Writer: Ales Kot
Artist: Adam Gorham
Colours: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Design: Tom Muller
Publisher: Image Comics
Zero: Child soldier, Brainwashed Spy, patsy and recent ex-spy turned family man. This series keeps building steam reinventing themes from issue to issue under the guidance of Ales Kot, an excellent writer for the new age of comics. If I was to boil it down and compare him to another writer, then he is a digestible version of Grant Morrison, proposing counter-culture mixed with philosophy, religion and pop culture but in a more relatable if not more familiar fashion. Speaking of which this issue in particular leans more to the pop culture.
Kot’s references range from the more immediate to the very obscure, referencing Klaus Kinski, Kurt Schwitter’s Merzbeau, Rumi and Hindu philosophy. Zero #11 taps more into the film almost visually referencing David Cronenberg in terms of the body horror or perhaps Ridley Scott in terms of the Alien homage experienced within the first few pages. The first pages conjure a sickly atmosphere as Zero wanders through a quarantined house under a hazmat suit, finding large fungal growths protruding from every side of the interior walls. Bellaire’s palette opts for virulent greens and moss colours to cake the atmosphere on the page – it’s genuinely sickening to look at but its not a negative connotation, the colour enhances the grim fungal infested art provided by Gorham. Gorham’s pencils go into more detail than any other artist when it comes to gory or gross out details, extra shrooms are added in miniature detail including clumps, lumps and all sort of otherworldly adornments.
Enough of the green and gritty of it all, the story behind this is truly saddening. Zero having been asked to either take out or examine a child that has caused the fungal infestation of his household. Due to the alien nature and size of the infestation it has been quarantined until Zero has finished his vague mission. I will admit this was hard to read only in terms of accepting the otherworldly theme and visuals, usually this book has a sense of being grounded in a version of reality close to ours. However there have been some sparse visual references to the spores within this issue throughout the series, only briefly. The imagery is more full on here and creates a creepy backdrop for the boy’s story to be told. The story is a spiral of poverty leading to crime, not entirely sympathetic but full of heart and not lacking in conviction focusing on family. The family in which case has been morphed into the fungal environment like a grim mixture between Alien and The Fly, tying in as a visual metaphor for the end of the boy’s story.
The second act of the book finds Zero back in front of Sarah Cooke, the head of the agency that employed him for so long. The following pages are wrought with tension, cutting from close shots of either character’s expressions to the camera in their briefing room and panning out to long side shots of the conversation itself. The tension is perfect and sets up for very welcome and unexpected conclusion; perhaps an new direction for the series as well.
Fairly enjoyable, and again takes a new approach to storytelling. Gorham’s pencils are clear and striking evoking styles like Allred, Murphy and Aja. His expressions are varied and not overtly complex, and the man has a flair for drawing the grotesque. Jordie’s palette as ever takes on new hues: no set pattern for harmonising or contrasting colour schemes however managing to gain absolute vibrancy from her choices. Personally a little daunting to read through this time around but still enjoyable, can’t wait to see comes round in issue #13.