Some people like their heroes grim and angry, brimming with venom and covered in the dirt of the filthy streets of a mean city. That’s cool and all, but have you ever wondered what would happy if your hero was incorrigibly happy? Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Zot! #1 awaits!
Writer: Scott McCloud
Penciler: Scott McCloud
Inker: Scott McCloud
Colorist: Tom Ziuko
Letterer: Todd Klein
Editor: Dean Mullaney/cat yronwode
Publisher: Eclipse Comics
Cover Price: $1.50
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $4.00
Previously in Zot!: Founded in 1977, Eclipse Comics quickly became a powerhouse of the independent comics scene of the 80s, providing work by some of the most talented artists in comics. These days, they’re mostly notable as the publishing house that put out
Alan Moore’s The Original Artist’s ‘Miracleman’, but they were pioneers in graphic novels with ‘Sabre’, published Dave Stevens ‘Rocketeer’ and brought some of the earliest manga to America in the late 80s. But, long before ‘Understanding Comics,’ a young artist named Scott McCloud began developing a series influenced by the Golden Age of comic books and the works of Osamu Tezuka, leaving a gig at DC Comics to pursue his dream. We begin with young Jenny Weaver, age 13, pondering her place in the greater universe…
Having moved from Los Angeles to a quiet small town, Jenny’s life as she knew it is over, and once again she finds herself at a dead end. It’s all very metaphysical (and kind of sweet) as she laments her parents’ nomadic existence to a small green frog she catches from the gutter. (The gutter of the street, by the way. It’s a Scott McCloud comics, I felt like I had to clarify.) Enter: creepy little brother Butch.
Jenny’s tears are stayed by the sight of the strange portal, and she leans in close to see…
Aaaand, we got a hero. The young man in red screams for her to look out again, as an army of scary-yet-kinda-cute robots pours out of the portal to pursue him. Jenny is nearly trampled, but a last-moment save by her new friend saves her from injury, and he suddenly draws his sidearm…
With the robots dealt with, Jenny manages to get an introduction to her new friend: Zachary T. Paleozogt, known to his associates as Zot. When she asks about the nature of the portal, Zot can only tell her that it’s a window to ‘Elsewhere’, a world where people are, in today’s parlance, pretty chill. Of course, his world isn’t the only one beyond the window…
Said mystic key becomes a point of contention, causing the angry priests to rampage across the inhabited worlds, and leading Zot’s people to intervene, creating the portal to allow a young hero like Zachary to teleport around and anticipate the robotic legion’s attacks. That’s what brought him to Earth, and instigated the fighty-fighty. Jenny is both stunned and thrilled by the realization that the world is bigger and stranger than she ever dreamed, and a little flirtation ensues. This proves both adorable and distracting, allowing one last robot to get the drop on Zot.
That’s when Jenny grabs his golden pistol…
Every single Zot/Jenny moment in this issue is pretty much gold (which, I can tell you for free, kinda goes for the series at large, as well) and a flustered Zot fleeing back to his world causes Jenny to make an uncharacteristically rash decision. Well, she’s a 13-year-old girl, maybe rash isn’t uncharacteristic… Bygones. When brother Butch makes a reappearance, carrying the mysterious
maguffin key, she grabs it and rushed for the portal, with Butch in tow.
It might not have been wise…
Jenny awakens in Zot’s home, having been saved from a splat by her new suitor’s robot butler, Peabody, and he welcomes her to his world and the strange future world of… 1965!
Realizing that Jenny has the key, Zot prepares to return it to the leaders of his world… aaaasss soon as he takes Jenny sight-seeing, and shows off a bit for his new girlfriend.
Jenny is very impressed with Zot and his world, especially as the people cheer his appearance in their skies, and he takes great care to show off for her benefit on their way to the CPZP, where he interrupts an important diplomatic meeting. He quickly takes center stage, only for another interruption to top his.
Seems that The Church of Sirius IV isn’t the only entity searching out The Key, and the De-Evolutionaries have the advantage of a weaponry to devolve opponents into primates. Yeah, it is pretty cool. Zot finds himself outgunned (his own weapon is too powerful to use of other humans, a lovely touch of the Golden Age) but he is able to cause collateral damage enough to take out his attacker. It’s a pretty crazy sequence, and McCloud’s art is wonderfully bizarre and kinetic throughout…
Zot reverses the effect of the de-evolution ray of its victims, and the council votes to task him with recapturing The Key, in order to keep peace in the worlds. The vote is unanimous, with all voting Aye!
And one “Ook!”
Did I say reversed the ray’s effects for all the victims? I meant, ‘all but Butch.’ This issue ends up being the first part of a wonderful 10-issue arc of wild, fun, decidedly non-gritty adventure, one that I highly recommend to any and all, especially those who are feeling the effects of grim fatigue thanks to years of dead parents and murdered girlfriends. Zot! #1 is pretty excellent, thought it’s not even the best issue of the series, as McCloud hasn’t even hit his stride yet, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. If you’ve ever wondered what qualified Scott to write a treatise on how to do comics, this book should prove as your answer.