Review of Zen #0
written by: SAH
Zen, it's not just a school of thought, it's also the name of an intergalactic ninja. With his blue skin, big head and black eyes, he's a super buff version of the "classic" vision of what an alien would look like.
A while ago the writer of Zen, Steve Stern, who offer to send Monkey River Town a copy of his comic book, contacted me. He said he would send me a copy of the comic to review and though I was initially hesitant, once I found out he was legit, I agreed. So what you have here is the first authorized MRT review of something.
For those of you who don't really follow the world of comic books, or have missed this one, Zen has been around for years (since the 80's). But Zen, with the help of his creators Steve Stern and Dan Cote is making an appearance in a new set of adventures.
For a little background on Zen and his creators, check out the Zen Website. Here you'll find a little bio info on the artist and writer, a bit of background on Zen himself and some other goodies.
The issue I received was a #0 issue (which means that it usually serves to introduce some characters, but doesn't necessarily fit solidly into the regular storyline. And, for someone who hasn't read Zen before, it was a good way to jump into the series as it was filled with references to past events as well as containing plenty of present-day action.
As I am grateful for the opportunity to review the comic, I don't want to be too hard on the creators -- after all, this is an independently published comic book and that is no easy task. So, here is what I'll say about it...
The art isn't necessarily the style I like, but it is by no means bad. I admittedly like the "glossy" comics of Image and Top Cow, etc. and have never been a fan of "old school" art (like what you'd find in Marvel and DC comics). The art of Zen is somewhere in the middle. Though it has the feel and presentation of a "glossy" comic, it is obviously not done to those standards (which I imagine are expensive). I do however like the style better than most "old school" stuff, so find the art perfectly acceptable -- not my favorite, but certainly not crap either.
As for the writing, it's hard to judge a comic book work on a single issue, but, for what it's worth, I liked it. The pacing is good, the characters are fairly interesting and there is enough hinting at unknown back story to keep me interested in what's coming next. Plus, it has an ass-kicking, blue space ninja at the heart of it and he has a hottie in a skin-tight regenerating red suit as a friend. I don't know if they are more than that because I've only read the one issue so far, but it could go anywhere.
Overall this is a decent comic book. The story and art are not of the type that would typically attract my attention on a shelf, but after giving it a read and considering the premise -- space ninja + hot bounty hunter girl + action... it all seems to be pretty good. If you like space, ninjas and hotties, you should see if your local comic shop has a copy of Zen and give it a read.
The only issue I had with issue #0 was that it ended with a quasi-world trade center type of scenario and I'm pretty tired of that crap at this point. The lessons "learned" from that event have already started to fade back into typical American culture and the cynic in me just find this sort of thing to be a little lame. But right up until that unexpected turn, the comic book was holding my attention.
Though its possible that I won't read Zen on a continuous basis (my comic book likes are pretty focused at this point), the art and story are better than much of the mainstream crap out there and any independent comic team putting in this kind of effort at least deserve a second glance at the comic shop. I give Zen #0 a B- (the minus is for the WTC-like ending).
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