Friday, September 02, 2011

Graphic Novel Review: Soldier Zero vol 1

When this new series of science fiction oriented comics were announced by Boom Studios, with Stan Lee as the brains behind the titles, I knew I was going to want to check them out. The first title is Soldier Zero, a nice twist on what would otherwise be a fairly well worn story. An alien escapes from his pursuers by crashing on Earth, and as he’s dying his symbiotic armor merges with an unsuspecting human granting him superpowers and putting him in a situation way outside his life experiences. Can he rise to the challenge of this new responsibility before the alien pursuit destroys all those he loves to recapture the armor? You can probably see the influence of Green Lantern, Spider-man… and Nova if you’re a little more versed in lesser known Marvel characters. But the differences are in the details. For starters Stewart, who is granted these powers by the armor, is a former Marine who lost his legs in the Afghanistan War. He no longer believes in fighting, and is now a teacher at a local university, trying to make his way in a world that isn’t really equipped to deal with the handicapped. And when the armor merges with him, he has a whole new problem – it grants him the use of his legs again – but only in the oddly weird shape of the armor itself, which puts him at odds with his own feelings of acceptance as someone who is handicapped. The supporting cast, at least those introduced so far are also strong – Stewart’s brother who wants to live up to the heroic image he has painted in his mind of his brother, while also trying too hard to protect his brother from those he sees as looking down on the handicapped. There’s also Stewart’s potential love-interest, a woman who is cautiously figuring out how to have a relationship with someone who is handicapped, and is suddenly thrust into the middle of an alien war in the middle of small town America. The pursuers also use the same armor, and are capable of merging with any human they choose – without permission. While Soldier Zero asked Stewart’s permission, the others take what they want – merging with a police officer and making it look as if Stewart’s Soldier Zero is the enemy when he is seen finishing off the officer of the Law. There are some excellent battles, fun moments you’d expect from a person discovering they have superpowers for the first time, but a nice alternative to many of the standard tropes of the genre to feel refreshingly different. Soldier Zero is an example of expanded storytelling – in ages past, these first four issues of the series would have just been told in issue #1 (the origin), but I like the way modern comic storytelling is done, so I’m find with the way in which this book played out. It ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger, hoping to hook you in to come back for volume 2, and it worked in my case – I’ll definitely be checking it out (plus the next arc is written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning). It’s a great start to a new science fiction comic series, and an easy way for a newcomer to jump in and check it out just as it’s starting.

4 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds very good. I think I'll get this one.

Michael McClung said...

Yah, I'm a sucker for this kind of story. Sold.

animewookie said...

Wow, this sounds great! TY :D

Bets Davies said...

Sounds awesome. What does it say about me where the only piece of this that I go "No way" about is how did that guy get through a PhD program and actually find a university job right now--much less one near family?