I was only introduced to this series last issue, which is a pity, because I really enjoyed Zero #3 and was kind of bummed I wasn’t reviewing it from the start. Nonetheless, with a new standalone spy story that promises to be just as good, if not a little more brutal, I was excited to read Zero #4. Is it good?
Zero #4 (Image Comics)
This time, Zero is deployed to Rio De Janeiro to kill a former agent of the agency because of some shady business he was involved in, or at least the agency thinks he was involved in. This new character is a rough and tough guy named Gareth Carlyle who did in fact commit the crime he was accused of committing. He also has an intriguing story to tell of his past and the events that lead up to his becoming who he is now.
More than anything this issue was good at prepping Gareth for his inevitable demise and really filling the issue with useful and memorable storytelling about him before he died. He was an incredibly interesting character when he lasted and mostly because Ales Kot took the time to really delve deep into the backstory. Not only is the retelling of Gareth’s past visually presented in the most graphic, gnarly, street-art-esque way possible it is written as Gareth telling this all to Zero using the word “you” about himself giving the whole scene an eerie, deeply personal feel.
And Gareth’s character itself is quite intriguing as well. “You decide to do something good. Not for yourself; but as a testament to what she reminded you of.” What an interesting notion. Although he sinned and is now helping out a community, he’s not doing it as repentance, but rather because he lost the one he loved. There is something so tragic about that and makes us sympathize with him even though he’s such a bad dude. He’s a remarkable character and it’s a pity we only got to see him for so long.
While I’m usually not in favor of comic book violence, not so much because I am morally opposed to violence but just that it takes away from anything meaningful in the comic, the brawl at the end of this comic was really intense and definitely left a lasting effect not only because of the brutality but because of the emotion. That last “never forget” from Gareth right before he closed his eye in eternal defeat…beautifully placed.
The fact that Gareth left his mark on Zero by taking out Zero’s eye is haunting and disturbing, all because of its mysterious symbolism. Are we supposed to take away that Gareth thinks Zero is really just a younger version of himself? Is it a final “screw you” to the agency? Is it bigger than that and he means to make someone else suffer like he did? We’ll never know, because, well, Gareth is dead.
I enjoyed how although it was over in one blow the effects seem to carry on. This was a great addition to Zero’s mythos and his injury should have future effects on him.
Although Ales Kot does such a phenomenal job on the writing, this story could still be enjoyed without words. The art is so goddamned beautiful in the most bizarre, different way. The line work is thick and charcoal, making faces a little hard to read but the fighting so much dirtier and brutal. The colors are just so incredible, from the many different oranges giving it an impoverished feel to the bright greens giving the story a more James Bond, action scene feels everything is just masterful.
- Unique and beautiful art
- Gareth is the most amazing character
- Thoughtful bits that were really carefully written and placed
- Not enough monster battles
Is It Good?
Zero is the best. I would read this story over and over tens of times and draw new inspiration each time. Gareth is such an amazingly written and drawn character and will be branded into my memory forever. This is a powerful, moving, beautiful example of comic storytelling at its very best.
Hey, remember how in my review of the last issue I questioned whether the great quality would be sustainable? Well look at that, it is; another ten!