Review: Earth 2 #25 – Val Zod Rises
Earth 2, from the very beginning, has been all about reinventing DC heroes for a different Earth. Since Superman returned at Bruutal, Earth 2 has been in turmoil. Darkseid is taking Earth for his own and anyone that gets in the way is immediately taken out by the new, evil Superman. Since Tom Taylor took over, the entire series has built up to this moment. Val – Zod taking his place as a hero.
Earth 2 #25 is almost the Val-Zod/Superman showdown we’ve been waiting for. Tom Taylor takes time this issue to set up that fight in a most perfect fashion. There’s real foreshadowing to the death of Superman. We’re seeing him at his absolute worst as he does something so out of character. The forces against Superman are finally turning the tide a bit. Aquawoman gives them a huge boost in one of the best sequences of the issue. But the real star of Earth 2 #25 is Val-Zod. In the middle of all this mayhem, Val has a conversation with Jimmy Olsen that not only gives us the backstory of Val, but also puts him on the path that he will take to save Earth 2.
Earth 2 #25 solidifies Earth 2 as the best superhero book that’s being put out by any publisher. That is a bold statement but it’s 100% true. There is no other superhero book that does what Tom Taylor and Nicola Scott are doing. Earth 2 constantly pushes the boundaries of what a superhero comic book is. They can have deep character development and they can cause readers to feel real emotions. Watching Val Zod in his Krypton colors, scared and ashamed of them is powerful. We know that symbol to be a universal sign of hope. Seeing it define terror and destruction is alarming and messes with what you’re used to feeling. Val Zod is also the everyman. He’s every teenager who’s ever had to make a fast adjustment to becoming an adult. Val Zod’s development into the new Superman is exactly like watching Clark Kent become the hero we all know. It’s a parallel that just feels so much more real with Taylor’s writing.
The other part of this that gives this book such a high score is the deeper development of evil Superman. It’s becoming very clear, at least to me, that he is not of sound mind. If this indeed Clark Kent (debate has raged over whether this is a clone) then he is as brainwashed as he can possibly be. Taylor plays with Superman fans in the scene that takes place at the Kents. What’s usually a cute situation, Clark in costume having dinner with his Ma and Pa, turns into something dark and straight out of a horror movie. Clark is gone. He’s gone in every sense of it outside of his love for Lois. He takes a turn that no one will see coming. It’s scenes like this that prove month after month that Earth 2 is the best superhero title out there.
With the weekly series coming, it’s a blessing now to have this big of a cast. This is something I’ve criticized in the past. There is going to no doubt be a lot coming from this showdown with Superman in space. Alan Scott is doing all he can but it will really be up to the Supermen to duke it out. The outcome is what I expect will be the catalyst to that weekly series. It was even mentioned by Dr. Fate. On top of all this world building and the gift that is Val Zod, there is Jimmy Olsen. He’s a character that has played such a big role in the life of Superman and in Earth 2. He’s doing it now for Val Zod and it is a great mirroring of the characters. Even more special is that Jimmy Olsen acts as the audience. He has a photographic memory, which is a nod to his photography past, but it also represents the reader. We remember everything. He is bewildered by everything he sees and says what we would say. He told off Batman and was ready to give a pep talk to Val Zod. It’s us in a comic.
Nicola Scott’s art is at a whole new level of beautiful in issue #25. Her design of Val Zod in his costume is regal. It’s like looking at the text book definition of Superman. Strong, brave, ready to take on the world. The first shot of him in that costume is punctuated with an astonished look on Jimmy Olsen’s face that mirrors what every reader should have felt in that moment. The Aquawoman sequence also stands out. It’s wonderful splash page with meticulous details. It’s honestly a wonder how she is able to so much detailing in just a month. This book is just as much hers as it is Tom Taylor’s.
Earth 2 #25 is a fantastic issue. It’s almost everything that has been built up over the last year or so come together. Everything from the writing to the art is damn near perfect. Earth 2 #25 solidifies Earth 2’s status at the best superhero comic going right now. Action takes place on an epic scale and there is real character development. Right now may not be the best time to jump in but this issue is the best evidence to get readers to pick up the back trades.