Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Soldier Zero review



SOLDIER ZERO #1 (Boom Studios)- - October 20, 2010 release
SOLIDER ZERO #2 (Boom Studios) - - November 17, 2010 release
created by Stan Lee (listed here as "grand poobah")
written by Paul Cornell
art by Javier Pina


I admit to being a little apprehensive after receiving the news that Stan Lee was going to be involved in some new super-hero comics with Boom Studios. I recall the last experiment, the series of "Just Imagine Stan Lee" one-shots for DC where he re-invented several DC characters including Batman, Flash, etc. They were interesting in concept but the stories were a chore to get through, mostly boring. As much as I love Stan Lee, his "Just Imagine . .." stories and dialogue were from 2-3 decades or more ago and needed a serious update. However, after hearing Mark Waid explain at Baltimore Comic-Con in August 2010 that these were collaborations between Stan Lee and various writers I felt a little warmer towards the new books. And, when Waid detailed how much energy, enthusiasm and creative ideas that Stan brought to his team-up with him (The Traveler) I knew I wanted to investigate the early issues of all the titles.

Soldier Zero is the first of them; and I'm not disappointed at all. I like this book. The origin story is going to seem a little familiar with long-term comics readers (especially of Green Lantern, Iron Man, and the intial version of Nova, plus a little dash of X-O Manowar for seasoning) but Lee and Cornell put a different spin on things. The main character is Stewart Trautmann, a returning war hero who in the final days of his time in Afghanistan was crippled by an explosion that left him partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Trautmann is an immediately sympathetic and likeable character. He's bitter after his experience and his attitude toward the military and war has changed as a result. Yet, he's got a certain nobility and a gentlemanly manner that compliments him well and also disguises his disllusionment.
Cornell is a good writer and reveals a lot about his characters in concise, short scenes. The supporting cast include's Stuart's younger brother who encourages him to overcome his limitations, and Lily a beautiful student he is attracted to. Their first unofficial "date" together is very well done, as both he and Lily awkwardly try to learn more about each other without mentioning the obvious things. It inmpressed and left me with the same warm feeling as the first encounter between a young Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson did in the first Ultimate Spider-Man written by Bendis.
Stuart has a job as an astronomy lecturer at Calder University. While he and Lily watch a meteor shower from a rooftop, an explosion rocks the building as a UFO crashes into it. While trapped underneath the rubble, the dying alien transfers some energy into Stuart, who suddenly finds himself inside the humanoid's body armor.
He's got some new powers he doesn't quite understand, and doesn't know how to control. He also finds himself under the control of another presence inside the suit and is often powerless to prevent the actions it causes him to perform.
After several struggles to establish control, Stuart and the presence declare a truce, and he learns about the galactic war between two races the alien soldier was involved in, a war now brought to the surface of Earth. The Soldier Zero suit was formerly occupied by two energy sources - - a host and a parasite. It's the parasite that Stuart has been talking to, and he has now become the new host. Now that Stuart has regained the ability to walk and can assume his normal human state (when the parasite allows it) he's reluctant to be free of the alien presence and becomes a willing partner in the upcoming efforts to expose the other protaganists in the new war.
Artist Pina has a appealing and basic style, very fluid and fun to follow from panel to panel.
Solider Zero is a good book, and worthy of your investigation.

2 comments:

  1. Don't know if I'll have time to write about this separately, but I finally got around to reading Soldier Zero #1-4 and really enjoyed them. In fact, #1 may be my favorite thing Paul Cornell has written in comics so far. (And that's coming from someone who's praised almost everything he's done.)

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  2. I just read Action Comics #897 with the Joker, and now that's my favorite Cornell single issue. :-) But Soldier Zero #1 is still a close second.

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