by Ales Kot, Alberto Ponticelli, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles
Kinetic action scenes in a medium that can only imply movement can be very difficult to capture. With Zero #13, the series once again manages to deliver just that. Not only has Zero provided some of the best action sequences in currently running series, but it has done so with the use of completely different artists each time. This time, a group of heavily armed individuals have come upon the headquarters of the agency just as Zero has discovered the truth about himself. Zero #13 is what follows.
Only moments have passed. Ponticelli brings readers back into the building, with Zero collapsed to the floor, and Sarah Cooke having just finished a smoke. Then the lights cut. Ponticelli changes very little in the two panels. What does change, captured by Jordie Bellaire’s colors and Ponticelli’s movement in Cooke’s eye, capture the suddenness of the action. Without a word, the page turn works well, and much of the issue follows a progression of closely cut together moments that infuse a sense of “real time” to the entirety of the book. What follows is a short conversation between Cooke and Grabovsky. The conversation is just over fifty words and that covers nearly half of all of the dialogue in the entire issue. Over the next two-dozen pages, Kot and Ponticelli deliver an experience that is fluid, calculated and seamless. The brief moments of dialogue act like gasps for air in an otherwise ruthless, uninterrupted battle. Outmatched and cut off, Zero sets out to rescue the children, but it is not long before he meets some resistance.
This format is not new to the series, and several times before Kot has crafted sequences that move away from dialogue and allow the interactions of the characters take hold of the story. Very different from a superhero fight scene, there is no time for characters talking in these fights. The scenes are visceral in every way possible. It is amazing that such brutality could be communicated without overstepping and becoming tasteless. Ponticelli, like Morgan Jeske, Ricardo Lopez Ortiz and even Michael Walsh in previous issues, uses a raw style that mixes perfectly with this type of story. Without any words, the only sounds to imagine are the grunts and breaths of the men as they struggle in desperation to stay alive and outmatch their opponent. Kot places the fight inside of an elevator and the confined space increases the anxiety of it all. At every page turn readers will be bracing themselves. Bones break, teeth are knocked loose and guns fire in the scuffle. It is nearly exhausting in the best way possible as readers race towards some resolution.
Jordie Bellaire’s continuity helps tie the issues together, especially here with such close proximity to the previous chapter. The color work matches the art quite well and, with such a confined space and so much movement, it is Bellaire’s colors that balance the active pencils and inks from Ponticelli. And for Kot, Zero #13 is yet another fantastic issue in an incredible series. Interestingly, it appears that this arc will have a much tighter succession of events than the previous arcs as the story looks to carry right into next month, yet again.