Zero #1 Review

By: Rob Neil Gruszecki


    Twenty-five years from now, at a cliff’s edge, Edward Zero stares out at the ocean while a child holds a gun to the back of his head. Zero was a killer already by the age of ten and he assures the child that killing is easy. With a bottle dangling from his hand he shares possibly the last story he will ever tell with the young boy while making no effort to battle his fate.


Zero is nothing

    Jumping back twenty years Zero has infiltrated the warzone of Beit Hanoun along the Gaza strip. Sent to retrieve a device implanted in the chest of a bio modified Palestinian terrorist, his attempts at subterfuge are complicated in an endless battle between his target and an Israeli experimental prototype of a similar design. The modifications keep the soldiers in a cyclical slugfest while Zero waits for his opportunity. The brutality of the two behemoths escalates while back in London, the Agency whittles away the time, waiting for their agent’s return and retrieval of the strange weapon.


    From the mind of Ales Kot comes a brand new ongoing series of espionage, warfare, spy thrillers and action stories from Image comics. Edward Zero has much to tell for as he shares his blood-drenched past with a gun wielding audience. The mystery inherent in the character serves as a constant hook throughout the series as well as a captivating backdrop for episodic one-shots detailing individual missions over his life. This is perhaps one of the most exciting formulas in an ongoing as recently the single-story comic has become a bit of a forgotten art and I am thoroughly excited to be treated to a different, concise and complete story with each issue as well as a mythology that strings the entire project along. Comics being designed for single issue consumption and not merely for an expansive arc will be a refreshing change of pace and I think an enticement to join in on a monthly subscription basis.


    Ales Kot has become one of the most exciting creators in comics today and a personal favorite ever since his first project, Wild Children, with Riley Rossmo (also at Image comics). His script work is unique, surreal, creative and esoteric. With Wild Children he wrote one of my favorite comics of last year and one that I consistently return to as a template for bold, haunting and original comics. The dreamscape that encompassed his next project Change was a dense, difficult and seemingly impenetrable tapestry of metaphor, romance, apocalypse and poetry. With the four issue mini-series (again also at Image Comics) a deeply personal journey was chronicled in a heavily meta-textual collection that after consideration and a few read throughs became another gem that is an important showcase of the potential of the comics medium. However the beauty of Zero is that it has a much less complicated dynamic yet features the same level of skillful, calculated narrative. Where Wild Children and Change were both immersive, Lynchian universes, Zero has a far more accessible landscape that I feel will be more welcoming to a diverse audience.


    Another exciting avenue of this new ongoing series is its utilization of some of the top talents working in comics today as the book will feature a different artist for each issue. First at bat is Comeback and the X Files artist Michael Walsh whose strengths as a crime and action artist are used to their full potential in this first tale of the repetitious devastation and horror of combat. With each subsequent project, Walsh grows and expands his style and I think the pages of Zero issue one feature some of his best work to date. Other artists that will grace the pages of Zero include Mateus Santalouco (Dial H, American Vampire), Morgan Jeske (Change) and Tradd Moore (The Legend of Luther Strode). Having such a diverse creative team artistically on the book will allow for the book to consistently remain fresh and have stories designed specifically for the talents illustrating them. This is a clever concept and one that I think will work to the benefit of the series much in the same way that the visual variety we received in Warren Ellis’ Global Frequency (from Vertigo Comics) made each issue a stand-alone gem that gave the series a wide spectrum and each installment a memorable stamp.


    Featured on the covers of the first issue is another amazing catalogue of creators with artists like Chris Burnham (Batman Inc.), Beck Cloonan (Demo), interior artist Michael Walsh of course and the unbelievable Phantom Variant by Paul Pope (100%, Heavy Liquid, One Trick Rip-off + Deep Cuts) who’s close up image of Edward Zero is remarkable.


    An artistic consistency of the series though will be colouring genius Jordie Bellaire whose colour work in books like The Manhattan Projects, The Massive, Nowhere Men, Comeback, Grim Leaper, Mara and a myriad of other titles have all been excellent and her finishing touches to Michael Walsh’s pencils give the book a true desolate and dire feel as Zero fights war, one murder at a time. Her name on the cover of a comic these days guarantees a beautiful interior with complimentary colour work making the penciller look even better. Much like the bassist in a band, the importance of a colourist is often overlooked but when executed as well as Bellaire it simply makes everybody’s work look and read exponentially better.


    The first issue of Zero is Twenty-nine pages of story with no interruptions. The tale even bled onto the inside covers and simply couldn’t be contained. Ales Kot has created something incredibly special with Image Comics and the masterful artwork of Michael Walsh and Jordie Bellaire that I believe any fan of adrenaline pumping action and intelligent, thoughtful social commentary, will be an instant fan of. Definitely a new ongoing that should be on every comic fans pull lists and a perfect series to get trade waiters on board as each single issue will be something special.


Rob Neil Gruszecki is a writer, musician, podcaster and Wednesday Warrior

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