Zero to Hero
I would be lying if I said I had ever heard of the publisher BOOM! Studios before the recent big announcement of their upcoming titles. Despite a somewhat extensive knowledge of comic books, I'm really just a slave to the two main publishers of Marvel and DC. Having said that, I'm always on the look-out for new and obscure titles just starting up, ones I can make my own and really throw myself into. Such is the case with Soldier Zero. The name of Stan Lee going on all these new characters is definitely a draw, but out of the three titles BOOM! is launching, it's Soldier Zero that conceptually and visually caught my interest. So it was with much delight and anticipation I picked up Soldier Zero #1 yesterday. Except for a few nitpicks, my excitement was warranted.
A Hero in his Own RightSoldier Zero is the story of one Stewart Trautmann, an Afghanistan war veteran who was sent home when he was irreparably crippled in an explosion. Now bound to a wheelchair, Stewart is dealing with a society who once viewed him as a hero now viewing him as a victim. Between working as an astronomy teaching aide at his local university, Stewart just tries to get along with life how he used to. All of that changes, however, when a mysterious mass strikes the building he's observing from, trapping him in a life and death struggle. However, he finds the mass that destroyed the building was actually an alien of some kind and, bonding with the creature, he becomes a powerful being who has regained the use of his legs and possesses unknown power.
Solid FoundationIt's difficult to sum up the story well, but believe me that it is not nearly as sloppily done with the writing of Paul Cornell. This is partially because the way he writes Stewart Trautmann is pretty complex, especially for an origin story. You might expect him to be grim or cynical because of his military background and what happened to him, but Trautmann is written as somewhat of a joker, but one who maybe uses his humor as a shield that protects his inner-vulnerability. Some lines of dialogue seemed a tad forced (the exchange between Trautmann and a fellow wheelchair user in the beginning seemed a bit TOO much), but Cornell's style definitely seems to balance the elements of humor and human insecurity very well. My one fear was that the comic would feel antiquated or contrived. It feels neither.
Javier Pina's art also shows a great level of finesse and subtlety for the first issue of a brand new property. Although the art actually gets better as the issue goes along, it never is inconsistent. You'd think Pina has been drawing these characters for years, and the design of both Trautmann and the mysterious Soldier Zero are both great. The colors, on the other hand, are a bit too bright in spots. Combined with the relatively thin inking job, it makes some scenes that are supposed to be dark or tense too pastel for their own good. Luckily, the strength of Pina's pencils hold it all together.
'Nuff SaidThe best review I could give to Soldier Zero is that it's an incredibly solid and intriguing first issue of a brand new character. There's enough soliciting done here to bring you back for a second issue, but on its own merits, Soldier Zero #1 is a pretty compelling character study and its exciting that there's more of him to come in the future.
Soldier Zero #1 gets 4.5 stars out of 5. I can't wait to see what BOOM! comes up with next.