The most striking thing in Michel Gagné’s Zed: A Cosmic Tale is the art. It is surreal, complex, and gorgeous. Gagné’s art has shown up in The Iron Giant, Ratatouille, and the stunning video game Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet. The art style, much like the book as a whole, bounces back and forth between cute and sinister. What is so impressive is not how effectively Gagné summons cuteness or menace (incredibly effectively), but how quickly he can shift from one to the other.
The story follows Zed as he overcomes tragedy and faces evil. The scope is huge, but unfortunately the characters don’t match the scope. Now, there isn’t anything wrong with the characters. They just never seem to develop too much depth.
The plot is interesting and loosely follows the Hero’s Journey. There are fewer heroic space metal bands in the traditional hero’s journey, especially heroic space metal bands leading armies. The story is interesting and revels in the weird settings and creatures. Overall, I enjoyed the story, despite the occasional deus ex machina.
In short, this is an interesting and entertaining book that is much more dark and mature than the cover suggests. It is a fun book that is definitely worth a look. But, the art is incredible. It is like nothing else I have seen. Even if I didn’t like the book, and I did, I would tell you to think about it for the art alone.
Four Space Metal Armies out of Five.