There are many kids shows out there, some are better than others. Some are wacky while others at least attempt seriousness. Invader Zim, that classic Nickoldean show from 2004, is not by any means in the latter group; rather, the former suits it more and only if you add in copious amounts of dark comedy which functions almost like a cross between The X Files and Chowder in its irrelevancy.
The story is simple: Zim, a young Irken invader, is sent to Earth to prepare it for what he thinks will its inevitable invasion. After all, that is what invaders do: soften the planet’s defenses so when the armada arrives it encounters little resistance in conquest. Unfortunately, Zim is not able to grasp one simple fact- he is a terrible invader. The armada’s rulers detest him and only send him to earth thinking that (A) the planet does not exactly exist, and (B) so as to rid themselves of his idiocy. So one may imagine their downcast spirit when they learn he not only lives but it functioning as an invader… an invader who has an enemy. Enter Dib, alien hunter extraordinaire who is hellbent on stopping Zim’s nefarious plan… if he can only convince his classmates of Zim’s evil intents, and his alienness.
As is expected all sorts of hijinks emerge. In trying to accomplish his mission while avoiding, and outmaneuvering, Dib, Zim hatches a variety of schemes as he tries to blend into human society. See such classic coming of age stories such as friendship, video games, family, and fast food work become transmogrified as Zim navigates a dystopian-esque version of Earth armed with only his inability to adapt to human life. In the end it is hard to imagine the show having either a villain or hero. Both Zim and Dib are equally terrible to each other and operate as different sides of the same coin. Nonetheless it is a thrilling show to watch.
Alas, the series did not last beyond three short volumes. In terms of abstract hilarity Invader Zim was ahead of its time. While today it would not seem out of place in a teen show line-up, or even a late night comedy lineup (on a channel like Adult Swim), 2004 was far before when these types of programs would gain popularity; Fairlyodd Parents and Spongebob Squarepants were the rage of the time, not a morbid, progressive show which perhaps reminded the audience’s parents of paranoia involving foreign attacks and conspiracies regarding religious minorities. Even so, for those of us who fondly remember the hilarity that was Zim, we shall never forget…. The Doom Song!