Review: Hybrid Zero

Zoe Artemis Chithuri Able is a very unusual girl. Her father Ian is human, clone son of Dr Jacob Able, owner of at least three worlds. Her mother Arealea is Quterion (horned humanoid), a race that serves as soldiers for the State.

But Zoe's unconventional nature is more than just her mixed heritage. Her body is heavily augmented with military technology, powered by an energy crystal embedded in her neck. Augmentation is nothing new to Quterions; Arealea has ludicrously enlarged breasts because she was originally designed as a paramour (to make walking possible she also has a tail and a reinforced spine). Not to be outdone, Ian is also upgraded as a hypertrophic hulk.

Dr Able summons them to his home on Eridanos, a world contained within a vast planetship that he owns. Ian's sister Case is trapped within her automated laboratory following an experiment to open a gateway into a new universe. Entering the lab will be dangerous due to the defensive systems that have come online in response to some unknown emergency, but Dr Abel is confident that his hyperpowered granddaughter is equal to the task. She is certainly eager to leap in to the fray... 

Hybrid Zero from writer Bill McCormick and storyteller/artist Cyril Brown is a comical tale for mature readers (McCormick also brought us the boob-tastic Legends Parallel) but there is much more here than just sex jokes in space. We are introduced to a complex interspecies society with a variety of different cultures, rituals and social norms. All is not rosy in this grand arena; human separatists are protesting for the preservation of the human body from technological modifications. On planet Cerks the Quterion troops are accused of excessive use of force in quashing a rebellion, earning themselves a reputation as aggressive demons... which might explain Zoe's penchant for destruction whenever she is given half a chance, as the robot defenders of her grandfather's garden soon discover.

How will she fare against whatever mysterious being has stepped through the portal her aunt has ripped in the fabric of spacetime?  If she fails, what are the consequences for the fate of the universe?

Central to the story are the relationships between Zoe and her parents, in particular their unconventional marriage and somewhat questionable parenting: what kind of mother designs her own child's body as a weapon?

Brown's art is an unrestrained explosion of Expressionist fervour, portraying hyper-expansive worldbuilding and surreal sensuality. He also created the characters and conceived the original story, so this is from the heart, and it shows. It's not all cartoony spectacle, though, he also excels at vast, atmospheric futuristic cityscapes and complex exotic architecture and infrastructures. There is plenty here to delight the eye ... 

Especially if you like extremely over-the-top space operas that include characters with unfeasibly large body parts. 


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