Tuesday, 16 November 2010

From Zero to Hero.

As a quick aside, from my Seminal Sci-fi moments, after letting my comic reading slip slightly, I thought I'd give a quick review of a comic I was given.
Soldier Zero. Not just any old Soldier Zero, but no less than Stan Lee’s Soldier Zero.
So what are all these titles with Stan Lee’s brand signature emblazoned over them like Kellog’s over a cornflake packet?
Well apparently the wily octogenarian has written a new universe and a host of characters for BOOM! Studios.
Now I use the term ‘written’ loosely, as Paul Cornell seems to be the one writing Soldier Zero, and Stan Lee is listed as being... the Grand Poobah... ?
Hmmm. Shows how out of touch I am. I thought Grand Poobah was a rank in the Ku Klux Klan. Whooops!
One cant help but think that this is perhaps a great marketing ploy to get people to buy the title. Is it why I bought the title? Yes, it probably is, so the marketing ploy worked.
I suppose the real question is then, did I enjoy it?
You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and I do think first issues need to make some sort of impact on their reader. Now, this can be a tricky task, because for a fresh title that has little to link it to any other of the comic universes, characters and storyline have to established from scratch.
Bringing it bang up to date, Afghanistan veteran in a wheelchair returns to civilian life to find a new type of battlefield. And yes, it’s handled with a sensitivity and reverence I found refreshing. But from the opening splash of a manga-esque protagonist battling a space-ship, to the following page of a young man in a wheelchair. I felt I knew what was going to happen and the middle of the comic was just filler. No it doesn’t stink, and it’s not altogether boring, just perhaps forgivably predictable for an origin issue.
Saying that, I’m a man that could read a thousand comics of Hulk punching someone, and be quite content. So my comic needs are simple. Perhaps for the more intellectually demanding comic reader they might not forgive so easily.
The art by Javier Pina (Batman and Superman) renders the universe with his usual smooth, crisp defined lines, and no ambiguity. Just the way I like it. And no I don’t like pickle on my cheese sandwiches either.

Incidentally, Marvel’s new title Superior just went for the same angle, although granted it was MS that had confined their character to a wheelchair, so just as an exercise I cast my addled mind back through comic history to find what other examples I could come up with off the top of my head.
Oracle from the pages of DC, Box from the early Alpha flight comics, The Black Racer… Oh! And I almost forgot Professor X. (Never would have heard the last of that, hey X-fans?)

Any-hoo, aforementioned wheelchair bound protagonist and awkward date, are (quite literally) struck by a dying, extra-terrestrial entity and a sort of Captain Mar-vel cosmic symbiosis ensues which enables him to a) save his date from being crushed, b)Walk again, albeit in the style of an upright quadruped. c) Scare people from behind shrubs and bushes.

I did find myself wanting to find out if he’s going to be able to control this symbiotic blessing/curse, whether this cataclysmic, cosmic event has re-attached his spine when he reverts to his human form, and find out what’s the deal with one hand having three fingers and the other having five? So perhaps next month, my comic sack will have issue 2
So… It’s a very readable first issue that’s easy on the eye too. But is that truly a recommendation or am I just trying not to offend Stan Lee? Well, I’m not saying that the House of Ideas has run out of ideas, but they are perhaps pouring old wine into a new bottle.  

1 comment:

  1. Surprised you havent mentioned The Walking Dead TV show yet, mate. Seen it? 3 episodes in and very enjoyable. More survival adventure than horror, I would say, but true to the spirit of the comic. Amazing zombies, though! The first 5 minutes of the first episode was directly targeted at readers, as if to say, "Dont worry, true believers, we're staying true to form!" Hardcore stuff for a TV show!