After such an amazing first arc, Zero has taken an oddly disappointing turn in the quality of its storytelling, which is made ever more surprising given that it’s Ales Kot, whose stuff I’ve always really enjoyed. I think the turning point was at the end of Zero #5, which simultaneously closed out an incredible story while introducing an exciting turn of events that now feels all but forgotten in favor of trying to add more wrinkles to a story before fleshing out the ones already formed. In the end, this is all kinds of confusing, and not in the way with which Kot’s stuff usually entices.
This issue sees the titular Edward Zero join his Agency superior/father-figure, Roman Zizek (who for some reason is called Michael at one point, so I might be getting the characters mixed up), as they meet with a dangerous contact in Juarez, Mexico in the year 2020.
Leading up to the meeting, wherein Zizek makes what looks like a weapons deal (before almost immediately and seemingly pointlessly nullifying it), he and Edward share what could be best described as a noncommittal conversation about beaches and old missions.
Afterward, Zizek spells out other maneuvers he has arranged, which are pretty damn large and deadly, but come across as inconsequential thanks to a narrative that is rabidly choppy, poorly paced and frustratingly unclear.
We get Kot’s usual inclusion of whatever arcane belief structure or mysticism he’s into at the moment, which is usually pretty great, but here just feels like he wants you to know that he reads “cool shit.” Saying that, it’s the most interesting part of the book ... which says a lot, I think.
The art by Matt Taylor is serviceable, kept from being more through no fault of his own, really. Like the story, the visual direction here is basic and bare, though he does manage to get in some impressively explosive scenes when he can - one of which is perhaps Zero’s biggest character-based paradigm shift. It’s just that Taylor’s art otherwise isn’t given many chances to spread or show its stuff. And that’s a shame.
Sorry this is such a short review, but there’s not much else to say, other than to reiterate how painfully disappointing this series has become after issue five. Kot’s writing style is always lofty, and usually I enjoy the puzzle, but this was a lemon. Maybe it’s me; maybe I missed something or perhaps I just don’t “get it” anymore, I don’t know. But after this issue, I’m not sure that I want to even try anymore.
Writer: Ales Kot Artist: Matt Taylor Colorist: Jordie Bellaire Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 4/23/14