Zip is bizarrely interesting. It has a lot of the same superhero clichés one expects. There are plenty of similarities between it and other superpower-themed media. But it’s also creative in some of the ways it tackles familiar tropes. Mike Scrase, the writer, builds a fascinating world and an even more fascinating main character in Zip. Her real name is Alison, but she goes by the sound she makes whenever she’s running. Right away, Scrase uses textbox narration to clue the readers into the not-so-ordinary protagonist. If you haven’t figured out her powers yet based on the title, references to fast heartbeats, slow motions and food intake will clue you into the fact that she has super speed.
The initial introduction to Zip infers that her gimmick is chasing drivers who go over the speed limit. Having a superhero with superspeed be something of a traffic vigilante is grounds for comedy and irony. But Zip twists this into something of a negative. Given her reckless tendencies, she often causes drivers to be surprised and injured by her appearance. This later piles onto her already growing list of insecurities to do with her powers. There’s something about the narrative that likens Zip’s conflict with her ability to disabilities and neurodivergence; how some things that should be easy for other people are not so much for her.
This “my power versus me” dynamic is something we see all the time in superhero media. In Bungo Stray Dogs, Atsushi has a hard time accepting his ability because of the danger it poses to other people. More on that in our review of the light novel Bungo Stray Dogs: Dead Apple—but I digress. Then we have Izuku from My Hero Academia’s continued frustration in his inability to master One for All quickly. Outside of anime, there’s Peter Parker in Spider-Man 2 and how his dual identity interferes with his own happiness. It’s a very common trope in superhero media. But I really like how Zip resolves it here. “Even if I don’t mean anything to the world, everyday I mean the world to just one person. That’s enough” – that’s an excellent line to wrap up her character arc within this one issue.
Another common trope is the subject of immortality. Often times in superhero stories, the downsides of living forever is tied to the emotional aspect of it. What if all your loved ones died and it’s just you left behind? How do you cope with an ever-changing world? Think Wolverine and Wonder Woman. But Zip is interesting in how Scrase looks at it through a scientific lens. Like, sure—your body may live forever. But can your brain actually keep up with the strain of it? That’s an interesting question that I’ve yet to see posed before. Then there’s the serum that helps retain lucidity in this state of immortality. I like how it’s almost similar to drugs in that taking too much of it can result in immunity to its effects.
Visually, the achromatic scheme gives it a very superhero noir vibe. The use of multiple mediums – from pencil shading, charcoal to even watercolor splotches – keeps everything fresh despite the sameness of the color. San Espina creates a beautiful city backdrop with lights and polluted air with just the shades between black and white. The only con to this is that I feel like Zip is a very vibrant and colorful character. This doesn’t come across as well in this palette; we can’t get the full extent of her personality because a fundamental ingredient in expressing that visually are colors. However, this does pair well with her inner conflict and dark thoughts when dealing with her powers. The fun panel layouts also add dynamic dimensions to the pages in place of colors.
That last sequence where Zip saves the little boy as she jumps through electrical currents is something to behold; it reminds me of the Quicksilver kitchen scene in X-Men: Days of Future Past. That’s not the only time I’ve come to compare the two characters. It’s not just because of the superspeed either! She has this line at the very beginning: “I can’t run away from who I am – actually that’s pretty much the only thing I can’t run from”. It has a similar effect to the famous Quicksilver quote from the X-Men: Apocalypse: “For a guy who moves as fast as me, I always seem to be too late”. It’s this irony of despite how fast either of them are—there are still some things out of their reach. That no matter how fast they run, they just can’t change everything.
Are you a big fan of speedsters like Flash or Quicksilver? Like exploring different superhero tropes in a noir vibe? Zip #1 will be crowdfunding on Kickstarter. Be sure to check out their page whenever it launches! Also, do talk to us on Twitter and Instagram and let us know how fast you want this comic to be out now!