Section Zero #1
Section Zero #1 is clearly the creator’s effort to right a wrong that occurred when it was cancelled back in 2000, down to the decision to retell the original storyline in this revamped release. They may have been able to get away with the storytelling back then, but sadly, today it fairly creaks and groans. Not terrible, but not awesome, Section Zero #1 is simply…there.
Section Zero is back…and it’s as if it never went away at all! Titania Challenger and action man Sam Wildman front Section Zero – an agency that doesn’t exist that hunts for creatures that shouldn’t exist! With their alien pal Tesla, they seek out the inexplicable, the odd and the just plain strange. Now, hunting down a bug boy in Southeast Asia, has Section Zero met their match?…find out in our Major Spoilers review of Section Zero #1!
Creators: Karl Kesel & Tom Grumett
Colorist: Ben Dimagmaliw
Lettering: Richard Starkings
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: April 2nd, 2019
Previously in Section Zero: Let’s go back to the ancient year of 2000 when two plucky comic’s creators sent a new book, (let’s call it Section Zero) out into the world. It crashed and burned, but not before garnering a devoted following. Now, in 2019, Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett have resurrected Section Zero and brought it back for a completely new (literally) generation. Is there a place in the world for Section Zero?
I THINK WE’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE
Section Zero started life as a series from Gorilla Comics, an Image Comics imprint. Due to a variety of factors, it didn’t make it past issue 3. But creators Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett have brought it back, and one wonders if there’s an audience for it.
Reading Section Zero #1 left me feeling how I did when The X-Files came back a few years ago. Excited, interested and with a feeling that what The X-Files might be that doesn’t jibe with the world we live in. Section Zero feels a little like that – something from 2000 surfing on the zeitgeist created by The X-Files (even though by then the show was stumbling along on fumes) resurrected into an era that is far darker and less innocent of the heady end of the millennium (trust me, it wasn’t that interesting).
By all appearances, Kesel and Grummett are retelling the story from 2000. Opening in Australia (as an Australian, it’s always hilarious to see how others see us – no doubt Americans think the same when/if they see our feeble efforts to mimic American culture), Section Zero #1 starts with a pretty mundane story – set against Uluru, a massive monolithic stone in central Australia, a big cat that shouldn’t exist is savaging a local farmer’s sheep. Putting aside the notion that sheep are grazed in central Australia (its cattle, folks) it’s a low-key start to the series. Running parallel to this, the constituent members of Section Zero – Dr. Titania Challenger (yes, that one) and her ex-husband (ooookay) Sam Wildman, are hunting for a bug-eyed (literally) boy in a conflict zone in a faux southeast Asian nation. Hijinks ensue, and soon Section Zero has gained a new member.
BUT REALLY, I ACTUALLY THINK WE’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE
Putting aside the retelling of a story from almost twenty years ago, I’m left scratching my head about this opening issue. It’s not bad as such. It’s just not very interesting. A lot of it is the sort of thing we’ve seen countless times before – the lead protagonists at each other’s throats, in the middle of a will they/won’t they Moonlighting style relationship. In the person of Tesla, the alien operator of the UFO the team travels around in is the sort of cheery, innocent comic relief that was clichéd in the 90s, let alone the 21st century. AJ Keeler, the kindly older man who is Section Zero’s chief, harbors a dark secret that promises trouble in future issues. And then there’s Thom Talesi, the rescued bug boy who no doubt will be unveiled as some sort of savant, searching for his lost mother.
While the story beats a well-traveled path, it’s not terrible. There’s something charming in the low stakes of Section Zero #1 that makes for a welcome relief from the end of the world narratives that are regularly churned out these days. A bug boy on the lam saved by the white savior characters! A farmer writing to the UN to investigate the savaging of his sheep! A fish man found in the (there are no caves in Uluru) caves in Uluru! Gasp.
BOTTOM LINE: QUAINT
Section Zero #1 ably sets out to introduce all the characters and give the readers an idea where the series is going. The artwork by the creators is perfectly fine, and really does have a 90s vibe to the clean lines and panel layout (why in heaven’s name Challenger is strutting around in a leotard is a little beyond me – world-famous scientist and adventurer’s do it all the time?). But there’s very little here to grip you by the throat and make you want to come back later. Even the seeming betrayal revealed in the cliffhanger limps into view; pirouette’s lazily then slinks off in embarrassment.