October 27, 2009

The Wacky Month of Zen Part IX

The Wacky Month of Zen Part IX
Zen #1-#2 Review

Welcome back fellow Zen Heads to the 9th edition of The Wacky Month of Zen! Last time we reviewed the NES Zen video game, thanks to staff writer Andrew Hurst, and the time before that we took a look at 2003’s Zen #0, produced by Zen Comics Publishing, and today we’ll cover issues #1 and #2 of the same series. Issue #0 touched on the taboo subject of global terrorism, as the comic was a reflection of writer (and Zen co-creator) Steve Stern’s thoughts on global terrorism that ran rampant through the United States at that time, and the trend continues here. These issues, like #0, are stylistically penciled by Bill Maus and beautifully colored by Zen co-creator, Dan Cote.

zen1Zen #1 and #2 picks up right where issue #0 left off with Zen and Nira-X aboard the Hypership after rescuing a plethora of people from the rubble of the Worldcorp building (which was destroyed by a suicide bomber at the end of issue #0). Contrary to his earlier desires, Zen decides that he’s not quite ready to leave Earth, and along with Nira, he continues pursuit of the murderous renegade alien, Vanaxx. Before the duo continues their mission though, Nira-X, like many beings after experiencing a stressful situation, takes the edge off with some libations while Zen meditates to heal his wounds.

Meanwhile their quarry, Vanaxx, accompanies the sleazy insect-morphing-businessman known as Dagor (whom we saw transform in issue #0) to the center of the Earth. There the head demon K’Dar has set up a colony of monsters, readying them for mankind’s demise. K’Dar is a giant serpentine-esque lizard demon whose talkative minion is named Harp. Contrary to his ‘master,’ Harp looks like a cross between Zen (only smaller and gray instead of blue) and an alien version of Gollum. Here, K’Dar and Harp reveal their plan for the destruction of mankind, in which Vanaxx is destined to play a key role. To add more manpower to their efforts, K’Dar has allied himself with a group of human terrorists (the Taliban?) who will aid in the quest of destroying humanity. The leader of these terrorists is named Shrike (who looks a lot like Osama Bin Laden), and the serpentine monster provides his army with photon-beam firing guns. You know, weapons that make Zen’s photon stick look like a tooth pick.

Speaking of Zen, he and Nira-X pick up traces of Vanaxx’s nanites via her PPU (Personal Positioning Unit), which leads them to an alien after-hours club in the Soho district. There they find Vanaxx pimping it up with some scantily clad babes, and upon seeing Zen and Nira he takes one of them hostage and makes his way toward the exit. With Vanaxx gone, our dynamic duo find themselves surrounded by a group of gun-toting alien goons, and what follows is the type of fight scene I’ve been longing for with the Intergalactic Ninja; blasters find their targets, Zen’s photon stick breaks some bones, and Nira’s fists deliver a boat load of punishment. With the fight over and our heroes victorious, the cops show up to clean up the mess, one of them being Officer Shea. Apparently, Shea was present with both Zen and Nira when they were rescuing survivors from the wreckage of the Worldcorps building. The sexual tension between Zen and Nira, Nira and Shea, and Zen and a female officer becomes so thick in this scene that Vanaxx could use it as face cream.

With his female prisoner in tow, Vanaxx makes his way to a secret entrance that leads to K’Dar’s underground citadel, which he enters. Later, Nira’s PPU gets a fresh signal of the villain’s nanites, guiding she and Zen to a crop field in Upstate New York. After landing the T-Pod, they exit the bauble and enter into a cave; what they discover there shocks them as they’ve stumbled upon K’Dar’s monster utopia…

zen2Meanwhile aboard the Hypership, Zen’s robotic counterpart, 64-H (a.k.a. Tinhead), is browsing Earth TV when he comes across a news station playing a video that was leaked by a terrorist organization. A cult crier speaks, calling his people to arms, stating that the day of reckoning is drawing near and that he and his group will strike like lions to take down the Great Oppressor. His lone glowing green eye is menacing, and we learn that his name is Shrike…

A side story develops featuring Sergeant Daphne Capshaw, a voluptuous blonde who is assistant to the alien hating Major Lorenz. Lorenz was showing some US Senators what really went down during the Roswell landing, when he notices that Capshaw is too uptight. So, he sends her away on vacation and Daphne uses the time off to find out what caused her father’s death. Apparently, he died during the testing of a government aircraft and Daphne has her suspicions about the facts surrounding the incident…

Steve Stern’s writing in these issues is great as he keeps up the tempo with different plots developing throughout. One of the more thought provoking scenes was when a bunch of bulldozers and construction trucks are cleaning up the mess of the destroyed Worldcorp building. It’s only a page in length and it could easily be overlooked, but to me it was a metaphor of the government sweeping disasters under the proverbial rug as quickly as possible, so that the pubic will conveniently forget about the event and move on with their lives. I don’t know if this was Stern’s intention, but I found it to be a very passive yet interesting commentary. On a more lighthearted note, Stern even drops a bomb on us (no pun intended) in issue #2 when we learn that Zen and Nira have a romantic history- it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out!

As expected, Bill Maus’ art work is awesome and clean; the monsters are nicely detailed and look out of this world and his women are hot. To that end, he tastefully provides the reader with some nice T and A shots, which includes a shower scene with the sexy Nira-X (who also sleeps in the nude, which is awesome). Dan Cote’s coloring is bright and looks very cool; it’s all digital and produced in the same vein as his airbrush work from the 1980s. I particularly enjoy his highlighting technique as it works very well with the texture of the monsters’ and aliens’ bodies.

It’s quote time!

“A wave of homegrown terror is washing across this planet. The fabric of society is fragile, even in the developed countries, which are suffering economically.” – Harp

“Astonishing. The human appetite for sex and violence is insatiable.” – 64-H

“My friends, I believe we have formed an alliance of terror! By all that is holy, we shall set the infidel’s ablaze!” – Shrike

Don’t change that dial Comic Attackers as The Wacky Month of Zen continues with the conclusion of this series, an interview with Steve Stern, and some other surprises throughout the rest of the week!

Andy Liegl



  1. billy

    This artist definitely knows how to draw a woman. Can’t wait till next time for the interview!

  2. Yes, Bill Maus definitely knows his anatomy. Wait until you read the review of issues #3-#4 tomorrow during the Wacky Comic Wednesday column…!!

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