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As a child, I never really watched Invader Zim. I was always too busy pretending to be a famous author, pounding away at the computer’s keyboard, writing gibberish and watching as the continuous red squiggle line increased its length, occasionally splitting when I hit a long, blank key.
It wasn’t until years later, the summer between eighth and ninth grade, when I found the DVDs I received for my birthday one year. Of course, Zim was on the front of the cover, bearing the Irken flag and a massive, conceited grin. GIR jumped excitedly on his head, doing what GIR does best… even though no one really knows what that is.
I popped in the first disc, sat down with a greek yogurt, and hit play.
Perhaps it was the fact that I was older, but I gained a new appreciation for Invader Zim.
Zim, a green skinned, magenta eyed Irken is sent to Earth on a “special mission” from the ditzy Tallest, who are the leaders of “the mighty Irken race” simply because they’re taller than everyone else. Zim has big plans for dominating Earth, which are constantly destroyed by his own incompetence and his arch-enemy, Dib - or Mary, if you ask GIR. But this doesn’t stop him, perhaps because he’s a defect, or maybe because he’s irritatingly persistent.
Zim’s disguise is simple: contacts and a wig. Yet he manages to fool every other human other than Dib, who are all too stupid to know any different. They just think his behavior is odd - calling Dib “Dib-worm”, experimenting on classmates, and laughing maniacally almost every school day doesn’t concern them. Even his PAK, a sort of giant, metal hard drive which stores Zim’s personality and regulates his bodily functions, hardly draws any attention. After all, aliens don’t like to wear pants, remember?
Dib is the most painfully understood character in the entire show. His classmates think he’s crazy, and do actually send him to an insane asylum on one occasion, after he arrives to class one day, leaning on the door, twitching and afraid, saying he saw, “Horrible… nightmare… visions!”
Ms. Bitters, the bored - and dare I say... bitter? - teacher isn’t concerned, and just tells him sarcastically that, “It’s called life, Dib. Now go sit down.”
Dib is an intelligent child, able to spy on Zim frequently, even if all he sees is Zim eating waffles made out of soap and peanuts.
Perhaps Dib could finally be rid of Zim if his family were more supportive, but his father, Professor Membrane, is gone so often that he has a drone that feeds them dinner if they say they love him. And Gaz, the “scary Dib-sister”, has a deep contempt for her brother. She knows that Zim is far from human, but she doesn’t care, and I’m sure knows that Zim is too stupid to actually succeed in destroying mankind. What she does care for is Bloaty’s Pizza Hog - a disturbing version of Chuck E. Cheese’s, which is a bear, rabbit, and chicken short of Five Nights at Freddy’s - and her video games.
Invader Zim, unfortunately, was one two seasons in length. Many theories have been proposed to way it was so short-lived, but the most valid argument is that the targeted audience didn’t watch the show - an older audience was the only one that existed. And it’s because of this that the show was canceled.
However, Zim’s attempts at conquering Earth and Dib’s efforts at stopping Zim never really stopped. The show’s creator, Jhonen Vasquez, teamed up with Oni Press to create the next best thing to an actual show nine years after it ended: a comic book series. And in a lot of ways, the comics are better than the show. Nickelodeon restricted Vasquez’s plan for the show, which included Keef’s death as well as Dib’s, where another character would step up in an effort to save humanity. Vasquez doesn’t have to ask permission to do anything - it’s his comics, his story.
And despite Dib’s chameleon eyes, which were explained to be due to printing, the comic has managed to fill in the hole the series left when it stopped.
I mean, come on.
Zim is a hipster.