Z-Girl: Odyssey #4 Review: Character Development and the End of the World
continues to be a pretty fun ride and this may be the best issue yet. See the suspense mount and our characters actually develop character.
Z and the four tigers have been searching for the thirteenth chapter of Gilgamesh but instead find artifacts and a whole lot of trouble. They must stop the apocalypse from coming. But when the enemy gets the upper hand, it may be time for the end of the world.
The concept of the four tigers is intriguing and explored in tidbits of dialogue. Apparently, each of the tiger spirits (Blue, White, Red and Black) transfer to the new host when the old host dies, but all of the voices of previous hosts remain in the new host's mind. I could see Z-Girl
running for a long time off of that concept since the tigers are effectively immortal but can completely change their cast of characters with ease.
The story itself isn't as unique or intriguing. It's the old find artifacts and save the world story that's been told dozens of times before. But it's executed this issue in a way that does something this five issue series really needed to stand out: It forwards character development.
Another issue is there are a couple of spelling mistakes. Two of the most glaring issues include a quote from Master Lao on page five. He says "The four of you must now away to Shandong and await my arrival." Then on page 25, Moffett says "Your innate is suffocating your will like a boa on a bunny." Innate what? I think we're missing a word there.
Something that was hard to follow in this story were the action scenes. There are just so many characters fighting at once that it can be overwhelming to read the action sequences at times. The biggest problem with this series has always been that there are so many characters. This makes it incredibly difficult for each to be memorable. The many villains easily get lost in the crowd. In this issue, the main characters become a bit more distinctive. Before, Z was by far the most memorable member of the crew. But now the latest Red Tiger is given a bit more backstory to make her more sympathetic. White is given a lot more dialogue and Michael too, though their personalities are still a little difficult to pin down. Blue, unfortunately, still remains the least developed of the team by far, as did the tigers back in 6th century China. However, the Red Tiger from the 6th century was introduced and he actually had some pretty funny lines in the short amount of time he was in the story. Still, there are numerous villains who have some tidbits of their history dropped, but not enough to get a feel for any of them, other than Moffett.
The best part of the story is the inner-battle Z goes through. It makes me really admire her character in a way, and it created a lot of suspense in the story. Her dialogue with the villainous Moffett was also entertaining and made me not only enjoy her character, but Moffett's as well. He's this cruel little creature whose name humorously reminds me of a Muppets'. His banter back and forth with Z girl was enjoyable.
This part also features some of the best artwork I've seen from Kirk Manley. His designs are usually unique and he draws Z very well in these panels. There's a one page spread in particular with Z, Master Lao and all the tigers in agony and its drawn well. However, Z girl is sprawled out unconscious in a position that's awkwardly trying to be sexy at one point. There are also still a couple of quirks in the artwork that I don't like, including too much shading and some awkward expressions, like Red Tiger's in the flashback.
During this flashback I also enjoyed the colors, which were matted by Miguel Marques. The background had a red tint that I found symbolic of the Red Tiger's discovery. The rest of the colors also suited the tone for the rest of the story. They are bright and really make the artwork pop out at you, especially in the two page spread below. Though there is a lot going on in that panel that, like the rest of the action, can be overwhelming.
With only one more issue to go, I'm looking forward to seeing how this story will come to a close and I'm hoping the next issue will continue to get better at developing the characters. But this issue, despite its problems, has made me interested in seeing these characters again.
If you're interested in seeing these characters again right now, read my reviews of Z-Girl: Odyssey #1, #2