SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Action Comics #984, by Dan Jurgens and Patrick Zircher, on sale now.
Action Comics #984 concludes the six-part “Revenge” storyline that started when Hank Henshaw assembled a team of villains to take on the Man of Steel back in issue #979. While things have changed considerably since then, and General Zod has taken over as the de facto leader of the so-called Superman Revenge Squad, the core of Dan Jurgens’ story remains family, and this final chapter not only delivers a surprising twist on the theme, it appears to alter Superman’s post-Rebirth continuity even further.
The story gets underway with a confirmation of the previous issue’s obvious fake-out; in short, Jonathan and Lois are not dead. Realizing the inherent threat of Zod’s heat vision, the Kents sent out an unmanned Kryptonian flyer knowing that the craft would make an easy target for Zod. Although Lois is safe, Jonathan has disappeared, and the worried mom is left asking Krypto -- who was absent for all of issue #983 -- where her son might have gone.
Meanwhile, in the Phantom Zone, an immaterial Superman gets his sight back, reversing the crippling injury he sustained in the black vault that surrounded Belle Reve. But he and his cohorts quickly realize that they are not alone: Zod has projected the Eradicator and a snivelling Hank Henshaw into the Phantom Zone, ostensibly to retrieve the General’s Kryptonian army. The inevitable confrontation ensues, and the heroes -- just like the villains -- discover that Zod’s plans aren’t what any of them thought.
Back at the Fortress of Solitude, Zod dispatches his non-Kryptonian allies one by one. He sends Metallo crashing into the walls with one punch, and Mogul into orbit with another. Blanque is in agony, bleeding from the eyes as he serves as a telepathic link to the Eradicator in the Phantom Zone. Then there’s Kara. Intent on revenge, the Kryptonian general plans to execute Superman’s cousin, but Jonathan steps in.
Piloting the same Kryptonian battle suit that helped resurrect his father after his deadly battle with Doomsday, Jonathan comes to Kara’s aid, but even with his enhanced strength (and the help of a mysterious stranger who has patched into the armor’s comm system) is no match for Zod, who rips off a mechanical arm. Although the melee is short, Jon wins Kara enough time to break Zod’s grip, and to strike back.
Lois then bursts into the scene with Krypto, who plunges his teeth into Zod’s leg and then into his neck, further slowing the tyrant down. But Superdog is no match for the general, who swats him away like an insect.
The combined strength of Superman’s family proves only a minor hindrance to Zod, and once the Eradicator has sent the telepathic signal to Blanque -- who is killed by the effort of serving as a psychic conduit -- the general activates the Phantom Zone projector. His objective, it turns out, is not the retrieval of his army but the return of his wife, Ursa, and his son, Lor-Zod.
But who is the Lor-Zod that the general has retrieved?