Zita is a carefree young girl, with no problems bigger than tripping over a branch or losing a race with her friend Joseph. That is, until Zita finds a strange piece of machinery in a crater, presses a button, and watches Joseph get pulled in to another dimension. Zita knows that she has no other choice, opens the portal, and jumps in right behind him.
In his first full-length graphic novel, creator Ben Hatke has crafted a gorgeously illustrated story that manages to be both heart-wrenching and hilarious at the same time. In her quest to rescue Joseph, Zita enlists the help of a motley crew of characters, including Strong-Strong, who is a moving pile of rock; Piper, as in the Pied Piper; Mouse, a giant-sized version of the real thing; and One, a Heavily Armored Mobile Battle Orb (H.A.M.B.O.), who was discarded because of his growing conscience. This group travels through a doomed planet, experiencing trials, twists, and turns, all in an effort to find Joseph, and get off of the planet before it is destroyed by an asteroid.
Zita the Spacegirl starts quickly, drawing the reader in from the very first panels, and doesn’t stop until the very end. Hatke manages to create a world with his words and art that is entirely appropriate for children, but still fully-formed, and deeply detailed. His characters are entirely realized, and the reader is able to make a connection with a number of them just by the expressions on their faces. The worst part about this book is that it ends, but that doesn’t have to be a problem either, since Hatke teases that this is only the first of many adventures for Zita.
Zita the Spacegirl (Zita the Spacegirl, vol. 1)
By Ben Hatke
First Second Books, 2010