Yes, you read the title right. Yes, that means I am reviewing an Invader Zim-related thing. No, I’m not reviewing old Invader Zim episodes or video games. Then what could it be, you may ask. Something new! Sadly, no, it isn’t a revival of the series… on television. Yes, that means there’s a revival in another medium: comic form. You may scoff at that, thinking some no-name writer has taken up the story and that it will be “Zim in name only,” but scoff ye not, for the original creator is the writer. I know, that’s not expected, but luckily Nick seemed to realize that only very few people are delightfully twisted enough to write Zim, and most of those people probably wouldn’t want to work with Nick in the first place! Welcome, one and all, to issues 1 and 2 of the Invader Zim comic book!
Now, if it’s been a while since you’ve Zimmed, the comic will hold you by the hand and walk you through what the premise of the show is, gently. If you’ve never seen or heard of Zim, it premiered the same night as The Fairly Oddparents, but obviously one went on to have infinity episodes, while the other kind of disappeared with only 27. Nick cancelled Invader Zim while they were doing episodes for Season 2 because the exuberant budget per episode did not justify the ratings the show got from its target demography. Funnily enough, Nick did not air the completed Season 2 episodes until 2006, 4 years after cancellation.
Needless to say, Zim did not end satisfactorily, but I say that was a good thing. Because of that, it has now become a cult classic as people realize how stellar a show it was. I was guilty of ignoring Zim for the dumber, more colorful shows back in 2002 when I was a wee lad, but after getting hit with the cynicism stick in my early teenage years back in 2006 and watching the series again for the first time in 4 years, I realized how amazing the show was. If Zim had kept going, it could’ve easily gone the route of Fairly Oddparents or Spongebob and lose its early cleverness in favor of the caricaturization of its existing characters and the constant introduction of new characters to reinvigorate a dying brand.
Now that the small history lesson is over and done with, let us dive into issue 1, which serves as a nice reintroduction to the characters. You see, in the indeterminate amount of time that has passed since the last episode of Zim aired and the Zim comic starting, Dib has spiraled into becoming the fat WOW player from South Park. Just as Zim had been gone from our lives, so too had he been gone from Dib’s. It’s revealed that Dib, as paranoid as ever, has never stopped spying on Zim’s house, waiting for the alien to someday emerge. After we get some hilarity from Gaz, one of the best goths to ever grace television, Zim suddenly emerges from his house. What was Zim doing in that time, you wonder? In true Zim fashion…
Zim’s ingenious plan, staying hidden for that long but indeterminate amount of time, was to make Dib get fat and out of shape. You see, he knew Dib would obsess over his absence and neglect everything in his life. To his credit, the plan went exactly as he expected. This, ladies and gents, is where the hilarity in this show comes from: Zim is a 50+ year old alien with super advanced tech, but is insane so he comes up with the most absurd plans that only make sense to him, and because this is an insane world, they often work.
With Gaz’s help, Dib gets back in shape, while Zim is off putting the next phase of his plan into action. You see, the next stage of the plan is to find the Gargantis Array. As an aside, I love how dark it is that Zim has that slave’s children and is holding them hostage at threat of death to get the slave to do as he wants, but it’s presented as comedy. And it works. I really shouldn’t expect less from the writer of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. Anyway, luckily for Earth and Dib, Zim is… not very smart.
Instead of going out to confront him, Zim moves on with the plan that he’d forgotten he was supposed to be enacting in his daytime television daze. There’s a funny sequence that happens here that I won’t spoil for you, but it features the return of a minor character that has since grown to meme status on the internet. Dib then runs home to open up his garage and follow Zim.
The second issue starts with reintroducing more characters, and beloved ones at that. We start with the leaders of the mighty Irken Empire, Tallest Red and Tallest Purple, aboard the Massive. As you can say, they’re as busy as ever… which is to say, not at all. They’re enjoying snacks as Zim broadcasts a message to them. Now remember, Zim’s been off the grid for a really long but indeterminate amount of time, so the Tallest were shocked when he showed up on their monitor. A life of an invader is not a peaceful one, so they thought he was dead (or perhaps subconsciously hoped he was dead). He assures them he’ll conquer Earth now. They don’t care. Well, other than that their most annoying invader is still alive.
To cut a long story short, a lot of cool gags that I do not want to ruin for you here happen as both Dib and Zim rush to the Gargantis Array. Zim is leading, as he knows where it is. Dib’s just following, and, in a very hilarious manner, eventually catches up with Zim and manages to shoot him down and blow up his ship. What happens there is also something I’m not willing to spoil here. You’re gonna have to read it for yourself, and then you can come back here and thank me for not telling you how it played out.
What happens on the Gargantis Array is everything that makes Zim such a special and funny series. You see, while there it’s revealed the Gargantis Array isn’t a Death Star, but a giant space transmitter that is able to transmit data, sound, images, videos—whatever—to the entire universe. Do you see where this is going? You see, Zim secretly recorded Dib’s training montage from issue 1 and, well:
So rather than trying to destroy Earth, Zim’s plan was just to humiliate Dib. He locked himself in his house for a long but indeterminate period of time, had a space battle, kidnapped a slave’s children and got his ship destroyed just to humiliate Dib. As I said before, this captures exactly what made Zim such a great show. This 2-part storyline felt like one of those epic Zim plots that span an entire episode instead of half. The comic itself, as you’ve probably seen from the images linked, the lines of the characters read exactly like they would on the show.
Usually, when something comes back in comic form, it’s usually to end. In true Jhonen Vasquez form, he’s clearly doing something different in having the comic be as episodic as the tv series. As a fan of the show (and definitely not the biggest out there; I don’t go to Hot Topic), I really dug this and strongly recommend you pick this series up. There’s a bunch of jokes and such that I did not spoil for that reason.
This story arc gets an 8/10.
Until the next Reign of Terror, I hope you die of old age surrounded by all of your loved ones!