Over two previous volumes Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl has surely been taken to the heart of any youngster who’s read her adventures. She’s good-natured and resourceful, but what she really wants to do is find her way back home to Earth. Despite carrying out a planet-saving mission in Legends of Zita the Spacegirl, the promised method of getting her home didn’t materialise, so her search continues. Unfortunately, though, not everyone sees her heroics in the same way as the people she saved, and the sample art shows her in a bit of a pickle as she’s trapped in jail.

Whereas Zita’s bravery was confined to wherever she found herself previously, Hatke ups the tension here by placing Earth under threat from a covetous warlord. While as thrilling and enjoyable as ever, there is a slight downside to Return of Zita the Spacegirl because without having read the previous two books some of the characters and devices that help out seem randomly introduced. Perhaps a few narrative captions would have solved the problem, or perhaps it’s something younger readers just don’t care about.

As ever, this is fast-moving with constant twists, yet always with a logical foundation keeping Zita’s exploits credible, and if there’s a message it’s that everyone makes mistakes, which is okay as long as they’re acknowledged and there’s a willingness to put things right. That’s an essential part of Zita’s character, and even though she’s frequently told she can’t save everyone, that’s just what she’ll try to do. However, for those who remember the earlier books, a returning character is used to reflect Zita’s attitude in a shocking way. Or are they?

Does Zita make it back home to family and friends again? No clues here, but she is seen again in the third volume of Hatke’s subsequent feature Mighty Jack. Never mind about that yet, though, lap up the sheer high-spirited joy of Zita’s Return.