Before I get into the heart of the matter with what’s worrying me about Invader Zim’s current comic run, let me say right off the bat that this issue is good. In fact, it’s great. It would have made a perfect episode of the original series and matches in tone very closely to the series’ darker storylines such as "Dark Harvest", "Tak: The Hideous New Girl", and "Halloween Spectacular of Spooky Doom." The pieces in place move effortlessly against each other to feel like a shake-up of the formula even while returning to the status quo by the end. In other words, Invader Zim #12 is, again, a perfect episode of the original series. Eric Trueheart has written for Zim in the past and it genuinely shows. If you had told me that Jhonen Vasquez was behind this issue, I would have believed you in a heartbeat. The only reason I’m not giving this issue a 5/5 is for the fact that the best Invader Zim storylines benefit from the anticipation that comes with a two-parter or being backed up by some form of long-running continuity a la Tak’s ship or the coming of the Armada.
In this issue, Zim travels to a future in which he has conquered Earth and subsequently attempts to wrestle Earth from himself and, as with Zim's best episodes and issues, its strengths lie in its solid sense of continuity and world-building. Many of this issue’s jokes come from the ‘"where are they now?" question hovering above minor characters including GIR, Prof. Membrane and Zim’s Robo-parents. This is the work of a man who was handed a World Bible and wanted to see how far they could bend the rules before breaking them.
There’s also a phenomenal bonus-comic at the end of this one. Stay past the hypothetical credits.
Yet, I’m worried about the rotating writer/artist gimmick. Certainly this is nothing new to comic books in general and it’s often used as a means of determining which writers and artists are the best fit or are the most popular with its demographic and if this experiment landed us with a Trueheart/Wucinich combo on an at-least semi-permanent status, I’d be extremely happy.
But Invader Zim is, as I’ve said before, difficult. I can’t, at this moment in time, recommend that anyone keep Zim in their pull file as, in the last 2 issues, we’ve gone from IZ’s comic nadir to its loftiest heights and that’s going to make buying the trade paperback a tough sell in that its quality, as of issue #11, is now varying wildly.
Again, this issue was wonderful and I highly recommend it. I would just pay very close attention to reviews (mine or otherwise) before picking up later issues.
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Invader Zim #12 Writer: Eric Trueheart Layouts: Aaron Alexovich Artist: Warren Wucinich Publisher: Oni Press Price: $3.99 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital