Review: Legends of Zita the Spacegirl

After saving the world (well, a world) in Zita the Spacegirl, Zita’s back and dealing with her new-found notoriety (aided in part by Piper, of course) as well as more galactic threats, robots and other assorted creatures in Ben Hatke‘s sequel, Legends of Zita the Spacegirl (First Second, 2012).

After a robot accidentally replaces Zita, she finds herself on the run from the law. She’s aided by the beautiful and mysterious Madrigal and a living ship as she has to get back to her friends and stop another threat.

Light on dialogue and heavy on action, Hatke pushes the plot forward at every moment.  His style is a little bit looser than it is in the first book but still retains the dynamic, animated quality the first one had. Colors are a bit more vibrant and bold than they were in the first book. Hatke’s skills at presenting the openness of space or vast landscapes is complimented by the intimacy of his smaller moments. He uses the space of his pages and panels well.

His images and creatures continue to be creative and delightful. Hatke is a wonder at building worlds were anything is possible and so giant space heart monsters and living ships that look like flowers don’t feel out of place. He’s clearly having fun and it’s hard to not get caught up in that.

Silent scenes (although some are peppered with sound effects) do more to convey Zita’s wonder, fear and perseverance than any dialogue could. She’s growing into a strong and capable young heroine (and her interest and fascination with Madrigal points to a possible future path for Zita). She’s fun, likeable and a realistic little girl and I can see why people of all ages continue to connect with her.

Still, the book has a manic, breathless quality and I felt we didn’t get to spend at much time with Zita since she was always on the move. The other returning characters also suffered a bit — Piper, especially, isn’t given much to do — and the new ones drop in and out. I imagine Madrigal will be showing up again but while I loved the way Robot Zita’s story was resolved, it felt a little rushed.

But there’s more Zita stories coming and as much as I’d love for Zita to get back home, I want to follow her planet-hopping adventures for as long as possible.

Ben Hatke will be signing copies of his books at Big Planet Comics Vienna (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and College Park (3 to 5 p.m.) on Nov. 10. This was rescheduled from Nov. 3.

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