Ales Kot continues chronicling the life of super spy Edward “Zero” while bring Mateus Santolouco on board to bring us the latest in an ever increasing series of spectacular spy-fi pulp stories. Read on for our review and see if a world and its characters can become real in only three issues.
Spoiler Alert: They can.
Actual spoilers ahead too!
Written by Ales Kot
Illustrated by Mateus Santolouco
Shanghai, 2019. An opulent skyscraper party full of terrorists looking for fresh funding. Edward Zero is about to sabotage it big time — and then the skyscraper starts to vanish, bit by bit. So maybe he should look into that first?
It’s… it has to plateau sometime right? With the out-there ideas, engaging characters, and stellar cycling art team, it’s like Kot wants us to have a hard time writing a review for his comic so it’s not just the phrase “Ales Kot is awesome” typed out a thousand times. But, in the interest of being a site dedicated to objective reviews and concise critical thought, we will do our absolute best.
“Zero” is far from lacking in ideas. Here, Edward’s latest assignment is infiltrating “a Kickstarter for terrorists;” something that would have consisted of the main premise for another book is the background to Kot’s story here. The way “Zero” works, with its nonlinear structure, prevents it from giving formal introductions to many characters and as such they’re only presented in the moment of what they’re doing. Even with no proper “dramatic entrances,” Kot’s writing manages to make each character memorable; even if only through the short phrases offered to describe each character in the inside of the book.
“Osama Bin Laden is dead. Ginsberg Nova is not.”
With that phrase, you know everything you need to about the terrorist who holds the world’s greatest name. There’s no formalities for Ales Kot as his writing is as to the point as Zero with his writing when he needs to be and a poet when the moment calls for it. The exception comes in one page that takes place a moment before the scene that will emotionally destroy readers of “Zero.” It is entirely white and with the only image being Kot’s prose and it is the most the title character has said for the whole series, as well as being the most he’s opened up. The events of the scene themselves would probably get classify as a “fridge,” especially since the character in question has been present for all of two issues. However, looking back on previous issues and seeing how set up this scene was, and how satisfying the pay-off was after only a couple pages of build-up is astounding. As is Kot’s prose which is beautiful, soul crushing, and the deepest romance to be pulled from only seventyish pages worth of comics.
This opening of emotion is a large departure from the series’s usual routine, as Zero tends to allow his actions speak for him. And his actions include violence. A lot of violence.Violence gruesomely illustrated by Mateus Santolouco who joins the stable of writers who are putting some of their best work into this title. Santolocuo’s action is very kinetic, especially in a scene involving Edward, a bathroom stall, and a foot. Santolouco’s expertise is hardly limited to violence, however. His facial work, especially on Edward’s in the final scenes, are near flawless and his aesthetic lends a whole new vibe to the series, along with Jordie Bellaire’s coloring which goes from the artificially warm glow of a nightclub to the otherwordly coldness of an unspeakable machine. However, the biggest change Santolouco offers in this issue is Zero’s disposition. Unlike in past issues, the Edward here is a lot more calmer, even a little casual. Look at the cover, with his hand in a pocket while firing an explosive pistol and not letting the blowback affect his cool demeanor.
Actually, this may lead into why Zero is such an engaging character. In the first issue, we saw him as a hardened soldier going through a war-torn battleground. In the last issue, he was a child who was unequipped to deal with the assassination the Agency wanted him to go through with. Here, he’s much more calm and relaxed. Not necessarily casual, but not the tense killer we saw in the first issue nor the child from last. He allows himself to open up and for his emotions to alter the choices he takes during his mission. Edward Zero isn’t a consistent character, not yet at least. In fact, we’ve hardly seen a version of him that lasted for more than twenty-something pages. With each artist that comes in to contribute to the ongoing saga of Edward Zero, more and more versions of the man exist. Michael Walsh’s soldier is different from Tradd Moore’s child is different from Mateus Santolouco’s calm agent. Like Bond, many versions of him exist, a Connery, a Dalton, a Craig. So, if we’re seeing so many versions of this man, who is Edward Zero?Continued below
“I AM NOTHING”
Final Verdict: 9.7 – Look, Ales Kot’s going to be the greatest comic book writer of 2014. Accept it and get in on what’s left of the ground floor.