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October 22, 2009

The Wacky Month of Zen Part VII

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Written by: Andy
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The Wacky Month of Zen Part VII
Zen Intergalactic Ninja #0 Review

Welcome back Zen Heads to the next segment of The Wacky Month of Zen here at ComicAttack.net! This month the Wacky Comic Wednesday column (or in this case, Wacky Comic Thursday) has been invaded by Zen Intergalactic Ninja, and today we gaze into Zen #0, the first chapter in a 5 issue mini series released in 2003, produced by Zen Comics Publishing. As is the case with most of the Zen lore out there, the story is written by co-creator Steve Stern, but for this series co-creator Dan Cote serves only as the colorist, passing on the pencils to fan favorite, Bill Maus (Babewatch, Threshold). Almost a decade earlier in 1994, Maus penciled and wrote the 7 issue series, Zen Intergalactic Ninja: Starquest, published by Entity Comics, so he’s well acquainted with the character.

zen09.jpegConsidering the time in which this comic was published, certain world events were still fresh in the mind of every American as the United States had practically just began its War on Terror. In Zen #0, Stern begins to give his take on the whole global terrorism scenario, a bold yet touching interpretation of the human spirit.

The issue begins with Zen and his robot counterpart, Unit 64-H (whom he just calls ‘Tinhead’ to the dismay of the robo), encountering the ever determined alien hater, Major Karl Lorenz of the United States Alien Control Group. Lorenz isĀ attacking the ship of a former Zen ally, Nira-X: a silver haired bounty hunter babe in a black and red jumpsuit with blue gloves and knee high boots. Without giving it a second thought, Zen saves Nira and brings her aboard the Hypership. After a sexy scene where she takes a bath and is served tea, Nira drops the plot’s McGuffin; she’s hunting a Rygulian named Vanaxx and needs Zen’s assistance via the T-Pod and as some added muscle. At first Zen’s reluctant to accept considering he wanted to leave Earth in the Hypership’s review mirror for good, but when Nira-X offers him a hefty sum, he agrees to help out.

The quarry is in New York City, and the duo locates Vanaxx inside a large corporate office building. The alien renegade murderer is in the middle of a meeting discussing who-knows-what with a sleazy looking business man. When Zen and Nira-X strike against Vanaxx, the business man proves that appearances can be deceiving, mutating into some nasty insect-like being, and the two sides engage in combat.

While all this is going on, a side story develops; a terrorist is gearing up to strike, equipping himself with body bombs and TNT. We are reluctantly ‘treated’ to his inner monologue as he ponders eternal life glorified through acts of terrorism. Once he’s suited up he makes his way across town, into the lobby of a large office building and does the unthinkable; he blows himself up. It’s then revealed that the explosion has happened in the very same building that Zen and Nira, along with their alien foes, are battling!

The building crumbles to the ground, and without a second thought Zen and Nira flee inside the T-Pod, leaving the reader wondering whether or not Vanaxx was captured. It doesn’t seem to bother the heroes though because they instantaneously move to aid the NYFD in looking for survivors of the attack, rescuing people from the building’s wreckage.

And that’s the story.

zen1thTo quote Steve Stern in the letters section at the end of the book, “To all of you who are discovering Zen for the first time- Welcome Aboard, we trust you’ll enjoy the ride.” Truer Zen words have never been spoken, and this first issue has definitely brought that mature touch to the Zen Universe that I’ve been longing for. This issue, as simple as it is, poses a very valid but disturbing question; were the actions of the terrorist justifiable? No, I’m not suggesting that people should go out and blow stuff up, but rather I’m proposing that the situation Stern produces be looked at through an analytical lens. The building that the terrorist destroyed was the very same one housing the evil insect-alien who was doing business with Vanaxx, a renowned killer. Were the terrorist’s actions beneficial for the greater good as he was attempting to rid the world of this evil and all that it encompasses, or is the fact that innocents were killed enough to overlook this line of thought? It’s an uncomfortable catch 22.

Accompanied by Stern’s more adult themes (like shifting from environmental issues to those of global terrorism), Bill Maus’ art plays a major role in this Zen series looking more bad ass than the previous comics we’ve covered. Zen has more texture, and things like the T-Pod and the Hypership look much more detailed and refined than before. The colors by Dan Cote greatly compliment the art, adding a majestical touch with swirls and mist effects. So all things considered, the three creators truly work well together on this issue. Also, Cote’s touching wraparound 9/11 tribute cover sets the tone before the comic even begins, readying the reader for what lies within. As mentioned before, there’s even a letters page where fans give their thoughts on the Zen Universe. It’s interesting to note that of the three websites mentioned in this section, only one of them still exists today: billmausart.com.

It’s quote time:

“Those who risk their lives and go out to fight, and who are prepared to lay down their lives for the cause are honorable people, pure of heart and blessed of soul. But the great surprise is that those among them who are killed in the struggle must not be considered or described dead, for they continue to live.” – the Terrorist

“This is where you get the best pizza. Even though it was invented in a country called Italy.” – Zen

“It was a painful day for all of us. But a day that taught me at least one lesson I’d never forget: The best of humanity is the best there is.” – Zen

Stay tuned to The Wacky Month of Zen as we cover the rest of this series, review the Zen NES game, and even interview Zen’s writer, Steve Stern!


Andy Liegl
andy@comicattack.net

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2 Comments



  1. Thanks for this truly excellent analysis of what I was attempting to do in the first book of this series, Andy. I look forward to your review of the remaining four books in this storyarc.
    STEVE


  2. Billy

    I think when you have these stories with questions of morality it really does get people thinking.(V for Vendetta) I see people like that as Patriots not terrorists.



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