Departing from the various and selectively tired origin stories for General Zod, Greg Pak directs “Action Comics # 23.2: Zod” into the wild, uncharted corners of Krypton, putting young Dru-Zod and his parents directly in harm’s way. Ken Lashley joins Pak, bringing the writer’s tale into hard-edged visuals that are loaded with detail.
Ten-year-old Dru-Zod opens the issue before Pak shoots the issue off on leaps of one year, fifteen years and two years, offering peeks into Zod’s life, but nothing more than that. Zod is never shown developing morals or discipline, but he is given ties to the House of El. Pak wraps the story around Zod’s own declaration of an affinity for monsters, transforming one of the Man of Steel’s greatest and most recognizable foes into a monstrous shadow of the Zod fans know. Grasping to deliver something familiar to readers, Pak blends Zod’s various supporting casts and readers are briefly introduced to Faora and Non. Throughout “Action Comics” #23.2 Pak keeps Zod at arm’s length, defining the character without really giving him any sort of personality.
Ken Lashley’s overly busy artwork petrifies the characters, such as when Jor-El hits Zod. The characters and Krypton around them are peppered with detail, but the characters have no true sense of motion. Lashley pours details on top of detail to the point of distraction once every single panel is as full as it can be. Filling in the artwork, Pete Pantazis’ colors homogenize everything despite their harsh hues. Visually the book is overloaded where streamlining some imagery or minimalizing some backgrounds would have helped to propel the characters out from their world more than blend them into it like anthropomorphic chameleons.
Zod of the films is far more interesting for his bluster and posturing than this Zod ever could be in his unfounded self-righteousness. Even the Terence Stamp version of Zod has more depth than this jungle-raised anarchist. Pak tries to use Zod as a prod to inspire the Kryptonians to build a better future, but in the shadow of Michael Shannon’s portrayal of the character, Pak’s version is thin and uninspired. No longer methodical, noble or cunning Zod now is damaged goods, cruel and menacing for no other reason than to be menacing. The end result is that “Action Comics #23.2: Zod” is simply a limp story. I hope when we see him again (which this issue all but makes certain we will) that the character is more inspired.