Publisher: Aftershock Comics
Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner
Art: Rafael de Latorre & Marcelo Maiolo
Release Date: 16th December 2015
Super Zero is a conundrum to me. On the surface it looks like a comic aimed at a younger audience, it’s a bright and colourful story that has a funny premise. Contrary to this first impression there are a couple of quite sinister undertones that made me stop with a “wait … just what does this mean?” Overall this has left me a little conflicted.
Let’s crack on though. Super Zero is about a young 19 year old senior with a comic book obsession -Dru Dragowski- that yearns to become a Superhero. This obsession is borderline nuts though. Dru believes that if she can recreate one of her heroes’ origin stories, the results will be the same for her. Think about that for a moment, and on what it potentially implies.
Evidence that Dru’s obsession falls on the wrong side of reality is evident in her dreaming. Here she is the superhero Paladina, saving people with all the resolve of a sociopath that doesn’t understand consequence. I get the impression that it’s supposed to be funny in a tongue-in-cheek manner, but for me it doesn’t quite manage this. It’s as if the timing is a little off.
The origin story Dru tries to recreate in the opening issue suffers the same. The tone of how she instigates it is quite cute. She helps a homeless man and you think perhaps this is a heroic act, perhaps this is how she wants to become a hero? Then she explains what she wants this guy to do and you’re caught off-guard again. It’s not quite a WTF moment, and again it feels like it should read a little funny but it actually feels more malign.
Dru does actually want to help people, even if every thought and plan she conceives in issue 1 is wrong. At the end of the day she wants to help her friend, Tana, and it’s the introduction of Tana’s situation that gave me pause. It’s pretty dark, but this is where you start to empathise with Dru’s motive for why she’s doing this.
The art of the comic is first-rate, and the clean lines of Rafael de Latorre are a stand-out when you consider just how much communication there is in the comic: there is a lot of speech bubble real estate in the issue. The art being as good as it is holds up to this without being over-powered. A lot of effort must have gone into working the design of each frame and the result is successful.
The colour art by Marcelo Maiolo is bright and fresh. Again this lends itself to the feeling that the comic is directed at a younger audience, but there is a clever use of a red and white monotone in places throughout the issue. This break from the normal spectrum serves to emphasise points in the story that are relevant. These frames are important; they show moments of reality and consequence in the story.
I can’t conclude my review without acknowledging that this is a comic about comics. There are three or four hints to other comic books weaved into the story that I appreciated, none more so than the obvious tip-of-the-hat to We3. I opened stating that Super Zero has me a little at odds. The idea is good, yet I feel the overall execution in parts is a little off the pace. Parts I think I should be laughing at have fallen just a little short, and it’s not all that easy to empathise with Dru in places. Paradoxically there are bits I think are great and have potential. The art is beautiful, but the comic is very wordy. I know that Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner can deliver so I’m going to put this issue down as finding their feet. They’ve laid a lot of background down in this issue, going forward they can have fun with it.
The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @jockdoom