In this issue, Dib gets kidnapped by a pair of aliens who want to ransom him off to Zim in exchange for the Invader’s new humongoserum. What the aliens don’t know is that Zim doesn’t give a damn about Dib and no amount of torture will ever sway him. What Zim doesn’t know is that Dib has swallowed the humongoserum, which leads to further complications.
Invader Zim #13 (Oni Press)
On the surface, this story sounds like a retread of the Invader Zim episode “Abducted”, but the only thing it actually has in common with that previous adventure is a character getting abducted by a pair of stupid aliens. The situation this time around is wholly different and Dib’s predicament is nothing like what Zim went through in that episode of the cartoon. So don’t be too quick to make comparisons! Like I just did.
Writer Eric Trueheart spins something fresh with this alien abduction scenario, wrapping the plot around a ransom scheme. Much of the humor revolves around Dib getting tortured by the aliens in a vain effort to get Zim to crack, but most Invader Zim stories rely on Dib getting brutalized, so that’s nothing new. We all like seeing him suffer, otherwise we wouldn’t be reading this comic in the first place.
There’s a nice compromise at the end, where Zim gets his comeuppance while Dib is still left in some form of agony. I always like those sorts of endings; it’s a rule that Dib can never win, but I hate it when he’s the only one to get it. Zim needs his ass kicked, too. It’s only fair.
The duo of alien abductors don’t receive very strong personalities and come across as the weakest part of the story. Perhaps Trueheart should have just made them the same aliens from “Abducted” (who, as it happens, originated from Jhonen Vasquez’s Squee comic); at least then their voices would have been intuitive. As it stands, the scenario is fun but the antagonists don’t leave much of an impression.
Warren Wucinich’s art has a slightly cuter touch to it than some of his predecessors while still sticking to the Zim aesthetic. I like it; you can tell who the artist is by looking at the page but never feel that their work is un-Zim-like. There’s a fantastic splash page where Zim is pursued through the aliens’ ship by a monster, rendered as a cross-section cutaway of the ship as Zim flees from floor to floor. Fred Stresing’s colors get the cartoon’s palette across, but I noticed he likes to include a lot of background starbursts whenever something happens that needs one-panel emphasis. It’s funny; reminds me of how those Secret Squirrel cartoons that were aired with 2 Stupid Dogs would do these weird starburst entrances with a guitar sting whenever Secret showed up. You probably don’t know what I’m talking about but that’s okay.
There’s a backup story again, “The Sweat Spot” by Jarrett Williams and Jeremy Lawson. In this one, Zim tries to steal sweat from a gym to power his new device but is thwarted at the last minute. While it doesn’t stand out as much as last issue’s backup, the running gag of Zim creepily sneaking sweat off of gym patrons was funny enough to fill a short.
Invader Zim #13 maintains the humor of the comic for another month; maybe not doing anything too ambitious, but it doesn’t necessarily have to. And hey, if you haven’t yet, check out our interview with this issue’s creative team!