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Author Topic: Zenith Phase 2  (Read 3669 times)

Timothy

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Zenith Phase 2
« on: 01 December, 2014, 04:39:22 PM »
Is almost as delightful as the first volume. There are slightly fewer colour pages (covers only) and there are no concept sketches, but it's still a gorgeous piece of loveliness.

Tjm86

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Re: Zenith Phase 2
« Reply #1 on: 06 December, 2014, 05:25:16 PM »
I had a flick through it today.  Curiosity more than anything else being the proud owner of the complete edition.  Not a bad production.  The covers are the same as the complete so I'm guessing they've spread them over the volumes.  The slim European style non dust cover isn't bad.  Glad there isn't anything to make me regret the full splurge last year.  The only difference I have noticed flicking through the complete is that the interlude at the end didn't seem to include the colour first page (although I may be remembering incorrectly) and the 2000ad presents covers are larger than in the complete.

TordelBack

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Re: Zenith Phase 2
« Reply #2 on: 06 December, 2014, 06:02:19 PM »
I'm applying the thumbscrews liberally in an attempt to get this for Christmas. It's another drop-dead gorgeous production to be sure. I saw it today in a bookshop display beside the Mek Files and the hardback Brass Sun, a trio of irresistable sirens. By far the most handsome set of comics in the place.  Damn it Tharg, when did you get so bloody good?

The Legendary Shark

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Re: Zenith Phase 2
« Reply #3 on: 06 December, 2014, 07:12:56 PM »
Heh, he got so good the minute I had nowhere to put anything!
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Davek

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Re: Zenith Phase 2
« Reply #4 on: 07 December, 2014, 06:00:11 PM »
Mine arrived today from Amazon (Sunday delivery!) - have to put it away for Christmas though  ::)

The Monarch

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Re: Zenith Phase 2
« Reply #5 on: 13 December, 2014, 02:37:35 AM »
The maximan interlude was a nice surprise i never read that before
yes its a venture bros reference

TordelBack

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Re: Zenith Phase 2
« Reply #6 on: 29 December, 2014, 02:01:53 PM »
Well that was a fantastic read, and another lovely production from the House of Tharg.  I really like Phase II as a story, since this is the one that's actually about Zenith himself, and he comes across as intelligent, involved and compassionate, which is not something we see much of as the story progresses.  Also, any man who holds Beatrice Dalle circa 1988 in such high esteem shares many of my own concerns, then and now.

There are lovely bits of echoing and foreshadowing in the art and dialogue, with the twin halls of the alternate Sydney Opera House and Penny's Cheshire Cat smile mirroring elements of the Lloigor, and the matching of Chimera's final form with the tetrahedron from a certain ritual in a lab under Berlin.  Wallace and Peyne make for a great pair of feckless baddies, and there's something of Edge of Darkness in Phaedra's casual execution. 

There are strong arguments to be made for the detailing of early Red Seas and for the boundary-pushing minimalism of Phase III, but in my opinion Yeowell's art has never been better than it in this book.  His style has matured hugely from the first chapter, and his radical approach to light and shadow now gels with his incomparable mastery of creating consistent, palpable spaces in every panel.   Faces and postures are subtle and expressive, characters move through real solid environments and every action reflects where everyone and everything was established as being: it's like watching a really great stage play.  Even a destructive superhero punchathon ends with a tragic visual irony as Dr Beat's dummy-borne beret replaces Warhead's severed head at Zenith's feet.  Almost every panel reinforces the idea that Morrison's story is far deeper and more nuanced than anything in the text alone might suggest, which is collaborative storytelling at its finest. 

I think this is probably one of my favourite sustained pieces of comics art from any artist, just mesmerising. 

Of course this all runs slap-bang into a brick wall with the Maximan interlude that wraps up his volume.  I've defended this piece in the past, probably because it was an unexpectedly meaty treat in a fairly dull Winter Special, but presented here in a different context it's just awful. 

There's nothing wrong with Carmona's art, it would be welcome in almost any issue of 2000AD, it's just completely out of place in the world Morrison and Yeowell have built.  The images of Zenith's parents and the cartoon agents, are so off-model as to be painful, the page of copied Yeowell panels only rubbing salt into the wound.  If this art mismatch was the only problem it wouldn't be so bad, but the story itself doesn't even sit well with what comes later.  Neither Mantra nor Maximan talk like their Phase III selves (as I recall them), which in a story where characters are possessed by Dark Gods as a matter of routine makes me question what's going on in-story, whereas I actually suspect this represents Morrison changing his mind midstream.  Similarly the introduction of baseline humans with psychic abilities seems to run contrary to the streamlined serum-derived superheroics of Alternative 230.  All of which makes the whole thing feel poorly thought-out and unnecessary.  Still glad it's included, mind!

Repro is stonkingly good, especially on the solid blacks and letratone, but there are a few strange artefacts from its previous printing history: there's an establishing shot of Eddie's office block which Surreptitious Steve has reused for both opening and closing pages, but in the latter example the area where the Credit Card was placed on the first page is covered in strange sigils that make it look like Banzai Battalion are preparing a hanglider assault on the McPhail Agency.  Unless someone has a better explanation? 

One of the 'Next Progs' is replaced by a 'continued in Book III', which I presume means the film for that episode is from the Titan volumes, but is confusing out of context.

A nice surprise was the Quality Comics cover gallery, often a cause for puzzlement/despair, but this selection is pretty good.  There's one in particular of Zenith in Ozymandias-mode, surrounded by Red Dragon action figures (pleaseThargpleasepleaseplease) and other merchanising tat and looking like complete shite, while a biorhythm chart on the wall shows all three graphs at their lowest ebb.  This shows that the artist/editor had actually read and understood the story (apparently pretty damn rare in QC covers), and I quite fancy that one as a poster.

All in all, comics in both execution and presentation don't get much better than this.  Roll on Phase III.

sheridan

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Re: Zenith Phase 2
« Reply #7 on: 30 December, 2014, 02:22:45 PM »
I see the serum as being capable of bringing out innate abilities, such as those psychic talents shown by the agents...

TordelBack

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Re: Zenith Phase 2
« Reply #8 on: 09 January, 2015, 09:46:51 AM »
I see the serum as being capable of bringing out innate abilities, such as those psychic talents shown by the agents...

Now I think about it, you're right - after all Hitler and chums contact the Lloigor before any serum is involved, so some form of psychic/mystic ability is likely to exist in 230.

IndigoPrime

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Re: Zenith Phase 2
« Reply #9 on: 09 January, 2015, 10:55:34 AM »
Quote
One of the 'Next Progs' is replaced by a 'continued in Book III', which I presume means the film for that episode is from the Titan volumes, but is confusing out of context.
Yeah, I noticed that and assumed this was essentially repro of the Titan volumes. A pity it wasn't removed, but otherwise this was another excellent volume (even if that extra story does jar). I hope we get the annual 'Alice in Wonderland' story in one of the books though — that one, as I recall, had bonkers art but filled in a backstory gap rather nicely.