An electroclash action/horror/comedy
in 6 brutal installments.
written by Jason Squamata
illustrated by Andrew Mc Kenzie.
ZER0 DEMO CONCEPT ART on this page BY
SIR RICHARD WENTWORTH.
pages above from HYPNO KOMIX #0.
(design by OWEN HUNTER based on art by ANDREW Mc KENZIE).
Suddenly, the soundtrack. A vertiginous mash-up of James Barry's "007" theme and the Jimi Hendrix "Star-Spangled Banner". The images come at you like an uberpop superspy credit sequence that need never end, introducing a paranoid, adrenalized action movie too intense to actually exist.
Behold the machine that screams beneath the scar-spangled skin of FREEDOM. Welcome to the United Syndicates of Americorp. It's the world outside your window, only MORESO. It's a garish nightmare strip-mall, with fifty states and flavors of terror on sale forever, while supplies last. No money down. Everything must go.
And the perfect hero for such a turgid, troubled NOW?
Adam Zer0, agent of D.A.D.D.Y. (Diverse Applications for Disfigured and Deprogrammed Youth), the most brainwashed man in the world. He has no fundamental identity. In between missions, he's shaved and naked, in the Zero Zone, meditating on a screen full of static, waiting for a reason to exist. When it comes, he's dressed up in a new skin and psyche, complete with surgical alterations and synthetic memories. He's then dispatched from the Institute by the enigmatic Dr. Greenbaum with a target and a game to play.
A lone nut psycho sleeper agent in a manic metropolis called Kakodelphia, infiltrating chic revolutionary cells and exotic terrorist cabals, waiting for his chance to explode into Zer0. His default personality, once activated, is that of an archetypal action movie superspy badass. Hardboiled to the point of psychosis.
Throughout the series, in the background of Zer0's ceaseless fight for "freedom", we'll see various forms of mind control merchandising, like "LABRATZ" (a popular Saturday morning cartoon with its own line of fashions and stimulants for kids), and SOMATECH (the pharmaceutical conglomerate that generates all global foodstuffs)... "Life is a laboratory. BE the experiment. ...SOMATECH.".
The style: a series of densely iconic poster-style splash pages.
Twenty-two antisocial spectacles per issue.
In AMERIKAN ZER0! Episodes 1-6, Adam Zer0 conducts a massacre at Kakodelphia High, destroys President Brock Ogama in an epic Kung-Fu battle in the Oval Office, kicks a puppy, engineers an Islamic fundamentalist kamikaze hijacking, becomes an ad man, turns Citizen Glitch’s Warholesque underworld to a glittering bloodbath, incites a prison riot at Guantanamo Bay, lays waste to the Burning Flag festival, becomes a Hollywood drug dealer, becomes his own clone sister, engages in multiple acts of cannibalism, murders the First Lady once- and the robot facsimile President 6 times, is attacked by (and defeats) the animatronik recreation of every US President in history in the Labratz Hall of Presidents, blows up the LABRATZ AMERIKA theme park, and takes over the US Government. Read on, behold, bear witness...
In Episode One (entitled “THE GENERATION GASH!”), Adam Zer0 is so deep undercover as an alienated high school kid named Joe Nuthing that he thinks his life as a superspy is just an ultraviolent fantasy. Until he gets the signal and the dufflebag of weapons shows up on his doorstep and he knows it’s time to achieve his objective. He goes to school with his brainwashed sidekick and goes on a massive killing spree, murdering everyone who’s ever snubbed him with precocious precision. Then there’s a moment of uncertainty. Has he executed a secret mission for reasons of national security or is he just a Ritalin-fried psycho who dreamt he was a hero? He terminates the sidekick. Then the special forces team moves in (ahead of the police). They plant and shoot the brain-dead Joe Nuthing clone that will make it all look almost normal. The “real” Joe is rushed into a presidential limousine like the very one JFK was killed in. Kakodelphia West High School was a hotbed of latent terrorism. Mission accomplished. Game over.
The limo takes him back to the Institute (HQ and research center for D.A.D.D.Y. and all associated agencies), where he is stripped of the lineaments of his Joe Nuthing identity. The skin grafts and the false face are removed. He’s brainwashed back into a Zero State. His default personality rises to the surface. He’s received in the Zer0 Zone by Dr. Greenbaum (his mentor and chief programmer, director of D.A.D.D.Y. and inventor of the Zer0 Process) and Eva Zer0 (his female clone, the ultimate seductrix, the sex to his violence, effortlessly dominating all men but her clone-brother, for whom she becomes the ultimate masochist).
The Zero Zone is a mission control center where they survey Zer0’s life and environment through surveillance screens of various shapes and sizes. D.A.D.D.Y.’s nano-cams are everywhere. From here, Greenbaum directs his special agent, providing downloads, directives, endorphin eruptions, and inspirational soundtracks. It’s like the inside of Zer0’s brain.
Zer0 wants some downtime , but Kakodelphia is a feeding frenzy of killer cults and cabals. Freedom never sleeps. It can’t. The sleep of freedom brings the terror. Greenbaum brings him up to speed on the insidious activities of his various “villains”. More importantly, Zer0 has a meeting scheduled with Brock Ogama, the newly elected President of the U.S.A.. He wears his most ruthless identity, makes it nice and tight. He jumps into the ergonomic Zero-mobile and races from the Institute to the White House. Time and space and geography are beside the point.
In the Oval office, Ogama thanks Zer0 for the terrible things he’s done for his country during a confusing transitional moment in its history, but he’s being decommissioned. Zer0 laughs and explains, “Mr. President, I’m here to decommission YOU.” An epic kung-fu battle in the Oval Office ensues, Adam Zer0 vs. Brock Ogama, who has clearly had some combat training... but not enough. Zero paralyzes him and drags him into the bathroom, where he’s tortured and marinated all night long in a bathtub of special chemicals.
Zer0 always eats the flesh of a worthy opponent... to assimilate his fighting skills.
When he’s done eating, he finds a cadre of Pentagon generals in the Oval Office, putting the faceplate on the Ogamatron 3000, a realistic robot duplicate of Ogama that will maintain an illusion of enlightened liberalism while covertly serving the interests of the military-industrial complex. The generals applaud Zer0’s lethal efficiency and politely avoid the topic of his cannibalism. Like Ogama, they think Zer0 works for them. He’s pleased with himself (as usual). A robot in the White House is job security. But he has more important matters to attend to.
There are thirty-three messages from Eva on the microchip in his frontal lobe (which he set to “vibrate” during his feast). Dr. Greenbaum is MISSING!
The man who made Adam Zer0 who and what he is cannot be located, despite the Zer0 Zone's electronic omniscience.
Zer0 kicks a puppy to build up his adrenalin and takes to the streets, a ticking timebomb with a license to annihilate...in search of the THE MAN FROM D.A.D.D.Y.!
In Episode Two (entitled “THE MAN FROM D.A.D.D.Y.!”), Zer0 is hunting high and low for Dr. Greenbaum, looking in every closet and under every rock for a trace of the Mozart of mind control. At every turn, useful information pertaining to Greenbaum’s origins and associations are withheld from Zer0 due to security clearance issues. Bureaucracy is interfering with his ability to get the job done, and he’s becoming a little unhinged without his mentor’s guidance.
He goes undercover as a terrorist sheik and puts together some Islamic fundamentalist kamikaze hijacking teams. Throughout the process of engineering an accident, Zer0 reflects fondly on his childhood at Kamp Summerland, where he was taken as a boy after being kidnapped, where he was taken under Greenbaum’s wing and turned into a killing machine.
And he likes it.
Eva, meanwhile, has been seducing and enslaving powerful men and women in every quadrant of government, looking for leads on the whereabouts of Greenbaum. Zer0 is exiting one of two skyscrapers where he’s been planting bombs (just in case) as airplanes are crashing into their upper levels. He gets a location from Eva.
A cheap hotel in Kakodelphia where Greenbaum stayed when he was first smuggled into the country, after World War Two. They find him eight days dead. His meat is rotten, and may have brain-damaging hallucinogenic side effects, but Zer0 eats him anyway, to find out who did this.
He receives a garbled download, a cut-up montage of Greenbaum’s life story.
And he knows who killed his father figure.
The Advertising Dynasties.
He cocks all his guns at once and dons the aviator shades that hide his bugged-out eyes.
Adam Zer0 is taking the war straight to Madison Avenue.
It's the power of persuasion vs. the power of...POWER!
Everything will soon be under control.
If this were a real emergency, you'd already be dead.
In Episode Three (entitled “HOW TO GET AHEAD IN SOCIETRY!”) Zer0 is deep undercover as an ad exec named Ned Nemo.
The Advertising Dynasties murdered Greenbaum.
Zer0 needs to know what they're scheming and get some bloody revenge in the process.
The Dynasties claim they've been practicing "societry" (the subtle programming of cultures and the collective unconscious) since the Tower of Babel "incident".
In Zer0's eyes, they're just another cult of loonies, but they're a valuable branch of the Amerikan Technocracy... a branch that might be going rogue.
The advertising adepts suss out his true identity fairly quickly. All the major execs take a drug called telepathine, and corporate espionage is almost impossible when everyone on the board of directors (and some of the secretaries) can read your mind. Senior partners Herman Toth and Maven Mercury tell him that Greenbaum was involved in negotiations with a former associate of theirs who went mad and missing: Orji Walflauer, imagineer behind the LABRATZ franchise. He's been underground since he cracked up, but there've been rumors.
He calls himself Citizen Glitch, now. He's a cross between Andy Warhol and Z-Man Barzell (from Russ Meyer's "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls"). He's throwing seedy recreational brainwashing parties at a secret club called "The Reality Faktory", apparently test-marketing entertainments and merchandise based on the Zer0 Process. The ingenuity of these products indicates an intimate knowledge of Greenbaum's brainchild. Eva enters this bizarre demimonde (undercover as socialite Velouria Solaris). She gets exposed and brainwashed by Glitch.
She becomes an underground movie star in his infamous surveillance operas. They're making a movie based on Adam Zer0's life. Zer0 penetrates the Faktory, fighting flashy assassins based on Warhol superstars. They've all been brainwashed into thinking that they're Adam Zer0, too. Not quite. He kills his way to Glitch. They have an intense philosophical converation. Then he takes his revenge for Greenbaum, for Eva, for destroying his faith in human nature.
He murders Glitch but he won't consume him.
There's nothing he wants to know in that flesh.
The "liberated" Eva has been smuggled to the west coast through a countercultural underground railroad. Her scrambled head is full of D.A.D.D.Y. data that CANNOT fall into the wrong hands.
She won't stay free for long. No one ever does.
So says ADAM ZER0!
In Episode Four (entitled “SUMMER OF HATE!”) D.A.D.D.Y. (now under Zer0's control) has traced Eva to a countercultural cosmic love festival in the radioactive desert wastes of Nevada. Zer0 is eager to go get her, but she's received much of the same training that he has. She's probably even more dangerous now that Glitch has had his way with her.
So he's taking a sabbatical, of sorts, to deepen his reservoirs of rage and killer instinct.
He goes deep undercover as a suspected terrorist, interned at Guantanamo Bay, locked up with some of his most horrible arch-enemies and some of his surviving scapegoats from the airplane disaster. He plays mindgames with the prisoners and staff, incites a riot, then takes over the prison.
This is what he does to unwind.
He kills the warden for letting it happen, peels off his faux terrorist sim-skin, and hits the road. Invigorated. Energized.
The Burning Flag festival has been set up as a kind of trap for him (by forces that, for now, shall remain nameless). It's like Zer0 in Wonderland, wandering from camp to camp, which present kooky cartoon versions of various counter-cutures and revolutionary movements. It's an inversion of "The Prisoner", with mad tea party after mad tea party trying to free his mind (to no avail) and ending up as a psychedelic bloodbath.
He leaves them all dusted in his wake, burning one dream after another in search of Eva.
He hasn't bothered to assume a cover identity.
He wants her to see him naked and unashamed, coming from a great distance to bring her back to the Institute. In pieces, if necessary.
He makes it at last to THE SYSTEM camp, where a team of refugees from the Reality Faktory fight him almost to a standstill. They're all buzzed on a drug called Zerozine, which makes you feel like Adam Zer0 for up to fifteen minutes per hit.
That's generally all one needs to neutralize all opposition.
But again, there's no substitute for the real thing. There's one Systemite left alive and coming down, confessing everything. They work for the Advertising Dynasties, for Mercury and Toth.
They were working with Greenbaum on commercializing and disseminating his technologies, growing a Zer0 in every home. There was a disagreement.
He took his business to Citizen Glitch, so they killed him and used Zer0 to eliminate Glitch.
Now they've taken Eva to Hollywood.
"Thanks, hippie. You've been very helpful."
Zer0 doesn't want to be famous. It might interfere with his work. Eva can't hide in the bright lights of a dream city. He'll smell her through the smog. He hijacks an art car and heads West.
Burn, Hollywood. BURN!
In Episode Five (entitled “HOT PINK ZER0!”), we find Eva Zer0 in Hollywood, leading the half-life of a controversial celebutante. She’s in negotiations with several studios.
She’s selling her life story to the highest bidder (“I was a psychoprogrammed sex slave for the CIA!”, that sort of thing). Her handlers are Mercury and Toth, the AdMen.
They’re providing her with sanctuary from the machinations of D.A.D.D.Y. .
Her clone-brother is out there, somewhere, watching her, waiting for his moment. The Advertising Dynasties are hoping to use “HOT PINK ZERO!”, her lurid biopic, as the spearhead of a media blitz that will inject their Zer0-based recreational brainwashing products into the cultural conversation.
Adam tries a series of showbiz cover identities through which to make contact with Eva, but he can’t seem to penetrate her entourage. He finally gets close to her as a drug dealer named Nigel Nil. He knows how to hide his mind from her, or maybe she wants to be destroyed. He hooks her and her celebutante friends on Zerozine (which he’s perfected in his makeshift laboratory).
She overdoses and he wakes up in her body, long enough to seduce and destroy Toth and Mercury. She eats them like Adam would and digests all their strange secret knowledge.
Then she waits for Nigel to come and peel off his fake face and eat her own tainted meat.
He eats her alive with tears in his eyes.
It's a candlelight cannibal feast in a suite at the Chateau Marmont.
He's the loneliest man in the world, because he almost owns it.
He burps the essence of the only woman who was tough enough to love him.
It's the cozy quiet before the storm.
In Episode Six (entitled “WORLD WAR 3000!”), in the corridors of power, there's been a bit of trouble with the Ogamatron 3000.
Though he was designed to be a robotic puppet for the military industrial complex, his mind is a digital map of Brock Ogama's mind, and Brock Ogama was a profoundly moral man.
The glitch is this: the Ogamatron keeps developing a conscience. Zer0 (still recovering from the grueling emotional and physical struggles of his showdown with Eva) has been forced to visit the White House again and again and kill the malfunctioning president on a regular basis, as that conscience kicks in and he again tries to coax his government from the clutches of the complex.
Zer0 kills the Ogamatron 3000 Mark 1, 2, 3, and 4 like he's taking out the trash. It becomes part of his routine. The Mark 5 confesses his robot nature to Ogama's wife and children.
They're making desperately discreet arrangements to get to safety.
Their plan is to expose the bloody machinations of D.A.D.D.Y. and Zer0's part in every front page atrocity from 9/11 to the K. West massacre.
The Ogamatron promises the children he'll take them to the LABRATZ AMERIKA themepark when it's all over and the threat of Zer0 has been neutralized.
Zer0 goes deep under cover as the first lady’s elderly father. He murders her and the little girls. The Ogamatron then goes haywire and disappears with the infamous black box and the severed executive hands it will need to trigger a global atomic Armageddon. He's hiding someplace, trying to keep from overheating with grief, thinking it over.
Zer0 tracks him down to LABRATZ AMERIKA. He has the park evacuated. The Ogamatron is hiding with a host of other animatronic recreations in the Labratz Hall of Presidents. At Zer0's approach, all the presidential eyes go red and they leap into action, controlled by the Ogamatron, hunting Zer0 through themepark attractions based on all-Amerikan conspiracy theories.
He ends up deactivating all the Presidents but the Ogamatron, but the Presidents were just a distraction.
The Ogamatron 3000 (Mark 5) has realized that democracy is impossible on planet Earth, and maybe for the human race in general. He's programmed sentience into all the animatronik Labratz that populate the park. They're helping him build a rocket. They plan to establish an incorruptible robot democracy on the moon.
Ogama leaves the "doomsday box" for Zer0 before the robots blast off. He hopes Zer0 will use it. Why prolong the inevitable? Oh, he'll use it, all right. Through his microchip, Zer0 negotiates a temporary emergency truce between all the warring nations of Earth. He tells them the Ogamtron still has the doomsday box, that he's taking it with him.
All life on this planet could end at the whim of a lunar robot democracy.
In a moment of universal brotherhood, the United Nations blow the Labratz rocket out of the sky.
It's a small world, after all.
The world cheers. Burning Labratz plummet from the heavens and the whole park catches fire. Its nightly pyrotechnics are triggered. Labratz Amerika is a cartoon holocaust. In bits of wreckage, Zer0 finds the Ogamatron's faceplate and wears it as a codpiece.
he drives back to the Oval Office. The world is in disarray.
The generals are desperately trying to activate another Ogamatron.
The vice president almost sits at the big desk.
Zer0 walks in, says, "Don't even think about it".
The Mark 6 keeps blowing fuses and bursting into tears whenever they give it a jump start.
Zer0 beats it to pieces with the previous President's baseball bat. He's declaring martial law.
HE's got the box.
Maybe he can finally get some work done, ending terror and whatnot.
His State of the Union address gives nightmares to all who hear it, and will for generations to come... "My fellow Amerikans. This is President Zer0. I am not who I am...
...and EVERYTHING IS UNDER CONTROL".