Kneel Before Zod #1 is published by DC Comics, written by Joe Casey, art by Dan McDaid, colors by David Baron, and letters by Troy Peteri. On a planet of his own, General Zod’s rule is absolute, with Ursa by his side, a teen son, and another on the way. But a challenge for that power could come from all sides.
The plot of this first issue is interesting. The pacing is a slow-burner initially, but it’s not solely there because of a vast amount of exposition. Zod’s history is well known, and it’s not dwelled on totally within this issue, but it is the only thing that is. The immediate history is hidden or obscured, such as how he came to own New Kandor in the first place. What is important is that he does, and that’s where the story really begins.
The tone of this book is set to be hardcore and stern, which is clear early on. A conversation between Zod and his son quickly descendants into anger, and an invasion on the planet draws out his bloodthirsty nature. The cover hints at a bloodbath, and this looks like just the opening drops. The slow pace is eradicated as soon as New Kandor is under attack. The first battles of the season demonstrate his enormous power and the ferocity that is going to be shown.
There are no heroes in Kneel Before Zod #1. The main character is one of Superman’s more ruthless and monstrous villains, a general with nothing but rage inside his heart. It makes the issue cold and metallic, contrasting completely with comics featuring other Kryptonians. His mental instability is present from the beginning, as is his grandiosity. His anger can be shown, but also his own version of care. He genuinely appears to love Ursa, and he defends the people of his planet without question. But the greater understanding or political structure of the world he now runs is yet to be fully uncovered.
One of the first obstacles Zod faces is his own child, Lor. The boy has that same fury his father possesses but with much more petulance. Where Zod is an old general, having lived through wars, Lor wants to start them. His personality is perhaps even more dangerous than Zod’s as it lacks the small control Zod has. The conversation is the biggest example of how the dialogue will be in this book. Casey is happy with heartlessness.
There is clear enjoyment in writing Zod’s language. He’s like a Shakespearean villain but with the vocabulary of Darth Vader. His authority is paramount, especially over his son. The dialogue feels less modern than in other comics, but that is an excellent decision for the character. He postures and explains too much, which highlights his arrogance. Ursa shows slightly more compassion, but it is like taking a chisel to Mount Rushmore. She has that same love for battle and a militaristic mind, but that has to compete with a maternal instinct. What is terrifying is the first half of the comic portrays Zod when he is showing restraint, and he still does many questionable and unkind things then. But it is most certainly restraint, considering the second half shows what happens when that is lacking.
The art is a terrific choice. McDaid can create cruel worlds and cutthroat characters superbly. Everything about this first issue is harsh, so the illustrations must be as well. The world is a combination of a barren, unfriendly wasteland and a technological metropolis. The artist expertly depicts the familial likeness between Zod and Lor whilst excellently executing their individuality. Lor is rebellious, which comes across in his design, but he’s young and small. Zod is broad and beastly, with a constant look of rage on his face. The hair and facial markings could be considered funny if Zod stopped exuding fury and fear. Then he is unleashed, and Kryptonian power is given a test run in this book. Used in ways that Superman never does, the brutality on display is terrifying, yet you can’t look away.
The colors also carry the ominous, oppressive atmosphere of the comic. The sky is a mixture of bloody red and purple, whilst the ground is an unfriendly grey. This is not an idyllic location, but it is for a main character whose heart mirrors those same shades. The characters that do have more life and color are seen as problems by Zod. The lettering has a uniformity to it that suits the comic.
Kneel Before Zod #1 is a real character piece. Every part of this world seems to be built entirely in Zod’s image, right down to the individual panel. The lack of heroes of any sort removes ideas of hope, love, or kindness from the book, replaced with an authoritarian bully who has been selected as the “protagonist.” Where other comics could be regarded as intricately stitched together, this one has been molded in a blast furnace. From its looks to the dialogue, it’s cold and rugged. Villain-led books may try and humanise the subject, but there is nothing human about Zod. And yet, there are signs of change and development underfoot within the characters, mainly through Ursa.
Kneel Before Zod #1 is available where comics are sold.
Kneel Before Zod #1
Kneel Before Zod #1 is a real character piece. Every part of this world seems to be built entirely in Zod’s image, right down to the individual panel. The lack of heroes of any sort removes ideas of hope, love, or kindness from the book, replaced with an authoritarian bully who has been selected as the “protagonist.”