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Soldier Zero #5

A comic review article by: Thomas Crawford
All hell breaks loose at the hospital when a mysterious new villain(?) shows up and starts trouble. Meanwhile, Stewart’s brother makes a strong showing for the “least likable supporting character” award.

A few years ago, my local newspaper included a supplement of reprinted Stan Lee/ Steve Ditko Spider-Man comics as publicity for one of the film adaptations. I remember falling in love with the bright, Silver Age colors and the retro, pop art drawing style, but more than anything, I remember being annoyed by the ridiculous amounts of unnecessary exposition.

The reason I cite this is because, in yet another Stan Lee-related project, there’s a whole lot of talking, and honestly, it’s not all necessary. Yes, this issue is marketed as a great jumping on point for readers, but the story is still carrying some threads from the previous arc -- the college girls Lily and Kaylee are the most obvious to me, as well as the least interesting -- and the story suffers as a result.

However, these glitches aside, what we have here is a very excellent example of how to set the stage. The introduction of an iPhone-wielding super-person is very intriguing. The way he’s written, I honestly can’t tell if he’s a villain or a well-meaning character who does bad things. With the exception of his meeting with Soldier Zero, all of his powers are used for strictly reconnaissance and defense (hey, I’d force-choke someone if they pointed a gun at me, too). This antagonist for our hero is very interesting, and I can’t wait to see how this plays out.

Then there’s the protagonist himself. While he may not do a lot in this issue, we still get a strong sense of who he is. He’s a man who loves his brother, and who fears the power of his Soldier Zero persona, and struggles to balance who he is with he this suit is turning him in to. It’s that classic tortured hero that Stan Lee does so well. Though, to be honest, why he doesn’t recommend they pull the plug on his brother is a mystery. Man, that guy is a whiner.

Javier Pina’s art in this issue, while not spectacular, is strong. All of his characters are unique, and their emotions are conveyed well through their facial expressions. In fact, throughout the issue, I couldn’t help thinking that his style reminded me a lot of Jesus Saiz, whose art made Checkmate such a joy to read a few years back.While Pina’s faces are pretty strong, his action shots are stiff. Every time the issue’s villain kicks someone, he looks like a posed action figure rather than an actual person. Otherwise, though, I look forward to watching Pina’s style improve.

While this may not be the perfect issue, it has the beginnings of a very engaging and exciting story arc. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this issue goes, and if you’re looking for a title to round out your pull list, Soldier Zero is a strong candidate.

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