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Mild Mannered Reviews - Action Comics

Action Comics #23.2

Action Comics #23.2/Zod #1

Scheduled to arrive in stores: September 11, 2013

Cover date: November 2013

"Born in Flames"

Writer: Greg Pak
Penciller: Ken Lashley
Inker: Ken Lashley

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

Young Dru-Zod and his parents are attacked while on a scientific expedition. One year later he is found by Jor-El and Zor-El. He grows up to be a soldier and dreams of battling the Char, a race of insect creatures that Krypton was once at war with. It isn't long before he gets his wish as the Char attack after decades of peace. Zod rallies his people and leads an attack that slaughters thousands of Char. Jor-El discovers that Zod used genetic material stolen from Zor-El's laboratory to create a hybrid to frame the Char. Zod is sentenced to the Phantom Zone but informs the council that they should make no mistake...HE is their monster.

5Story - 5: Zod is a villain again.

Good. I was hoping for something like this.

You would think that someone that grew up watching the Christopher Reeve films would have more of a connection to General Zod. I am pretty sure that I have seen SUPERMAN II more than the first one and Zod was pretty front and center as the villain in that movie. Maybe I would have been more of a fan if he had been around for any length of time during the Post Crisis era where I came up as a reader. To be fair there were several Zods that popped up in the books during that period. One died soon after he appeared, one turned out to be a creation of Brainiac, the other turned out to be some kind of alien clone thing that was a huge disappointment and the other was drawn by Jim Lee at the end of a story I found boring. When Johns brought Zod into the stories after INFINITE CRISIS I was rather jazzed but quickly that Zod turned into the typical Johns villain with a backstory so sympathetic I had a hard time thinking of him as a bad guy even though I really, really wanted to.

Then there was the Zod from MAN OF STEEL...

Yeah, not going to go there.

I really didn't know what to expect from this new Zod. Greg Pak is a solid writer, so I was fairly certain that I would at least think the story was well written. What I didn't expect is to find was exactly the type of villain I want to see. This Zod isn't the two dimensional version from the Silver Age that was given a little more depth in the Bronze Age. It isn't the Zod from a parallel world or an alien or...whatever the heck Zod was in FOR TOMORROW. This Zod isn't genetically programmed to be the person he is or fighting against a tyrannical council that lobotomized one of their own scientists. This Zod is a sociopath and sociopaths make the best villains.

It's not that I don't understand or even like the character. Right from the start Pak makes us feel bad for Zod. His parents strike me as the unemotional type and after their deaths he spent his entire life being the butt of everyone's joke. All he wanted to do with his life was be a soldier and fight against the mortal enemies of Krypton. Those qualities made me sympathize with him and I liked the relationship he had with Jor-El and Zor-El. What makes him the bad guy was the whole manipulating events so that he can go to war and slaughter a race of people because it's what he always wanted to do. He's damaged goods and needed to be taken away from society before he could do any more harm. What's worse (or better in a way) is that he was unrepentant. He didn't care that he had created a monster to fool the people into going along with his war. His final words to the Council were a threat.

It was everything I wanted.

But there was more...

Here's a joke my father is fond of telling. Two men are hiking in the woods when they see a bear in the distance. The bear begins to charge at them. The first man drops his pack, sits down, takes off his hiking boots and begins to put on a pair of sneakers he had brought along. The second man is frantic. "What are you doing?" the second man asks. "You are never going to outrun that bear!"

The first man looks up and calmly says. "I don't have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you."

Young Zod was the first man. He killed his own father knowing that the beasts would stop to feed on his body because that's what happened to Zod's mother which allowed him to escape. To survive.

Zod was always damaged goods. Right from the beginning.

And that is why I am excited to see Zod return because THIS Zod is a villain I can get behind. He has just enough in the back story to make you understand him but he is also just evil enough to be the bad guy.

Hopefully he'll still be like this when we see him again. I'll be disappointed if he's not.

4Art - 4: The art was quite good in this issue. Ken Lashley's style matched the WORLD OF KRYPTON story just enough that it all looked like the same world while still retaining its own feel. I like how this new Krypton has been designed and that it is distinctive. My biggest complaint about the post INFINITE CRISIS take on Krypton was that it was just a bunch of previous looks all smashed together. I don't get that feeling here. My only complaint is that the coloring and the page layouts sometimes made the action scenes a bit confusing. The battles were hard to follow because they panels blended into each other. It was dynamic just a little confusing. Other than that I have no complaints.

5Cover Art - 5: If I was a betting man I would put good money on the fact that Zod is all about the heat vision because of MAN OF STEEL. It doesn't really matter. This is a dramatic cover and I like it quite a bit. The 3D version is hard on the eyes but all of the 3D covers have made me a little motion sick so this isn't a huge surprise.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2013

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