(I know the title of this graphic novel lists Mighty Jack first, but given that the girls and I read Zita long before Jack came around, I prefer to think of this as Zita’s book. Just sayin’.)
We’ve been reading Zita the Spacegirl in our house for years at this point, and author and artist Ben Hatke’s work appealed to our girls from the moment I brought her first book home. As I hate giving away too much information about a story (I’m looking at you, lengthy movie trailers that spoil everything), I’ll simply say that our girls found Zita’s original trilogy of graphic novels to be just the right combination of adventure and suspense, with a little heart-tugging thrown in for good measure. Zita’s was the kind of kids’ story that, once you finished it, you wish you could forget the entire thing just so you could read it all over again with a fresh brain. Her original story wraps up really nicely, which is a tough thing to do in any genre, but regardless, we were sorry to see it end. Like most fans, we hoped for – someday – just a little bit more. Just one more tale, perhaps.
That’s what made it so great to have her pop up in Jack’s latest adventures. Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl is a great combination of storylines; Jack’s is a fantastical take on the beanstalk mythos, while Zita’s is one of intergalactic adventure, and the story of their meeting and consequent quest to save Earth is told as only Ben Hatke can tell it. This book has the same combination of emotions – the real heart of Hatke’s stuff – that made his work on both Zita and Jack so great. We enjoyed Jack’s first two graphic novels – Mighty Jack, and then Mighty Jack and the Goblin King – and while I might be a far cry from the intended demographic, I was honestly happy to bring home another tale starring Zita, even if she was sharing the spotlight.
I know this writeup is a little vague, but I really want to avoid giving anything away. Suffice it to say, fans of Zita will see a lot of familiar faces in this book, and fans of Jack will see the wrapping-up of his overall storyline. It felt good to see them both back in action. And it felt good to see our girls’ faces when they saw that Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl was going to be the Books at Bedtime selection for the next several nights.
Please, pick up some work by Ben Hatke. Start with Zita, read Jack, and then read this latest offering starring both titular characters. I really don’t think you will be disappointed.