The first issue of Invader Zim from Oni Press hit all the right buttons and made me real excited to see the return of Zim, Dib and the rest. Did the creative team keep the momentum up with this second issue?
Invader Zim #2 (Oni Press)
Yeah, actually. They did.
As Dib chases Zim across the reaches of space, their target is the Gargantis Array. The fate of Earth will be decided on whoever finds it first… whatever IT is. But of course, along the way they stop at every stupid spaceside attraction they can find.
Jhonen Vasquez, creator of Zim, and his co-writer Eric Truehart tie-up a 2-parter with this issue. I’m not sure if that’ll be the format for the whole series, nothing but 2-parters, but the pacing fits the material. Invader Zim, the cartoon, was an episodic series even if it built up a mythology and dabbled in story arcs. Plots were still done in either 15 or 30 minutes. So with that in mind, a series of 2-parters feels appropriate over a neverending serialized storyline.
The main plot of issue #2 sees Dib tracking Zim across space and constantly stopping at tourist traps that are ridiculous and stupid. The gag is okay and artist Aaron Alexovich continues to nail the house style of the Zim franchise. It’s one thing to draw the main characters on-model, but to also draw original aliens and still have them feel like they stepped out of a Zim episode; that takes some bonus talent.
But the real highlight of this issue isn’t the main plot or the string of gags, but Dib’s banter with his new spaceship.
In the cartoon, Dib inherited the ship from the one-off villain Tak, another Irken Invader. The ship was programmed with her personality and he spent a few episodes trying to override her so he could repair and pilot the ship. With this issue, we see that he’s essentially gained a modicum of control over the computer, but it’s still programmed with Tak’s personality and hates his guts.
Their back and forth is fun and ship-Tak makes for a nice foil for Dib. Unlike Gaz, Dib’s other foil who hates him and undermines him whenever she has to share page space with him, ship-Tak is sort of forced to do whatever Dib says but doesn’t make it easy on him. It’s a similar but different relationship that I think makes the ship a better foil for Dib than Gaz.
There’s a twist ending that feels like it stepped out of the show, both in the best and worst ways, I suppose. It reminded me of the ending to “Dib’s Wonderful Life of Doom”, actually. I don’t have a problem with “everybody shits on Dib” endings, just that the cartoon resorted to that a LOT, so I hope the comic offers a bit more variety in how it resolves stories at the 1 yard-line.
Anyway, Oni’s Invader Zim is still going strong. New character dynamics added and some familiar faces are reintroduced with this installment (the Tallest). If there are any Zim fans out there who haven’t picked up this comic, I dunno why they’re waiting.
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