Review: Zip #1 - A Grungy Superhuman Comic
Zip #1 is funding via Kickstarter, and if you're a fan of speedsters, exploring different superhero tropes or some wonderful black-and-white art, then this could be the comic for you. Written by Mike Scrase, with art by Santiago Espina, lettering by Ferran Delgado and cover art by Vanessa Cardinali (which is stunning, as you can see below), Zip is a comic about imperfect superhumans.
Zip is a superhero. Her real name is Alison, but she goes by the sound she makes when she's running. Her superior speed makes the rest of the world appear as if it moves in slow motion, including when people talk. It makes fighting crime easy, but not so much when it comes to living a normal life. The comic is inspired by an article on superpowers ruined by science. Zip reimagines superheroes as an analogy for disability and explores the passive, quiet side of prejudice fuelled by ignorance and apathy rather than the more traditionally understood motivation of hatred.
Let's start with the art like we usually do. Santiago Espina's art has a grungy feel which works well in a big city where there's going to be pollution and buildings of various sizes. It also matches Zip's mood and inner conflict as having superpowers isn't a wonderful experience for her - it's full of struggles and pain, and that mental aspect translated into the page through the art as much as it does the writing.
There are some fun and interesting layouts throughout, with my particular favourite showing Zip moving through stages of her life in one panel as we transition from Zip as a toddler to now in a pretty wild dream sequence.
The lettering by Ferran Delgado is clear, but I particularly like the bolding of certain words throughout, like "understanding" and "patience". It's a nice subtle boldness that emphasises keywords in a book that is really about disabilities.
As for the story, Mike Scrase has created a fascinating comic. There's a lot of emotional weight attached to our protagonist with self-doubt, mental health and even family. Zip has a (great, great, great, etc) Grandad that's immortal thanks to science experiments on himself. It's a trope we've seen a lot, but Scrase adds something different - his body might be immortal, but what about his brain? He isn't always gaining knowledge and becoming well off through hundreds of years of life. The brain can only retain and cope within limits, leaving us with a wildly different immortal than we usually see, where he can barely think anymore.
This is Zip's story, though, as you can tell from the comics' title. Zip gets a good amount of character growth in the first issue. You see her struggling with life, how she doesn't view her superpowers as a gift as it makes her life hard. Right at the start, Zip tells us that her life sucks and that despite being super fast, she can't run away from who she is. Her struggles are made clear before an end sequence that is beautifully written and drawn, with Zip making use of her powers to great effect and realising that she can do good, and that's something to hold on to through her dark thoughts.
Zip #1 adds a lot of emotion and realism to a superhero story. Superspeed wouldn't be as good as we'd like to think, as there'd be some real problems with it. Same with immortality. It's something that I'd love to see explored more in future issues with different powers and how they actually affect people. With a lead that's not infallible with mental health problems adds another dimension that makes the comic a super interesting read. Mix that with some jaw-dropping art, and you have a comic that I can't wait to read more of.
Mike Scrase (w), Santiago Espina (a), Ferran Delgado (l) - Kickstarter