Long before he got into a rock and roll band, Gene Simmons of Kiss was into comic books. When Kiss was at the height of their 1970s popularity, they even had two comics produced by Marvel (using real Kiss blood no less). It is therefore no surprise that Simmons now has his own comics imprint – Simmons Comics Group, which is published by IDW. Simmons was the brains behind the creation of Gene Simmons Zipper, a science fiction story about the quest for individualism.
Zipper is the story of Denizen Xeng Ral of Etheria, whose only crime against his people is trying to think for himself. Etheria’s people are part of a collective and individual thought is forbidden. The mantra of the people of Etheria is “we are one,” which, not coincidentally, is the name of a Simmons-penned Kiss song from the Psycho Circus album. When the people of Etheria try to capture Ral to recondition him and return him to the collective, he flees. Donning a suit covered in zippers and boarding a spacecraft, Ral ends up in Detroit.
It is there that we learn the suit can mimic human appearances, as well as study the language to determine the appropriate response to any question. This makes for some humorous scenes when Ral attempts to greet people as his English is good, but not perfect. He greets the first person he meets by saying, “One wishes hell oh, you.”
While Ral gets used to his surroundings in Detroit, a shady preacher named Dr. Foster H Deveroux tries to rile up a crowd in Los Angeles at his Cosmic Defense Ministry Cathedral saying, “in a universe we know, both scientifically and religiously, to be infinite, how can we possibly be alone? And, if we are not alone, how can we possibly be safe?” We can be sure that Deveroux will mobilize his parishioners against Ral once he is discovered.
And that discovery shouldn’t take long. Back in Detroit, Ral finds a drug dealer named Ronnie J being threatened by a rival gang, reverts from his human appearance to his zipper costume and takes out the entire gang on his own using chains and blades. The gang stood no chance against the fierce attack of Ral, who is later christened “Zipper” by the Ronnie J after his costume and because Ronnie J can’t pronounce his real name. The story ends with Zipper and Ronnie J on the run from the law and Etheria’s forces sending a search party out for Zipper.
Zipper is written by Tom Waltz with artwork by Casey Maloney. While the crooked preacher character is a bit cliched, the story is otherwise well written with excellent artwork. Zipper has managed to anger a lot of people on his journey toward individualism, and his encounters with these new enemies should make for an entertaining read in the issues to come.