Former super-spy Edward Zero has given up the life of an intelligence agent, but as Number Six found out before him, sometimes you can’t quit something that doesn’t want to quiet you. Your Major Spoilers review of Zero #10 awaits!
Previously in Zero:
“Edward Zero is a secret agent. He quit the Agency.
This is the story of his life.”
THE PERILS OF NON-LINEAR NARRATIVES
This issue’s story begins in the year 2038, as an elderly Zero finds himself at the wrong end of a gun, held by what seems to be an eight or nine-year-old child. He asks the boy a question (“The Switch… How old were you when it happened?”) before relating his own answer, throwing the story into a flashback from the flash-forward. A strange thing happens in the flashback, though, as I quickly forget about the framing sequence entirely, as Edward “tells” us about a time 15 years earlier, when he was stationed in Iceland, undercover as a chef. There’s a long wordless sequences as he wakes up in the morning, a lovely bit of workplace banter (that reminds me a bit of Brian Bendis, though that may be my brain associating his writing with the artwork of Michael Gaydos in ‘Alias’ and ‘Daredevil’), and then a bit of story that seems to be a metaphor for…
…something? The strange scenario is said by one of the characters to be a play, but the events of the play seem to be taking place in real-time for Roland/Edward, and there may be more than one of him present? It’s all rife with symbolism, and the end of the book comes somewhat suddenly, with a title whose meaning is as obscure as the lessons we’re taking away from the “play.”
GAYDOS’ ART IS ALWAYS INTERESTING
And yet, I find it all kind of intriguing, as infuriatingly vague a word as that can be. The silent sequences are particularly lovely to me, underlining the routine of Edward’s double-life in Iceland, without really explaining what their significance is. Either way, Michael Gaydos does a lovely job on the art throughout this issue, his art conveying facial expressions and nuances that most comic artists wouldn’t be capable of pulling off. As for the main thrust of the book, I feel a strong influence of the classic quasi-science fiction/spycraft program ‘The Prisoner,’ especially in its more experimental moments, and while I can’t say that I understand what this book is all about, I can say that I enjoyed reading… whatever happened here. Interestingly, writer Kot seems to embrace the “done-in-one” school of thought, where the chapters don’t necessarily fall in chronological order for us or the characters, something which makes me eve more interested in reading more of this book. I’ve also heard that the book has been optioned for television already, which makes me wonder what a TV adaptation of this kind of story might actually end up being like. (Hopefully, not just off-the-rack spies and “pow pow DANGER!”
THE BOTTOM LINE: ENGAGING AND STRANGE
There are a few criteria by which I judge a single issue of a book that I’ve never read before, but the most basic of them is “Do I want to know more about this character and his world?” In the case of Zero, I’m ready to check the availability of the previous nine issues of the book to see if they’re all this dream-like and weird, and find out more about the spy at the center of it all. Zero #10 is a great example of what Image Comics has been doing so well in the past few years, giving creators leeway and a forum to tell unique stories that nobody else is telling, and it gets the job done, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall. I’m going to be checking out the previous issues of this book, and there’s a chance I’ll have another Image book on my pull list when I’m done…