October 30, 2009

The Wacky Month of Zen Part X

The Wacky Month of Zen Part X
Zen #3-#4 Review

Hey Comic Attackers, welcome back to The Wacky Month of Zen event going on throughout the month of October. Today’s edition wraps up Zen Comics Publishing’s 2003 Zen series, with issues #3 and #4 written by Steve Stern with art by Bill Maus. These final two issues change the tone a bit from political commentary to comic book action story, which is a nice and welcome touch.

zen3When we left off with issue #2, Zen and Nira had located the evil demon K’Dar’s underground citadel, leaving the reader wondering how they’d break into the fortress. However, at the beginning of issue #3, we see them realize the deck was stacked against them, so the duo head back to the Hypership to come up with a plan of attack. K’Dar’s first strike against the human race is to equip a group of men (led by the human terrorist Shrike) with body bombs and have them blow up the New York subway system at multiple locations. The murderous alien with a bounty on his head, Vanaxx, will lead the charge, protecting the human bombs from any interlopers.

Meanwhile, Zen and Nira, with the help of their intelligent robot sidekick, 64-H, discover that the insect-like-shape shifting-businessman from the first issue, Dagor, is of the Mendaki race; beings with a long history of participating in planetary invasions. Suddenly, Zen and Nira understand that their situation is much more dire than originally anticipated, and decide that the best way to deal with the problem is to bomb K’Dar’s citidel into ash from the comfort of the Hypership. However, they need to get Vanaxx out of there first so that they can collect their bounty on the alien, which makes for an interesting juxtaposition.

While the pair are making their way to the Citadel to put K’Dar out of his misery inside their respective space ships,¬†General Lorenz intercepts them and makes one last effort in taking down Nira-X. He fails of course, and Nira and Zen T-Pod their way into the Citadel and proceed to kick some serious ass! Nira blasts people to skeletons, while Zen KO’s vicious aliens with his photon sitck. After they discover that Vanaxx is not in the building (as he’s leading the terrorist charge in NYC), they make their way back to their ships and unload 6 photon torpedoes on the evil place, totally annihilating it and the demonic villains inside! Zen and Nira soon after find Vanaxx’s van filled with terrorists, tractor beam it up to the Hypership, easily KO Vanaxx, and then dump the truck in a nearby river where all of the human bombs explode. Kind of gory when you think about it, but hey, they’re the bad guys!

f6ab13be-94a3-4da6-a14b-95df15b95241The side story of the vacationing United States Alien Control Group agent, Daphne Capshaw, who is on a mission to find out how her father really died, takes an interesting turn in these two issues. First off, the story actually begins with Daphne, in a halter top and thong (thank you Bill Maus) taking a call from her superior, the obnoxious General Lorenz, who was just calling to “check up on her” (the weirdo). Then later on, Zen T-Pods his way into her hotel room (also a little weird) where it’s revealed that he and Daphne share a sort of telepathic relationship. The connection began back in the 1995 title,¬†Zen Color Series #3, where Daphne saved our hero from Lorenz’s cutting table. When she touched him at that moment of rescue, it established a psychic link between the two. So Zen helps Daphne by contacting Vox; a black, celestial being whom appears to be made up of stars and galaxies with a sun in the center of his chest (Vox is actually the dude responsible for ridding this galaxy of the evil Lord Contaminous and his men- remember him?). Anyway, Vox, as a favor to Zen, takes Daphne to see her dad (who isn’t dead apparently- this side plot went a little over my head I’ll admit), and they have a reunion of sorts.

The series ends with Zen planning to stay on Earth for a little while longer; he wants to find Jeremy the Star Childe and see what he has been up to… talk about a cliffhanger!

I really like Steve Stern’s shift of tone in these final issues. While the underlying theme of the War on Terror is still there, the story feels a bit muted as these issues are more action driven, and the change is welcomed. Steve writes a very humorous scene where 64-H is cataloging Zen’s music videos; we see a handful of screen shots of Hip Hop, Country, and Pop music videos. All of them feature scantily clad women to which Nira remarks, “Very illuminating.” Indeed Nira, indeed. Although she should talk… As expected, Bill Maus’ art remains consistently awesome throughout, providing for another eye popping shower scene with Nira where she shows a little ‘A’ in the process! More importantly though, Maus’ battle scenes are action packed and look fantastic.

Now for some quotes from the issues:

“Blood will flow my brothers. And terror will spread like a plague among our oppressors.” – Shrike

“A big booty may be ok for – what did 64-H call her? J-Lo… but in my line of work, it’s just a bigger target.” – Nira-X

“He’s going to learn that paybacks a bitch.” – Nira-X

And there you have it Zen-Heads; a complete review of the 2003 Zen series! Stay tuned to the Wacky Month of Zen this week as our event comes to a monumental conclusion!

Andy Liegl



  1. billy

    Good review Andy. I agree that switching from a more political story to an action one is a great idea. The political stuff is a good warm up to the big show.

  2. Totally, and here it all gets wrapped up pretty nicely!

  3. Infinite Speech

    i’d like to see this on adult swim

  4. […] we got there (like Dustin Nguyen and Mike Choi). However, I was able to shake hands with Zen artist Bill Maus, and catch up with amazing pop culture artist, Jim Mahfood. But beyond that, most of the other […]

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