By Ales Kot, Tonci Zonjic, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles
After a few issues of some of Zero’s missions, the story Ales Kot had been telling shifted to focus a bit more on the major characters of the series. Issues seven and eight, the most connected issues thus far, were more personal and saw a few ends. With issue nine, the series continues its focus on character, but with a story that jumps backwards to 1993 to show readers a bit more about Roman Zizeck. It’s a curious decision, but a strong issue regardless.
In the ninth issue of Zero, the story leaves its title character behind to focus on his handler. Set years before the main story, Kot takes readers to Bosnia to witness a different side of Zizeck. Then, he is an arms dealer who is seemingly playing any side he can to turn a profit during the country’s conflict. At the same time, Zizeck is having a child with a woman named Marina. Issue 9’s artist, Tonci Zonjic, has a simpler but very expressive art style. Complemented by Jordie Bellaire’s colors, the story has some fantastic visual moments. Transitioning from a darker and shadow-heavy series of panels, the visuals depicting Zizeck and Marina together are gorgeous, filled mostly with whites and magenta. Its an evocative sequence and it showcases a completely different side of the character.
In a world of tragedy, violence, and espionage, it is no wonder that this is not a happy-ending story. For regular readers of the series, the story’s later stories have featured Zizeck with Sarah Cooke, giving a bit of a clue that the romance displayed in issue #9 does not last. However, the plot and pacing of this issue are no less engaging, and Kot is continually show his seemingly endless capabilities as a writer. As the story progresses throughout the issue, Zizeck recognizes he may be in jeopardy and attempts to escape with Marina. It is an incredibly well crafted and subtle final act of the issue. Kot and Zonjic handle the sequence so well and the issue feels as though it ends in silence, but its a finale that certainly lingers.
With the second story arc coming to a close, Kot has delivered on creating a series that has featured a different artist and vignette every time. The world he has created does not suffer any losses as this fragmentation, and in many ways it feels even better as a result. It will be interesting to see how this second arc wraps up. There is a definitive shifting sensation in the series over the past few issues and it positions the series in a great way to become something new, yet again, moving into the next arc.