The elephant in the room is that it didn't turn out that Oni and Nickelodeon came together to give Jhonen Vasquez his baby back, but rather lent him his baby back for a short comic run. I'm not going to put that on Jhonen, Oni, or Nickelodeon, it was probably a good idea and I'm sure Vasquez is a busy guy with artistic aspirations aside from his decade-old cartoon. This isn't the first it's been brought up, but Comic Bastards finally got its act together and put me, a raging anti-socialite, on its Zim reviews. I congratulate them on their taste. Being a Zim die-hard, however, I am disappointed about watching the man who was cited in interviews regarding the television run as being essentially the sole creative voice behind the franchise leave. Whether this is what Vasquez wants or not aside, it's a little sad to see. Invader Zim is a deceptively difficult formula to sell, resting daintily between a lot of different tones: creepy, not too creepy. Cynical, not too world-weary or hostile. Aesthetically pleasing but also just grotesque enough to repulse. Dramatic, never too dramatic. Free-flowing but never at the risk of making the world of Invader Zim feel less cohesive. Invader Zim is tough. Invader Zim at its best is really tough.
Pretty bad it turns out.
It's not impossible to put a unique spin on Invader Zim and be successful. Internet funnyman KC Green managed to make Invader Zim both unmistakable in style and unlike any iteration of the character we'd seen before, but in this newest issue, I feel as though I'm looking at the Zim that I saw interpreted so many times before by DeviantArt, a cute, bumbling cloudcuckoolander whose sole defining characteristics are quirkiness and a desire for random acts of petty violence.
It's tempting to make the joke that this is in fact all that comprises Zim's character, and yet somehow would it not feel off if I told you that two of Zim's written dialogue lines are “Ohmigod” and “Aw. Such a precious little metal killing machine” because I don't believe that's just me. Richard Horvitz, the voice of Zim on the TV show, noted Zim's lack of reserve once, saying that the constant screaming was tough on his voice, and claiming that Zim would never rely on “Gir?” when he could just as well scream “GIR!!”
That's also not to mention the horribly mishandled joke behind "precious little killing machine" seeing as Zim has both never regarded anything as being cute and does not in fact comprehend the concept of 'cuteness' to any degree at all. I accept this as being very much a fan complaint.
There's tons of this weird, cutesy fan-misinterpretation in this small space of an issue and it stands out as #11's most glaring flaw. The art feels rushed and unpolished when put in stark comparison to the other issues, including the similarly styled but immediately more charismatic and notable KC Green issue. Lastly, and most damningly, the story feels boring and trite compared to any episode of Zim or really any other issue of Zim. Another petty revenge scheme against Dib and another contrived means of conflict resolution. This is a format that was palatable when we had sterling, utterly unique art and writing to compliment it, but here shines as being the lone gray hair atop Zim's otherwise beautiful green head.
I'm giving Invader Zim #11 a 1/5 not because it's so reprehensible, I've read worse comics this month, but that I have no reason to recommend it to anyone. There are comics that are bad but may be of interest to someone for some reason, even in spectacle. This issue is a dinner that you didn't like yesterday being reheated and served to you today, and if the fact that I had to rely on a food metaphor doesn't say enough about my bored contempt for this issue, then I'm going to have to say let's agree to disagree.
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Invader Zim #11 Writer: Sarah Andersen Artist: Sarah Andersen Publisher: Oni Press Price: $3.99 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital