Rating: 5/5 – A multi-layered masterpiece.
By ComicSpectrum reviewer Lawrence Arboleda.
As one who wasn’t too keen on the idea of a comic employing a different artist for each issue, Ales Kot’s Zero had me pleasantly surprised in more ways than one. Each issue of the series is self-contained, and done in a manner where overarching plot threads branch off into very interesting directions. The series is a study in masterful non-linear storytelling, hitting us with character beats that come from unexpected directions. And when you have different artists bringing their individual artistic sensibilities to the comic, the effect becomes even more pronounced. Ales Kot’s range as a writer allows him to create the perfect synergy for each individual artist, using every tool in his writing arsenal to bring each artist’s strengths to the fore with each issue.
Zero #5 is a fresh and immensely satisfying departure from the high octane and action-packed first four issues of the series. There is no mission involved this time. Rather, Edward Zero is interviewed at length by his handler Roman Zizek and then, quite unexpectedly, by Roman Zizek’s superior Sara Cooke. Zizek and Cooke get a bit of the spotlight, adding a more interesting dynamic to their complicated business relationship. Ales Kot’s writing is as sharp as ever, employing a character-study approach that peels the layers of Edward Zero’s convoluted psyche through a well-executed juxtaposition of words and images. The quiet panels, facial expressions, and the subtle dialogue between the characters add a lot of nuance into the narrative. And just like the previous issues, there are brilliant snippets of subtext touching on themes involving the human condition as well. Ales Kot reveals just enough for the reader to make his or her own conjectures but does it in a manner where flashes of insight come unbidden and interesting connections can be made. And just when you think you got the series figured out, the last part of the issue reveals stunning revelations that expand the scope of the series further.
Will Tempest was an inspired choice as artist for this issue. His character work and backgrounds are clean and minimalist, but done with a precision that is perfect for the issue’s introspective bent. The facial expressions are nuanced and right on-point, giving a more organic feel to the character interactions. And as always, Jordie Bellaire nicely captures the tone of the issue with her wonderfully executed and well-chosen color palettes.
Zero #5, while a slow-burner, is so well executed on many fronts that it deserves nothing less than a perfect score. I can’t think of a better way to conclude this first arc. In Zero, Ales Kot continues to push forward the boundaries of the comic book medium to stunning effect, and if you’re not reading this series, you’re missing out on something special.
Reviewed by: Lawrence Arboleda
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