Staff picks – Week of 21/05/2014

Zero #8
Ales Kot (w), Jorge Coelho (a), Jordie Bellaire (c)
Image Comics

Taylor says: I have no idea where Zero is going, none. I can’t even pretend to. I gave up trying to get inside Ales Kot’s head back when he was writing Change, and I’ve enjoyed his writing more since then. That’s not to say that Zero is inaccessible, though, because it isn’t. Though Kot’s end-game metanarrative is impossible to guess at, each issue of Zero has a simple, pleasing formula. A different artist depicts an episode from Zero’s career (or post-career), and Kot drops developments of the few relationships we know Zero to have into the action, like croutons into creamy tomato soup. Mmm.
It’s a spy book, but centred on the spies rather than the spying, and particularly the liminal zone between killing for survival and killing for work/pleasure/revenge. We’ve seen Zero do all of those, and the looming question driving the series is what the emotional consequences of all those choices, and the cost of repressing it all for his supervisors at The Agency, will lead to. Zero is the Heads to The Activity’s Tails, where instead of declaring the mission at the get-go and then following it through (as Edmondson and Gerads do brilliantly on The Activity), Kot drops you into situations that will require Zero’s skillset, and lets you figure out what is happening, why, on whose orders, and just how much even Zero himself understands. What is constant, however, is the stellar quality of the art, as Kot cherry-picks the best of the new breed for this book, and Jordie Bellaire makes them all look astounding.
If that all sounds a bit vague, let me make it simpler. Think of your favourite action or spy TV show. Now imagine it without any of the boring expositional bits, padding, commercial breaks, or maudlin sentimentality. That’s Zero.

Forever Evil #7
Geoff Johns (w), David Finch (a)
DC Comics

Liz says: Finally, Forever Evil #7 hits the shelves and it is EPIC! We had to wait an extra two months, but the payoff is worth it. Geoff Johns’ love of complex villains and antiheroes makes for a far more interesting read than your standard superhero punch-fest, and the final face-offs with the Crime Syndicate members (and of course, especially, the Big Bad introduced at the end of issue #6) had me grinning ear to ear with satisfaction. Lex Luthor remains the star of the show, and his actions surprise, thrill and compel at every turn. At the more heroic end of the character spectrum, the reunion between Batman and Nightwing is touching, unexpectedly hilarious and sets up a new dynamic between Bruce Wayne and a perceptive Luthor. Looking forward to seeing how that plays out! And pre-New 52 readers will also appreciate references to old DC canon and are treated to the return of an old, formerly deceased favourite who in new continuity is clearly alive and well. The repercussions keep coming, for our Crime Syndicate members, heroes, and villains alike, which becomes especially evident when you turn the last page! All in all a great ending to a great, fun book. For DC fans both old and new, totally worth your while.

Original Sin #2
Jason Aaron (w), Mike Deodato (a)
Marvel Comics

Adam says: How much time has elapsed since Thanos was encased in resin at the close of Infinity? In all honesty, not long enough. Event breeds events breeds event ad nauseam, with scarce room inbetween for those pesky nuggets commonly known as ‘stories’. That said, Original Sin, two issues in, has stepped forth and made quite apparent that it is defiantly just such a thing: a story. Threads are being sewn, players introduced and story points deepened. Such a well-presented murder mystery with Fury, Sergeant Ambigous Motives, at the helm is an honest treat.
Jason Aaron is a master of balance as far as superhero comics are concerned. He weaves plots, allows for characterisation, proudly hands over action and also injects humour. His comic books are solidly constructed and effective entertainment. Importantly, his work is often possessed of engaging thematic depth. See the opening arc of ‘The God Butcher’ in Thor: God of Thunder for inarguable proof. With all this biblical talk in the promotion and the underlying premise, it seems likely that this event might well have a few themes simmering away beneath the surface for those interested.
As far as the art, this is far from the best work Deodato has done. His approach was perfected in the pages of Dark Avengers and he has obviously changed since then. His work is somehow even further stylised but whilst this iteration is not to my taste, he certainly wins points for choosing to evolve.

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