In Review: Zodiac #1

This character is killer!

The covers: A monstrous ten covers to track down if you have the luck of the Irish. The A cover is by Igor Vitorino and Ivan Nunes and has the assassin standing on a building’s outcropping looking for his latest prey. Lightning explodes above the city. The character looks good and the backdrop of the city is staggering with its details. The colors are a little bland with nothing standing out. The B hails from Edgar Salazar and Grostieta. This is an outstanding illustration of Zodiac swinging his Scorpion Stinger against the frightening looking Judgment. Each character is awesome looking, though that pink sky undercuts the intensity. Jay Anacleto and Nunes are responsible for the C cover which is this issue’s “Good Girl” frontpiece. This has Mystere on her knees holding a skull. Blue smoke streams from the bone and whips to her left creating a wall of blue skulls composed of vapor. The hero seems lost in the power she’s using. I love this! The D cover by Michael Dooney and Ula Mos focuses on the demon-like female villain in charge of the Order of Tarot. She’s sitting on a rocky dais surrounded by flames. She’s sitting sideways to reveal her right side to the reader. In her left hand is a sheathed sword covered in spikes and points. This is beautiful, but don’t you dare touch! The E cover is by Leonardo Colapietro showing Zodiac with his guns in his hands, turning to his right. He’s unaware that above him a monstrous crustacean is about to attack him. Zodiac is about to be attacked by Cancer. Fantastic looking characters with beautiful dreamy colors. There’s also a Blank Sketch Edition that features only the publisher, title, and creators’ names at the top. The rest is white, allowing a fan to get an artist to create a one-of-a-kind cover or get the book’s creators to sign it. I love these covers, but on their own they’re not much. There are also four exclusive covers, though I wasn’t able to find them online. They include the Subscription Exclusive (limited to 75 copies) by Anacleto, the Quarterly Exclusive (limited to 250), the VP Exclusive (limited to 75), and the Zenescope Exclusive (limited to 50) by Sabine Rich. Good luck, collectors! Overall grades: A B+, B A-, C A, D A, E A, and the Blank Sketch Edition C

The story: “Somewhere in the swamps of Louisiana, outside of New Orleans,” Zodiac’s trailer sits. Within, the assassin suits up for his newest job: The Scales of Justice, his handguns, gauntlets, gloves, and helmet are attached to his armor. Powering up his jetpack, he flies off. He’s heading for a church used to create drugs under the supervision of the Page of Swords and Judgment, two of the targets he’s been tasked to find by his master Merlin and take down. He surprises the villains by exploding through a stained glass window. On the ground, he fires at all the workers he sees. After dealing with these minions, the Page challenges him, allowing Judgment to escape. This latter villain reports to his master who has two others join him to confront Zodiac. However, once alone it’s revealed that there is someone who outranks her. Zodiac finds someone who could give him information, but this individual is stronger than suspected. Logan Patrick O’Connell’s tragic past is then shown. Back in the game, he’s joined by a familiar Zenescope hero to take down another drug house. A villain returns, but doesn’t come alone, creating an excellent cliffhanger. This is a great action packed issue by Joe Brusha. The character’s motivations are clearly given and his abilities violently shown. What a great character. Overall grade: A

The art: Daniel Mainé knocks it out of the park with this issue. The first two pages wonderfully tease the title character as he readies his weapons for battle. The work Mainé does on his armor is impressive. I like the point of view in the large panel on the third page making the character like a god as the reader looks up at him; plus the open ceiling teases where he’s headed. The workers in the drug church look great and Judgment is flippin’ awesome! Zodiac’s entrance on 4 is dramatic and the glass work very cool. How the hero takes down the baddies on 6 is killer — it’s graphic, but grounded in reality if someone actually had such weapons. The Page is designed slickly and his battle with Zodiac violent and cool. The three characters that Judgment faces on 10 look great, with their leader mesmerizing on 11. I like how Mainé disguises the leader’s audience on 12, leaving their identities for a future date. The calm of the individual that Zodiac sees on 14 adds to her character and what an awesome transition that ends the page. I really like how this motif is repeated on the following page. I love the focus given to panels with outlines of additional panels inserted on top of others on 16 and 17, making the reader focus on specific details in these panels. The heroes in disguise on 20 are classy — it’s old school, but works fabulously. Mystere’s ability at the top of 21 is incredible looking. The reveal on 25 is great, but it’s outdone by the full-paged splash that ends the issue. WOW! Overall grade: A

The colors: There are a lot of dark colors in this book, but look at how well Jorge Cortes can keep things dark, though not so much that the visuals are lost. Check out the cool blues of the opening setting and Zodiac’s armor. The oranges of the minions’ face masks match the stained glass windows making them even more blasphemous. The reds on 6 are shocking. The crimsons in the Page’s costume keeps him from being a black blob. The center panel on 9 is a neat way to show a flashback. Zodiac’s thoughts are in blue boxes, Judgment’s speech is colored black, and his leader’s is outlined in red. All are excellent ways to show the reader who is thinking or speaking. The blues and whites atop Page 21 are creepy cool. Yellows and oranges punctuate the actions and emotions of the climax. I also love the violets on the antagonists’ costumes on the final page. Overall grade: A

The letters: Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios does this issue’s text: scene settings, narration, the story’s title, sounds, dialogue, Judgment’s unique speech, laughter, an editorial note, and the tease for next issue. I’m always happy to see Esposito’s scene settings because they always are eye catching. I also like how Zodiac’s narration is differed from his dialogue; this is a clue that one is looking upon the work of a strong letterer. The story’s title is cool, looking like something from a movie. The sounds are really strong with the action in the drug church creating several. Judgment’s unique dialogue font has him sounding like a fallen angel. Overall grade: A

The final line: This character is killer! Heaven help you if you get in his way. Great action and snazzy visuals make this one to pick up. The only thing about this book that makes me sad is that it’s only three issues long. Sorry, Zenescope. A book this good deserves to keep going. Recommended! Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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