He's gruff. He's tough. He's called Edward Zero, and he's the guy you send in when you really need something done. But in Image Comics' Zero #1, he seems to have bitten off more than he can chew when he's sent in to retrieve a stolen bio-tech weapon in the middle of a war zone!
It's hard not to compare Zero with other 'superhuman black ops'-type stories that have been done before (Warren Ellis' Global Frequency, particularly the 'Big Wheel' story, come to mind). There's certainly a 'been-there, done-that' feel to the book, which is a shame. I guess there's only so many stories of its ilk you can tell that would make for compelling comic books, or at least comic books you haven't read before.
Standing on its own merits, though, Zero #1 is a good effort between writer Ales Kot and artist Michael Walsh. Edward Zero is ever the stoic badass, even in the face of certain death between two super-enhanced combatants. The majority of the book is one big fight scene actually, and in between the fisticuffs and falling ceilings we're given some nice snippets of Zero's storied past and very capable present, even if it does often tread on familiar territory. It sputters in some parts though, particularly in a surprise sex scene in the middle of the book that brings the tension of Zero's mission to an abrupt stop. It's a confusing choice and one that I felt didn't need to be shoe-horned in there, much less in the middle of an already exciting chase scene!
As Zero's gritty world calls for gritty art, artist Michael Walsh and colorist Jordie Bellaire delivers it in spades. Walsh isn't afraid to get down, dirty and bloody when it comes to showing a fight between two super-enhanced combatants, and Bellaire's earthy palette compliments that grittiness well.
It's hard not to feel jaded about this, which is no fault of Zero at all. I've seen and read some really good comics in the same vein as Zero, so I guess it set some expectations it unfortunately did not meet. Zero #1 might not blow anyone's minds just yet, but there's a little something here that will pique the interests of those new to the genre, even if better options lie elsewhere. This gets a 3.5 out of 5.