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Published on October 22nd, 2014 | by Adian Goatley

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Zenith Phrase One – Review

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zenith1Nazis.

Trans-dimensional Nazis.

Actually trans-dimensional monsters of an ancient era that use the Nazis to further their own survival on this astral plane.

If you threw in Rasputin and some clockwork bad guy you’d have the plot to the first HellBoy movie right?

Well do some time travel 20+ years back and you’ll find Zenith instead and what a corker it is. Published for the first time this week in 20 years is chapter 1 of Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell’s superhero series.
Set during the eighties Zenith is our very own British superhero, who is of course capabale of flight, super strong and a pop star. It was the 80’s being a pop star was the forefront of everyone’s mind. Written with a razor sharp take on the then current political scene with the Tories in power whilst the economy is down the drain and cuts being made everywhere ( No, 20 years ago honest) Zenith is as 80’s as you can get but still as relevant now.

 

Zenith was the world’s first “Superbrat” – a vain, self-obsessed, egotistical pop singer whose only interests are girls, partying, and where he is in the music charts. Yet as the world’s only superhero, he doesn’t realise that he is at the centre of a dark conspiracy that could wipe out the entire universe.

zen2

You see there were superheroes once before. The Brits had a super-soldier who stood up for truth, justice and the British right to wear vests in combat but he was defeated by the Nazi version who, despite a shared love of vest tops, was then blown up by the first atom bomb to be dropped on Germany.

Flash forward 40 years and the spirit of the aforementioned trans-dimensional demon resurrects the Nazi’s body that had been frozen and that’s all just in the first ten pages!

Needless to say our selfish superhero is drawn in to the adventure along with some ageing very British heroes.

Clever, snappy, visceral, and witty, Zenith is a satire on the pop music culture of the late 1980s, on politics, and on the superhero genre – themes that Morrison has come back to again and again throughout his career. It is an incredibly important piece of comics history, not just because it began Morrison’s rise to become arguably the biggest name working in comics today, but also because it was 2000 AD’s first true superhero series and also represented the beginning of yet another ‘British Invasion’ of the US comics scene.

zen1

This 112-page edition of the first Phase includes a cover gallery and original character designs by Mad Max and Zaucer of Zilk artist Brendan McCarthy. The hardback edition of Phase Two will be published in December, with the third and fourth Phases in early 2015.

It is a thing of beauty. Plus you can never go wrong with trans-dimensional demons and Nazis. Ask Hellboy.

You can buy Zenith here

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