While Invader Zim only lasted three glorious season on Nickelodeon, faithful servants of the Irken Empire (or “fans,” as we like to call ourselves) were waiting years for Operation Impending Doom 2 to resume in any way, shape, or form. Ten months ago, we got that when “Invader Zim” appeared on the comic shelves, and all was well once again.
Written by Dennis and Jessie Hopeless
Illustrated by Dave Crosland
After witnessing a shameless and pathetic human ritual known as a “Talent Show”, in which the winner gets PRAISE and EXULTATION for just bringing in some cool animal, ZIM decides to capture a Snarlbeast, one of the most feared monsters in the galaxy. Then, how the humans will worship him!
Dennis and Jessie Hopeless have done a fantastic job capturing the voices of the characters. Every word Zim speaks is emphasized in just such a way that it’s impossible to not read it in Richard Horvitz’s voice. Even the minor characters, like the Recap Kid who appears at the start of every issue, has a very clear voice that you can match to characters from the show, helped immensely by the very formatting of the words.
Dave Crosland’s art, enhanced by the coloring by Warren Wucinich, manages to mimic Jhonen Vasquez’s style from the show perfectly (not so much his comic style, but unless we want Zim to go “Johnny the Homicidal Maniac” on us, it’s probably for the best). The panels shrink and grow with the intensity of the action and the dialogue, expanding with every shout and shrinking with every snarky aside.
However, that’s been a consistent trait throughout the entire run, which says little about this individual issue. Like many of the previous issues in this run, it involves Zim trying to take advantage of some human issue or fascination – in this case, our collective obsession with cute or interesting animals, following a student winning a talent contest for his amazing talent of…owning a snake.
Of course, pointing out the preposterousness of the situation leads to yet another glorious Ms. Bitters line: “Life is full of disappointment, Dib. Get used to it.”
So this issue focuses on Zim’s attempts at finding an animal impressive enough to wow the entire human race and make them submit to him. Given the nature of humanity in “Invader Zim” (a dark and exaggerated, but often relatable reflection of our society) it could even conceivably work, if not for Zim’s incompetence.
We get some great lines and good gags, such as Zim’s ship having a very specific maximum sandwich capacity, or Gir’s musing on having bones (he does, but we don’t know who they belonged to). And when Zim finds a nice comfortable couch from which to remotely hunt, I had to wonder if there was a subtle “Monster Hunter” reference in there (probably not).
The monstrous aliens and robotic ship designs get to show off new designs by Crosland, creating something unique and fun to watch. As Dib so eloquently put it: “So. Many. Teeth. Why does it need all those teeth?” Yet Crosland also manages to capture a nice combination of “cute kitten” and “alien” with another creature, once more shining a light on our fascination with cute little animals.
However, this story is incredibly linear; there’s little in the way of asides and turns, which isn’t too unusual for the “Invader Zim” comics. After all, they’re trying to tell a full “Zim” story in under 20 pages (each issue is self-contained, just like each episode of the TV show was), so there’s little time for shocking twists; we won’t see an issue end with Dib proclaiming “Hail the Irken Empire” any time soon.
Still, that makes this issue feel a little more simple and forgettable, compared to some of the other stories we’ve seen from this comic. After the invasion of the radioactive rubber pants, or Zim’s foray into the art world, I may have set my standards a little high for each issue.
Final Verdict: 7.4 – It’s fine as far as individual “Invader Zim” stories go, with strong writing and artwork, but little in the way of a real “laugh out loud” experience, and overall a little forgettable. However, this does not detract from the comic’s solid run, and was still an overall positive read; I’d recommend it for fans of “Invader Zim,” but not for the casual reader who just grabs an issue now and then or is looking to get started.