….to come into my life (let it never be said that the Comic Book Evangelist fails to keep old songs alive !).
Rebellion has announced they will be (finally !) releasing the complete run of Zenith by Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell in four volumes starting in October 2014.
This is exciting news for old school fans of the British sci-fi anthology 2000AD, who have been waiting 20 years for the story to be reprinted. It’s also great news for fans of Grant Morrison, who will finally get to read one of the acclaimed writer’s earliest works. Finally, it is fantastic for artist Steve Yeowell, who is one of the most underrated yet brilliant artists in comics, whose amazing work on Zenith is sure to win him many, many fans and lift his profile to the level it deserves to be.
“OK, that’s some decent hyperbole”, I hear you say. “What’s so great about this Zenith thing then ?”. I’m glad you asked !
Zenith is a series that ran in the aforementioned 2000AD in a number of discrete chapters known as “Phases” from Progs (issues) 535 to 806. This breakdown from 2000AD online is the best resource for those keen to track down the progs themselves, which I highly recommend, as there are other incredible stories contained in most of these progs, especially those from 535-700.
The story of Zenith is quite simple, really, though it allows for a number of clever permutations and balls-out action, including an unofficial crossover of many of the British comic scene’s heroes and villains who join to battle The Great Old Ones of Lovecraft’s mythos. The story is this: 20-something Robert McDowell is Zenith, the son of 1960s superheroes who has inherited the powers of flight, strength and durability. Being a selfish 1980s yuppie-brat, Zenith uses his powers to promote his career as a pop star. He is reluctantly (very reluctantly) dragged into the battle against the Many-Angled Ones (primarily Lovecraft’s Yog-Sothoth) who have possessed the body of a Nazi super-villain thought destroyed in WW2. His initial allies in the conflict are an alcoholic Welsh hero called the Red Dragon, Conservative politician Peter St John (the Conservative Party is the UK equivalent to the US Republican Party or the Aussie Liberal Party) and still youthful-looking friend of Zenith’s parents Ruby Fox. The group set out to defeat the Many Angled Ones first in the UK, then across multiple dimensions.
The coolest thing about Zenith is the clever use of super-powers (particularly the mental powers of Peter St John), the satire of Thatcherite Britain and the literary references to William Blake and others which add a layer of commentary to the story.
Oh, and I cannot write about Zenith and forget to talk about the coolest thing of all – Robot Archie the Acid-Head ! He is one of the retooled British characters of the 50s, 60s and 70s (other favourites of mine include The Lion and the Leopard of Lime Street), Archie steals the show as a robot who digs acid-house music and its associated culture.
Oh, and to top it all off you have character designs by Brendan McCarthy and the beautiful clean, expressive lines of artist Steve Yeowell. Yeowell is a 2000AD stalwart, and if you are not au fait with his work check out this page on Tumblr for more beautiful images than you can poke a virtual stick at.
And for more information about the series itself and why it has taken so long for the reprints to appear, check out this.Just do not read the plot bits, it does spoil a story that reads best when you go into it with only the vaguest idea of what it is about and how it plays out !