Zoo Force

Posted: Tuesday, July 27, 2004
By: Steve Saville

Cover of Zoo Force Writer(s): John Ira Thomas
Artist(s): Jeremy Smith
Publishers: Candle Light Press (Self Published)
From: USA
Price: $6.95 (US)

'Zoo Force' is the tale of a group of 'wannabe' super heroes trying to get a foothold in the law enforcement world of Freedom City. The fact that they are polar bear, a chicken, a prairie dog and a human called Ding who has something resembling a bucket on his head ensures that they have some difficulty in being taken seriously. They are finally relocated to the suburbs in a Government sponsored placement programme. Not surprisingly there is not a heck of a lot of super heroing to be done in ‘burbs.

Yes this is a humerous comic, in fact in places it is just downright funny. The structure of the comic is interesting. It starts with a wonderfully atmospheric episode set in Snowball’s [the polar bear] icy homeland. In fact the most effective sections of 'Zoo Force' are those that centre on Snowball writing home from his new base in Texas. They are wordy but the art work is great and the humour effective. Offbeat but delightfully so.

The comic can be divided into four sections. The first is the above mentioned letters home section. The second is where the story is told through numerous editions of the Zoo Force comic [also sent home by Snowball]. The third section resembles a child's colouring book. Large pictures and simplistic captions. The fourth is a puzzles section.

Each section devolves from the sophisticated art and humour of the opening section and becomes increasingly simplistic. I assume that this is a deliberate attempt at showing how the mundane life in the suburbs leaches the heroic ambitions from the would be heroes and replaces it with an inane life revolving around shopping, eating fast food and other activities based around consumerism. If this is the case then the point is well made and effective. If it is not the intended effect then I would have to say that the effective opening section is not sustained throughout.

The comic book section contains a developed plot but very basic art work while the art work in the colouring book is fine but the captions are simplistic to the point of almost negating the concept of plot entirely.

The members of Zoo Force are introduced as a fascinating menagerie and I must confess that I would have preferred that this comic maintained the style and tone of the opening seventeen pages but that is just my own personal opinion. My reason for this is simply that these pages are so good and the characters so interesting that I wanted more. Smith and Thomas have a point to make though and all power to them for producing this bravely eclectic comic.

In a Word: Diverse.

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