Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

Information

Goodreads: Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl
Series: Mighty Jack #3
Source: Library
Published: 2019

Summary

Jack and Lilly have travelled between worlds and defeated giants. Now the next adventure comes knocking on their door when Zita the Spacegirl arrives with news of an inter-dimensional threat. The giants are ready to wage war and reclaim the Earth. Can the three team up to save the day?

Star Divider

Review

Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl is a crossover event that brings Ben Hatke’s Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl graphic novel series together. One could consider it book three of Jack’s series or book four of Zita’s. That being said, readers should be very familiar with both series, or all the allusions made in this book will likely go over their heads. I, for instance, have not read the Zita books in years, so the repeated references to her old adventures and former friends got tiresome very quickly. On the whole, however, the book is a fun adventure and a solid addition to Hatke’s work.

The greatest strength of the Mighty Jack books is, in my opinion, how wonderfully they feel like old-school adventures. I used to spend my childhood summers reading books like King Arthur, Robin Hood, and Andrew Lang’s fairy tales, and Ben Hatke’s work makes me think he must have done much the same. The Mighty Jack stories give me that same thrill of heroism and wonder.

Still, I do wish that Hatke would make some changes as the series progresses. At times, I think the books feel like an old-school adventure in part because they feel so resistant to changes that have occurred in the publishing world. For example, the cast of characters has not grown any more diverse over the years. And this book features that tired old trope of the two female leads–Zita and Lilly–meeting each other, and Lilly becoming jealous of Jack’s attention. Really? Did our two strong female leads have to fight over a boy? Did that add anything at all to the story? It doesn’t, and I, like many other women, am tired of seeing female characters pitted against each other as rivals for a boy, when they have so much more to offer.

As an added disappointment, the book leads up to a huge fight between the giants and the Earth, which ends up being laughably anti-climatic. [Don’t read farther if you want to be totally unspoiled!] It almost feels like the author worried either 1) that the book was becoming too long and had to be wrapped up pronto or 2) that the author worried the full-scale epicness promised would actually be too violent and/or devastating to depict in its entirety, so instead he chose to gloss over all that. Option 3 is that the book is really supposed to be a message about the power of love, peace, and words and how they triumph over violence. It’s still a disappointment.

Hardcore fans of Zita and Jack will probably love this crossover, especially the tweens to whom the books are primarily marketed. I loved it, too, but I still cannot overlook its flaws. I hope to see more Mighty Jack books, but I also hope that the cast can become more diverse and that we can throw away tired tropes like females fighting over a boy’s attention.

3 Stars

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