Zenith Phase 1 – hardback October 2014

zenith_phase_1Published by 2000AD
October 2014

Hardback 112 Pages £20.00
Black and White, some colour

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Steve Yeowell
Letterer: Mark King

Phase 1
Originally published in 2000 AD Progs 535-550
Interludes Whitlock/Peyne
Originally published in 2000 AD Progs 558-559

Also included in this book are original design sketches by artist Brendan McCarthy who created the look and style for the characters in this story.

Zenith was a little controversial when it debuted in the pages of 2000AD in August 1987. 2000Ad had no superheroes, though the non-comic reading public often misrepresent their characters such as Judge Dredd as ‘Superheroes’. Many readers were opposed to a superhero story being in 2000AD. Nevertheless Zenith went on to run for four books, or ‘Phases’.

There was a complete collection published in December 2013 in a limited run of 1,000 copies which retailed at £100.00 and was available only from 2000AD’s Future Shop. Phases 1 to 4 will now see publication as four hardback volumes with Phase 2 due out December 2014 and the second two Phases due out in ‘early’ 2015.

The story is reproduced as originally published except there are no ‘next prog’ dialogue at the end of each chapter. The titles, credits and original colours are retained. There isn’t much colour at all in this book,

The villains of this story are creatures from H P Lovecraft’s books. The Lloigor, in this Phase we meet Iog Sotot, ‘Eater of Souls’ which is loosely based on Yog-Sototh. The Lloigor are attempting to enter this dimension using a Nazi Occult group, Black Sun.

The Nazis created Masterman, a genetically enhanced human body to house Iog Sotot. Scientists defected from Germany and the British created Maximan, a super-soldier.

Zenith is the only active Superhero, the son of two British heroes created after WWII using genetic science that had created Maximan.

So there are elements of Lovecraft and the inevitable comparison to Captain America influencing the story.

Rereading Phase 1 for this review was very welcome. Of course I originally read this as originally published so some parts that seemed longer in my memory due to having to wait a week for the next chapter now fly by, I am thinking mostly of the recruiting of Siadwell Rhys (the Red Dragon) by Ruby and Zenith. The story flows well in one volume.

The black and white art of Steve Yeowell is great. Don’t be fooled by the shifting of Zenith’s mask, it is deliberate and part of the original concept as you will see later in the book with the sketches and notes by Brendan McCarthy.

Controversial it may have been at the time, though I loved it, it remains a classic. Grant Morrison sadly doesn’t see eye-to-eye on the matter of republication but each Phase has a new cover by Steve Yeowell.

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