The third issue of Oni Press’s Invader Zim revival initiates a new story arc! And ends it, too! Such economy is to be admired.
Invader Zim #3 (Oni Press)
Posing as pop artist Shmimvader Shmim, Zim plans to unleash the interdimensional horror known as the Star Donkey upon the Earth. The shambling monstrosity will then kick all the humans off of the planet… unless Dib can stop him, first! But Dib can’t stop anything.
If these first three issues of the series are any indication, Oni’s Invader Zim comic will be rotating between longer story arcs and one-shot adventures. It’s sort of like how the cartoon mostly did 15-minute stories, but occasionally resorted to half-hour plots for the bigger events. And in that regard, the format only continues to keep the Invader Zim comic feeling as authentic to the Invader Zim cartoon as possible.
This story comes off like any other Invader Zim episode, and by that I mean the evil scheme isn’t so much the draw as it is the trappings and humor that surrounds it. Eric Trueheart continues to channel the voices of the characters and the letters by Warren Wucinich emphasis the right words and phrases to create the show’s distinctive “screaming” technique. It’s a great marriage of dialogue and lettering that’s both intuitive and subtle; Richard Horvitz might as well be narrating in your ear.
The overall plot revolves around jabs at the modern/pop art movement, hitting all the points about flash-over-substance we identify with the medium. While some of the gags get a bit worn out toward the end of the issue (the cowed masses constantly calling Zim a genius, even when he’s babbling), it’s a one-shot story so nothing detrimentally overstays its welcome.
Now, I guess this is the point where I address the ending, so don’t read if you don’t want to be spoiled. Or go ahead and read. I ain’t the bossa you.
But yeah, the issue ends with the Earth being destroyed and everybody dying (only for things to be reset by next issue). And you know what? That’s absolutely okay.
The Invader Zim TV series pulled that shit all the time. Remember the episode where Dib and Zim got turned into bologna and were left in an abandoned house, surrounded by hungry dogs about to eat them? Or the episode that ended with Dib getting stuck in the outhouse of an interdimensional pig-guy, doomed to scrub his toilet for eternity?
The show had plenty of episodes that ended with, maybe not the world being destroyed, but the characters in a pretty bad place… only for the next episode to reset everything. And sometimes they’d even mention the “bad end” episodes later on, acknowledging that they happened. That’s just the way the Invader Zim cartoon was written, so it makes sense that the comic would follow suit.
And I’m fine with that. Zim needn’t be a slave to continuity and a serialized consistency.
It’s hard to find new things to say about Aaron Alexovich’s art; it’s wonderfully on-model and very lively. I think the layouts deserve some praise this time around, as no two pages look the same and the panels can get pretty wild (framing images with scope displays, TV screens or tearing paper). He’s very good at angles, too; staging the characters in dynamic, overly dramatic poses that, again, channel the look and feel of the cartoon’s intense storyboarding style.
If I had one criticism, it would be that I can’t quite decipher Rikki Simons’ coloring logic on when to give “serious GIR” his read glow and when to keep it blue. Sometimes GIR is following Zim’s orders and doing as he’s told, but he’s still blue. Other times, he’s following orders and he turns red (as he did in the show whenever he flipped into duty mode). I’m not sure why one is more red-worthy than the other.
But who am I to question Simons’ logic when it comes to GIR? The guy played him in the cartoon, for crying out loud. And it’s not like there was ever any decipherable logic to GIR, anyway.
Is It Good?
Yes. A fun one-off story that hopefully means the series will toggle back and forth between longer and shorter adventures.