by Ales Kot, Jorge Coelho, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles
So far in Zero, the series has jumped about in time each issue. For the most part, it has been a series of one-shot stories filling in the gaps between Zero’s childhood years and where the first issue opened. With issue endings that include time hopping, alien creatures, and dismemberment, the series has left readers with some truly bombastic story elements on the final page turn. Last issue took a completely different approach and it may have been the most impactful. Here, the story picks up within the same day as the last issue, and uses some impressive sequencing by artist Jorge Coelho to ramp up the urgency and tension in the hours that follow.
Somewhere in the middle of the previous issue, Edward Zero’s handler, Zizek, explained that Sarah Cooke would be killed off. It was a haunting conversation for a number of reasons; including the justification that it would be quick and how unaffected both men seemed to be when it was mentioned. At the time, the mention made it seem as though this event would occur off panel, as it did not involve Zero. Instead, Zero #8 switches to Sarah Cooke. Kot knows readers are well aware of the plan, and therefore he wastes little time once Sarah ventures out to meet a contact in the United Kingdom.
It is always a treat when readers are caught off guard, and Kot manages to do that here. But the smirk on the face of the reader quickly vanishes as bullets whizz about. Cooke is no stranger to the field, it would seem, and the assassination does not go as smoothly as Zizek had hoped. As the action erupts, Coelho plots the exchange over two magnificent, 16-panel pages. It is mesmerizing and kinetic. Readers may find themselves scanning franticly about the pages to follow the action. In that way, Coelho has found a way to capture the chaos of such a gun battle. There is so much going on in all directions. Men drop by the second, and soon Cooke is on the move, survival instincts in full effect. Last issue was unsettling in how calm and slow paced it progressed. The issue appeared to move in half-time and it stood apart from the series so far in how much of a shift it was. In a similar sentiment, but with the opposite mechanism, this issue stands apart as the most frantic. Coming on the heels of issue seven’s quietness, it is all the more effective.
Kot’s choice to pair these two stories is incredibly well done. Thematically, this issue, much like last, is much more focused on visual than text. Pages pass by without a word exchanged, including narration. The sequencing of the events as they overlap are played out in the first few pages, and Coelho sets up the entire issue’s urgency and tension there. Issue seven’s ending was shocking, and left readers on an inhale. With Zero #8, the last few pages are certainly the exhale readers have been waiting on for the past four weeks. Absent from issue seven, readers see a debrief of Cooke at the end, and it draws a big question mark for what is to come.
Kot has been incredibly successful in finding a rotating cast of artists for Zero so far. Each manages to have their own style, while keeping a familiar sensibility for the series. Throughout, colorist Jordie Bellaire has provided absolutely stellar work to tie it all together. Bellaire has managed to adapt to the artist of the issue, giving each its own look, and yet never straying too far from what has come before. As a result, Zero is as unpredictable in art as it is in story. Even still, each chapter is a natural evolution.