Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Juan Jose Ryp
AWA (Artists, Writers & Artisans), May 2021
DANGER UNDER THE SURFACE. Danger outside.
Need walls. Camouflage. Weapons.
These are the first lessons graphically conveyed once plunged in YEAR ZERO, a zombie-apocalypse story that appeared in four mini-tales through five issues in the year of the virus 2020. Zombies usually don’t come home with me, and I passed on the first volume of this title with the same format by author Benjamin Percy that appeared earlier in the year, but I had to look when artist Juan Jose Ryp joined the team. His bristling illustrations made it come alive for me.
The drumbeat doom doom rushes through littered city streets in middle America, over a ravished Amazon jungle, across an African savannah, and surrounding a lonely Norwegian fishing boat; these are the four settings selected to represent human response to survival challenges in a broken world just aborning, mewling and puking. Four unlikely heroes and hero-pairs step forward. Everyone is hungry. Doom doom.
“Can we stay here forever? Please?” one of the children from the fishing boat pleads when they find a fully stocked buffet on an abandoned tourist cruise ship.
Let’s live here, this one solid place: find a rock, a refuge, a redoubt, a home in the sky away from the horror. This theme mimics current retirees with cash who love hotels where the scenery is prettily arranged by an attentive management. This is how the rich will endure Year Zero as long as they can, supposedly, way longer than most of the population bereft of pretty arrangements, and absent management. Doom doom.
We are on Loki’s evil ship of doom, says one survivor.
The drama and eventual moral outcomes of the four plots kept me entranced and finally impressed with the angles of humanity we get to see, with real perspectives and manners, not just cutouts of action figures in desperate situations. Somehow life triumphs, touchingly demonstrated in specific cases, though admittedly not for everyone. The triumph of life as it eventually occurs will not be for everyone.