Off-Panel: Invader Zim Comics

Invader Zim was an animated dark comedy series on Nickelodeon about an alien named Zim who travels to Earth (with his malfunctioning robot sidekick GIR) with the intention of conquering Earth and enslaving all of humanity. However, Zim had to do so while overcoming his own incompetence and battling against Dib, a child paranormal investigator who was equally incompetent. The show was adored by audiences and critics, and is often considered one of Nickelodeon’s best series. It’s even still heavily celebrated today with t-shirts, backpacks, and other merchandise. There was even a recent movie made for the series, Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus, which aired on Netflix. 

However, despite the series being loved and celebrated by so many, Invader Zim only lasted 27 episodes. Fans everywhere had to go on not knowing what happened with Zim, GIR, Dib, Gaz, and their other favorite characters. Even Jhonen Vasquez, the creator of Invader Zim, has said he didn’t know how people could live without knowing what happened in the world of Invader Zim. Thankfully, Vasquez teamed up with Oni Press and Nickelodeon to revive Invader Zim as a comic book series in 2015. Fans could rejoice as they could finally revisit the story they adored so much, making the Invader Zim comics a perfect topic of this installment of Off-Panel.

After a decade of Zim-less entertainment, Jhonen Vasquez returned to write the continued story in the comics, with the help of some of his fellow returning Invader Zim crew. Eric Trueheart, who worked as a writer for the TV series returned to write the comic alongside Vasquez. Aaron Alexovich, who was a concept artist for the show, returned as a writer and artist for the comic. Rikki Simons, who voiced GIR and was a colorist for the show, now does coloring for the comic. Megan Lawton does inking for the comics, but is the only initial comics member who did not work on the original Invader Zim cartoon. Other artists, such as Dave Crosland, Warren Wucinich, and Fred C. Stressing, joined to work on the comics after several issues had already been released. 

The comic series began with Issue 0, which took the form of a fictional fanzine titled “TruthShrieker.” “TruthShrieker” focused on news reports and conspiracy theories about the paranormal, especially regarding where Invader Zim has been for all this time. Of course, the fanzine is published by Zim’s nemesis Dib. It was a fun way to announce that Invader Zim will continue on as a comic book while showing the reader that Zim has been away for a while (like how the series was away for so long in real life) that fits in well with the world of this series. Fans got the chance to speculate what happened to Zim like Dib did. 

Issue 1 is the perfect way to start the series, as they joke that it feels like Zim has been away for what seems like years. Fans of the original series can immediately relate to this, since they had to wait at least a decade to see their evil alien friend again. They explain the absence in an incredibly witty way that only Invader Zim writers could. Dib has been away as well. He’s been locked away in his lair getting fat since he never looked away from his security monitors on Zim’s home. When Zim finally emerges, Dib realizes that something must finally be “up” with him and prepares to resume their battle for Earth’s fate. It’s all as creative, hilarious, and action-packed as the TV series always was. 

From there, the adventures of Zim, GIR, Dib, and Gaz pick up like they were never really gone. We finally get to experience more of their out-of-this-world shenanigans, like summoning the giant Star Donkey, GIR bringing home a stray cat, and Zim wearing the wrong pants leading to deadly consequences. 

It’s genuinely refreshing to see new stories set in this strange world I grew up with. When I found the first issue on a store shelf a handful of years ago, I was ecstatic. I was made even happier to see that it was Jhonen Vasquez continuing his vision he never got to complete. Each of the characters that have been missed, including Dr. Membrane and the Almighty Tallest, return for new tales. The tone and dark humor echo that of the TV series perfectly. Best of all, the creepy-cool art style in the comic that fans immediately recognize is identical to the show as well. 

In February of 2020, it was announced that the monthly released comic would be ending with the release of Issue 50 in March and replaced with a new series, Invader Zim Quarterly, which would be released quarterly with longer issues starting in April. However, Invader Zim Quarterly 1’s release was delayed to June due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An Invader Zim Quarterly Holiday Special is scheduled to release on December 23rd, 2020. 

The Invader Zim comics are an absolute dream come true for anyone who grew up with the science fiction Nicktoon. Jhonen Vasquez finally got the chance to further his iconic vision and gave us the ability to revisit a world and characters we love. The humor, tone, and art style are the same and the stories are new. It’s everything Invader Zim fans have waited roughly a decade for. It’s also a great story to pick up if you’re a newcomer to Invader Zim, as this comic serves as a perfect jumping on point for the series. It’s a true must-read. 

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