Publisher: Image Comics (Shadowline Imprint)
Writer: Karl Kesel
Artwork: Tom Grummett
Colours: Ben Dimagmaliw
Letters: Richard Starkings
Release Date: 3rd April 2019
“Protecting mankind from everything that doesn’t exist.”
Pegged as Jack Kirby does the X-Files, Section Zero is a fun, action-filled story of secret agents, cryptids, monsters, and aliens. Originally published by Gorilla back in 2000, we are now getting another chance to follow the exploits of the super-secret UN agency.
The issue starts with a suitably weird premise. Near Uluru’ farmers’ livestock are being slaughtered by some big wild cat; an oddity given the absence of big cats from Australia’s fauna. As no agency seems to be offer help, one must turn to the UN? Yeah, ok it maybe wouldn’t be where I’d send a letter either but let’s run with it.
The note is received by AJ Keeler, who we later find out is the old tutor-like figure (I can’t help but draw parallels with the B.P.R.D. and Prof Broom), and another case is passed onto action man Sam Wildman. He’s no Fox Mulder but a scruffy, shade wearing, wise cracking secret agent team leader here to kick butt and save the planet from threats it didn’t know it had. Backing up Mr Wildman is Dr Tina, his ex-wife with big fancy guns, and Tesla, a ‘grey’ with a cloaking space ship.
On a mission in the far East battling ghost soldiers and a peasant uprising they encounter a boy with a mystical tattoo that grants him an insectoid form with accompanying abilities for a day; earning him the name 24-Hour Bug! Yeah, if you’re looking for a high-brow thriller, you’re probably best looking somewhere else… Topping it off, there may be a traitor in the mix so who knows where this runaway rail cart is heading?
The off-the-wall story is accompanied by some decent visuals. Grummett’s lines are well backed up by Dimagmaliw’s choice of colour palette. Everything about this pays homage to the sci-fi action movies of the ‘80s and 90s so if you’re a fan of stuff like Carpenter’s They Live, then I’m pretty sure this will be in your wheelhouse.
One thing that irked me though was the choice of Tina’s outfit. With the team decked out in essentially matching outfits, the motifs of which I really liked, and Sam wearing an overcoat, I couldn’t get my head round why Tina is cutting about in swimsuit. Each to their own, and it does evoke some of the classic four-colour classic style, but it seemed too out of place for me.
Gripes aside, there are loads of nice touches throughout. I particularly like the fact that they use the Air Force Base in Montauk; budding conspiracy theorists will get it. Starkings also manages to cram in a fair breadth of lettering styles, which really punch home the comic delivery.
Section Zero is a great premise that could have gone any number of ways. It doesn’t feel overly original now but it has a fine cast of characters and provides an enjoyable read, which, at the end of the day, line is pretty much what you want in a comic.
The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster