Resurrecting a series killed-off before its time—and doing it well—isn’t easy. It helps to have the same creative team behind the relaunch, as is the case with Section Zero #1, though.
The series about a globetrotting group of supernatural investigators debuted back in 2000. However, the run ended after just three issues when its imprint, Gorilla Comics, folded. After a lengthy campaign to revive the series, creators Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett finally got their shot back at Image Comics.
The book is billed as “Jack Kirby-does-The-X-Files.” While Section Zero #1 doesn’t seem particularly Kirby-esque, the sentiment’s not unfair. It does take a more outlandish, “comic book” approach to many of the same secret government organization tropes. The book reads like a ‘90s story in that regard.
There’s plenty of action throughout, and the book doesn’t waste much time getting into the thick of it. We have enough exposition to keep us up-to-speed, but Kesel paces it well.
It’s fun, and it has notes of intrigue from a storytelling standpoint. Where we fall flat in Section Zero #1, though, is characterization. We’re introduced to five primary characters, each of whom ticks a box on the checklist of clichés. We have the lone-wolf rogue who wears sunglasses at night, the calculating and jaded operative, the childish waif, the father figure, and the newcomer thrown into an uncomfortable new scenario. However, we don’t really get much in terms of actual character outside of those prescribed roles. That’s a problem given the book is primarily character-driven.
Characters don’t feel motivated and, in essence, they read like cardboard cutouts, rather than unique individuals in their own regard. That, and the decision to snatch a newbie out of the field and throw him into secret agent work with no vetting feels unrealistic.
The artwork in Section Zero #1 is respectable, though Kesel and Grummett definitely play it safe. Perhaps “utilitarian” would be a good way to describe it. The line work is bold and well-detailed, and they make it easy to follow along and interpret the action on the page. Figures are dynamic, and do a great job of conveying energy and movement.
That said, the creators don’t take many risks from a visual standpoint. Given the “out-there” concept behind the series, it would have been interesting to see them embrace the weirder side here and there. Instead, the artists stick to pretty conventional framing, design, and layout.
The colors tend to be more muted compared to contemporary works. However, the artists employ a wide color palette, giving the work a nice, vibrant look.
Section Zero #1 is a decent introduction to this long-in-the-works revival. If the creators can work out the kinks in differentiating their characters, they may have something great on their hands.