Anghus Houvouras reviews Image Comics’ Zero #1…
“SAVING THE WORLD. ONE MURDER AT A TIME. Edward Zero is the perfect execution machine – a spy who breaks the rules to get things done. When a stolen device appears in the center of a long-running conflict, Zero comes to retrieve it. The problem is, the device is inside a living, breathing, bio-modified terrorist and there’s an entire army after it.”
Image Comics is doing so much right these days, it’s not even funny. I was there when Image first launched back in the 1990’s. Back when the writing was paper thin and the vast majority of titles featured superheroes that were little more than knock offs of popular DC and Marvel characters. Back when shit like Youngblood was selling a million copies and studios were lining up to make cartoons out of W.I.L.D.Cats and feature films out of Todd Mcfarlane’s Spawn.
Image was great for the comic industry, even though the titles weren’t.
While it opened the door for creator owned content and helped usher in a new era of independent publishers. Even if what they were peddling was the most derivative dreck you’ve ever read.
Twenty years later, it’s a different story. Image is once again the talk of the industry thanks in no small part to the most interesting and diverse line up of talent and titles in comics today. So many of the most respected titles in the industry are stamped with the name ‘Image’. Bryan K Vaughn’s fan favorite Saga. Kirkman’s genre defying The Walking Dead. Jonathan Hickman’s East of West. Greg Rucka’s Lazarus. Millar’s Jupiter’s Legacy. Nathan Edmonson’s The Dream Merchant. The best comics hitting the shelf today are coming from Image.
Add Ales Kot’s Zero to that list.
I discovered Kot, as i’m sure many did, on his recent run on DC’S Suicide Squad. The change in the book was almost immediate. The tone, the portrayal of the characters, the tonal shift. Kot managed to make it the most readable of DC’S New 52 titles. And like that, he was gone. DC Editorial isn’t winning any points with creators or readers these days with a strange revolving door policy which sees creative teams being put on titles and removed from them with the kind of reckless disregard usually reserved for
Thankfully we have independent labels like Image and creator owned books like Zero, a book that combines the best bits of a spy story, science fiction, and drama for what looks to be the year’s most engaging new series.
Agent Edward Zero is a no nonsense agent dealing with some brutal circumstances in the war torn corners of Israeli occupied Palestine. This isn’t the glamorous kind of spy story with tuxedos and shaken martinis. This is the ugly world of high level intelligence requiring cunning skill, and merciless brutality. The first issue follows Zero as he tries to recover a surgically implanted device that makes the bearer nearly nearly invulnerable, pumping them full of drugs. Biomodified soldiers are starting to hit the battlefield.
The set up is simple, but there’s some wonderful levels at play here. Watching an Israeli and a Palestinian battle endlessly, neither wanting to yield. Their hands bloodied, their determination unwavering, propped up by technology that keeps them evenly matched. It’s almost poetic in it’s pugilistic simplicity.
The first issue does an excellent job of setting up the concept as well as the character. The cold logic and risk aversion taking place amidst the terrible conflict unfolding on each panel is wonderfully scripted and beautifully staged. Michael Walsh’s art is stark and simple. The basic tones of the colors provide an uncomplicated palette which serves the story well.
Zero #1 is a gripping read and is a fantastic start to a series with huge potential.
Anghus Houvouras is a North Carolina based writer and filmmaker. His latest work, the novel My Career Suicide Note, is available from Amazon.