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Comic Book Alphabet of Cool – Z

Today, we finish where we began.

Enjoy!

Zenith

I began this alphabet with Animal Man, a work by Grant Morrison, and I’ll end it with Zenith, which was ALSO an 80s work of Grant Morrison.

Zenith was created by Grant Morrison and artist Steve Yeowell, with the character being designed by the great Brendan McCarthy.

Zenith was serialized in the pages of 2000 AD.

Zenith was notable for the time by being a character we see a lot of nowadays, but not so much in the 1980s, the “rock star” superhero. Zenith was a superhero in a world where the most he really needed to do was film a music video. Soon, of course, bad things popped up, and he had to step up, grow up and become a true superhero.

Morrison is still pretty young when the series started, and it shows, but boy, is it still a fun comic book. Often, the whole “rock star superhero” trope is accompanied by cynicism, but not Morrison.

The series was fun and engaging, and still optimistic.

A great start to a great career.

Here’s a moment early on that I absolutely adored…

The first Zenith storyline by Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell involved the fight against the “Many-Angled Ones,” demons who were trying to find host bodies on our world.

Zenith was roped into the fight by former superheroes (and friends of his parents), but at this point in the story, things weren’t looking good for Zenith and Peter St. John, who quit superheroing to become a Member of Parliament for the Conservative Party. The two were trapped in the bad guy’s dimension, where his actual body exists, and they would be powerless against him.

Or were they?

FamousLastWords-page2_edited.jpg

FamousLastWords-page_edited.jpg

And then the bad guy blew up.

Pretty cool, eh?

So that’s the alphabet!!

Hope you enjoyed it!!

I’ll most likely do this again sometime soon!!

15 Comments

Splendid. One of my favourite Morrison tales and a shame the ongoing copyright wrangles mean it won’t be collected in trade form.

Top notch stuff. The payoff at the end of Phase III with the bomb and the Lloigor is fantastic.

Stephane Savoie

April 19, 2008 at 7:10 am

I really wish Zenith was available in trade form.
Publishers are teh suck.

My problem with Zenith is that it started so well (the British superhero saying the Lord’s prayer, whilst the Nazi superhero casually beats him to death.) The rest of it felt a bit of a let down after that.

Bernard the Poet

April 19, 2008 at 8:01 am

Hey, why am I anonymous?

Great stuff. The first and still pretty much the only superhero story to appear in 2000AD. Zenith remains one of my favourite Morrison works and (if you ignore the foolish decision to have the last Phase in colour) also has some of Yeowell’s best ever art, only really matched by the stuff he’s doing now on The Red Seas. There are some bits in it that rank with the best Morrison’s ever done: the brief renaissance of Siadwell Rhys – The Red Dragon – and the ultimate revelation at the end of Phase 4 spring to mind.

However, I’m a bit perplexed by this: “Soon, of course, bad things popped up, and he had to step up, grow up and become a true superhero.” As far as I remember it, part of the point is that Zenith never steps up; he never saves the day himself. It’s always St. John or – in a particularly memorable sequence – one of his parallels: Vertex.

> I really wish Zenith was available in trade form.

It has been collected by titan some years back. However be prepared to pay through the nose for it.

You’re right, Cosh, I should have been clearer – I mean that Zenith finally tries to do the right thing, where up until then, he really hasn’t. But yeah, he is never the one who saves the day himself.

“I’ll most likely do this again sometime soon!!”

YAY! I figured as much. In the world of comics, you can never run out of things that begin with the letter “X”. :)

I never saw Zeith as all that optmistic — by the end, Zenith is only marginally less shallow and cynical, and St. John has taken over England by effectively murdering a rival politician. Yes, they save the world from the Lloigor, but Mandala’s basically saving it so he can quietly rule it.

The anniversary follow-up seems to underscore this, with St. John revealing that every prime minister subsequent to Thatcher has been a mind-controlled pawn of his own. The series seems to me a tragic version of Morrison’s usual postmodern material, taking place in a world where no one quite discovers the libertatory power of imagination and is instead a cynical power broker of one sort or another.

Andrew Collins

April 19, 2008 at 4:13 pm

I passed up the chance to buy the Titan trades years ago and I still regret it. The few issues of 2000 AD I have with Zenith chapters in them are great.

Can anybody tell me- what exactly is the dispute that is keeping it from being released again?

I’d love to read it someday.

Like Andrew Collins, I’m wondering what the dispute is as well.

Can anybody tell me- what exactly is the dispute that is keeping it from being released again?

As I understand it, there are actually two separate issues. One is the use, in Phase 3, of a whole load of old British characters which 2000AD didn’t have the rights to. Presumably, this could be sorted out fairly easily. The second is Morrison’s contention that, despite it all being written under a standard contract at the time, the current publishers – Rebellion – don’t own the rights to Zenith because they weren’t explicitly included in any of the various transfers of ownership 2000AD has made in the last twenty years. Or something like that. There are one or two other strips – none of which are of the same interest to people who aren’t 2000AD obsessives – that remain in reprint limbo for similar reasons.

While the existing Titan reprints do go for silly money, you can pick up the actual 2000AD issues pretty cheaply and it’ll come packaged with some other top quality stories.

You can also get the first two phases in The Best of 2000ad Monthly where they were reprinted in issues 99 and 100 and 110 and 111 respectively. Sadly the other phases were not collected in the same fashion.

Andy

Zenith — an appropriately-named character for the end of the list.

You know who’s appropriately name to be a super pro in the NFL?

NFL SuperPro.

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