by Ales Kot, Michael Walsh, Jordie Bellaire, and Clayton Cowles
Comics that want to capture an audience need to ensure that the audience has bought into the world and its characters in the first issue. This may take an act or two, and relies heavily on the first issue’s closing. Having a fascinating opening page, however, is likely to guarantee that the audience is listening before they know anything about the story at hand. Ales Kot and the creative team of Zero do just that. The entire presentation of the first series of panels will capture the audience immediately as Zero opens to find a boy holding a gun to a mans head out on the cliffs of the United Kingdom.
This boy has been sent by someone, and the man seems accepting of his fate, but only after he tells his story. That is when Zero jumps backwards a few years. Initially set in the year 2038, the man tells of an experience ten years prior. He was an operative for The Agency, and was sent into the Middle East to obtain some lost tech of his company. Having fallen into the hands of foreign countries, the tech lead to the creation of the first biomodified soldiers. Looking somewhat like Tony Stark’s ARC reactor, this tech is the objective of the op on which Edward Zero has been sent. Kot and his team pace the story tremendously well. The book has a great military precision to its recounting. Zero explains the situation, and the audience moves along with his story.
In that way, though the actions and sequences are tense, the book feels a bit cold. The suspense of the issue exists, but not as strongly as it otherwise might. Instead, the first issue of Zero is so focused on its plot that it plays a bit too robotic or detached. Zero’s mission is successful, but only to a point. Kot taps into the reader’s empathy to create a bit more weight. It is effective, but only moderately so. The story’s ending also falls a bit flat. The narration explains of what is to come, but its delivery is not enthralling. Readers who have connected to the intrigue will return, but Zero does not leave its audience anywhere near the way it welcomed them.
Visually, Zero looks somewhat similar to the work that David Aja is doing on Hawkeye. The pencil work and depictions of characters focus more on the broad strokes of the images rather than including minute detailing. Coloring is, likewise, flat and almost simplistic in a way. The book is not visibly complex, though this is to no discredit towards the art team. The visual element of Zero is definitively a choice and it does not betray the narrative. Instead, the muted tones and coloring contribute even more to the precision and militaristic tone of the issue.
Kot has produced some fascinating stories through different publishers over the past year. He is a real talent, and has surrounded himself with an art team to match. Zero may have a lot of incredible story ahead, but the first issue comes up a little short, which is a shame after such a memorable beginning.