Published on December 8th, 2013 | by Craig Silliphant2
Image Comics’ Zero is headed toward its fourth issue, but I just got a chance to read the first two — a friend at the comic store jammed the first issue into my hand when it came out, and I bought number two later, though I stil hadn’t read the first yet, mostly because the cover looked cool. I finally sat down and read it and now I’m realizing that I need to go make sure I can get my hands on issue three, before they disappear from the shelves.
It’s the story of Edward Zero, a super spy that you could lazily compare to Jason Bourne, though Zero is more badass and lives in a much crazier world. The first issue throws you right in, and you follow Zero on a mission to recover a biotech device that is part of a super soldier program. The catch? The tech is inside the body of a super soldier that doesn’t feel pain and could rip Zero in two. In fact, two of these brawny tech-fueled fighters are leveling city blocks trying to knock each other’s blocks off, while an army chases the action around. Zero paces around the fringe until he sees opportunities to accomplish his goal.
Zero is cunning and resourceful, walking through the world like a ghost, blending into his surroundings until it’s time to create some well-strategized chaos. He has no compunction about killing — when he is discovered by a military officer during his stealth mission, it’s too bad for that sad sack, who pays for being in the wrong place at the wrong time with his life.
It’s not until issue two that we really learn about the depths of Zero’s training. Where the first issue showed his resourcefulness, but gave us little about his back story or character, issue two thickens the plot like cornstarch in gravy. He was brought up as a soldier, trained from a very young age, conditioned, really, to be the killing machine he is. But in this issue, it’s 2001, and he’s still a conflicted little boy being inducted into a dangerous, shadowy Agency, as we go with him on his first kill mission.
The scope of this story could be big. In just two issues, we have jumped around in time, showing us not just the adventures of a spy, but also what his life has been like at multiple points, showing us how a man like this becomes what he is. And bigger still, is the world he inhabits, which we only get hints of. It’s a world that has a Western agency that trains kids from birth to be killers. It’s a world that has technology that can create a soldier capable of being horribly maimed; yet he doesn’t blink, he just keeps coming. Violence (and even sex) is depicted with a shoulder shrugging candidness. These aren’t the cute Gene Roddenberry metaphoric fables about The Vietnam War — this is solid, boots on the ground, ten minutes into the militarized future type stuff.
Creator Ales Kot has been criticized for being overly surreal in his past work (Change, Wild Children), but with Zero, he he’s showing that he could be a world creator. The artist changes on each issue, the first drawn by Michael Walsh (The X-Files: Season 10) and the second by Tradd Moore (The Strange Talent of Luther Strode). The coolest part so far is that there have been no ads in the books. It’s literally cover-to-cover story and action.
I think it’s safe to say that I better get my arse to the comic store this week. After the first two issues, I not only want to know more about Edward Zero, but also this milieu that he occupies, which is a sure sign that Kot is on the right track.