2000AD/Rebellion announces ‘The Complete Zenith’

by  in Comic News Comment
2000AD/Rebellion announces ‘The Complete Zenith’

Rather coyly, the folks at 2000AD posted this image on their Facebook timeline a few days ago. It could be seen as the culmination in a series of dropped hints that began with assorted editorial staff turning up at recent conventions in T-shirts adorned with the Zenith logo. Today they have announced that, for the first time, they’ll be reprinting a complete collected edition of Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell’s lost superhero masterpiece Zenith.

Morrison had a lengthy period in comics before Zenith, working for assorted undergrounds and indies, DC Thomson and Marvel UK, but I think it’s fair to say that this was his breakthrough work in the 1980s for 2000AD, the strip were he really found his voice, and led directly to him being scooped up by DC Comic for Animal Man. The rest, as they say, is history.

2000AD PR droid Michael Molcher states: “Thanks to legal complications the whole of the series has never been reprinted before. So this is the first complete Zenith in a hardback £100 (about $151 U.S.) limited and never-to-be-repeated edition. It will be exclusively available for pre-order through our online shop on 1 July and we’re expecting insanely high demand (copies of the individual Phases got for over £100 a time on eBay!).”

The full official press release reads:

2000 AD is to publish a complete collection of Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell’s ground-breaking superhero series Zenith for the first time. The limited edition hardback book will only be available from the 2000 AD online shop. Restricted in 1,000 copies, it will be available for pre-order from 1 July and will be published on 1 December.

Never collected in its entirety before, this is a unique opportunity to own the whole of Morrison’s first superhero series in a never-to-be-repeated format.Zenith is the world’s first “Superbrat” – a vain, self-obsessed, egotistical pop singer whose only interests are girls, partying, and where he is in the charts. Yet he does not realise that there are mighty forces at work which seek to enslave the Earth – and use him to do it!

Starting in 1987, Zenith heralded the arrival of a talent who has since gone on to become one of the biggest names in comic books. A very cynical British take on superheroes, Zenith showcases themes and ideas found throughout Morrison’s later work for Marvel and DC, and demonstrates his remarkable depth and maturity as a writer. Yeowell’s striking black and white artwork gave the strip a vitality and rawness that still shines through today.

The collection will feature all four series, or ‘phases’, the latter two of which have never been reprinted. It will also include later stories by Morrison and Mark Millar.

Both Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell have been informed of the exciting plans for The Complete Zenith, and this new edition is being handled with the same respect and close attention to detail that 2000 AD gives all its much-praised archive reproductions. The Complete Zenith is one of more than 30 graphic novels that 2000 AD will release in 2013.

2000AD/Rebellion’s press release for the book rather fudges how the legendary conflict over the matter of Zenith‘s ownership rights has been resolved to a point where this book can now be announced. (“Both Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell have been informed of the exciting plans for The Complete Zenith” doesn’t really make anything clearer.) Due to the strip debuting at a time of relative editorial instability at 2000AD, Morrison has always asserted that no paperwork exists supporting any claims by the anthology’s then-publishers of ownership, or that it was created as work-for-hire; there are no copyright notices displayed anywhere on the two page press release. Some compromise has clearly been reached, the details of which will doubtless come to light later: As such, there’s a certain “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” quality to this news. Another classic, once presumed lost forever,  lurches out of limbo and back into print. Rejoice!