The Zita the Spacegirl trilogy is a young adult graphic novel series that starts with a simple premise but builds into something so much more over time.
The story begins when Zita and a friend find a mysterious box with a huge red button on it, which seems to have fallen from space. Being ever adventurous, young Zita presses the button, a portal opens up and tentacles grab her friend and drag him through it. As she is to blame for her friend’s kidnapping, Zita feels that she must rectify the situation and so she presses the red button once again and travels through the portal and this is where her wild adventure begins. She soon realizes getting back to earth is not going to be easy and spends three graphic novels travelling through space helping various aliens she meets along the way whilst still trying to find her lost friend, kinda like an intergalactic Littlest Hobo.
After saving a planet in her first adventure (in Zita the Spacegirl) she discovers that fame has its price in the second novel ( in Legends of Zita the Spacegirl) and must recover her spaceship after a doppelgänger robot assumes her identity and goes off on a mission to fight an evil alien horde. In the third and final novel, The Legend of Zita, she must stop a crazy dictator as he plans to invade Earth with his galactic army. Can she stop him? What do you reckon?
The character of Zita is wonderfully realised as she no real powers, just her intelligence, determination and her sense of loyalty. She makes friends with some pretty reprehensible and unlikeable people but through her sheer good will and kindness, she commands loyalty and respect and turns some people around... like a pre-teen Teen Angel (yes, my references are old)
Writer and illustrator Ben Hatke has a fun, almost naive art style but this betrays a world building masterclass; what he has created is similar in style to the imperious Saga or Star Wars... high praise indeed, but when you read the novels you know that there is a bigger world with a wide and varied bestiary with potentially an entire lore-filled universe.
The Zita trilogy is an excellent graphic novel series that I wish I'd had in my youth, alongside Asterix and Tintin. Its premise is fun and instantly engaging and, with an expanded universe potentially presented at the story's conclusion, ripe for an imagination to let loose on and let fly. Check it out or miss it at your peril graphic novel fans!