Holiday Gift Bag: Zita the Spacegirl

Time to dip back into our Holiday Gift Bag for some more recommendations for the comics fan on your list. Today, we’re going to look at Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke.

This is a wonderful, quick-reading all-ages comic, perfect for kids to read on their own, for parents to read to younger kids, or even for adults who enjoy fun science fiction adventures.

Our story starts when Zita and her friend Joseph find a meteorite with a small push-button machine inside. When they push the button, a hole opens up in space and tentacles drag Joseph away. When Zita finally stirs up the courage to pursue, she finds herself on a distant planet filled with bizarre aliens. And Joseph is being held captive and set to be sacrificed by scary monster aliens. And the push-button device gets broken. And the whole planet is going to be blown up by an asteroid.

Zita does make some friends. Strong Strong is, well, strong, but a bit dumb. Piper is a reluctantly helpful humanoid with a spaceship — but no fuel. Pizzicato is a giant mouse. One is a vengeance-obsessed battle-bot. And Randy is a nervous, broken robot. But they’re still not much of an army against an alien conspiracy, greedy con men, powerful and cruel robot foes, and again, a giant asteroid that’s set the destroy everything in mere days. Can Zita’s courage help to save the day?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy this incredibly charming story. The characterization is just plain grand, with villains you love to hate and heroes you love to love even as their personality quirks may infuriate you. The action is great, the suspense is frequently incredible, and the wonders and challenges Zita encounters are sometimes absolutely awe-inspiring — in terms of both “That’s fantastic!” and “That’s terrifying!”

And holy schmalokies, I love the art here. Hatke’s style is cartoony, open, friendly, even welcoming — that’s part of what makes the book such a page-turner, ’cause you want to just absorb more and more of his art. But he’s also great at depicting some of the incredible scale of this alien world and especially the dangers of the worst of Zita’s enemies.

Listen, you got kids? I bet they’ll wanna read this. You got daughters who crave adventure? It’s a stone guarantee they’ll wanna read this. You got a grownup on your list who loves audacious sci-fi derring-do and great cartooning? You’ll wanna wrap this up for ’em.

And there’s a sequel called “Legends of Zita the Spacegirl,” which I haven’t read yet — but if it’s anything like the original, you may wanna pick that up, too.

And even better: it ain’t gonna set you back much. It’s almost 200 pages of comics, and the price tag on the back is just eleven bucks.

Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke. Go pick it up.

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