Alright son! Are you ready for some blood, guts, bones and an abundance in questionable activity? Then boy do I have read for you!
Z is the stylish and surprisingly comic by Valentin Ramon. If I have anything to say about Z upfront it’s that I never realized how much I wanted a wordless comic until now. Yea, that’s right! The most you’ll get from Z in terms of dialogue are some simple images, and occasionally a character might yell something in it’s made up language. That’s it. Every page thrives on the work of its visuals alone…
And boy do they work well.
Detective Skelly is on the Case!
Let’s start with the story. So essentially, the main protagonist of this whole thing is a cool skeleton man I shall affectionately be calling “Skeledude” (Since he’s never given a legitimate name).
His day starts as any other. Wake up, make some eggs and watch some tv. Sadly, it doesn’t seem the tv has much to show that day, but whats this? The news interrupts with the scene of a gruesome mass death! And no one knows the cause…. Skeledude is intrigued.
So with his ragged cat (whom also remains nameless) he suits up and heads out to investigate. He arrives at the site and eventually confirms the cause as a suicide bombing. Now having the information necessary he sets off to do some digging, and possibly unravel whatever may be at the head of such an incident.
The rest of the story takes Skeledude from police station offices to underground organizations, all in pursuit of the greater good, kinda… or maybe he just likes doing this kind of stuff.
A Serious World with Hilarious Pacing
One of the key things to understand about Z is that it is very much a comedy in terms of overall tone. The cities made up of people who are either falling apart or bordering on zombification, and those who aren’t just like to wear gas masks all day. The burgers drip with mold and slime, and every wall has seemingly enough bacteria to rot skin from bone; something that seems to be quite the problem.
But for all the random death and disease it never takes the world too seriously. Z takes place in a universe that I could easily see being on Adult Swim alongside greats like Metalocalypse. It has that same grimy yet charming feel which hits that perfect note of “adult cartoon” I crave.
It’s dirty yet hilarious and never disappoints in its story, pacing, nor delivery. And there’s just as much delivery through action here as there are lines of dialogue in other comics.
Then there’s the man himself. There’s just something about skeledude’s slightly humped posture and nonchalant attitude that makes him as an almost Deadpool’ian character to me (of course you could argue that gives him a bit too much credit). The lack of facial expression and undeterminable age helps give him a certain cool vibe, and that’s not even mentioning the effect the art has on the character.
The Artist Should be Proud!
Of all things to tie the comic together, it has to be the artstyle and its ability to bring the world to life. Without it, nothing would feel quite the same in Z.
Backgrounds are detailed and character are disgusting in all the right ways. Bumpy, puss-filled citizens are given all the pours they need to hit that grimy note. Panel arrangements are great too, but the thing that stuck out to me – as it should – is the ability for Z to say all it needs to with just images alone. Where some comics can pride themselves on fluidity and motion, Z can pride itself on its superb use of expression.
Hand movements alone add so much in terms of context and expression. It’s almost embarrassing when you realize that other comics can spend page after page on dialogue and still not get the message or emotion across. Here you have all you need to follow the story, only rarely using symbols to get a point across (and usually for comedic effect).
I could go on all day about the art and pacing but here’s the main take away… In my opinion, Z showcases how much dialogue and text is simply a tool… not a necessity.
Alright so, some final words…
It’s a decent length. Hearing it had no dialogue made me wonder if it’d just be some short experimental thing a couple pages long; but it actually ends up spanning a satisfying length. It also manages to end on a note that actually gives it a real feeling of completion, whilst even saving room for a possible sequel… (please make another) …
At times it even borders on having some possible social commentary when it comes to organizations and the media… though I might just be reaching a bit on that one.
Overall I had a blast watching skeledude go from place to place with his large testicle-ed cat and disposable robots. It was a fun time and a great read. If you have any interest in reading a fun and comedic comic that experiments by throwing written dialogue right out the window then please go check Z out.
It is phenomenal!