Captain Zero: Into the Abyss Review

I’ve been following the journey of Lamard Cher-Aimé as he works to bring to life Captain Zero as an animated series. When he asked if someone could review his short featuring Captain Zero. I jumped at the opportunity. 

Synopsis: Journey into the psyche of Xerxes Hughes as he tries to uncover the cause of his random blackouts in order to stop his depression demon–a physical manifestation of all his deep seeded insecurities in order to save his city and himself. It stars Pose (2018) and American Horror Story (2011) actress & Executive Producer Angelica Ross as Dr. Niobe, Xerxes’ therapist, and confidant.

The short jumps right into the action as Xerxes is talking with Dr. Niobe in a mental health session. The animation is beautiful and you can feel the tension. Xerxes is speaking about having blackouts and the screen keeps cutting to a completely black screen which combined with the score builds up this intense scene between the two. The sound design of the short is incredible and it keeps you on the edge of your seat from the start. The dynamic between Xerxes and Dr. Niobe is story telling at its finest. The character design has a lot of thought and care in it. As a Black man I can tell this was created by a Black person. That makes all the difference as it feels authentic. 

As a hero Xerxes has to hold back things and he even catches himself when he’s caught off guard by one of Dr. Niobe’s questions. The composition and directing was really good. As the son of a father that has severe mental health illness I am very much an advocate for mental health treatment and seeking help. 

This was a great intro into Captain Zero but it left me instantly wanting more. Why is he seeking help now? How did he become a hero? Why does he think his boss is evil? I have so many questions. 

His demon is very real. Most people that deal with mental health issues their demons are real.

You can watch the short below.

I said I wanted more and guess what. You can watch the EXTENDED 8-Minute version with 3 minutes of additional footage exclusively on the website below. 

⤵️ Captain Zero Extended Short

Watching the extended version is a must. There were some important themes laid out in this short. Dr. Niobe stated, “I don’t get a lot of Black clients. In the world we’re living in, they could use it the most.” This quote hit home hard. Nothing is more truer than this statement. Xerxes spoke about not seeking treatment before because of fear the the stigma in the Black community. These are important themes to open with and sets the tone for the series. 

This quote sums up the short for me. “The unresolved stays unresolved.” That is great writing and I want it on a t-shirt. To really get the full messaging and heart of this short you have to watch the full 8-minute version. 

I was cackling when Dr. Niobe stated she knew “the whole time” Xerxes was Captain Zero. The voice acting is excellent and contributes to the story telling. The music and sound design help pull you into the story. Imagine an entire series where we see a struggling Black hero talk through his issues through mental health treatment. That is a revolutionary story in itself. He is not only fighting external villains but also evil within himself. 

I need this series. We need this series. I am tired of watching white men save disproportionately white worlds. We too can save all people, including white people, in fiction, as we do in real life on a very regular basis, if given the chance. This series is a part of a movement. A movement about us getting proportional representation in popular culture and ending the racist media marginalization of our existence that has persisted our entire lives. 

Superheroes usually feel a need to hide their secret identities and I have been an loud voice that Black people are the perfect candidates to be heroes. Who has more experience with those stories than Black people that have been forced to code switch and/or pass as white for safety and/or opportunity in white America our entire lives? Who is more prepared to live the life of a hero than us?
It’s all fiction. So why have comics and Hollywood continued to racistly and sexistly go out of their way to only represent white men as heroes? If it doesn’t matter who’s portrayed as the hero… Why not us? Why not anyone else? It’s because it does matter. It matters who the hero is and who is saved because representation matters.
Black Voices Matter.
Black Artists Matter.
Black Stories Matter.
Black Mental Health Matters.
Black Culture Matters.
Because Black Lives Matter.

Well done Lamard and company. I look forward to seeing more from Captain Zero. 

If you’d like to help Captain Zero get on the air or a mobile device near you, consider donating to their Go Fund me! Website: Twitter: @CaptainZeroTAS Instagram: @CaptainZeroTAS