Looking at this cover (specially if you found it by accident, without any kind of context to it -which was my case-) you would have to wonder if what you are seeing is actually real or just the "shadow" of a project that would never come to life. What do I mean by this? Well... It's hard to explain without first entering the mind-frame of the average fan of this series at that point in time; you know, a very disappointed person whose favorite cartoon ended abruptly more than twelve years ago and that had been fueling his passion for the thing on re-runs (which usually focused on broadcasting only the worst episodes of the series... somehow) and all sorts of rumors that didn't really have much sense to begin with. As you can see, there was a very messed up situation from which there wasn't much to extract.
This, however, looked suspiciously competent and there were more than a few reasons to believe that it was going to be the real thing: Onipress was an actual company that had already brought to life other comics, their first announcement on the project looked professional and it was endorsed by Johnen Vasquez himself. This was it.
Just like InvaderCON and other such events, the comic sat remarkably well amongst the fans and sold out in less than a month, showing once more that the support for the series never ceased to exist. And it wasn't only the novelty of seeing those guys once more what did the trick, this really felt like something that would belong to their universe and all the key elements that made the stories so good in the first place were present on the pages of the magazine... "same thing, different package". And for once, that's not a bad thing!
While nothing particularly impressive in its own right, the plot both serves as a continuation to the original story and as a surprising justification for the time that's passed since the last time we saw these guys. In this reality, Zim has been gone for years and Dib has decided to spend all his time watching his security monitors in search for the alien. This is great because it truly causes an effect on both of them, making Dib become a fat, filthy creature with a stink so powerful that no one can approach him and with a desktop chair -literally- melted to his butt. The irony? This was Zim's plan all along! And it must be his best plan to date too.
You know? It is nice to see him actually planning something to exploit his foe's weaknesses instead of trying to incorporate him as the "random factor" that would play along -and ruin- his previous schemes.
Still, these are still Zim and Dib and a plan so simple just wouldn't work completely for either of them. So, when Zim finally decides to show up, he couldn't help but rubbing his plan on Dib's face -thus making him aware of his intentions... an error that the young Irken just seem to can't stop committing- and gives Dib a fair chance to turn the tables. This may sound boring explained in undetailed text, but trust me, it's truly a highlight of the thing... just seeing Zim tasting his victory over a shocked and defenseless Dib is good enough, but the things he does to prove his "superiority" and so childish that it becomes impossible not to laugh at them (I'm talking kicking trashcans and swapping people's mail!).
I also find it hilarious that, knowing that Zim is back to his old manners, Dib thinks he has the time to perform a "training montage" to get back in shape. I get that he NEEDS to do that in order to stop the evil alien, but having the whole montage is just overkill... and I wouldn't like it any other way.
Anyway, while all of this is happening, Zim gets in contact with Vortian Prisoner 777 in order to get information about the legendary Gargantis Array, a super-weapon that he's planning to use but that's has reached legendary status and that most people think it's a myth. Knowing nothing about it, but fearing that Zim would erase his children from existence if he doesn't cooperate, the prisoner supplies him with information about the possible whereabouts of the only person on the universe who knows the jump necessary codes to reach the array. Surprisingly, after he's given the information he needs, Zim spends the next week watching -and criticizing- TV with GIR, while Dib gets back in shape and confronts him about his plans (saying that he would have gotten back sooner if it wasn't because he had to undo some of his training, because he got huge and gross).
Suddenly rushed, Zim jumps into his Voot Cruiser -not without having to deal with GIR's weirdness- and goes into space, while Minimoose distracts Dib long enough for his master to scape. And yes, it is actually refreshing to see MM back after his only appearance in the series before it got cancelled.
Minimoose then shocks Dib while Zim flies off into space. Scared but determined, Dib gets into a pretty damaged and not really safe Tak's Ship and goes after him, ending the issue on a cliffhanger.
Now, let's take a look at the thing. Shall we?
Immediately, the comic does something that I really like: there's no doubt in my mind that it primarily
exists as a love letter to the fans, but it was also meant as something that anyone could pick up and read and so, the idea of having a small recap at the beginning of the thing was simply clever (and the character in charge of doing that is very well in the spirit of the series). Also, "puppet show"? Sneaky reference there.
This is a really strong, colorful drawing. I might be alone on this, but I have always thought that the Membrane residence looked a little dull and uninteresting in the series and I believe that it gains a LOT from this re-design.
Professor Membrane is deliciously in and off character as the same time in here. For once, he exaggerates even the most simple of tasks, but since when does he have time for cooking and being with his children?
The infamous training montage. It is amazing how much the idea of not having to deal with Dib's smell anymore can affect Gaz, up to the point to actually helping him to get back in shape.
Zim being unnecessarily evil towards a slave with no means of defense. Seriously, I missed the guy.
If the episode "Nubs of Doom" would have aired as planned, Minimoose would have proven himself a capable speaker, able to talk people out of their ideas. Wouldn't think it would work on Dib, though.
While no masterpiece by any means, Issue #1 does a fantastic job at reviving the long-dead franchise. Everything it does, it does well, but just seems to be running out of the fuel towards the last few pages and that somewhat damages the overall feeling of the thing.
That's not to say that they just got bored and quit half-way thru the thing, though! There's definitely an insane amount of talent and effort that went into making it this as good as possible and it truly shows... from the gorgeous-looking drawings, to the jokes, everything is spot-on.
Like I said, I just had minor issues with the thing -like the way some of the dialogue seemed a little out of place- and I truly enjoyed what it had to offer. Definitely worth the prize.
Did you know...?
That a total of 17 cover variations were made for this issue?