Zero Vol. 2 - The Heart of the Problem: the review

Zero Vol. 2 - The Heart of the Problem: the review
Aleš Kot continues the journey into Edward Zero's past, through an immersion in the ruthless and cold world of espionage, but also and above all in the human soul in search of himself, of a real identity. Zero Vol. 2 - Il Cuore del Problema is the second volume of the spy story published by SaldaPress that tells us about Zero, his missions and how his actions have contributed in some way to changing the face of the world, continuing the long flashback narrated by the same secret agent from where we left off in the first volume.

Zero Vol. 2 - The Heart of the Problem will be released on November 19th, however we provide here a taste of what awaits readers with our review. We already give you a clue: you will not be disappointed this time either.

Where did the horses go?

In the first volume of Zero signed by Aleš Kot and illustrated by five different artists, we had witnessed the first stages of the story of the homonymous secret agent who, by now aged, he retraced the salient moments of his existence: the very hard training he underwent from an early age together with his companions Mina and Robert; field missions during youth; the loss of Mina in an assignment that involved killing the most dangerous terrorist in the world, Ginsberg Nova.

The comic titled Zero Vol. 1 - Emergency ended with the loss of an eye by Edward Zero, while he was in Brazil for a mission, then subsequently subjected to a series of tests by the Agency aimed at assessing their sanity and effective field operations. It was at this point that Roman Zizek, head of operations and his mentor, revealed a horrible secret: the Agency was covering up the truth about a pathogen that was slowly contaminating humanity. A secret that Zero seems to have taken part in, judging by the final bars.

In Zero Vol. 2 - The Heart of the Problem the story opens with a mission that leads Zero to CERN, where it seems that a group of terrorists has taken possession of the scientific complex: here the secret agent meets again an old acquaintance of his, Ginsberg Nova, intent on crossing what looks like a dimensional portal, not without first revealing his true identity and providing Edward with some important information.

Afterwards, Zero finds himself having to choose whether to continue to stand on the side of Roman Zizek, his mentor, or to take the defense of Sara Cooke, director of the Agency , whose life is in grave danger. Whatever his decision, the secret agent's fate is sealed and he will be forced to desert his role to flee to foreign lands, building a new life and a new identity. There is also a painful flashback on his real origins that will shed light on some aspects that have remained obscure until now, such as the true identity of his parents.

A permanent state of emergency

Aleš Kot non he denies and continues the line adopted in the first volume of Zero, brutally grabbing the reader's attention and dragging him forcefully into an unconventional spy story, which investigates human nature by probing its darkest meanders. Zero Vol. 2 - The Heart of the Problem confirms, in fact, what was presented in the first chapter: we are not dealing with a secret agent with a captivating look and the countless technological gadgets to help him, but with a man trained to obey blindly to orders that is slowly devoured by the torment of not knowing who he really is.

It is a search for one's own identity that passes through blood and death, but above all through Edward Zero's awareness of having built the precisely I on yielding foundations, on lies, half-truths and unspoken truths, by those who should have represented a point of reference for him. The author, Aleš Kot, gives us a push into the human awareness of sometimes being a mere tool in the hands of others and he does so once again by means of a disturbing story, brutally real in certain passages, sharp as a knife. Reading this comic therefore means witnessing humanity laid bare despite attempts to hide it behind the cold barrel of a gun.

There is no shortage of action scenes with a highly dynamic and explosive character, in which it is possible to witness the Zero's unrivaled skill when it comes to fighting. However, compared to the first volume, we find here on the whole an atmosphere with a less pressing rhythm, focused more on dialogues and reflections that further amplifies what becomes more and more an introspection of the protagonist, determined now more than ever to trace the own way. Of great impact, then, the flashbacks that interest Zizek and Cooke, passing through their clandestine relationship that gives way to considerations inherent in this case to love: it is impossible, reading the reflections of Roman Zizek, not to think about how they apply also to the experiences lived up to now by Zero especially in the first volume, especially when we read:

Love… is a great misfortune. It is a parasite, a permanent state of emergency that ruins everything.

Is this not perhaps the "heart of the problem"?

Five other authors

Similarly to first issue of Zero, released in Italy with SaldaPress, Aleš Kot is joined in Zero Vol. 2 - Il Cuore del Problema by five illustrators who take care of as many chapters using their personal styles. This is a courageous choice that once again, however, gives the comic a highly original and impactful charge, in which each graphic style adapts to the narrative material of each chapter.

The volume therefore opens with Cavalli's Collectors, drawn by Vanesa R. Del Rey: a chapter in which the spying mission at CERN unfolds before our eyes, with a thick and rough line that seems to have been traced by a pastel to show us the salient aspects of the facts. The illustrations are sometimes roughly outlined here, letting the colors speak more than the actual shapes: thus the green, the red spots and the blue stand out, mainly used here for the sequences involving the great portal on an unknown elsewhere that recall some notable sci-fi titles, such as Stargate regarding the cold eye wide open on another possible dimension, or Blade Runner when we see the origami of a horse made by Nova.

La peculiarity of Zero Vol. 2 - The Heart of the Problem lies in then passing from one extreme to another with great naturalness. The seventh chapter entitled Kali Yuga is illustrated by Matt Taylor, who tells us about a mission in Mexico that involves Zero and Zizek, through the use of forms with a thin, clean line, preferring regular geometric shapes and sometimes redundant sequences in in which certain details make the difference. It is a style that undoubtedly creates the right association with the coldness and ruthlessness of the context, enriched by a twist that is thus more inexorable: a cruel and implacable justice that bears the name of Edward Zero.

Il chapter eight of this volume is edited by Jorge Coelho and bears the title of La Vergogna as a Triggering Factor of Violence. The comic seems to continue harmoniously through Coelho's illustrations which, like Taylor's, are characterized by regular lines, well-defined shapes and bodies even in the most action scenes; here the narration is perhaps best represented thanks to sequences that seem to recall the cinematic style, with rather apt splash pages and parts illustrated as if we could simply “hear” them although without any type of onomatopoeia. A very well done work which perhaps represents the spearhead of this volume.

This then continues with chapter 9, Marina, illustrated this time by Tonči Zonjić. Here the artist dedicates himself to a dramatic flashback on Roman Zizek's past that opens up a hard reflection on the countless rapes suffered by women during the war in Bosnia, letting images speak if we want even more minimal than those of colleagues. The result works: it is not necessary to create too many details, concentrate on superfluous details, it takes very little to communicate dismay and pain through the expression of a face, a close-up on the eyes of the characters, arousing intense pathos.

Finally, Michael Gaydos concludes Zero Vol. 2 - The Heart of the Problem with his tenth chapter entitled Who Told You About The Existence of This Room ?. The circle closes as it began by providing us with a chapter that, similarly to the first, uses a thick, hard and marked stroke. Here, however, the illustrations seem to be more accurate and detailed, although extensive use is made of shadows and chiaroscuro. The attention in these sequences is turned to the new, unexpected life of Zero as a cook in Iceland and, also in this case, the style adopted proves to be successful, especially in the delineation of Edward's traits which appears here as if he had suddenly aged: a mature man forged by the death and pain he himself caused during his career as an efficient war machine. A machine now intent on rebelling against its creators; a machine capable of crying and feeling sorry for the cruelty to which others and itself are destined in the world.

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