When killing is your job, it’s a hell of a living. For secret agent Edward Zero, it’s the world’s hardest job – but also the one he’s best suited for.
Edward Zero is the key figure in the upcoming Image series Zero, showing his various missions – on the record and personal – that make up the life of a professionally trained assassin. Series creator Ales Kot describes Zero as the “perfect execution machine,” but with that deadly skillset there’s bound to be some blowback.But when you’re saving the world, there’s bound to be sacrifices, right?
Ales Kot created Zero as an examination of the war genre, using existing storytelling tropes of the genre along with a few new tricks to aim for a new kind of war story. Each issue of Zero works as a standalone story, intended to be read on its on while deftly building up a larger story and larger world if you put the pieces together. Borrowing from the excellent cult hit Global Frequency series by Warren Ellis, each issue will be drawn by a different art – starting with the debut issue drawn by X-Files and Comeback artist Michael Walsh and following up with stories by Michael Gaydos, Tonci Zonjic, Tradd Moore and others. Newsarama spoke with Kot to find out more about this series that launches September 18, 2013.
Newsarama: Zero’s been a series you’ve been buzzing about in interviews about other books for almost a year now, and as of this month it’s officially announced. What can you tell us about it, Ales?
Ales Kot: Zero is a secret agent. Edward Zero. He’s the perfect execution machine, in a sense — throw him at a problem and he will solve it. However, he is also quite the sociopath.
Zero is a speculative fiction action thriller that begins in 2018 and ends in 2038.
Zerois an ongoing series, each issue working on its own and also as a part of the larger story.
Zerois my observation and exploration of the war meme. It’s a meditation on genetics, on nature, on nurture. It uses the existing storytelling tropes of spy stories, action thrillers and speculative fiction to explore new possibilities within them.
Nrama: The titular hero of this, Edward Zero, is a 20+ year veteran as a spy working for something called the Agency. Can you tell us about him and what makes him such an ideal spy?
Kot: Zero is ideal for the agency because he obeys the rules and because he subscribes to the doctrine the agency teaches its agents since early age. Edward Zero killed his first target when he was nine years old. How that came to be is investigated in Zero #4, drawn by Tradd Moore, set in 90's Belfast.
Zero can be a spy when he needs to be, but at the core of where we begin, he is primarily an extraordinarily well-trained, creative and driven thug.
Nrama: What’s going on in issue #1?
Kot: Zero #1 is set in Palestine. Israeli army discovered a modified Palestinian terrorist and they sent in their own modified soldier to take care of him. They see it as a field test and the army closes off the city area with soldiers, tanks and helicopters.
The problem is, the tech in the Palestinian man belongs to the Agency Edward Zero works for – and it officially doesn't exist.
The Agency sends Zero in to retrieve the tech on a very tight schedule. He dresses up as an Israeli soldier and, given the time constraints, has to improvise quite a bit – because the fight is still going.
Nrama: For Zero you’ve assembled somewhat of a dream team of artists to work with: the first issue is by Michael Walsh, with everyone from Tonci Zonjic to Tradd Moore, Riley Rossmo and Michael Gaydos. First off, how are you making sure the thread of the story remains intact with so many different artists?
Kot: First of all, thank you.
The writing, coloring, lettering and character (+overall) design create thematic unity. The right team is the key. Jordie Bellaire (colorist), Clayton Cowles (letterer) and Tom Muller (designer) are driven, enthusiastic professionals deeply invested in bettering themselves and their respective crafts. Everything begins with clearly stated intent and continues with freely flowing honest communication.
The thematic unity of Zero is also observed by the changing artists. As Zero's story progresses, his point of view changes, so having a different artist on board for each issue felt right.
Nrama: And how’d you go about recruiting this A-list talent?
Kot: I find them and contact them. We talk. I describe what I want to do and why and they decide to join – or not. It's that simple.
Nrama: You’ve been talking about this since 2012, and I’ve heard you’ve been working on this even longer. How many scripts for Zero have you written so far, and are there in fact issues already done since you have different artists doing each one?
Kot: I am done with Zero #3 and it's being drawn as we speak. Number three is set in Rio and it's drawn by Morgan Jeske, my collaborator on Change, the collected edition of which is coming out this month. Mateus Santolouco is working on Zero #2 and Tradd Moore is starting #4 in early July.
Nrama: The format for Zero is interesting – each issue is a standalone story, but builds to a larger narrative – reminiscent of Warren Ellis’ Global Frequencyand Secret Avengers run. How’d you figure out a way to tell a larger story but tell it in these standalone, issue-size chunks?
Kot: I just decided to do it. If I can imagine it, I can make it.
Nrama: Zero is being launched as an ongoing series – your first ongoing as creator-owned, in fact. After doing miniseries, one-shots and the like, how’d you prepare to take on such an ambitious schedule?
Kot: I was aware of the ambition and I decided that the best way to go about making Zero scripts materialize is to have weekly deadlines. I do my best to write five days a week for no longer than six hours each day. This time is also allocated to other projects.
However, the process of writing within my head, taking in inspiration and making notes stops very rarely.