Zinnober #1 Review: A Great Premise with Shaky Storytelling

Zinnober #1
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Writers: Thorsten Brochhaus and Ralf Singh, Artist: Ralf Singh, Inker: Cristian Docolomansky, Color Artist: Ilaria Fella, Letters: Taylor Esposito, Cover by: Ralf Singh, Cristian Docolomansky, and Ilaria Fella, Variant Cover by: Nic Klein, Scout Production: Kurt Knippel, Special Thanks: Scott Duvall, Marc Scmitz, and Henning Mehrtens, Publisher: Scout Comics, Release Date: Out Now, Price: $3.99

Claire and James have found a lone dog chained up in the middle of a London street. It’s being used as bait, and Claire won’t allow that. She goes down to untie the poor animal, knowing it’s a trap. The men behind this trap spring it upon her arrival, but she isn’t the intended target. A large dragon swoops down to burn and consume Claire and the men. Dragons have emerged, and it’s their world now.

Zinnober #1 cover by Ralf Singh, Cristian Docolomansky, and Ilaria Fella
Zinnober #1 cover by Ralf Singh, Cristian Docolomansky, and Ilaria Fella

I was looking forward to Zinnober when I first saw its preview some months back. Unfortunately, it took my local comic shop some time to get a copy for me, so I’ve just now been able to cover it.

A dragon apocalypse story is so weirdly up my alley that I couldn’t not read it. I love dragons. They are the hands-down coolest mythical creature, and so much has variation has been done with the idea.

The dragons of Zinnober are the traditional quadrupedal winged beasts that breath fire. It’s a classic design, and I’m game for it.

Zinnober kind of doubles as a kaiju story too, so that’s cool.

Plus, Reign of Fire is a good movie. If you’ve never seen it, it’s also a UK-based dragon apocalypse story. It’s got Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey in it. Check it out. It’s a great early-2000’s flick.

To focus upon the quality of Zinnober for a second: it has fundamental flaws which it manages to overcome…somewhat.

Claire and James are a little dull as characters. They are stock military-type characters. They get a third teammate in the form of a scientist character. He balances out the chemistry somewhat, but it doesn’t fix that two of the leads border on cypher territory.

The dialogue is spotty too, with clichés, vague statements, and overused jokes sprinkled throughout.

Another big problem, and this one is hard to get right despite how important it is, the sense of space is off. It’s hard to tell where many characters are in relation to one another in many sequences of the comic. It’s subtle, and it could be fixed with more establishing panels. It’s not back-breaking, as you can fill in the gaps for the book. However, it is something that needs work.

Zinnober #1 art by Ralf Singh, Cristian Docolomansky, and Ilaria Fella
Zinnober #1 art by Ralf Singh, Cristian Docolomansky, and Ilaria Fella

Ralf Singh’s artwork is good despite this problem. It is a little sterile-feeling at times, but the detailing is good. Characters are expressive when they need to be. The dragons do look pretty damn cool too. Ilaria Fella’s color art is similarly solid, though it could also use some variance to cure its own sense of sterility.

Zinnober #1 is a heavily flawed comic with a damn cool premise. It’s not outright bad, as it has a number of saving graces to keep its head above water. I can tentatively recommend it to those who, like me, love this as an idea for a comic. Beyond that, I will have to see where this series goes before recommending it to anyone else.

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About Joshua Davison

Josh is a longtime super hero comic fan and an aspiring comic book and fiction writer himself. He also trades in videogames, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering, and he is also a budding film buff. He's always been a huge nerd, and he hopes to contribute something of worth to the wider geek culture conversation. He is also happy to announce that he is the new Reviews Editor for Bleeding Cool. Follow on Twitter @joshdavisonbolt.