Review by Frank Plowright
There’s something wrong with Dru. She seems to have a stable family background, but is obsessed with becoming a superhero, convinced she only needs to engineer the right set of circumstances to live the dream. On the one hand she’s bright, likeable and very resourceful, and on the other she’s completely deluded, thinking she can stimulate super powers via methods that work in comics.
It takes a little while to adjust to the mood of Super Zero, as the first person narration switches from Dru’s slightly off centre ‘normal’ life, and the content of her dreams, which have a continuity to them, and in which she is a superhero fighting off an alien invasion. The opening chapter is charming and funny, but maximum enjoyment takes appreciating Dru’s uniquely deluded personality. With that locked in, the remainder of Super Zero is an exuberant joy.
While the writing team of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti provide a considerable draw after their work on Harley Quinn, it’s disappointing that the cover credit for artist Rafael De Latorre in effect relegates him to a lesser contributor. While art from Conner would be nice (and is on the pin-ups), De Latorre’s confident and humanistic illustration is what really sells Super Zero at first glance. Dru and her circle are sympathetic and charming, and that’s down to De Latorre, the sample page showing her reaction to multiple ant bites.
Beyond Dru’s search for super powers, the connecting theme is second chances, which applies several times, beautifully handled when Dru confronts someone considerably older in a scene defining her commitment to being heroic. Conner and Palmiotti emphasise that throughout, and never let her obsession move her away from being kind and caring, touching on her primary motivation for wanting to be a superhero, and steering well clear of schlock. It’s funny, clever and heartwarming, a real page-turner that surprises all the time, and under-rated.
A very abrupt ending without much supporting explanation, no explanation at all for the dreams, and this being labelled “Volume 1” indicates a series intended to continue, but as it hasn’t since 2016 the odds are that it won’t and that’s a shame. Don’t let it put you off, though. In every other respect Super Zero is a standalone gem.