Boy Zero: Volume One [Part Three]

7

Good

BoyZero1Predominantly maintaining its focus upon “Edmund’s cross to bear” some ‘twelve days, ten hours and two minutes before zero’, this third chapter to Charles Chester’s “Boy Zero” graphic novel must have made its audience almost taste the metallic tang of rust in their parched mouths, as the children living just outside Glass City show newcomer Christian their secret hideout buried deep inside a dilapidated factory and claustrophobically encircle themselves in a wall of decaying, half-eaten corrugated iron sheeting, red oxide covered machinery and chain-linked fencing. But any readers anticipating that this publication would subsequently provide a light-hearted insight into the craftiness of children “when looking for adventure” were undeniably in for a startling shock once the adolescent party’s game of hop-scotch is interrupted by the sudden arrival of a wizened old “homeless individual” armed with a seemingly blood-stained knife and a brain full of madness; “I think you lied to me! I need to speak to him! Noooo! No No! Where are you going?! No! Come back! I’ll tell you where the lion lives!”

Indeed, the utter terror on the faces of the youngsters as the dishevelled tramp heads towards their main hiding place is absolutely palpable, as is the adrenalin rush caused by the award winning filmmaker’s penmanship in his depiction of the kids rapidly bolting from out of their refuge and ‘pegging it’ past the gore-splattered vagrant towards the safety of a nearby cemetery. Of course, many perusing bibliophiles’ hearts probably stopped dead when the prone hobo manages to take hold of Christian’s ankle as the lad leaps over the fallen intruder’s form, yet fortunately for those holding their breath in anticipation of the ‘cutting to come’, the old man does not have the strength to drag the wide-eyed boy down to the ground, nor maintain his grip when he takes a well-placed kick to the head…

Perhaps somewhat disappointingly the rest of this particular twenty-six page instalment never arguably manages to ever replicate so pulse-pounding a predicament, even later on when an actress is assaulted at knife-point by a street-level criminal down a dark alleyway. However, that doesn’t mean that the dialogue-driven sequences which follow don’t still easily hold both the attention and imagination either, as Chester’s somewhat disrespectful (young) Detective Drekker unconvincingly assures the local petrified parents that “there is no reason [for them] to worry” despite the recent spine-chilling mutilation of Mister Adams’ two sons, and Christian’s truly nerve-wracking account to Edmund of the Boogeyman coming out at night to tell his next victim that “he is going to hang a child from a tree and gut him from neck to belly…”

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7

Good

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For the past forty or so years I have been collecting American comics… To begin with they were predominantly black and white British reprints of “Marvel Comics Group” titles such as “Spider-Man Comics Weekly”, “The Mighty World of Marvel” and “Star Wars Weekly”; all six to ten pence editions I could store away under my bed in a large cardboard box. As a result though I was introduced to the teenage angst of Peter Parker, the discovery of a frozen Captain America by Earth's Mightiest Heroes, witnessed the dreadful rage of Doctor Bruce Banner, and even travelled to a galaxy far far away... Later I would be able to afford actual America colour comic books and supplemented my collection of “Marvel” titles such as “Conan the Barbarian”, “Howard the Duck” and “Captain America” with some “DC Comics” issues of “Batman”, “Green Lantern” and “Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew”. There would even be time for Independent publications such as “Wildcats”, “Spawn” and “The Authority”. These days however I must admit to yearning back to the simpler times of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, back to when both artwork and storylines were straightforward, easy to follow and super-heroes were just starting out on their adventures. A time when no-one had yet to be resurrected from the dead for the fourth time. I've written over seven hundred comic book reviews on my blog over the past few years, with them usually following my latest purchases, all wrapped up in a large brown paper bag, as well as occasional ‘flashbacks’ to some of the classic "Golden Age" issues I already own…

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