Review by Frank Plowright
There’s a fair spread of writers involved over the five longer stories presented here, opening with cartoonist and visual designer of Zim’s animated series Aaron Alexovich both writing and drawing a story. It’s good. Zim attempts to discover Dib’s greatest fear, and there’s a darkness as he subjects Dib to a number of humiliations, and as Alexovich is the series designer and original artist he knows his way around the cast and how to present them to maximum effect. The story works its way to a surreal and bizarre conclusion, and is a very effective first writing attempt from Alexovich. Later in the collection Alexovich supplies another good laughfest. It begins with all children in the class Zim disguises himself to attend having their parents come along to display their workplace skills on Jobs Day. As an alien would-be conqueror Zim is counting on a free pass for that, but he’s not counted on a rare burst of efficiency from his robot assistant Gir. The result is an open invitation to the entire class to visit the zoo at Zim’s house any time they want. Curses! As Alexovich is an artist himself, his plot leaves plenty of room for now regular series artist Warren Wucinich, who creates some wonderfully gloppy creatures.
A good gag sets Danielle Koenig’s plot in motion for the second chapter, but it sinks in a succession of bitty experiences as Zim and Dib each try to prove they’re the bravest. Regular writer Eric Truenheart only contributes the single story here, as Zim becomes the Burrito King, but it’s not his best work, being a slim plot carried a long way. It does, however, feature a fabulous vomit illustration from Wucinich.
It’s a very welcome return for Invader Zim’s creator Jhonen Vasquez in the final longer chapter. He sets his sights on the addictive quality of anodyne, brightly coloured children’s animation, specifically Floopsy Bloops Schmoopsy, beloved of Gir. Zim’s first glance coincides with his just having generated the monster that will finally destroy civilisation, and a fun plot takes off from there.
A bonus short by Sam Logan and Jarrett Williams ties in nicely with the preceding work by Vasquez. Over four pages Zim gets it very wrong yet again in a story that works via the early introduction of a device with potential for disaster and the audience anticipating just when Zim will screw up.
Yes, there are a couple of disappointments, but the bonus to this collection is discovering what a good writer Alexovich is, and enough laughs overall to rank it better than volume 3.