Little has been seen of General Zod since ‘Batman/Superman’ #8 back in 2020. The end of that issue saw Zod making off with half the population of the bottle city of Kandor in order to revive them on New Kandor, the planet he claimed as his own. Now in his own series, ‘Kneel Before Zod’ #1, we finally get to see how Zod’s plans for his people and new planet affect the balance of power within the DCU cosmos.
Although the standard cover, by Jason Shawn Alexander, has a furious Zod attempting to break Earth apart, this issue’s story solely takes place on New Kandor. That being said, the tag line, “The Bloodbath Begins Here!” doesn’t fail to deliver as we get to see how ruthless Zod can be within the interior pages. The image of Zod’s nearly audible scream of rage goes far to set the tone of the issue and let’s us know this isn’t a hero’s tale.
Nathan Szerdy’s variant switches the spotlight to Ursa. A very realistic and photogenic take on Zod’s Lieutenant/wife, this cover let’s us know that Zod’s family is also featured in this story. There’s a bit of playfulness to Ursa’s demeanor as she sports a finger gun at us, or could that be a warning? Lest we forget, Ursa is just as deadly as Zod and that isn’t a smile on her face.
Using some classic Shakespearian imagery from Hamlet, the variant by Rafael Sarmento paints Zod in a more intimidating tone. Igniting the skull of a fallen adversary with his heat vision sends a very menacing message to those that face the Kryptonian General. Not only does this sum up everything you need to know about Zod in one image, it’s beautifully crafted enough to be put on display.
Other great variants include covers by Björn Barends, Dan McDaid, and Ariel Colon.
Artist Dan McDaid and Colorist David Baron comprise the interior art team. Using a style that would fit Bruce Timm’s animated universe helps lighten the very gritty and somber mood of the story. There’s a couple of nods to Zod’s Silver Age outfit as well as depictions of Jor-El from the same era. The Sarah Douglas likeness of Ursa is uncanny and you can’t help reading her dialogue in the actress’s voice. The action depicted is absolutely brutal and acts as a reminder of how much Superman holds back because Zod definitely doesn’t. McDaid and Baron to a superb job visually reminding us the story takes place on an alien planet with New Kandor’s red skies and Kryptonian architecture.
Joe Casey, lettered by Troy Peteri, weaves a tale of political intrigue and global domination in ‘Kneel Before Zod’ #1. Entitled, “The Crack in the Facade” we get caught up from the prologue story presented in ‘Action Comics’ #1060. Adding context to the upcoming ‘Sinister Sons’ series later this month, Zod exiles his son from New Kandor in order for Lor-Zod to truly earn his familial inheritance. We’re also introduced to the frustration Zod endures from the United Planetary Council with dealings of bureaucratic red tape, the system-wide unrest of space pirates, and Zod’s ambitions towards the inhabitants of Kandor City who are still encased in their bottle.
There’s really a lot going on this first issue and it immediately entices you to want to see where the story will go. Having worked on Superman titles before, Joe Casey is no stranger to Kryptonian lore or the nuances of the characters that make up Superman’s world. There’s no doubt he’ll bring the same kind of energy to building Zod’s world which will surely impact the greater DC Universe as the series progresses.