By Jarrod Jones. Meet Drusila Dragowski. (You can call her Dru.) She’s nineteen, she loves comic books, and she’s pretty sure all life on this planet is coming to an end.
It’s easy to empathize with Dru, because… well. Because. Scroll through your Facebook and Twitter feeds, read a newspaper for fifteen consecutive minutes, or just stick your head out a window. This little Earth of ours ain’t doing so hot. It sure could use a hero. At least, that’s what Dru thinks, but I’m inclined to agree with her.
AfterShock Comics’ latest series, Super Zero, is a book about morbid ideas considered grimly by someone without the faculties to contextualize them. Dru’s so certain that the world is doomed, she’s concocted a theory which states that this was always meant to happen, that the world is in its “sixth cycle of life”. (Where she came up with that particular number is anyone’s guess.) She’s finessed this theory so that she may explain herself in utterly fascinating bursts of narration. Give this a read:
So yeah, life and mankind were here before, many times. Each time they destroyed the planet, it took millions of years to heal before it rebooted and mankind was given another chance to start again.
I also believe each and every time mankind came face-to-face with their eventual demise, it was too late to stop the wheel from turning. Mankind simply gave up, let greed take over, and the planet decided tit was time for us to go, and did what it does best. Survive.
And that’s only the first page.
Dru considers her life unsatisfactory in many ways, even when she realizes that it is perfectly satisfactory. “How am I supposed to become a superhero if everything is fine and dandy?” she asks. It never occurs to her that she was never meant to be a superhero, that her life is very much like our own: moderately dreary, sporadically awesome, and absolutely peppered with superhero comics. (And very much grounded by the immutable laws of physics.) We all dream about hurtling through the stars to save the day, and Dru does too.
Problem is, her fantasies, just like ours, always betray limitations. She gets into a diplomatically hazardous quibble about the first appearance of The Phantom Zone with a peaceful race of aliens (fact check: Adventure Comics #283), she admonishes the U.S. military for using aggressive force, and then punishes them in an atomic blast. Dru’s passion for justice is admirable, enough even to save the world. Dru would tell you that. But Dru is far from ready.
Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, partners-in-crime for who knows how long, have a knack for comfortably immersing readers in their all-encompassing worlds. Who else but the writers of Harley Quinn could make such an irrepressible scamp such as Dru so endearing, even when she’s dangerously skewing towards the path to becoming a sociopath? That’s the power Conner & Palmiotti have. They deliver their peculiar stories with the same warmth you feel when you watch a movie on a rainy Sunday afternoon. The same satisfaction that comes after you indulge in comfort food. This is the result of two people who’ve spent years sharing a mutual respect for each other, and the fans who love them. Because of this, Super Zero might be their coziest work yet.
With stunning — stunning — visuals from Rafael De LaTorre, wonderful characterization from Conner & Palmiotti, and an infectious sense of fun and wonder, Super Zero is another slam dunk from AfterShock. It’s a Morrison-ian bundle of reality-bending vigor, brought to us by the best in the business. Buy this book.
Written by Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti.
Art by Rafael De LaTorre.
Colors by Marcelo Maiolo.
Letters and book design by John J. Hill.
8 out of 10