‘The Zone Continuum:’ TPB Review

What’s standing in your way?

The Zone Continuum feels like the old Prince Valiant strips from the Sunday paper to me, inasmuch as the pages imply a much larger world than is directly shown.   It’s something that has nothing to do with line density or detail in backgrounds, but more an overall sense of when the plot and images work well together that we’re almost just looking into a window. Also, the action on the page, while important, is perhaps only one of a great many stories unfolding in that world.  The Dar, a race of immortal beings that share the Earth with humans, have been forced into the heights of the rooftops by a mysterious force that they call the Zone Continuum, an invisible barrier that causes them great harm or even death if they should cross it.  These zones started just cutting them off from each other, but then began to rise away from the Earth’s surface, making the childhood game of “Lava Floor” a harrowing and all-too-restrictive reality.

Bruce Zick’s tale of modern-day fantasy with a sci-fi flavor was originally published back in the nineties, and this new collection features all-new stories created in the last year.  This is a well-crafted story with several engaging hooks, a varied and intriguing menagerie of characters, and stakes that quite literally can’t get any higher.  Zick takes a lot of inspiration from Greek mythology, sprinkling characters into his work much in the same way that Thor did over at Marvel. Beings from another world still live in the world and are affected by the actions that humans make.  Zick takes the first page to pretty much lay out all of the metaphor in his work, but the part that excites me is that all of these characters are essentially defined by what they’re struggling for. Some have lived for thousands of years and spent the majority in leisure, but now are faced with loss and possible impending doom that drives the story through character in a fantastic way.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the main character Talon who pushes himself past all reasonable standards with only his handler Bronnis to pull him back from the brink.  In this way we have a very Tony Stark/Jarvis relationship, and I think we can all agree that it’s a successful recipe.

The artwork is frozen in time; it’s definitely a prime example of the art from the '90s, with a pulpy, action feel that hearkens back to the '40s as well.  It’s a great time capsule piece, with every panel being in action; there are very few panels of stillness.  I have the feeling of the original kinds of work from the Golden Age, but the dialogue is much more refined and significantly less cringe-inducing.  The images really drive the pace of the series more so than the text, but they still work together extremely well.  The breathless push of the narrative makes this a great pickup for action fans.

I found a lot about this collection to bring me back to my childhood. It feels much like the short lived Gargoyles animated series (which I will admit I got into because half of that main cast was from Star Trek: TNG, with Jonathan Frakes and Mirina Sirtis taking the leads, and Michael Dorn and Patrick Stewart making appearances). It’s a fun, alternate history kind of work that takes place in the modern day, giving us a fantasy overlay on our normal humdrummery, much in the same way that the Dresden Files do.  With a mix of fantasy, science fiction, and a slew of driven characters, this is a must read for anyone who loves action or is ready for the '90s to come back.

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Last modified on Monday, 31 December 2018 20:20

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