When I take a chance on a new title or unknown creators these days, my M.O. more often than not is to buy the first issue when it’s solicited, then if it hooks me when it arrves to wait for the trade. I realize that’s not the ideal way to support up and coming artists, but I do have to work within a budget here. Too many times in the past I’ve wasted dough preordering three or even four issues of a title before reading the first one and learning it’s less than great.
In the case if Zero-G, however, I have indeed preordered the whole mini for two reasons. First, the solicitation sounded like the kind of thing I would dig and the cover art was good. Second, there’s really no guarantee that a relatively minor series such as this will ever be traded if it sells poorly in singles. Since the ultimate goal of this blog is to try in some small way to raise the profile of SF comics in the U.S., I have in this case put my money where my mouth is.
So far, no regrets. The first issue is fast-paced and fun, and Jason Badower’s interior art is just as pretty as his cover. While there’s a lot of set-up going on, Alex Zamm never goes overboard with talking heads and there’s plenty of time for a rocket launch, a dogfight in space, close encounters and some very bad news to close out the issue on a cliffhanger.
The plot is set in motion by the approach of a massive asteroid the size of Manhattan, which will pass through the solar system between the Moon and Mars. Interest in space exploration is at such a low these days that such a sighting probably wouldn’t stir up enough public support for a mission, however Zamm has a solution for this. This asteroid just so happens to be absolutely filthy with gold, platinum, diamonds, and enough uranium-235 to solve the world’s energy crisis. Suddenly, several different nations are in a race to get there first, not to mention at least one ambitious billionaire eager to finance his own private enterprise to claim this unprecedented source of wealth and power.
The initial discovery of the approaching asteroid is made by Atom Weaver, a simple geologist who finds himself thrown onto the team greenlit to plant the U.S. flag on its surface. Atom makes a good point-of-view character because he’s a reasonably average guy thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Plus, the team leader in charge of the billionaire’s competing mission happens to be his former college sweetheart!
So what makes this story science fiction? The core premise could be about rival treasure hunters racing to claim a gold-leaden Spanish galleon at the bottom of the ocean. But soon after out heroes land on the asteroid’s surface, they discover artificially carved tunnels in the rock, stumble across an underground graveyard of giant alien carcasses, and spot a shadowy observer whose silhouette strongly resembles a humanoid robot. All this in just the first issue!
The creators of Zero G show some real talent. Alex Zamm's writing is fun, breezy and not overly serious. There is good comeraderie between the characters, and the action moves fast with minimal exposition. Jason Badower’s pencils are quite nice, though he can’t resist the temptation to draw everyone beautiful and buff; even scientists and miners have tight athletic bodies. The most unintentionally funny line in the book actually comes from the character data files in the back: in the entry for Weaver’s ex we find out: “Evelyn has found her supermodel looks make it difficult for her to gain the respect she’s due from the scientific community.” Yet, look how she chooses to present herself in the televisied press conference announcing her mission:
Come now, this is a woman who wants everyone to respect her scientific abilities and not pay attention to her looks? Riiiight.
In this first issue, the creators basically lined up a bunch of dominoes, and over the next three months we get to watch ‘em fall. Zero-G is shaping up to be a fun little adventure, and so far I have no regrets about committing to the entire run.