If the first issue wasn’t enough to get you intrigued in ‘Kneel Before Zod’, then issue #2, “Glitter in the Dark”, should easily seal the deal with its surprising change in narrative. That’s not to say the events of the first issue are irrelevant or misleading but that, by the end of this issue, you realize the Zod of the title refers to the family name and not just the General.
The standard cover is by Jason Shawn Alexander and is an interestingly stark image using a handful of colors, Zod is singlehandedly vanquishing invaders. Despite its bright yellowy background, Zod and the invading force are cast in shadow making the reds of the piece really stand out. Even though Zod is rarely seen as a “good” guy, it’s hard not to root for him as this is a fairly hardcore and heroic scene of one man against a horde.
Keeping with the theme of a lone Zod against the cosmos, the variant by Francesco Tomaselli has him fighting off robotic attackers with a huge Wanted notice in the background. Charged with “Crimes Against the Galaxy” seems a bit broad, but it easily conveys how the DCU views Zod and his militant aggression towards pretty much everything.
Lucio Parrillo’s variant has Zod sporting a Black Adam look having the hood of his cloak raised upon his head. A fairly ominous portrait of Zod surveying an off-panel scene, the fiery reds against the deep purple background suggests it’s one of mass destruction. You wouldn’t think shades of black on black would make for a very compelling cover, buy Parrillo does just that.
Artist Dan McDaid and colorist David Baron continue as the interior art team. The grim and gritty nature of the story becomes less horrific through their animated stylized work, in the best way possible. It’s hard to imagine wanting to side with one of Superman’s more notorious villains, but the depth of emotional range McDaid and Baron give Zod within these pages adds some sympathetic complexity to the typically one-sided evil bad guy. The look of New Kandor is a constant presence reminding us we’re on an alien planet with every panel. There’s just an overall fun feeling to the issue which crazily marries well with the hostile content of the story.
Joe Casey, lettered by Troy Peteri, doesn’t shy away from the violent nature of Zod in Kneel Before Zod #2. The issue starts with a torture scene as the General attempts to extract information about the nature of the attack from issue #1. For the most part, the opening serves as a character highlight of Ursa as she’s the one conducting the more painful forms of torture. From there we quickly learn that Ursa isn’t just a sycophant follower of Zod or a blindly obedient lieutenant, but rather a powerful equal that takes her ruling role seriously.
As Zod hesitates to unleash his world defense weapon against the oncoming invaders, Ursa strikes Zod and begins to lecture him on his downfall from a great warrior into an isolationist despot. Either unwilling or unable to retaliate, Zod hears her words as we get a glimpse into the changed motivations of the once renown world conqueror. To me, this is the crux of the story. The possible outcome that could transform Zod into a more anti-hero figure within the Superman lore, but Ursa’s ambitions may prove to be akin to Lady MacBeth in nature causing the demise of them both. However things may unfold, this second issue sets a stage of infinite possibilities to a myriad of conclusions that has this reader curious for more.