Archive for Ben Hatke

The Triumph of Zita


The Return of Zita the Spacegirl

When last we left our heroine, Zita the Spacegirl, she had been captured by the forces of galactic oppression. The third volume of Ben Hatke’s all-ages-friendly space adventure serial picks up from that point — Zita is brought before the tyrannical court of Dungeon World, jeered as Zita the Crime Girl, and thrown into a cell to rot, while her friend, Pizzicato the giant mouse, is slated for execution. The only way Zita can save him, even briefly, is by agreeing to work in the mines of the planet as a slave. Her only companions in her cell are Femur, a talking skeleton, and Ragpile, a talking, um, ragpile. And her only ally is a mysterious figure wearing a blue tentacled cloak…

Can Zita make an escape? Can she survive slavery and betrayal? Can she keep the villains from finding and enslaving Earth? Will her many friends ever manage to find her before it’s too late? And most important of all — Will Zita be able to save everyone?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Rousing, gloriously fun science fantasy. It’s a little darker than the previous books — not that they didn’t have their moments of darkness, too — but after all, the heroine spends so much of this story trapped in a dungeon breaking rocks while villains plot the invasion of her homeworld.

But for all the darkness, it just makes Zita’s victory all the more wonderful — and more bittersweet at the same time. It’s a story that can haul you bodily from one emotion to the next, where you exult in the appearance of each long-lost friend, and then cringe at the suggestion that Zita could lose them all again.

You’ve read the first and second volumes of these books, right? You loved the cosmic dust out of ’em, right? You’re definitely going to want to pick this one up.

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The Return of Zita

Crud, I don’t have a lot of time for a long review today, so we’re going to make this one kinda short.


Legends of Zita the Spacegirl

We reviewed the first book in this fun series by cartoonist Ben Hatke way back before Christmas. This one picks up shortly after the end of the previous graphic novel.

Zita, along with all of her alien and robot friends, has saved the planet of Scriptorius and is hailed across the galaxy as a hero. But she doesn’t really enjoy all the acclaim and attention. Luckily, she stumbles on a robot with a bad case of hero worship — and it’s able to turn itself into a close duplicate of Zita. Seeing an opportunity to avoid some irritating public appearances, she lets the robot impersonate her while she and her giant mouse pal go to the circus. Unfortunately, the robot loves being Zita too much, and the real Zita gets left behind by her friends. And when she tries to steal a spaceship to catch up with them, she quickly finds herself a wanted criminal across the sector.

And even if Zita can escape the cops and bounty hunters and soldiers who are tracking her, will she have a chance to get back to her friends? Will she be able to save yet another planet from certain doom without sacrificing her own life in the process?

Verdict: Thumbs up. If you loved the characters, art, story, dialogue, and all-around fun factor of the first “Zita the Spacegirl” graphic novel — and if you didn’t love it, there’s something bad wrong with your head — then you’re going to love the banana creme frosting out of this one, too. Ben Hatke has absolutely got it goin’ on, and you are going to want this on your bookshelf, or on the shelf of your kids or anyone else who loves great all-ages science fiction heroics.

I know, I know, it’s a short review, but don’t take that to mean this is an unimportant or inconsequential comic. It’s big fun, and you really should go pick it up. (Now I just hope Hatke will create some more Zita comics…)

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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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