A change of writers could mean many things, most of them bad. But luckily this volume retains just enough of the original genius to keep the spirit alive. This book focuses on action and is basically two extended fight scenes back to back. The social message is gone, the emotional struggle is gone and most of the characters are quickly ditched to make way for explosions.
The nature of the beast has changed but this offering is still very good at what it does. There is a frenetic ride through a blockbuster special effects sequence that is both compelling and page turning. New characters are brought in to shake things up, more about Soldier Zero’s origin is revealed and there are some neat little ideas floating about.
This isn’t a trouble free work however. The graceful action hits a brick wall and eight pages of humungous exposition slow you to a crawl before it resumes the high speed mayhem. It is all spectacle and no depth. You literally have to turn your brain off and enjoy this story using only your eyes. The rich, well rounded characters you spent all that time getting emotionally invested in, including the hero in many respects, are gone or are reduced to single page cameos.
The art is stunning. The panels are large, often full page, making the book a rapid read. The poses are dynamic and fluid and really give a sense of motion. The colours are gorgeous and the different locations all have unique tones and casts. There is less opportunity for the lettering to shine but it remains consistent with the previous volume. There are some nice digital tricks with focus and showing off energy effects.
It is a far cry from the emotional launch. It feels like Ellis’ rebooting of Stormwatch and there is a very good recap at the beginning for those jumping on with this book. If it revisits its firm foundations then it will be a great work; if it continues to be all style and no substance then it will be a real let down. Thumbs Up… for now.
Tomorrow: Soldier Zero: Volume 3 – Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning