COMICS PORTAL: The Return of Zenith!

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I often like to say that Grant Morrison is like the little girl who’s great when she’s good, but awful when she’s bad. I’ve loved certain Morrison stories over the years, and I’m into The Multiversity from DC Comics as well right now.

However, there was one Morrison tale that really drew me in back when it first arrived here in the States, and that was Zenith. I had to buy them in special editions from 2000 AD, and some were very hard to get!

Recently, I discovered that this story was going to be reprinted with access to the public for the first time in more than 20 years. Guess I won’t need to keep my old copies around any longer!

FROM A NEWS RELEASE

Grant Morrison, Zenith, 2000 AD, Marvels, Kingdom Come, Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, Steve Yeowell, Multiversity, DC Comics, superbratSo, how did I find out about Zenith: Phase One? Well, a news release came around not very long ago, and here are some portions from it:

“Before The Filth, before All-Star Superman, even before Doom Patrol, there was only Zenith.

“In October, the first chapter in Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell’s superhero series, Zenith: Phase One, is being published simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic in a gorgeous hardback edition with a brand new cover by Yeowell.

“Zenith was the world’s first ‘Superbrat’ – a vain, self-obsessed, egotistical pop singer whose only interests are girls, partying, and where he is in the music charts. Yet as the world’s only superhero, he doesn’t realise that he is at the centre of a dark conspiracy that could wipe out the entire universe.

“Clever, snappy, visceral, and witty, Zenith is a satire on the pop music culture of the late 1980s, on politics, and on the superhero genre – themes that Morrison has come back to again and again throughout his career. It is an incredibly important piece of comics history, not just because it began Morrison’s rise to become arguably the biggest name working in comics today, but also because it was 2000 AD’s first true superhero series and also represented the beginning of yet another ‘British Invasion’ of the US comics scene.

“This 112-page edition of the first Phase includes a cover gallery and original character designs by Mad Max and Zaucer of Zilk artist Brendan McCarthy. Copies will be available through Diamond Distribution and Simon and Schuster. The hardback edition of Phase Two will be published in December, with the third and fourth Phases in early 2015.”

WHY CARE IF IT’S SO OLD?

Granted, these days pokes at superheroes are nothing new. We see people trying hard to come up with new takes on longjohns characters, and often they expand that genre. But Zenith was one of the very first – if not THE first – to look at those wearing masks and having powers as more human than we’d seen in the past.

Not only that, but Zenith from the start (although he doesn’t realize it) is in way, way, way over his head. This series made us aware that if super characters were truly real, we’d be in very serious trouble! I was gripped as I read it!

Last year’s limited edition Complete Zenith sold out within hours of its release through the 2000 AD webshop, but this is the first time the whole of Morrison’s breakthrough work will be available to the book trade and comic book stores.

Since I’m a fan of comics history and now things got the way they are, I like to read “firsts” like this and make sure I understand what was happening when books like this hit the stands.

IT’S AN IMPORTANT STORY YOU SHOULD BE AWARE OF

Grant Morrison, Zenith, 2000 AD, Marvels, Kingdom Come, Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, Steve Yeowell, Multiversity, DC Comics, superbratI would rank Zenith up there with Marvels, Kingdom Come, The Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns in its importance. We still see its influence today, I believe.

I’ll be reviewing this volume later this month, so please keep an eye out for it when it posts here. I’ll delve more into the characters and the plot at that time.

Until then, I’d recommend you let your comics shop know about Zenith: Phase One and that you would like a copy, if that interests you. I normally don’t promote an individual comic in this column, but it’s something that was not only a terrific book – it was also groundbreaking in its storytelling. And you have a chance to read it soon!

Now, for those who don’t care for black-and-white comics, you’ll likely be disappointed. However, I lost myself in the book previously and, when I had a chance to check out some of the pages again recently, I had that experience again!

So, if you want to get in on a significant piece of comics history that was way ahead of its time, be sure to catch Zenith: Phase One from 2000 AD this fall. After it was first published, the industry has never been the same!