general zod artwork kneel before zod joe casey

INTERVIEW: It’s Been A Minute: Joe Casey is Back at DC after 20 Years with Kneel Before Zod

Announced this past weekend at San Diego Comic-Con is a new book featuring Superman’s most vicious villain: Kneel Before Zod #1. And guess who’s back back back again writing for DC Comics again? That’s right, it’s Joe Casey!

Multiverse of Color got a chance to chat with him briefly in the DC Booth about his diabolical plans for General Zod and his family. Interview edited for clarity.

general zod artwork kneel before zod joe casey

Mild spoilers for Kneel Before Zod #1, out January 2024. Art by Dan McDaid.

Kneel Before Zod #1 finds Zod at his happiest, according to Casey. “The last time we saw Zod, he had found a planet that his family could settle on, to take over and turn into a new Krypton. We’re trying to position Zod as a  major villain again. So to do that, you’ve got to break some heads.”

General Zod has been bounced around since the Rebirth era, but has since found his own sense of peace after The Unity Saga, rebuilding Krypton. Casey says he’s going to blow all that up, with much glee. 

Credit: DC Comics

“First of all, Zod has a family? Second of all, the worst thing you could do, especially a character with that level of ambition, is give him what he wants. Recipe for disaster,” Casey explains. “That’s what we started with, he’s got it all. He’s got the family, ruler of all he surveys. It’s just not right. It’s not what he needs. It’s not what he should be doing. So we’ll fix him up.”

The Zod family talking to the House of El in Superman (2018) #15
Credit: DC Comics

Most major villains aren’t typically family people or at least aren’t allowed to be, so it sounds like there could be some character deaths coming for the Zod family. Casey was sly in his response, not wanting to reveal spoilers, of course. “There’s just bad things that happen to bad people. It’s kind of the tone of this book.”

With most Super-books right now, there’s a tone of lightness about them; with Zod’s book, Casey wanted the opposite. “I’m not a big believer in likeability in characters. You don’t have to like a character to want to follow the story. As long as the story is engaging, as long as the character is compelling, you’ll go where they take you. This Zod is a perfect example,” Casey said. “I don’t want him to be likable. He does something the first issue that is, to me personally, so evil. It’s not overly violent, but he’s sort of emotionally evil. It’s devastating to me. It’s fun to write.”

“In this case, it’s dark, depressing, suffering, violence, tearing this family apart, all that great stuff. It’s dramatic. It’s emotional.”

It’s been almost 20 years since Casey worked on a DC Comics project and he’s been on a journey to get back to writing Super-tales again. “My career has taken me into different areas of animation, video games, movies, TV, but comics is my first love. It’s a skill that I cultivated over the years and so to not utilize those skills, it’s kind of a waste. The timing is right, to come back. It’s been fun to kind of work those muscles.”

Writing Superman, Casey believes even though he wasn’t a “big fan” growing up, he’s “uniquely qualified to write a character” if there’s not a lot of “fan baggage.” He has a deep appreciation for the character and the opportunities the first superhero has brought him.

“Now looking back, I was so lucky to write that character. I wrote for about three and a half years. It’s a signpost in my career,” Casey said. “It frames the Zod book now, having done Superman. Now I’m doing the opposite; where Superman was set up as a good-hearted, pacifistic character. Zod is the opposite of that.”

Kneel Before Zod #1 drops January 2024 with General Zod at his most degenerate and most savage after losing everything. He has Joe Casey and Dan McDaid to thank for that. Casey and McDaid have a story in Action Comics #1060, which will set up Kneel Before Zod, coming in December 2023.