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The Return of Zita the Space Girl

Review

The Return of Zita the Space Girl

The third and final volume (for now, at least) of the Zita the Spacegirl series sees the return of familiar faces, some unexpected, as Zita faces off against an entire prison-planet in an attempt to save the Earth from conquest and destruction. Picking up where the last volume ended, Zita finds herself under arrest and with very few options, forced to mine for a mysterious gem that could hold the key to her freedom, if she can find it first.

The style of the series blends old pulp science fiction with the sensibilities of young adult comics. Zita is a girl of action, strong in her convictions and dedicated to doing what she believes is right. It is that headstrong attitude that gets her in trouble, though, as some of her actions in the previous volumes had some unintended consequences, a fact that the villain of this volume uses to make her doubt herself, to make her question if she deserves to be in prison. It is a question that gets further complicated when a figure from her past shows up and forces her to reexamine all of her actions since arriving in space and becoming a hero.

At its surface, THE RETURN OF ZITA THE SPACEGIRL is about choices and privilege. Though Zita has acted with confidence and bravery in the face of impossible odds, she must face the fact that part of the reason why she has been successful is because she has had the option of fighting, the luxury of being able to choose her path. And for others, she learns, that choice was simply not possible. Through her doubt, though, Zita remains positive and active, never compromising her ideals, remaining sympathetic and caring, and in the end, pays a steep price rather than sacrificing her morals.

Buried in the colorful and vivid artwork is a message worth reading, and that makes this book an easy recommendation for me.

Fast-paced and full of adventure, THE RETURN OF ZITA THE SPACEGIRL is a good fit for children or adults. The volume, despite being the third in a series, stands well enough on its own, and sharp readers should be able to understand everything that's going on. For fans of the series, the volume is a satisfying payoff, bringing back the characters from the last two volumes and wrapping up most of the dangling threads, tying them up into a pleasing bow. The ending itself is powerful and shows just how far Zita is willing to go, just what she's willing to sacrifice, and if the book had ended two pages earlier than it did, it would have been some heavy stuff to deal with. Fortunately, the last two pages of the volume open the door to the possibility of future adventures.

The art of the volume is fitting --- a mix of cartoonish action and some darker elements. Facial expressions are spot on, and the pages are packed with epic adventure, the universe rendered full of strange creatures and locations. The prison planet might not offer up the most interesting of backgrounds, but it does add to the mood, as this volume of ZITA THE SPACEGIRL is a bit darker than some might be expecting, telling an emotional story through what might have otherwise been a light space romp. But danger dominates the pages, and the art is appropriately epic in scale and scope. The final battle did get a bit crowded in places, but everyone got their own moment to shine.

In the end, THE RETURN OF ZITA THE SPACEGIRL manages to do something interesting and worthwhile with its pulp science fiction trappings. Buried in the colorful and vivid artwork is a message worth reading, and that makes this book an easy recommendation for me.

Reviewed by Charles Payseur on August 7, 2014

The Return of Zita the Space Girl
by Ben Hatke

  • Publication Date: May 13, 2014
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: First Second
  • ISBN-10: 1596438762
  • ISBN-13: 9781596438767