Ben Hatke can’t conceive of, write, and draw these stories fast enough for me — and a host of other fans. Just released, this book follows Zita the Spacegirl (2010) and Legends of Zita the Spacegirl (2012). Doing the math, I know I won’t be reading the next installment until 2016. Whahhh.
I’ve read so many stories “in my life and time,” predicted the outcome of television and movie plots with regularity, that it’s a remarkable pleasure when I don’t know what’s coming next. Ben Hatke writes that way. Just as importantly for comics, he draws that way. Each page turn reveals a delightfully conceived alien species, a character acting in a surprising way, or a plot turn that I wasn’t expecting.
Zita is a girl who thinks ahead, invents solutions, stays true to her friends, and has a hero’s heart. Thrust unexpectedly into an alien world when she curiously picks up an object that fell from the skies, Zita is determined to rescue her playmate Joseph who has been taken by the Scriptorians to save their world. No worthwhile plot is ever straightforward, so Zita meets friends along the way, like Piper, Pizzicato, Madrigal, and Strong-Strong, some of whom are reliable and some of whom aren’t.
For those who find comics hard to read because of the frames and the sometimes inconsistently-drawn characters, this is the comic series for you! Hatke’s drawings are sometimes beautiful, sometimes intricate, sometimes funny, but they are always understandable. His color palette, the faces of all the different beings (he, she, and it), and his action shots are worthy of close scrutiny … and I found myself doing just that so I wouldn’t miss anything. (I’m pretty sure there are subtle homages to other stories and some puns within his frames.)
In this third volume (you wouldn’t have to read them in order, but I think you’ll enjoy them more if you do), Zita is separated from her friends in a dungeon where it looks as though her life will end. Her foes are brawnier and more determined to defeat “Zita the Crime Girl” and Zita is just as determined to save Earth, which the evil Screed are planning to invade. High tension indeed!
The back cover says this is the “last quest” of Zita the Spacegirl, but I think not. The world could not be that cruel.
Don’t miss the “Origin and Evolution of Zita the Spacegirl” at the end of this third volume. If you have any aspirations for writing your own comics, or know a gazillion kids who do, this is mighty tasty frosting. Hey, Zita, “We Need You!”
Enjoy Ben Hatke’s website and blog. I do!
The Return of Zita the Spacegirl
written and illustrated by Ben Hatke
First Second, May 13, 2014