Section Zero #1
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Karl Kesel
Illustrator, Main Cover Artist: Tom Grummett
Colorist: Ben Dimagmaliw
Letterer: Richard Starkings
Variant Cover Artists: Walter Simonson, Jeremy Colwell (B); Jerry Ordway, Jeremy Colwell (C)
Review by Michael Farris, Jr.
Section Zero: the group hired by the United Nations to protect mankind from everything that doesn’t exist. They are sent on global missions to investigate rumors of strange phenomena or the disappearances thereof (why do Bigfoot’s tracks suddenly end?). They are made up of the rough and rogueish Sam Wildman, the brains of the outfit Dr. Titania Challenger, and the child-like alien and UFO driver Tesla.
The book opens with a letter from an Australian farmer begging the UN to do something about a big cat killing his heard—especially since there are no native big cats in Australia. Meanwhile, the team discovers and adds Thom Talesi—aka “24 Hour Bug Boy”—to their crew after they save him from the mysterious Ghost Soldiers in a Southeast Asian country. They return to their secret base and receive instructions from their leader, the famed strange phenomina author and investigator A.J. Keeler, to go assess the situation in Australia. What threats—from without and within—await the team?
So a bit of backstory on this comic, first. If you didn’t know (like I didn’t until I started reviewing this book), this book dates back to the year 2000 when Kesel and Grummett’s book first appeared through publisher Gorilla Comics—a small publisher that also functioned as an imprint for Image. That publisher folded, and the Section Zero team never got to tell the full story they wanted to tell. Long story short, Image picked the series back up after almost 20 years thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign. Gorilla printed three issues, and Image is now running this as a six-part series.
As for the story, it is a wonderful mish-mash of Golden Age comics and X-Files conspiracy-theory hunters. All of the characters are almost immediately likeable despite the fact that we only get one of their backstories. We know there’s at least one other character with a complicated backstory—despite their appearances—and the first issue already gives us a whiff that betrayal is a very real possibility. Also, everybody needs a friend like Tesla.
The artwork—since this was a book that was first printed in 2000—brings back that nostalgic ‘90s feel (are we allowed to say “classic” about the ‘90s yet? I know Nirvana plays on classic rock radio now, but that still feels weird). Grummett mindfully took care to bring us a detailed look at the weird and wonderful without making it overwhelming. All in all, this book holds up quite well.
Verdict: Buy it.
If for no other reason than to own a little piece of comicbook history that is ultimately a story about overcoming the odds, you should pick up Section Zero #1. But that’s not the only reason to get this book. This first issue set my sci-fi loving, X-Files-fan heart aflutter, and I eagerly anticipate seeing the series through.