Writer: Brockton McKinney
Artist: Andrew Herman
Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment
I have to say, when I heard that my friend Brockton McKinney was writing an all-ages book, I was a bit taken aback. After all, this is the same man who brought us the wildly irreverent and blood-soaked sci-fi/horror series Ehmm Theory, as well as the new and equally violent Gingerdead Man comic. Could this master of horror and obscure B-movies deliver a story that kids could enjoy as well as adults? Fortunately, it’s a testament to McKinney’s versatility as a writer that he’s able to do this so flawlessly.
In Zoe Dare versus the Disasteroid, the titular protagonist is a world-renowned daredevil, whose talents lead to her being recruited for a top-secret, world-saving kind of mission. As an asteroid hurtles toward Earth, Agent Tarney Winfield (note: these are the last names of two of the gents who run Ultimate Comics) needs Zoe to alter its course. Eager to follow in the footsteps of her Jackie Chan-acolyte father, and working alongside her sister Danni and a pair of AI robots, Zoe accepts Winfield’s offer. Meanwhile, we also get a glimpse of the extraterrestrials looming in the background, who are the real threat here.
Story-wise, McKinney does a great job introducing us to Zoe and Danni in the first act. Both are characters who we can relate to, and whose interactions with each other feel organic and entertaining. Plus it’s an added bonus that the robots which Danni genetically engineered provide great comic relief; think Gabe’s pet cat Mr. Whispers in Ehmm Theory, but kid-friendly. Then in the second half Agent Winfield enters to set the stage for the rest of the series. Here, we also meet Zoe’s overtly cocky rival Race Thunderbuckler. All of this flows nicely, providing just the right amount of exposition for a first issue.
The art is also really interesting, as there’s a certain level of realism to it. While it’s still very much an adventurous story, with the opening pages even reminding me a bit of Speed Racer, Herman makes these characters more nuanced and detailed with his pencils, a contrast to the cartoonish aesthetic of McKinney’s other books. It’s almost like a cross between an 80s sci-fi movie and a modern one, which works great. If you love a good space adventure comic which combines aliens with Mad Max-esque action, get on over to Ultimate and buy this book.
-Kevin Schaefer for Ultimate Comics