Zero 18

Alternating Currents: Zero 18, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Zero 18, originally released July 1st, 2015.

Drew: I don’t love fetishizing endings. I resent the idea that the final moments of a work of art are somehow more important than all of the other moments that came before. I do, however, appreciate that it’s not until the end of a work that we can properly understand what it is. It’s not that the last piece of the narrative puzzle is necessarily more important than the rest, it just happens to be the last one added, which makes it the one that completes the image. True to that analogy, most endings are increasingly predictable as they approach — by that late in a narrative, we have a sense of likely conclusions. But then there are those narratives that aren’t so easily tied down. Zero started as a relatively straightforward spy series, but became increasingly postmodern, turning itself into a pointed commentary on the artificial division between “life” and “art.” Even with that trajectory in mind, issue 18 offers a conclusion of such bizarre beauty that nobody could have ever predicted. Continue reading

Zero 10

zero 10
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Zero 10, originally released August 13th, 2014.

The unexamined life is not worth living.

Socrates

Ignorance is bliss

Thomas Gray, Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College

Drew: If I ever needed an example of cognitive dissonance, I would simply point to the above statements, acknowledging that the majority of people know that both are true. It makes no sense, but we at once want to know things that will disturb us while wanting to unknow things that enrich our lives. It’s perhaps most true when it comes to analyzing the arts. Some folks prefer to examine their art, while others believe they are happier without that closer look, as though art were some mysterious and secretly unsavory sausage whose origins could only yield misery. It should be obvious that I’m in the first group, which is why a thoughtful, intricate work like Ales Kot and Michael Gaydos’ Zero 10 is so utterly rewarding. Continue reading

Zero 9

zero 9Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Zero 9, originally released July 23rd, 2014.

Patrick: Violence. Abuse. Torture. Slavery. I just named, like, the four worst things in the world. They’re all awful on their own, but each act becomes unfathomably detestable the second you add the descriptor “sexual.” Sexual violence is so horrible, we don’t really know how to process it and we sure as shit don’t know how to talk about it. As a result, so much sexual assault gets swept out of our field of vision, even when we know full-well that it’s going on. The numbers vary wildly, but every study on reporting rape statistics suggests that a shocking number of sexual assaults go unreported. Studies also show that sexual assault, especially toward children, can trigger psychosis and schizophrenia later in life. It’s simply too much for brains to handle, which is why we tend to freak out whenever rape shows up in our pop entertainments. Ales Kot and Tonči Zonjić boldly express our inability to process these moments of pure, unadulterated horror in a breathtaking new installment of Zero. (spoilers for Zero 9 after the jump). Continue reading

Zero 8

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Zero 8, originally released May 21st, 2014.

Taylor: I, an unmarried 29-year-old male, just bought two picture books and I couldn’t be more pleased with my purchase. The books, entitled Mr. Wuffles and Journey were brought to my attention by an NPR article and — due in large part to being able to preview the books in this piece — I snatched them up as soon as they came to my attention. Now, I’m not normally one for picture books. Or rather, I should say, I haven’t been one in the past. “They’re made for kids right?” — went my line of thinking. When I bought the books, though, I realized that picture books and comics have a lot in common. The most obvious commonality between the two mediums is that they both tell stories in large part through pictures. With this in mind, I have a new fascination not only in picture books, but in stories that can be told without words. Zero 8 is one of these stories, showing us just how powerful pictures can be and how, sometimes, the most powerful words are those which go unsaid.

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Zero 7

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Zero 7, originally released April 23rd, 2014.

Taylor: Beaches are memorable places. Most obviously, they are pleasant and warm — a veritable buffet of sensory delights. But beaches are also places of mystery and harbors of the strange. They’re the border between two worlds. On the one side you have dry land, man’s habitat and therefore a place of life. On the other side you have the wet desert of the ocean, a place that while beautiful, can’t sustain human life. However, long ago, man came from the ocean, making the watery depths paradoxically a place of life as well as death for mankind. For these reasons (and others) many gravitate to beaches around the world to enjoy scenery and delights as well as muse on the meaning of all things philosophical. Given these themes, it’s no wonder that Zero now finds itself musing on the sandy boundary. It’s the perfect setting for issue 7, which sees the tides of the narrative shifting in an unexpected and thought provoking direction.

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Zero 6

zero 6Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Zero 6, originally released March 19th, 2014.

Patrick: When you read a comic book, you’re opting in to a narrative. The same is true of watching a TV show or movie (or reading some kind of non-comic book, should just a thing even exist), but following an on-going series requires a kind of continuous buy-in that just isn’t there for most other mediums. There is a cost associated with picking up your serialized entertainment this way: and not just financial — getting the most out of any one issue of Zero requires a look back at all the issues that came before it. Great example: In January, Mike and I missed that the mindblowing flashforward in issue 5 was actually foreshadowed on the first page of the first issue. So we, the audience, have to make the decision to actively participate in the story from month to month. Like good little soldiers, that’s a choice we continue to make, even when our orders don’t totally match up with what we’re experiencing.

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Zero 5

zero 5

Today, Mikyzptlk and Patrick are discussing Zero 5, originally released January 22, 2014.

Mikyzptlk: Zero began as a super spy, sci-fi thriller featuring said super spy, Edward Zero, seemingly going rogue after many years of faithful service. For four issues, we’ve seen Zero go on various missions, as we’ve learned more about where he’s come from and where he’ll ultimately end up. Along the way, we’ve been presented with important subjects related to war profiteering, corruption, brainwashing, free will, and more. Just as I begin to feel more confident about what this book is all about, Ales Kot drops one hell of a “WTF” ending effectively, and entertainingly, shattering my confidence in one fell swoop.   Continue reading