Writer(s): Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Rafael de Latorre
Release Date: 23rd March, 2016
Drusilla “Dru” Dragowski wants to become a super hero. Convinced that she’s the only one who can save the world from its impending destruction, this sharp, self-aware high schooler has tried several different approaches to fabricate her own superhero “origin story”, from paying a homeless man to rob her parents to trying to get herself bitten by a radioactive insect. Her latest scheme – trying to stow away on an upcoming space shuttle launch to get herself a big ol’ dose of cosmic radiation – is perhaps her most ambitious yet, but before she does that, she has a few loose ends to tie up a few loose ends – including her best friend Tana’s relationship with her abusive father.
Rafael de Latorre’s artwork remains solid and dynamic here, with his expressive characters really carrying the weight of the story. He also frequently utilises an occasional flash of red ‘negative’ in his panels to emphasise key emotional beats, an approach that works extremely well to add further resonance to Conner and Palmiotti’s words. His work is underscored beautifully by the colours of Marcelo Maiolo, giving his figures an added sense of depth and keeping things bright and lively without becoming overly cartoony.
My only real niggle with this series remains the overall tone, which continues to pitch wildly from ‘wacky adventure’ to ‘serious emotional drama’, making it difficult for the reader to really know how they should be feeling. It’s clear that Palmiotti and Conner can do both styles extremely well, but the constant shifting does make the read a little bumpier than it necessarily needs to be.
Regardless, the story is definitely building some serious momentum here, and one particular emotional exchange midway through this issue serves as the defining moment of the series thus far, illustrating the fact that, in spite of all her crazy schemes, Dru may not actually need any help becoming a true “hero”. While the significance of Dru’s recurring dreams remains somewhat ambiguous for the time being, they do work as an interesting framing device for her overall mindset, even if they do seem to be frequently tinged with failure.
Whatever way you slice it, SUPER ZERO is definitely starting to hit its stride, and with a lead character as utterly likeable as Drusilla Dragowski, there’s no denying that the series has a firm foundation to build upon. There’s definitely more of an edge here than the cartoony, all-ages aesthetic may suggest, and I’m now officially on board with this series for the long haul, no matter which direction Conner and Palmiotti decide to take it from here.