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.
In Year Zero #1, we are introduced to a sprawling cast of characters from around the world, each telling their stories from their point of view: Sara Lemons, a scientist in Antarctica (never a good sign when a story starts there), B.J. Hool, a doomsday-prepper in Minnesota; Saga Watanabe, a stoic Japanese assassin in Tokyo; Daniel Martinez, an impoverished boy in Mexico City and Fatemah Shah, a brave 26-year old Afghani woman aiding American troops in Kabul.
Each of their stories — all told from different points in time from the main narrative as “then” and “now”– get disrupted by some major global happening that’s left unclear. The only takeaway we can gather from it is that it’s happening quickly and mercilessly. As that first issue ends, we’re left with the possibility that whatever this deadly catastrophe is, it might have been a long time coming — or a long time since it started.
Year Zero #2 continues to flesh out each of the five main characters while moving the story forward (Lemons is an idealist, Martinez is devout, Hool speaks Klingon). The threat is still unexplained — save for some hints given at the end of each issue — but the characters are obviously witnessing some sort of burgeoning zombie outbreak.
The writing, by Benjamin Pearcy, moves briskly with all of the pertinent information nicely laid out for the reader without sacrificing tempo. Each story cuts between each of the five leads in a specific order, helping the reader get the hang of Pearcy’s rhythm. The only slight misstep is the contrived introduction of a mysterious tattooed character in Martinez’s story.
Ramon Rosanas’ clean art supplies the story with vibrant motion, letting the action tell the story (there is very little external dialogue between characters). Colorist Lee Loughridge gives each location its own distinct hue and personality and the eerie and chilling covers by Kaare Andrews are superb.
Immersion in this cinematic-feeling world comes quite easy and the story seems to fly by; as fast to the reader as it is to the characters themselves, finding their bearings in their new world of sudden terror.
Year Zero #2 from AWA Comics, released June 24, 2020; written by Benjamin Percy, art by Ramon Rosanas, colors by Lee Loughridge, lettering by Sal Cipriano, covers by Kaare Andrews