COMIC REVIEW: Zero Issue #2

zero2Ales Kot has presented the comic book reader with both an interesting and frustrating creation. When I started reading issue #2 of Zero, it jarred me. It took me a few seconds to remember that this issue had a different artist than issue #1 and that I was reading the same story.

Each issue of Zero is written by Kot, but has a different artists telling different stories, all centred around the super-spy Edward Zero and his handlers, The Agency.

While issue #1 jumped right into to Zero’s world, with art from Michael Walsh and Jordie Bellaire, this comic is a bit of a rewind, almost an origin story. This time we have design by Tom Muller (who is a graphic designer and branding expert), art by Tradd Moore (the Luther Stroud series), but again, colours by Bellaire.

So, once I’d settled down and remembered the premise, I cracked on: this is the story of how Zero was taught to be the soldier he became. Edward Zero’s school days, if you will. After an opening describing the Northern Ireland peace process, we’re in the year 2000 and a class room with Edwards and his school mates. What follows is a series of lessons and punishments explaining The Agency’s methods and rules, along with his early relationships.

Without the context of issue #1, this would all seem to be very odd – not quite your typical origin story. It culminates with his first mission; to take out the head of one of the more dangerous leaders in the I.R.A., even though it is 2001 and there is an official peace. Once the mission is over, there is a wonderfully bleak coda which is slightly out of keeping with the realistic portrayal of events thus far, and I can’t wait to see if it has significance later on.

As with issue #1, Kot seems to want to address the issue of what terrorism is and how it affects people. Of course, this the story of how the adult Zero came to be, but there are wider questions, such as who does the Agency answer to and what is their ultimate goal? Is this the world we live in, or is this a world of science fiction and super heroes? Kot plays his cards close in this chapter (titled I remember who you are). He is clearly a skilled storyteller and can take clichés and twist them into something interesting. We’ve all seen the military academy for young talented super-spies in many formats before, and yet Zero remains intriguing and enjoyable.

I really enjoyed the art by Moore, although it gives Zero’s childhood exploits a slightly unreal quality. The panelling is fairly standard, but there are couple of lovely touches; there are many widescreen panels full of detail and shadows, and a couple of pages divided into 16 small panels, with widescreen images carrying across them, which I think is an effective addition to the storytelling process. The colours are lovely as well, with many pages having colour themes matching the scene. The violence is fairly graphic and gory, but Moore gives it an almost over-the-top quality which adds the ambiguity of the setting – which is my big gripe.

What is Zero? Is it meant to be a James Bond-alike or a science fiction parable or another attempt at rebooting the superhero idea? After a couple of comics, I have no idea. Zero is a good comic, and I’m sure Kot will answer these concerns in future issues, but I hope it’s soon, before it suffers from Lost-syndrome (too many questions, not enough answers). Still, I’d recommend Kot’s work for entertainment and balls, with really gorgeous art from Moore.

 

Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ian J Simpson

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