What completely threw me off about Zero #2 was the art change. I mean, I had read beforehand in an interview with Kot that each issue was going to feature a different artist, yet I assumed that they would be stylistically and thematically similar. Boy was I wrong. I had never seen Tradd Moore’s art before. I should have done my research.
Whereas Walsh’s art on the first issue evoked Mazzuchelli and Aja, Moore’s art is a completely different beast all on its own. Moore’s style seems to be a warped, twisted version of a cartoon, with character’s looking wiry and amorphous but still holding a solid shape, as if they could break out of their black-line frames at any second. It’s a cartoonish world stemmed in a story of semi-realistic spy fiction, two contrasting elements of story that gives the issue a feel of organized gibberish.
The thing’s Moore does with panel structure is amazing as well, having square frames bleed into each other to create a dissolving yet hard-lined reality. The issue tends to play with the concept of reality vs. the hallucinogenic. Do we do what we really do? Do we see or experience things the way others do or is it a whole new experience for us? There’s a brilliant sequence from pages seven to eight that has Edward Zero and Nina Thorpe hanging upside down from a tree discussing life and making fun of their teacher. We do not experience the same emotions or the same feeling of being upside down as they do, but we can certainly evoke memories of doing that sort of thing, and in turn relate to it on a way. We are able to perceive their reality because we may have had a similar experience.
On these same pages, Kot has the two have a conversation about reality. Nina says “That’s just morbid” where Zero says that “That’s reality”. It brings us back to the point of reality vs. fantasy where we think that life is going to end up all fine and dandy, but reality dictates that we will end up dead, illustrating a foreboding pointlessness to existence, yet somehow giving us a reason to live. It’s optimist versus defeatist attitudes, and I feel like this is also a statement on the psychosis of soldiers going to war.
Once again Kot proves to be economical in his writing, letting the art do a lot of the talking as opposed to the page being filled with word bubbles and caption boxes. Although it is wordier than the first issue, it could be worse. Kot really writes his scripts for his artists, showcasing his strengths and the artist’s strengths in a synchronized fashion. Moore seems to be adept at showcasing movement, action and facial expression the most, so Kot writes around that. He lets Moore shine while making social commentary on how children in the modern age are practically being raised to be soldiers, whether it be through violent war-centric video games or something else. It’s nothing short of brilliant.
Zero definitely is looking up to being the best new launched book this year (in this reviewer’s opinion). It captures the same sort of magic that Saga did when it launched and is able to craft complex spy fiction while still maintaining the political allegories and commentaries that have become a staple since the first issue. Zero shows us that war is hell, and that we’ll buy comics to experience this hell.