Hey, Zim fans! Do you like Dib? Good! Because this is a Dib issue!
Invader Zim #8 (Oni Press)
In this adventure, Zim forms an alliance with the Ubertrouser, Queen of the Space Pants (a symbiotic species that possesses populations by replacing their pants with meat and tentacles). Dib manages to avoid being pantsed and joins forces with jock-girl Groyna, the only other non-pantsed kid in skool. Together they will overthrow the Ubertrouser, but not really “together” because the team-up only last a couple of pages.
Well, *I* like Dib, anyway. Some people complain about him, but I think he’s only insufferable when he’s relegated to the obnoxious “butt monkey” stereotype. He’s actually a far more endurable character when the writers let him win a few now and again.
Dib’s at his best in this issue, with Zim being out of the picture outside of bookending sequences, leaving him to figure out the scheme and how to thwart it. Writer Eric Trueheart frames the story with an inner-monologue done in a journal style and he balances the aspects of Dib nicely that way. Dib is the only human who notices or cares when weird shit happens, but he’s also a bit of a self-important douche about it. He’s benevolent but also lightly arrogant, so you want him to succeed but feel okay when he gets shit on by the world.
I liked the new character in Groyna, the only other survivor of the pants-pocalypse. It’s refreshing to see another character agree with Dib and work with him rather than constantly antagonize him. Unfortunately, she doesn’t really get to team up with Dib for very long and the story forgets about her in favor of a new partner (whom I won’t spoil for you).
Now, I know this is going to be something of a backhanded compliment, but I guess I feel the need to say it. At times, Trueheart perhaps channels the humor of the Invader Zim cartoon a little *too* accurately. One of the more irritating running gags in the show was how the writers thought that certain words were funny in and of themselves. So characters would say “moose” like it was a punchline or something. It isn’t a joke, it’s just the word “moose” and no amount of repetition is somehow going to make that word funny all by itself.
Trueheart does that with “pants” in this issue. The actual Space Pants creatures were neat (and gruesomely rendered by the layout and artist team of Aaron Alexovich and Dave Crosland), but the word “pants” isn’t funny. Trueheart gets points for channeling the cartoon’s sense of humor, but it was the wrong tradition to keep alive.
Is It Good?
Invader Zim #8 maybe isn’t the funniest issue of the series, but it’s still really imaginative, dark and weird; it hits all the points you want from a Zim story I wouldn’t qualify it as bad (they haven’t really had a “bad” issue yet) and it’s a relief to see Dib come out on top by the last page for a change.