Zero is awesome. It’s brutal, deep, well-written and more than anything else beautiful. This issue concludes the first arc of Zero, which will soon be collected into a trade paperback. How is the finale? Is it good?
Zero #5 (Image Comics)
Zero #5 makes it pretty clear that the events of the previous issues are starting to have an impact on the overall narrative. Zero is down an eye, Mina is truly dead and the Agency is starting to suspect Zero of breaking away from the perfect soldier mold. This issue also starts the tale of Zero’s rebellion against the Agency, a tale which will shape the subsequent issues.
In this issue, the Agency—namely Zero’s handler Roman Zizek and “Zizek’s superior” Sara Cooke—starts to question whether Zero is still fit for the field. They pump him full of drugs and interrogate him endlessly. And because of the psychological warfare going on in the comic, the story becomes all about the characters. Zero is emotionless, totally devoid of any happiness or unhappiness, just going through the motions to get himself out of trouble. But then we figure out that Zero has stopped taking his pills and he’s not sleeping; he becomes a character, someone who although under tight supervision starts to rebel.
For the first time in five issues, Zero is not the main character. Zizek and Sara really steal the show with as much tension between them as between either of them and Zero. Although they are lovers, they are at an impasse with how to deal with Zero. Zizek is the best friend Zero’s got, while Sara is for ruthless questioning and a cruel demeanor. Their conflict leads to so many great character moments and an ending featuring Zizek that is totally out of left field and makes the potential for Zero #6 endless.
Is It Good?
Once again, Zero delivers. This chapter is quietly terrifying; simply suspenseful. There is very little violence, no giant explosions; just an author at the top of his game telling a story about characters at emotional war.
The small moments throughout these comics that really tell us who Zero is and about his demons are the best. Those panels where Zero sees Ginsberg Nova outside his window, the moment when he reveals he is actually spitting out his pills, the sight of Zizek realizing Sara is corrupt. All of these wordless depictions tell the story in an eerie, powerful way.
And in order to make this issue work so well, Ales Kot really relied on his artist to move the narrative along. Will Tempest has an incredible art style that shows emotion—as well as the lack thereof—masterfully. The simplicity and coolness of his color palette make the panels even further pop with a truly chilling feel.
So yes, Zero is great. Another knock-out issue that perfectly concludes the arc.