There are characters who can sound AMAZING on paper, and maybe even be so, but, when placed into just the absolutely wrong situation, can fail epically. Welcome to the next installment of How To Drop The Ball In Comics, where I look at what I believe to be a legitimately GOOD idea in comics, why I felt that it was, and how it failed to live up to the hype. And following in the tradition of the first one I did, let’s look back to the rebooted universe of Earth 2 as we check out at Val-Zod, AKA the new Superman of the new Earth 2.
Who Is He?: Created by Tom Taylor, Nicolla Scott, and Robson Rocha for Earth 2 #19 in 2014, Val-Zod is presumably the son of General Zod in the rebooted universe of Earth 2 in the New 52. As I mentioned before, in this version of events, Earth 2’s Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman died saving the world from Darkseid. However, after one of Darkseid’s agents, Brutaal, was revealed to be Superman back from the dead and under his control (actually, it later turned out to be a Bizarro-esque clone, and that the real one was kept locked away to have more clones created from him), the heroes of the world found themselves in a desperate struggle to save the world from its greatest hero. Luckily, as it turned out, they had a trump card hidden among them, kept under lock and key by Terry Sloan: Val-Zod, one of the last surviving Kryptonians. While he was initially agoraphobic and wished not to fight, he eventually came to grips with his fears and concerns, becoming the new Superman.
How Did He Have Potential?: Well, while he’s not the first example of this, it’s nonetheless cool to see the Man of Steel also be a man of colour. Granted, I don’t know how that works with an alien species, but then again, this a race that looks just like us anyway. If we can accept that, it’s not TOO much of a stretch to think they have different skin colours among them as well. But really, the thing that I love about Val-Zod as a character is the fact that he’s a pacifist. Growing up, he was under the belief that violence was senseless, and learning the value of mind over body, he has chosen not to fight. So, for those wondering, no, there will be no “I AM A MAN!” punches coming from him. But don’t you dare think of him as a wuss. Instead, he takes all that strength that his Kryptonian body has, all the amazing abilities of Superman, and uses them specifically for the purpose of helping and defending people. He will not fight back, but as shown through his eventual confrontation with Brutaal, he doesn’t need to. Just standing up to Brutaal when he was threatening others was enough, as the act of trying to punch Val to death instead caused the clone of Kal-El’s body to break down. As he himself put it, “I won’t kill Kal-El…but I need to fix what he has broken.” In short, he is everything that one can and should be: Strong not just in body, but in mind and conviction, unwilling to let bad things happen to good people, and able to inspire others to be better themselves. In many ways, it’s hard not to consider him the legitimate successor to Superman’s legacy… … …however…
How Did It Drop The Ball?: The problem is that, while I concede that Val-Zod is a legitimate successor to Kal-El, there is another who is every bit as legitimate as him, who has been around for much longer, and in the original Earth 2 history was Superman’s successor on the Justice Society of America. That person is Kara Zor-El, AKA Power Girl. And again, as I’ve brought up before, when Kara returned to Earth 2, she was immediately set up to be nothing more than just another member of the Super family, Val-Zod’s love interest, and most degrading of all, had a Superman logo placed on her costume. For those who don’t know, in one of her earliest appearances, Power Girl was given a logo for her costume, but crushed it because it was blatantly a Superman logo (except with a P instead of an S), and she didn’t want to be seen as just being Superman’s cousin. She wanted to be her own woman, not in any way ashamed of her heritage, but looking to carve out her own legacy as she carried on in Superman’s place. And what’s REALLY sad about that is that, with the current Earth 2 stories centering around the idea of them inhabiting a new version of Earth 2 to replace the one destroyed by Darkseid (long and AWFUL story), there’s more than enough room for both Kara and Val to co-exist as successors to Kal-El without taking away the other’s credibility, if the story was well written. The problem is, it’s NOT well written, because Daniel H. Wilson doesn’t understand how the character works and has taken away her agency. But on top of all of that, when you get down to it, Val himself isn’t really doing much of anything to be a big deal either, as most of the attention in the Earth 2 books goes to, you guessed it, BATMAN. And it’s not even a worthy nor legitimate successor to Batman, but that’s a rant for another day. The point is, whatever momentum Val had as a character seems to have completely come to a halt, and the way that he, Kara, and really everybody in the Earth 2 books have been handled just goes a long way to show why they’re just not any good, despite the mass amount of potential that they had.
Anyway, that’s all I’ve got to say about all of this. If you wanna know more about how the Earth 2 books are continuing to fail miserably, be sure to check out Lapses In Logic over at http://www.helenawaynehuntress.com/. Ja né!