AWA Upshot Studios 2020
Written by Benjamin Percy
Illustrated by Ramon Rosanas
Coloured by Lee Loughridge
Lettered by Sal Cipriano
A Japanese hitman, a Mexican street urchin, an Afghan military aide, a Polar research scientist, a midwestern American survivalist – five survivors of a horrific global epidemic who must draw upon their unique skills and deepest instincts to navigate a world of shambling dead. Year Zero wrestles with the weighty moral and theological questions posed by the pandemic and investigates its cause and possible cure.
I really think this one of the most unique takes on the zombie apocalypse I have seen since Train to Busan. There are so many different moving parts happening simultaneously that allow the reader to see the past and the present playing out in a way that the more we learn the more we want to learn. Whether it’s London or The Polar Research Station it’s those events that are the key to what has happened and considering the factors already in play it’s easy to see why something like this has happened.
The writing for this is utterly brilliant and how it engages the readers’ mind so that we can piece together a bit of what happened or extrapolate further than what we are seeing is something that keeps the reader returning time and time again. It is a little bit funny, this feeling inside, i’m not one of those who can easily hide, that when we take former living things out of the permafrost or deeper that we are exposing the world to a myriad of potential diseases that we’ve never seen before. So this kind of nightmare scenario, while only currently fiction as far as we’ve been led to believe, is one that could legitimately happen sooner rather than later.
The story & plot development that we see through how the sequence of events unfold as well as how the reader learns information is perfectly presented. It is amazing to see how quickly factions have formed and who’s in charge in the areas that we see. It has that ring of yes I can totally see this happening and it’s accurate, at least according to how I see the world. The character development is interesting and while we focus on the main players some of those that surround them are stealing some of the spotlight for various reasons. It will be fun to watch how all of this plays out as the story continues. The pacing is superb and as it takes us through the pages revealing the twists and turns along the way it is easy to see how all this works together to create the story’s ebb & flow.
While the interiors are more along the line of classic comic books than I was expecting I have really come to appreciate the work Ramon does here. His ability to utilise the varying weights of the linework to showcase this level of detail is amazing. Granted I’m curious as all get out what would happen if he threw in some various techniques like crosshatching and such. Yes I want to see backgrounds utilised more but I am being greedy here. What we do see not only enhances the moments but it brings us this depth perception, a sense of scale and this overall sense of size and scope to the book. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show a supremely talented eye for storytelling. Lee’s a master colourist and I have said this before and I am sure I’ll say it again. What he can do with colour always amazes me and whether it is blood spatter, veining, camouflage patterns or the different lighting for different places the way he can utilise the various hues and tones within the colours to create the shading, highlights and shadow work is hard pressed to equal.
This book defines what excellence in storytelling is. The way the story is structured, how the layers within are both subtle and bold plus the general feeling that it gives the reader, adrenaline rush and other things, that truly capture the readers’ mind, imagination and curiosity like no other.