Section Zero #1, June 2000, Image Comics
creators: Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett
colorist: Ben Dimagmaliw
letterer: Troy Peteri
Jon Stewart has an old joke about UFOs, insisting that the government could never really keep their existence a secret, because, “yeah, the government’s real good at keeping secrets. Dick Morris can’t get his toe sucked by a hooker without it going out on the AP wire . . .” The reference is a little dated, but the premise holds true. The most popular supernatural mysteries, like aliens, Bigfoot, and the Loch Ness Monster, surely would have been discovered by now, what with the 24 hour media machine in full exploit mode of anything the government tries to sweep under the rug; further, the surveillance technology available to the common man assures that privacy on any level if just a thing of the past. If Bigfoot existed, I’d be blocking Bigfoot toilet pornography on the Internet at work by now. This is why there really isn’t a Section Zero.
Of course, this is the issue’s tagline – There Is No Section Zero – asserting an X-Files-esque concept of tag team paranormal investigation. In this first issue, the core of the team, two tough divorcees (formerly wed to each other) recruit an Asian boy that can turn into a big fly thanks to a mysterious insect tattoo, and at the end of the issue, a Creature from the Black Lagoon-looking monster man. Right up front, I don’t understand the team’s threads. In his follow-up essay, writer Karl Kesel explains, “I . . . realized you didn’t need costumes and powers to create gripping comics . . . Normal people fighting superhuman enemies!” So, if you don’t need costumes, why are these characters marching of to battle the unknown donned in Flash Gordon’s rejected retro space gear? If these folks are normal, battling nasties like Sasquatch, shouldn’t they strap on some body armor? At least a Kevlar vest? Unless their bravado protects them from monsters, the impracticality of their methodology is more mysterious than their prey.
So, yes, I have a few issues left over from my intended-for-Halloween stash. Section Zero is one of them. As a first issue, I enjoyed this read, but the concept is way over done. Planetary, Perhapnauts, and a slew of other titles boast the paranormal investigation team with creepy members thing. As much as their subject matter is mysterious, are these creators oblivious to the copycat comics around them? I wonder, do we think that if we recreate these phenomena in literature enough, they’ll come true? Doesn’t the government have enough to worry about? It’s an election year, for crying out loud!