction of Krypton.

Background Information

In the parallel universe of Earth-One, Van-Zee is the son of Nim-Zee,[2] a native born Kandorian and a surviving cousin of Superman.

On one fateful occasion, Superman decides to work with Van-Zee when a Kandorian scientist named 'Than Ol' figures out a way to enlarge Kryptonians. The men break out of Kandor, go to America and wreak havoc. Than Ol also believes that Superman has been keeping this ability from them and has turned many Kandorians against him. Upon arrival with his pal Jimmy Olsen he is greeted by hostility and anger. He and Jimmy hide out in the home of Nor-Kann, a scientist and an old friend of his father. Nor-Kann assists them, by providing shelter and the use of his secret laboratory. While there, Superman wants to find a way to speak to Than Ol, but knows that showing his face could have catastrophic results. He then suggests dressing up in disguise like Batman and Robin. Using a Nightwing and a Flamebird as examples, they construct their outfits, becoming the ‘Dynamic Duo’ of Kandor. Over the next few days they embark on their quest to prove Superman's innocence, and to find Than Ol’s hidden laboratory. They find his base, but Superman does not want to draw attention to himself as Superman. So, he seeks out his cousin, and virtual look-alike, Van-Zee. Superman’s cousin is still loyal, not believing Than Ol and his hate-filled lies. The next morning Superman, disguised as his cousin Van-Zee pays a visit to Than Ol. He wants to help Than Ol realize that the design for his enlarging ray gun is flawed. This ruse backfired, and the non-powered super hero found himself injured and captured. Upon hearing the news, Van-Zee finds young Jimmy and dons the ‘Nightwing’ outfit while Jimmy wears the ‘Flamebird’ outfit and rescues their fallen hero. Than Ol springs into action and decides now is the time. He turns his enlarging ray gun on the city itself, it is then that the fatal flaw in Than Ol’s design becomes apparent. The people that were enlarged began to disintegrate. Superman, Jimmy and Van-Zee help the people recover after the damage. As the people of Kandor get back to business as usually, the erect, not a statue of Superman, but two statues, one of Nightwing and one of Flamebird.[3]

A few years later, Van-Zee and his assistant Ak-Var were forced to take action against a ‘single-celled’ creature that had grown larger than a person and was wreaking havoc on the city. Knowing that Superman was off-world fighting the Manhunters,[4] and that no one in Kandor knew that it was Superman and Jimmy Olson who posed as ‘Nightwing’ and ‘Flamebird’ except the two of them and Nor-Kann, they decide to take up the mantle and save their city. They rush to Nor-Kann’s house (it has been vacant, for sometime after the scientists death) to find the old suits and to use the old lab beneath the house as their Secret HQ, aka the ‘Night Cave.’ Together, as ‘Nightwing and Flamebird’, Kandor's Dynamic Duo, they defeat the criminal scientist Zal-Te, and destroy his single-celled’ creature.[5]

The two shared several distinct adventures, once teaming up with Superman and Jimmy.[6]

Van-Zee and his assistant Ak-Var were summoned by Superman who had brought a radiation-based Superhero from the past. It was Tex Thomas, aka T.N.T. He came to the shrunken city of Kandor, wanting Tex to meet these two brilliant scientists, believing that they would be able to solve T.N.T 's radiation problem. He left him there, knowing he was in good hands.[7]

A few years later, Superman, believes that he has discovered the ability to enlarge the city of Kandor. He and his cousin Supergirl take the city to a lonely planet under a red sun. Upon landing, Superman places the bottle city on the ground and fires the enlarging ray at full power. Inside seconds, the city of Kandor is restored to its towering heights. Shortly afterward, the city itself crumbles into dust, They soon realize that the enlarger ray only works permanently on 'living matter.' Sad, Superman offers to help, but Van-Zee tells him it is for the best because the Kandorians were without initiative, being cared for by Superman for years. Now they have a chance to build a new city through their own efforts. Superman and Supergirl then depart.[8]

On one special occasion, Clark is at work at Galaxy Broadcasting. He is told by his employer, Morgan Edge that he wants to produce the definitive 'mini-series' biography on Superman and assigns Kent the burdensome task of investigating Superman's roots. Kent reluctantly agrees to the assignment and secretly changes into Superman shortly after the meeting concludes. He meets his cousin Kara at the Fortress of Solitude and together they board a spaceship and fly off to the city of Kandor on its new home, the planet Rokyn. The two are reunited with Van-Zee and Supergirl's parents, Zor-El and Alura. They begin the arduous task of researching several generations of Kal-El's family lineage.[9]

Powers and Abilities


  • Inside the bottled city, Van-Zee is normal as a human from earth. Outside the city, in earth’s atmosphere, he has all the powers of Superman, albeit in his shrunken size.




  • Belt: Allows the Wearer to Fly.


  • Kryptonian Physiology: Under the effects of a "yellow" sun, Van-Zee possesses the same potential weaknesses as an average Kryptonian. These include:



  • Water Breather Helmet: A helmet that allows him to breath underwater.
  • Marine Adaptation: Body armor that protects him from water pressure, along with additional combat padding.


Title (SF 189)

Image From: Superman Family, #189 (May/June 1978).


Van-Zee did not appear in any episode of the Superfriends TV Show.

Notable Earth-One Appearances:

  • Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane, #15 (Spring 1942)
  • Superman, #158 (January 1963).
  • Superman Family #183/5 (May/June 1977).

Earth-1A Appearance:


  • Van-Zee was created by Edmond Hamilton and Mort Weisinger.
  • He first appeared in: Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane, #15 (1960).
  • He first appeared in the ‘Nightwing’ outfit in: Superman, #158 (January 1963).
  • He first appeared as ‘Nightwing’: Superman Family #183/5 (May/June 1977).


  1. Sylvia is confirmed to be Van-Zee's wife in Superman Family, #185/5 (September/October 1977).
  2. As revealed in Superman, #151 (February 1962).
  3. As revealed in Superman, #158 (January 1963).
  4. This mission is recorded in Justice League of America, #140 & #141 (March – April 1977).
  5. As revealed in Superman Family, #185 (September/October 19770.
  6. As revealed in Superman Family, #188 (March/April 1978).
  7. As revealed in SuperFriends, #12 (July 1978).
  8. As revealed in Superman, #338 (August 1979).
  9. As revealed in Krypton Chronicles, #1 (September 1981).
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