Review – Zenith: Phase One (2000AD)

zenith1-625x300Publisher: 2000AD / Rebellion Publishing
Script: Grant Morrison
Art: Steve Yeowell
Release Date: 22nd October 2014

Despite being created as the antithesis to the bland spandex titles that dominated US comics, it’s surprising that it took 2000AD so long to create a superhero of their own.

5 years after Alan Moore reinvented the concept in Warrior magazine with Marvelman, Grant Morrison took the idea of a modern British superhero and ran with it.

Co-creating the character with the gonzoid genius that is Brendan McCarthy (check out his earlier Paradax for another inspiration), Morrison gave us something new, something fresh, something that was as much a product of his time as Captain America was of WW2.

Zenith was a superhero only by default. A product of Thatcher’s Britain and the culture of “I’m alright, Jack”, Zenith was a shallow celebrity, with no interest in truth, justice or any of those old hippy ideas. Zenith was, brilliantly, a bit of a dick.

This first volume is basic compared to the mad widescreen ideas Grant ramped up later books with, but it’s still a thrilling read. Kicking off with the final confrontation between Maximan (the original British hero) and his evil Nazi counterpart Masterman, Morrison’s talent for worldbuilding was already firing on all cylinders here, telling a tale that spanned 40 years. Hints and teases were peppered throughout that would only pay off in later volumes, while the villains were drawn straight from HP Lovecraft.

None of this would have had half the impact without the art of Steve Yeowell though. His clean lines and dynamic storytelling was the perfect choice to bring Zenith and his world to life. This wasn’t your father’s superhero comics, this was something completely new and was miles ahead of anything being published on the other side of the pond at the time.

These new hardbacks are the first time the series has been collected in decades, but time has been kind to this very 80s hero, with nothing about it feeling dated. Instead, it’s influence looms large over the comics that followed it, with writers taking inspiration from Morrison’s first true classic.

If you’ve any interest in Superhero comics at all, Zenith is essential. Simple as that.

Rating: 5/5.

JULESAV The Writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. Zenith artist Steve Yeowell signing at Aberdeen’s Asylum Books & Games this Saturday! | BIG COMIC PAGE

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