Not More Zombies Again? An Advance Review Of ‘Year Zero’ #1 From AWA Upshots

by Richard Bruton

Following five survivors of a global epidemic as they navigate a world of zombies… yes, it’s another zombie comic, watching the world fall apart (yet again) in a well put together example of doing the same old thing and doing it with style… whether that’s enough for you is another matter.

AWA stands for (so I’m told) Artists, Writers & Artisans. The publisher was founded just late last year by Alex Alonso, Bill Jemas, and Jonathan Miller. And so far, it’s just a few titles in with a rather impressive mix of famous names and tempting ideas.

Year Zero is one of their first wave of books, I don’t know, maybe it’s just one of those every publisher needs a zombie comic. After all, The Walking Dead didn’t do so badly did it?

It’s certainly a very nicely put together book, doing everything with a slick, smooth veneer, and Ramon Rosanas and Lee Loughridge combine to give us something very attractive to look at.

The brightness of the ice gets you first, Loughridge making those colours really pop, and after that it’s that same clean, crisp look to both colours and art as we jump around the world, getting the introduction to five players in this zombie drama…

As the PR said…

A Japanese hitman, a Mexican street urchin, an Afghan military aide, a Polar research scientist, a midwestern American survivalist – five survivors of a horrific global epidemic who must draw upon their unique skills and deepest instincts to navigate a world of shambling dead. A braided narrative that offers a global look at the Zombie Apocalypse, Year Zero wrestles with the weighty moral and theological questions posed by the pandemic and investigates its cause and possible cure.

But after reading that and comparing it to the slight yet technically good issue one I’ve just read, I just can’t see how the hell it’s going to manage to go so in-depth on the whole zombie pandemic.

30 pages of issue one and all we get is the first 10 minutes of the show it feels so much like. Yet with just four issues left in this, and I just can’t see how it’s going to play out in time. Unless of course, and nowadays this is perfectly possible, it’s merely act one of a projected multi-act series. But even then, unless they really switch the pace up and manage to do it well, I can’t see how this will cover any serious ground across the five issues.

The other big problem with Year Zero is that it’s just something you’ve seen over and over and over again, whether it’s the zombie infection itself or the introduction to the cast of disparate characters, it’s just not covering anything you’ve most likely seen before.

There’s nothing wrong with the actual writing of Year Zero, definitely nothing wrong with the art, it’s just that it’s all just so very, very familiar, the whole thing going from A to B to C in a determined manner, a by the numbers thing (if you can go from A to B to C by the numbers). It’s a first issue of total predictability, even opening with the possible origin of the zombie outbreak flagged up in the first couple of pages (although there is a slight twist to that right at the very end.)

Maybe I’ve just seen and read too many of these zombie things, but there’s nary a beat goes on here that you can’t say you’ve seen before, in one iteration or another.

What does shine here is the technical aspects of the storytelling, the little touches of building up the tension. For example, as the assassin in Tokyo is about to take his shot, there’s a knock at the door and he turns away…

Or a couple of pages later on, where we’re with the survivalist… page filling vertical panels intercutting scenes from outside chaos to the inner quiet of stock-taking…

Clever little touches, interesting exercises in storytelling certainly.

Yet clever technical touches and interesting storytelling moments do not make a comic great. Not even when the art looks particularly lovely. So, well-crafted work in Year Zero, but it’s not enough to elevate this into something more than a trifle entertaining. Now, maybe I’m wrong here, maybe by next issue everything will turn on its head and it will deviate from the well-trodden path it’s going down. But on the evidence of issue 1, Year Zero is merely a well-done exercise in going over old ground.

Year Zero #1 (of 5) – written by Benjamin Percy, art by Ramon Rosanas, colours by Lee Loughridge, letters by Sal Cipriano, cover by Kaare Andrews. Published by AWA.

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