By Zack Quaintance — Section Zero is one of those comics that I know has been around a while, but it has never found its way to me (or I to it). With some light Googling, however, the book’s history is easy to find. The book—co-created by writer Karl Kesel and artist Tom Grummett—first hit in 2000 as part of Gorilla Comics, which was an Image imprint that didn’t last long due to financial troubles. Three issues of Section Zero came out back then, with the book later finding a second life elsewhere before settling in recent years with crowdfunding.
In 2017, the rise of Kickstarter comics enabled a proper Section Zero collection with a full completed storyline. Now, the book is back in a couple of ways: first with a new Kickstarter for a period comic called Section Zero 1959 (exactly what it sounds like), and the release of the original series in the direct market via Image. Obviously, I’m reviewing the first issue of that Image release today as a total newbie to the series. This, it should be noted, is part one of six.
Section Zero, simply put, is a monster-hunting adventure book with global political themes that harken back to comics from when this story was first published at the turn of the century, comics like The Authority and The Ultimates. At that time and within those books, long-time comics concepts (like superheroes and monster hunters) were first starting to be entangled by creators with the coming of a new shared global order, before 9/11 up-ended all of that and changed conversations in both fiction and the news, re-directing them away from New World Orders toward more nationalistic and fearful territory...but that’s another story. So yeah, an international semi-bureaucratic sleak monster-hunting agency is the sort of book you can expect in terms of Section Zero’s story.
In terms of craft and execution, this comic is tight and polished, clearly the work of a pair of veteran creators. Everything from its dialogue to its artwork to its structure is well-done, a direct hit for readers who pay close attention to the medium and the craft. This first issue opens with a quick establishing of the type of world we’re in (one with monsters and an international agency designed to combat them) before quickly next cutting to a handful of our heroes in action. All the exposition is doled out in the context of the visual storytelling (just the way it should always be).
And along the way there are touches of sci-fi, espionage, conspiracy, horror, and more, adding up to a really entertaining read by the time the first issue finishes on the obligatory last page cliffhanger.
Overall: There’s a lot to like here, and it’s all wrapped up in a great narrative package delivered by veteran creators. Fans of late ‘90s and early ‘00s comics should definitely be excited as some of the sensibilities (but not all) remain intact from the time of this book’s creation. 8.0/10
Section Zero #1
Writer: Karl Kesel
Artist: Tom Grummett
Colorist: Ben Dimagmaliw
Letterer: Comicraft’s Richard Starkings
Publisher: Image - Shadowline
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Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.