While I’d been enjoying Oni’s Zim comic without much of a speed bump, I had felt it was starting to get into a rut. It needed some sort of a shakeup to reinvigorate things. But it’s not my job to suggest what, exactly, since I’m a consumer and therefore by definition don’t know what I want.
I just know what I like. And I *really* liked this issue.
Invader Zim #12 (Oni Press)
In this adventure, Dib pursues Zim into the future where he’s horrified to discover that Zim has already conquered the Earth! Zim is pleased at first and expects to join his older self as co-ruler of the world. Unfortunately, the Mature Zim of the future is a total jerk and Zim the Younger quickly grows to resent himself. The only way to take Emperor Zim down a peg is for Li’l Zim to go back in time and stop him from succeeding, but to do that he’ll need help from Dib.
With a script by Eric Trueheart and art by Aaron Alexovich (layouts) and Warren Wucinich (finishes), this installment adheres to what’s made the series a great read so far, but breaks free of the formula in the right places to freshen the toilet bowl. I love stories where Zim and Dib have to work together to overcome a greater threat, but admittedly you can’t have those sorts of stories too often or they’d lose impact and/or damage the adversarial dynamic of the leads. But it’s fun to have these when we get them.
Tak’s ship, who was reintroduced in the first issue of the series has been noticeably absent from the book for an extended period. It’s been a bit of a sting, as the relationship between it and Dib as established was really fun and I think readers had been clamoring to see them together again (Recap Kid indicates as much in the opening recap). Tak’s ship is a better sidekick to Dib than Gaz ever was, as it still mocks him and hates him but otherwise *has* to follow his orders due to its programming. Dib has enough characters constantly undermining or attacking him; it’s nice to have one who actually helps him even if they still despise him every step of the way.
The actual plot involving Future Zim being a total jerk provides plenty of comedy in that weird grey area of dark humor that the Zim cartoon and comics have always nailed so precisely. The future is horrific and full of dead bodies (and a throne made of human flesh), but those dead bodies are always funny… somehow. Trueheart makes it work.
There’s also a truly wonderful backup story by Dave Crosland, “Invasion!”, that’s equally dark but less overtly comical. It’s a story about Dib waking up in a horrible future and losing his identity to a nightmarish world he doesn’t recognize… all penned in whimsical verse! I hope we see more backups like that.
I don’t want to say that this issue “turned things around”, because it’s not like the Zim book was heading in the wrong direction or anything. It’s more like this issue livened things up and that’s always welcome.