General Zod has returned to Earth to resurrect the dead people of Kandor, killed by Rogol Zaar during the events of Brian Michael Bendis’ Man of Steel miniseries. Hoping for aid from Batman’s nemesis, Ra’s al Ghul, Zod sought to use the Lazarus Pits to resurrect them, but after being denied, he decides to do things on his own leaving Ra’s no choice but to seek help from the World’s Finest.
This was less about Batman and Superman than it was about General Zod himself.
Joshua Williamson has done a great job of writing this series so far while focusing on Batman and Superman’s struggles with The Batman Who Laughs, so readers shouldn’t be surprised that when a focus is placed on the similar yet opposing natures of Zod and Ra’s al Ghul that Williamson manages to tell a tale of two men that would be allies but are torn by their respective egos and goals.
One thing that I did not expect was a little bit of a background on Zod’s own childhood where his father sat down to explain to him why Kandor was important to the House of Zod. Williamson gives us far more with this one scene than we’ve gotten for Zod in a number of years, even with his wife and son’s reemergence from the Phantom Zone during Dan Jurgens run on Superman. We’re able to tie Kandor to a happy memory in Zod’s life that fuels his love and pride in Krypton.
At the same time, his attitude is contrasted by that of Ra’s al Ghul, whose ego takes a hit when Zod manages to resurrect his people and the entire party is able to stop their rage without killing any of them, mostly thanks to Batman and Superman. Ra’s shows his pettiness by using his sword to rip through Kandor’s containment glass, claiming that “Death is [his] to deny.” He then runs away from his ensuing fight with Zod after Batman convinces the Kryptonian not to kill the Demon’s Head for his transgression, his pride hurt on both ends.
Nick Derington, John J. Hill and Dave McCaig make this book shine through their art, letters and colors respectively.
As mentioned in the review for Issue #8, Derington uses his cartoony style to great effect while also giving readers dynamic action scenes marked by great posing, expressive faces and a simple panel structure. While the citizens of Kandor appear like a swarm in a tiny green cloud, the heroes and villains sell their attacks as if they’re just an army of smaller Supermen with every intention to kill them all. Zod’s expressions shine as we see a lot of somber looks as he reminisces of Kandor and is pissed off when Ra’s attacks them.
While a lot of artists will use giant splash pages with inlaid panels, Derington uses three to six panel grids, giving each page a sense of sequence for action. A lot of these panels are pulled in to put emphasis on faces and the action therein, or to sell the few comedic moments like Batman throwing a batarang at Ra’s head after he threatens to kill the stunned Kandorans or Zod superspeed tackling Ra’s through a wall after Superman gives a calming, “Zod…”
Hill does an excellent job with word bubble placement and sound effects. Because the Kandorans are shrunken, their attacks are given small letters like the “SPLUT” as they attack Ra’s ear or the “ZZPPPTTT” as a million tiny eyes shoot lasers at the other characters. None are better, however, than the sounds of Zod beating Ra’s off panel as readers are treated to the “BOOMs,” “THOOMs” and “KRAKKs” of a one sided beatdown.
Of course, Dave McCaig gives these pages life with his excellent coloring. His vibrant greens emphasize the life-giving properties of the Lazarus Pits as well as the color of the Kandorans who were just dipped in it. When the violence shifts outside, things are given nice Earth tones since this particular story takes place in South America in which the trees are a yellow-green and the sky is a lukewarm yellow, both of which contrast excellently with the blacks and greys of Batman, Zod and Ra’s al Ghul.
This issue was a lot of fun and continues the more anti-heroic turn of General Zod that I’ve been appreciating over the last few years. Williamson is telling a great story with Batman and Superman combating their greatest threats and he’s bringing over talents like Nick Derington to help tell those stories. This book was absolutely excellent from cover to cover with excellent writing, fantastic art, stellar coloring and lovely lettering.
Batman/Superman #8: A Mutual Respect
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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