Zita is back! The final volume of Ben Hatke’s sci-fi graphic novel trilogy is out now: The Return of Zita the Spacegirl. To celebrate, First Second Books asked bloggers and librarians and teachers and authors to write or draw a piece called “My Favorite Thing About Zita the Spacegirl,” and I was happy to join the party.
In case you’re not familiar with the series, Zita is a young girl from Earth who, along with her friend Joseph, gets zapped through an interdimensional portal and finds herself on a strange world filled with aliens, robots, and a giant mouse named Pizzicato. The books are delicious eye candy, and a really fun read. One of the things I loved about them was that the protagonist is a strong female character. Sure, she gets help from a host of characters throughout the book, but she’s certainly no damsel in distress.
My daughters are huge fans: I’ve actually read the books aloud to them, and they’ve read them on their own countless times. We love all the crazy aliens, the colorful characters, Randy the timid robot and One the vengeful battle orb. Throughout the books there are little hints and nods to other sci-fi stories, TV shows, and books, though my kids didn’t necessarily catch all of those.
Without giving too many spoilers (at least, those that you couldn’t figure out for yourself), Zita becomes a hero in the first book thanks to her spunk and determination, and her desire to do the right thing even when it’s difficult. She’s still young, so she makes some bad decisions at times, but it all works out.
In the second book, she’s actually trying to escape her reputation. She’s tired of being paraded around … but then ends up on the run, suddenly a wanted criminal instead of a hero. To top it all off, there’s a robot trying to steal her identity. And just when you thought everything was going to be okay … her bad choices caught up to her and she was captured by the Doom Squad. The book ends on a cliffhanger, and we’ve been waiting nearly two years for the resolution.
So in book three, we finally find out what happens to Zita, locked up in a cell and forced to work in a mine. A mysterious figure arrives to help her, but things aren’t quite as simple as that. Many of Zita’s friends from the previous books show up in the final volume, as well as a few new ones. It’s a really fun conclusion to the tale, with a good mix of action, drama, and silly humor. Hatke has a gift for drawing crazy critters and giving them funny accents, which is great when you need to populate a world with a lot of different aliens.
My favorite thing about Zita is the way that she brings everyone together. She’s idealistic and never wants to leave anyone behind, and—at least in this story—it pays off. Although that may not always be true in real life, I don’t mind my kids learning that you should always do the right thing, even when it costs you something.
That, and Strong Strong. He’s awesome.
Disclosure: GeekDad received a review copy of The Return of Zita the Spacegirl.