The "zero issue" concept feels like a relic of a darker, hopefully bygone, age. An age when publishers needed to push as much product as they could, to brute force mindshare whenever possible. Stories presented within these issues are typically redundant or trapped in narrative holding patterns. So their worth comes down to how much depth they add to their series. What do they reveal that we haven't already seen? What's more, stories that exclusively center on alien characters and societies can suffer from Star Trek's habit of building space people who are just humans with familiar cultures and a bunch of crap glued to their faces. X-O Manowar: Commander Trill #0 has an uphill battle in earning audience attention. And it does not make a very positive case for the continued existence of zero issues. The tiny, titular Trill begins this tale as a bright-eyed young alien... boy? Is that the right term? Let's say boy. A boy with dreams of greatness. And by the issue’s close, he is a bitter and violent monster forcing his inadequacies on others. We knew where the story was headed, not just because it is told almost entirely in flashback but because it's fairly obvious, even for the uninitiated. Worse, this zero issue doesn't give us any more insight than the first issues of the main X-O Manowar series. You're expected to either not know where fate will take Trill or not care that you can find out by reading older, frankly better, issues.
I'd hoped for another action packed addition to the larger story of Aric of Dacia, as viewed through the remaining five eyes of his archenemy. Maybe some tragic tale of misspent youth and misplaced anger. Some bit of lore that lets me relate to the central Manowar villain. Instead, our baddie is written as the same selfish, entitled D-bag we always knew him to be. The core themes are rushed and harsh, but present. Those themes are that you can't be whatever you want; force of will cannot overcome every obstacle; naked ambition is not a strength, nor does it guarantee success. But, in spite of the appearance of depth, it is impossible to care about any of the narrative. Every character is busy doing more interesting things in other books. So the themes here fall flat under the weight of a flaccid lack of story.
With the barest of plots, functional art, and minimal characterization, Commander Trill #0 is just filler. Sadly, I can't recommend sacrificing your time or money here.
X-O Manowar: Commander Trill #0 Writer: Robert Venditti Artist: Francis Portela Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse Publisher: Valiant Entertainment Price: $3.99 Release Date: 12/2/15 Format: One-Shot; Print/Digital