“(I’d Rather Not Go) Back to the Old House”
Writer: Arvid Nelson
Artist(s): Matt Camp, Dave Stewart (c)
Publisher: Dark Horse
In this third issue of ZeroKiller readers get a closer look at the enigmatic Zero, what drives him and why he has that shell of a boat at his hideout. In addition to getting a closer look at the main protagonist, readers are given more information on several others as well as the world at large. All in all, it provides an even more intriguing look into the waterlogged microcosm that is post-apocalyptic New York, even if some of the assumptions of this alternative history begin to show some cracks.
It seems that Zero has developed a reputation even beyond the tribal limits of New York as messengers from the Sudan, now an African powerhouse, arrive to make a request of him. Much like his other trashman jobs, they want him to retrieve something. While they won’t tell him what it is exactly, the package is clearly marked ‘Sensitive Biological Sample’ and is of importance to the Emir of the Sudan. While this is an interesting mystery in and of itself, it actually serves to reveal a great deal about Zero. First, it is brought up that he is building his boat to sail to Africa. Given how incredibly unlikely it is that a man with no skill in boat making could construct a vessel capable of traveling the entire width of the Atlantic Ocean, this gives readers a very good idea just how desperate Zero is to get out of New York and to the one place on Earth untouched by the nuclear war of 1973.
But why is he so desperate? While this question is not answered directly, it is hinted at in a chillingly dark interlude where Zero is visited by the ghost of his older brother. In a scene similar to the dead of limbo in An American Werewolf in London, the condition of Zero’s brother gives readers a good idea of just how he died and that he did so badly. His death has something to do with the twin towers, though, which is the very place Zero must go for the Africans and what Zero calls ‘the old house’. Zero’s close relationship with his brother, even maintained after death, also gives readers a good idea of how the character became as skilled as he is. The scene is drawn and scripted very well, delivering a whopping amount of information to the reader in an unsettlingly entertaining way.
The one downside of the book will be missed by anyone not familiar with Cold War and African history. The idea that the nuclear exchange somehow missed Africa is really out there and only emphasized by the article in the back of the book which seems to suggest that the two superpowers reaction to this strategic mistake was a collective, ‘Oups!’ Given that South Africa was an important source of minerals to Western powers during the Cold War this seems incredibly unlikely. Also, the idea that Sudan, which had just suffered through a twenty year civil war previous to 1973, would somehow set aside its differences to become the world’s leader is also unlikely. While a nuclear war might cause people in that nation to stand together, it’s this reviewer’s experience that scarcity rarely causes people to hold hands.
Regardless, most of the information revealed in this issue of ZeroKiller continues to push forward, promising the readers more of this in depth story. ZeroKiller continues to be an absorbing and compelling tale.
If you liked this review, be sure to check out more of the author’s work at http://madbastard.hypersites.com
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