Oh wow, this book is seriously good. I was impressed by the first issue, but man, this one was even better, and has me ready to buy anything with Ales Kot’s name on it, even a book about Iron bloody Patriot.
After the first issue dropped us right in the middle of one of Edward Zero’s missions, #2 takes us back, and gives us a nice big chunk of back-story. We see that Edward was raised in a school for spies, and was taught all kinds of fucked up things about the nature of life and war in order to make him into the perfect soldier. I really liked the scene showing him locked in ‘The Box’ and having to escape deep underwater, the best example of just how fucked up this guy’s life is.
We also find out a bit more about this book’s supporting cast, seeing Roman Zizek as a kinder, mentor figure for Zero (although the story he tells about his paranoid dog is all kinds of messed-up), and also being introduced to Mina Thorpe, Edward’s childhood love interest, even though the kids at this Spy-School aren’t allowed relationships. It’s going to be interesting when we see what she’s like in the present day.
The second half of this issue is Zero’s first mission, to assassinate Keiran Connelly, a man who used to be in the IRA, but is supposedly out of it now, but the Agency still wants dead. Zero hides in Connelly’s house for 4 days, and watches him, his wife, and his two kids. It’s really creepy, and Kot spends enough time with Connelly that you’re not sure who to root for. Zero shoots Connelly, but doesn’t kill him, the kill-shot is left to a sniper. That scene was just so dark, Zero is a little kid, and he’s being sent to kill people! The last 2 pages are very interesting indeed, as Zizek tries to console Zero, who is traumatised by what’s happened, not least because he thinks he’s failed by not getting the kill-shot. Zero has been trained to view the people he’s sent to kill not as people, but as targets (by playing FPS video games, ‘natch), but here, Zizek almost corrects him. The technique on the last 3 panels was also interesting, with both Zero and Zizek’s faces being scribbled out. Is that representative of how Zero sees people now? He doesn’t see faces? Just nothing? Man, this book is bleak, but still very entertaining.
The artwork here comes from Tradd Moore, and whilst it’s very different from Michael Walsh’s stuff in #1, it’s still great, and exceptionally suited to this story. His exaggerated style really gets across the difference in size between the child Zero, and the grown man Connelly, and it makes the emotions that much starker. A tiny kid, being made to do these things, it’s messed up. And when it comes time to do the action scenes, Moore delivers. Colourist Jordie Bellaire provides a stylistic link to #1, using a similar, dark palette. I can’t wait to see who’s up to draw #3, and to see where Kot takes us next.
If you’re looking for a comic that’s hard-hitting, both in terms of action and dark drama, you need to pick up Zero.