Zot! is another one of those classics that I missed at the time when it wasn’t a classic, it was new. Thankfully, a couple of years ago Scott McCloud brought out the complete black and white collection so that guys like me could become new fans and get completely engrossed.
When I first spotted this book on the shelves of Borders (aah Borders, remember them?) I knew it was one I wanted to pick up at some point and read. It went on my mental wishlist. I had flicked through it a couple of times, inspired by Manga and a popular Japanese superhero, but not quite all Manga, just enough of Americana and Manga to make it a perfect blend.
It just so happened that I was browsing through Borders during their final sale, that I spotted the one and only copy left on one of the mobile trays of unsorted books and immediately I snapped it up for a good reduced price. This has to be one of my best graphic novel purchases of recent, if not all time!
Zot! is not your average teen
astroboy superhero yarn, there are themes covered more suited to older teens. It’s also not an average superhero yarn in the sense that it centers largely around the relationship and growing love between ordinary earth-girl Jenny and boy from another dimension Zot. In fact, it’s more of a love story that occasionally features hell bent supervillians and save the world scenarios. If you don’t mind a love story in your dose of action adventure then this is an epic story you should not miss.
That said, the villains themselves are no push-over. As the story goes on we are introduced to ever more dangerous characters who bring death and the threat of total annihilation. Perhaps it’s the casual way Zot approaches them, or the way the story unfolds that makes them seem less so, but there’s no monologuing when it comes to bad guys like 9-Jack-9, if he wants someone dead he’ll just do it, quickly, efficiently and without warning.
Zot! is the kind of comic that people like me wish they had read the first time it came around, before it got “discovered”. It’s the kind of story that when you’ve finished it, in less than 2 weeks, you wish there was more out there in the pipeline, but have to come to terms with the fact that this is a series that finished years ago.
Despite McClouds self-abasement over his amateur artwork, I though the artwork was absolutely fantastic. I say this as someone who often spots annoying oddities and inconsistencies in many comic books I read. A few colour pages would have been a nice inclusion (or even a section in the middle somewhere with a sample of colour artwork), but by no means is the art lacking in anyway. The panels are easy to follow, the black ink used extremely well in many places.
The only criticism I can give it is negligible, the way the story diverges on political issues of the day towards the end. It feels unnecessary reading something like this in 2010 rather than 1991.
The other quibble I have is with the inclusion of the special feature ‘Getting to 99’. Yes, I know it’s draft copies and that’s cool and everything, but I did read the story through and some of the storyboards of Zot basically zipping through endless corridors felt like a bad video game to book conversion and was slightly tedious. But this I can forgive in the face of such an epic novel.
If you’re into a slightly off beat superheroics, with a good story and character development, this is one not to miss.
Get Zot!: The Complete Black-and-white Stories: 1987-1991 at Amazon.co.uk