Heroes and Villains: ‘Invader Zim #33’, ‘Gravity Falls: Lost Legends’

I’m back! How are you? Did you miss me? What did I miss? You look well. In this week’s Heroes and Villains I’m taking you straight to Toon Town so paint a tunnel on the side of a wall and drive right on through!

So… I took some time off last week for some much needed R&R. Now, while I do believe that travel broadens the mind and enriches the soul I am very much a homebody and find the process of traveling deeply uncomfortable. How many pairs of underwear do I pack? How much can those TSA body scanners see? Did I leave the stove on at home?

Ultimately, when you find something worth traveling for you do it.

So, I went some places and did some things. I ate Asian Street Food. I sat beneath the full moon, in front of a fire, at the right hand of a shamanic priestess (headdress and everything) as we burned the past and set our intentions for the future.

But I’m not running to be the next Bourdain…I’m going to write about some mutha f-ing comics for you. Right now. 

Invader ZimInvader Zim #33
Sam Logan (W)
Fred C. Stresing (A)
Oni Press

Whenever I get sad I like to be reminded that not only do we live in a world where there’s an Invader Zim coming that’s been running for thirty-three issues but that the Invader Zim cartoon, on which the comic is based, is coming BACK.

For the uninitiated, Invader Zim is the story of one inept alien invader that was sent to Earth by his superiors…a joke. In its original form it was the pulsating brain child of Jhonen Vasquez of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac fame. Just the guy that you’d want making a cartoon for the Nickelodeon network.

The show ran for two wonderfully bizarre seasons in the early 2000’s before being canceled and presumably replaced with more episodes of Rugrats. It was off the air…but it never really went away. Thanks to the Hot Topic stores, legions of rabid fans, and this comic right here Zim has managed to stick around for something like sixteen years since the last episode aired.

As a fan, I was overjoyed when Oni Press launched the Zim comic and the book a while back. The book has been consistently enjoyable AND hilarious and this issue just keeps it up. I mean, the cover for this issue promises “It’s Mr. Weiner Face! A Fun Loving Friend For All: A Weiner With Eyes.” How can one not love this book?

Gravity Falls: Lost Legends
Alex Hirsch (W)
Various (A)
Disney Press

As a much younger, miniature, version of myself I was drawn to stuff like Scooby-Doo, Eerie, Indiana,  and the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series of books. From there, I graduated to The X-Files and eventually found my way to Twin Peaks. 

As a much older, larger version of myself I would lament that “kids today” were missing out on the weirdness that permeated much of MY childhood. What’s weird about the world when the computer in your pocket can explain that what you thought you just saw was actually just swamp gas or Jupiter. Nothing is unexplainable anymore.

Then Gravity Falls came along. A show that was surprisingly on the Disney Channel aimed at kids (but, really, it’s for everybody) about a tiny town in Oregon where weirdness abounds. It’s a must watch for fans of the shows I name-checked above and it’s conveniently out on Blu-Ray from Shout! Factory as of this writing and you should for sure pick up a copy. (Full disclosure, I would not say “no” should someone at Shout! Factory want to send me a copy of the Blu-Ray for REVIEW PURPOSES ONLY. I have no shame.)

Gravity Falls had a great run that had a definitive end to the story which is rare in entertainment industry in recent years. Supernatural has been on since time immemorial, we’re going to be getting more Star Wars movies until the sun goes out, you know how it is. I’m conflicted, of course. What’s better than something you love? MORE OF IT. Give me more of it until I’m sick off it and I start to hate it. Let it taint the memories of when I did love it so I can speak ill of it on Twitter.

That brings is to Gravity Falls: Lost Legends. I’m happy to say it fits in seamlessly with the canon of the show in the four “lost” tales presented in its pages. The show even addresses the sticky issues of fans wanting more of their favorite thing I mentioned in the last paragraph. I’m chasing to view it as a tongue-in-cheek “I see you” to the fans but I’m sure others will take it as an invite to scream long and loud for Disney to bring back the show. 

The four stories penned by series creator Hirsch and narrated by a fan-favorite character all feel like “lost” episodes of the show that could have been produced if budget was not object. The myriad of artists on the book all perfectly capture the house style of the show and even get an unexpected chance to show off in one particular tale. 

This is a must buy if you’re a fan of the show and you kinda, sorta, maybe want to see a little more of it.

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