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Zein #1

Posted: Saturday, June 3, 2006
By: Ray Tate



"Enter the Scarab"

Writers: Todd Vincino
Artists: Raphael Albuquerque(p), Raphael Kras(i), Ann Hertzog(c)
Publisher: AK Comics

Zein is the gadgeteer of the four Mid-Eastern super-heroes who have come to America in the form of AK Comics' pleasing packaging. Like the other books, the comic book itself is smaller. The panels though are larger. The art as a result tends to issue from the pages rather than just lie there confined within the typical panel sizes.

The sketching by Albuquerque is more streamlined and cartoon-like for Zein, and this actually works well with a technologically based super-hero. The eschewing of anime hyperdetail gives the hero’s gadgetry resplendent simplicity. The reader can thus simply revel in the coolness of it all. Zein rides a hover bike. He consults a computer with personality called ISIS. He fires blasters and tracers from his armlets. He could have been a lost Saturday Morning cartoon character. Needless to say, I like the whole concept.

Giving greater depth and evocative mood, the other Raphael on the book contributes lush inks that sets up the horror film atmosphere in the opening scene and bestows a wet-look texture to bugs, all the better to creep you out. The deep blacks compliment Zein's costume--another of the heroes' eye-catching color combinations, this one in rich blue and shiny gold.

The story by Vincino is a lot of fun. After the initial attack, Zein quickly dispels the potential horror of the situation by exposing the nature of the bugs attacking the innocent denizens of the Mid-Eastern City of Alexia, possibly a descendent city of Alexandria after the 55 Year War. Zein's dialogue in these scenes will crack the toenails of any super-hero fan:

"It's okay...I'm here to help."

Nice, simple but poignant. I'm not here to score with the young lady. I'm not here to stroke my ego. "I'm here to help." Zein's the kind of hero I really miss. He's stalwart and true, but he's not boring. He has a sense of fun, and like his fellow heroes, he's no dim-bulb.

My one complaint? I'm not absolutely sure that tying the villain into Zein's origin was a good idea. Initially Zein moves at a very fast pace, but the villain with his expository dialogue slows things down considerably. Knowing Zein's origin doesn't make me care about the character any more, and I think the story would have been perfect had Zein simply delivered the coup de grace to stop the villain and rode off on his Hover Bike into the sunset.



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