When you face down the devil, there’s always a price to pay. – Joe Sinclair
OK, I’m going to do something a little different today, a comic book review. Once upon a time I did a fair amount of comic reading, though I must admit at this point once upon a time was many years ago. I’ve purchased the odd comic or graphic novel here or there over the years since my serious reading days, but for the most part it’s not something I keep up with anymore.
Then Anthony “PulpTone” Schiavino mentioned he had something he thought I may be interested in, a comic he’d created called Sergeant Zero. I’ve gotten to know Anthony a little bit on Twitter, have read some of his short stories, and figured I’d give it a look-see. Damn, am I glad I did!
Sergeant Zero: Reigning Fire introduces the story of Sergeant Zero/Joe Sinclair, a soldier who has a near superhuman memory for everything…except his past. Initially seeming to be a straightforward scenario of G.I.s fighting Nazis in WWII Germany, things take a turn for the weird when Sinclair and the rest of Zero Company encounter an abandoned village littered with corpses ravaged by radiation. Things go from bad to worse, and before you know it Zero Company is decimated by mutated werewolf-like creatures, Sinclair is captured, a mysterious tentacled creature makes a brief appearance, and the reader is left with one hell of a cliffhanger.
Though Sergeant Zero brought to mind little flashes of other things – Captain America, the origins of Wolverine, Hellboy’s BPRD – it nevertheless has a feel distinctly its own, in large part because Anthony Schiavino has crafted a very well told story that merges the best aspects of several genres. It’s one part war, one part hard-boiled, one part supernatural, and one part yet to be revealed. The end result is a story that transcends the comic format.
A companion volume, Sergeant Zero: Trenches In Hell, gives readers a glimpse into the creation of the characters and story, as well as a sneak peek at what’s to come. Not to be set only in WWII era 1940’s, there will be an early 1950’s portion of the story as well which follows Sinclair upon his discharge from the military. It’s easy to see the hard-boiled quotient will be ratcheted up in that section, and I think it will be exciting to see where Schiavino takes the character post “superhero” status.
As I said at the outset I’m not a regular comic reader, so I’m not sure I’ve done Sergeant Zero justice with this review. To that end, please be sure to check out the fascinating piece Anthony wrote on how Sergeant Zero come to be, “On Creating Character & Comic Books.” While you’re there take a peek at another of Anthony’s comic projects, a zombie romp called Not at the End.