Are you looking forward to a new comic book but it’s impossible for you to wait for its release before you know what we thought about it? That’s why there’s DoomRocket’s Advanced Reviews — now we assess books you can’t even buy yet. This week: ‘Zinnober’ #1, out June 27 from Scout Comics.
By Jami Jones. Teased in Scout Comics’ Free Comic Book Day offering, Zinnober stands out among the publishers other post-apocalyptic offerings, Solar Flare and Once Our Land. Writer and artist Ralf Singh joins writer Thorsten Brochhaus, inker Cristian Creda, colorist Ilaria Fella, and letterer Taylor Esposito to combine fantasy and reality in a future up in smoke.
Zinnober is a brutal man vs. self story that explores humanity’s place and impact on the environment. Instead of relying on classic post-apocalyptic tropes, Singh chose instead to utilize a creature of myth and destruction in almost all civilizations, the dragon, as a vengeful avatar for the environment. Humanity’s trappings have been burned and abandoned; we are left to examine the inner and outer difficulties of the self and the state of humanity.
Claire, our protagonist, is the lone member of her family to survive an attack by a dragon. Joined by James, a companion more father-figure than friend, they trudge through a decaying London, modern day knights questing for a way to slay a dragon. A harsh display of draconian fury sends Claire, James, and a scientist named Andrew into the depths of the now-defunct Metro system. Circumventing the surface dangers by traveling underground isn’t a guarantee of safety though — the knights errant are not alone.
Singh’s work on Narcopolis: Continuum with Heavy Metal provided him experience working in fantastic environments not too far removed from our own. The recognizable ruins of London stand juxtaposed with the breathtaking sight of dragons, feral bringers of destruction. Singh uses dragons to explore the beauty in savagery, inspired by a photograph of a tiger underwater. Brochhaus shares writing duties, giving Singh and Creda room to focus on creating detailed backgrounds and characters, who somewhat obliviously wait to be torn apart by these winged studies in violence and form.
The muted tones of the book give the world a somber feel, almost as if ash has become a part of everything. Fella contrasts this environmental desaturation with bright tones to highlight the fantastic. In effect, the team unites to form a world with an immersive depth instead of relying on time-tested, dystopic character types.
Ralf Singh explains the meaning behind Zinnober: “In German the word ‘zinnober’ is used for the mineral cinnabar and the color vermilion.” We, as a people, stand present but useless, the buildings altars painted in vermilion with the blood that came from our hubris. Claire, fueled by a desire for vengeance, searches with her companions for a weapon, one she hopes to use against the world’s unforgiving response to our arrogant use of its resources. The title is an odd one, but apt for a book that finds beauty in destruction and hope amidst a bloodstained wasteland.
Written by Ralf Singh and Thorsten Brochhaus.
Pencils by Ralf Singh.
Inks by Cristian Creda.
Colors by Ilaria Fella.
Letters by Taylor Esposito.
7 out of 10
‘Zinnober’ #1 hits stores June 27.