by Ales Kot, Ian Bertram, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles
Ales Kot is one of the most promising writers to make waves in comics in recent years. The talent and range in his stories have given indication that Kot has a lot to say and a number of ways to say it. Zero has managed to elude definition from the very beginning, and yet be captivating from the very start. The book is fluid not only because of its ever-changing art, but because of the writer. While Kot has introduced a number of concepts into the series that leave reality for fantasy, or science fiction, there have been strong threads that create a logic underneath it all.
Zero #15 challenges the series, those concepts it has set, and the reader. Zero #15 wants to see just how far down the path readers are willing to go. The most challenging issue thus far, the series reaches a point this month that may divide its audience. Kot has never pretended to be a simple or transparent writer and his story construction in other works, like Change, have explored and played with the construction of story. In some ways, readers or Kot may argue that the events of this issue have been present all along and that this book falls in line. But for most, nothing that has come before issue 15 will prepare readers for what transpires this time around.
In a number of ways, that type of shift makes discussing the issue a challenge. Ian Bertram has the task of taking some of the most obtuse and abstract ideas that have come to pass in this series and put them on paper. This task is not one to take lightly and Bertram does an excellent job depicting this mesmerizing piece of art. Jordie Bellaire does an equally impressive job with the coloring in the issue to help further the art in telling the story. The presence or absence of color, alone, does well to acclimate readers to which layer of the story they are seeing. The book opens with a new character, a very different lettering presentation and a piece that has never before been offered. The very idea of the story itself comes into question and pieces that have been dancing around since the beginning return. Kot returns to concepts and questions of horses and the very identity of the lead character again and again.
What is Zero? What is Ales Kot really trying to say with this series? The ending that the book always seemed destined to reach, the one that is presented in the first issue, may not be real at all. Suddenly, the story is reborn with a much broader approach. It is impressive on its own that a writer could create something so unique and so abstract that its readers may each have their own take away of how to understand the book and what it means. Any issue that turns things on their head is destined to create reactions from the readers. There is an excitement to reading this issue and it is one that absolutely demands discussion and debate. Despite all of the shifting and new layers that occur, there are a number of smaller arguments he posits here that are just as intriguing and worthy of attention as the issue itself.
One thing is certain about Zero as a series: people who appreciate creativity and innovation should absolutely be on this journey. Readers will be hard pressed to point to another work in publication that overshadows what is being done here.