Tripwire continues its 100 Graphic Novels You Should Read While Stuck Inside with its seventy-fourth choice, Zenith: Book One Tygers, by Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell published by Rebellion and reviewed by Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows…
Zenith: Book One: Tygers
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Steve Yeowell
Letters: Mark King
Today’s choice is Zenith: Book One, the series that got writer Grant Morrison noticed. Originally serialised in 2000AD back in 1987, Zenith is the story of an arrogant young superhero and how he gets the shock of his youthful life when monsters from another dimension try to take over England. So he is forced to gather together former superteam Cloud 9 to battle the evil Nazi Masterman they have brought back to life.
It’s easy to forget just how bold this was when it came out back in 1987. Morrison now is a veteran with decades of experience under his belt but at this point he had only written licensed kids strip Zoids for Marvel UK.
Zenith is primordial Morrison, exploring many of the themes he went on to obsess with in great detail like celebrity, 1980s culture and music.
Zenith obviously owes a bit to Moore and Delano’s Captain Britain although the protagonist is a mouthy young kid rather than Braddock’s more calming influence. You can also witness the shadows of Moore and Gibbons’ Watchmen here too although Morrison’s take on superheroes is less critical and more celebratory than Moore’s approach.
Artist Steve Yeowell is a classic British comics illustrator and he works extremely well with Morrison, creating Zenith’s 1980s England with a comicbook twist with real style and panache. Seeing it in black and white really makes it pop off the page and Yeowell is a fantastic storyteller.
The short episodic nature of 2000AD also means that the whole tale is done in just 88 pages and it is this discipline which taught Morrison how to boil down his concepts into very small chunks.
It is a little bit clunky in places but it still contains the essence of Grant Morrison and foreshadows what was to come in his writing career. The first book of Zenith is a wonderfully British affair with some genuinely bold concepts from Morrison and some of the finest comics storytelling of the 1980s. It more than deserves its place in this list. If readers are coming to this for the first time, it will feel like a refreshing take on the superhero.
Here’s links to the other graphic novels reviewed so far