As a teenager formed by Hot Topic, I was very acquainted with Jhonen Vasquez’s work, reading single issues of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac in the store and setting buying as much Gir related merchandise as I could. The latter of these two was a bonding experience with other goth – or at least trying to be goth – kids at school. Invader Zim was an animated series, created by Vasquez that lasted two seasons on Nickelodeon, and later Nicktoons until its last episode in 2002. Now, 17 years later, Netflix has resurrected everyone’s favorite arrogantly naïve alien Zim in a new special called Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus.
Having found critical and fan success with its recent Rocko’s Modern Life special, I entered into the revisiting of one of my favorite characters from the emo period in my life with hope. The creative team from the original series was back, with the original voice cast returning, and Vasquez overseeing the project both in a directorial and writing sense. Having wrapped up with a Christmas special, the door was wide open for the world of Invader Zim to be explored and ultimately reach the audience that stuck with the property as it transitioned from television to comic series, currently being published through Oni Press and written by Vasquez – at least in the beginning of it’s life on the page.
In Enter the Florpus, Zim has been in hiding, Dib has become a chair, and the latter’s dad still doesn’t believe in aliens while his sister remains completely over his obsession with Zim. When the little wannabe alien conquerer Zim reemerges from hiding, he discovers that his almighty leaders, The Talls, never had any intention of coming to Earth to see his conquering. While Zim learns that, we learn that The Talls purposefully sent him to an inconsequential planet in hopes that they could rid themselves of him, because let’s be honest, he’s annoying. While the hour-long special seems like it is going to focus on Dib and Zim’s relationship, it’s really about how Zim loses confidence in himself for the first time in his life.
What do you do when you feel not good enough for the first time? Lay down and let you human nemesis swoop in, at least for a little bit. But soon enough, Zim regains his confidence and slingshots earth into the immediate path of The Talls and opens a Florpus that begins to threaten all planets in it’s surrounding area.
Enter the Florpus is everything I needed from this animated revival. The art was visually the same in reference to the character designs while the bold line work and coloring has clearly been updated. It is a blend of old and new that hits your nostalgia without remaining stagnant. In addition, the voice work remains perfection, with old voices returning and bringing the characters many of us knew and loved back to life while the script includes dialogue that moves the story’s humor into our current time.
While the humor in Enter the Florpus isn’t as directly satirical of our current time as that of Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling, it does use our reliance on technology and need for the newest gadget with a catchy jingle to drive Zim’s big plan and ultimately lead to the creation of the destructive Florpus. The revival special even manages to utilize the extremely tired trope of the sedentary and unhealthy gamer, popularized by South Park’s “Make Love Not Warcraft,” in a way that didn’t feel too cheap, riding out the laugh before the use wore out its welcome.
In addition, Professor Membrane, Dib’s dad, emerged as a favorite of mine. While he isn’t the character with most screen time, his dialogue and interaction with Dib are some of the standout moments. Plus, he even pulls a kamehameha to dispatch some evil Membrane droids. Beyond him, the relationship, well rivalry, between Zim and Dib remains hilarious and central. They have no respect for each other and the small moments between each other garner some of the largest laughs.
Take for example when Zim has effectively taken over Earth, Dib yells at him, threatening, to which Zim replies “what.” Then a cycle that lasts a good 30-seconds begins of Zim “not hearing” Dib and Dib then repeating himself louder. It’s small, it’s mundane, but it is hilarious and easily sums up the dynamic that the two characters have.
All in all, Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus continues Netflix’s revival success, due in large part to allowing Vasquez to bring it back while also maintaining the distinct animation style. Truthfully, after watching this special, I wanted to see another episode and ultimately left me desperate for a full series order on a new Invader Zim series.
Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus is now streaming exclusively on Netflix.
Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus
Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus continues Netflix’s revival success, due in large part to allowing Vasquez to bring it back while also maintaining the distinct animation style. Truthfully, after watching this special, I wanted to see another episode and ultimately left me desperate for a full series order on a new Invader Zim series.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.