Sean Maher's Quality Control

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

APE Decompression: The Nearly Infamous Zango

Ah, bless good aul Rob Osborne.

Long-time fans of Osborne's work will recognize some of his best thematic material in The Nearly Infamous Zango #1, which chronicles a moment of truth (and its haphazard fallout) in the life of super-villain Zango.

Being a plain old super-villain ain't enough for Zango, who is right at home in the oeuvre of a man whose first book was about his desire to conquer the earth through comics. No; Zango shouts it from the mountain tops, "I want to be the greatest villain alive!"

The book is full of naked ambition, charismatic and convincing as much as it is ill-conceived and comedic. You never know quite how seriously to take him; Osborne's got a great poker face. You find yourself rooting for his characters: kept in check as they are by their mistakes and stumbles, they never give up. You begin to hope this guy will become the greatest villain alive, though the road be long and steep.

Osborne also begins working on building an ensemble here, and I think it's a stronger book for it - watching Zango interact with his flirty and flighty daughter, or the mad scientist who's building his army, or big-dumb-and-strong Van Freako, is a big part of the fun, as each character makes him look ridiculous in a different way and helps build the challenging framework of his life. They lend a structure to the issue, and to the potentially ongoing story, that could give the series some legs if Osborne decides to make this a longer-term project.

It's a fun goddamn book, available online at Khepri (which now features a five-page preview, containing one of my favorite sequences in the book). His other books - 1000 Steps To World Domination and Sunset City - are published by AiT/Planet Lar and should be available in any discerning comics shop.
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