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Comic Book / Invader Zim (Oni)

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Dib: As Earth's greatest defender, I'll sit here and watch and wait for as long as it takes to find out what he's up to.
Gaz: I think you hiding in here forever is awesome Dib, but Zim has been gone a long time (...) Zim might never show up again and you'll just be wasting your—oh, wait, nevermind, there he is.
Issue #1

By the mid-2010s, Nickelodeon's infamous Black Comedy TV series about an egomaniacal alien's fight for control of a crapsack Earth against a child paranormal scientist had been out of production for over a decade. But despite its short 27-episode run, Invader Zim still boasted a huge cult following that had Nick execs floating around ideas on how to capitalize on it beyond a continued stream of Hot Topic merchandise. While they struggled for a few years, debating with creator Jhonen Vasquez on the terms for another animated Zim project, they did manage to get him onboard with a Sequel in Another Medium.

In February 2015, an Invader Zim comic book revival made in collaboration between Oni Press and Nickelodeon was announced. An Issue #0 in the form of a "TruthShrieker" fanzine was released on May 23, 2015, followed by the first issue of the ongoing monthly series being released on July 8, 2015. The comic is overseen by Vasquez himself, with him also writing on occasion. Other series veterans would also return to lend their talents to the series, with writer Eric Trueheart penning several issues, while artist Aaron Alexovich and colorist Rikki Simons would aid during its early run.

On March 18th, 2020, the monthly series ended with its 50th issue, written by Vasquez and Trueheart. The monthly series would be replaced by a quarterly series (fittingly called Invader Zim Quarterly), beginning June 17, 2020. The quarterly series would last only four issues (each officially labelled as a one-shot) before being cancelled, with an announcement in April 2021 stating that the series as a whole was being discontinued following a final issue which was released in August of that year.

As for Nickelodeon wanting another animated Invader Zim project, Vasquez did eventually agree to do a television movie. The film, Enter the Florpus, was released on Netflix on August 16, 2019. The movie would go on to adapt the comic's first issue... well, at least the beginning of it, before quickly veering off into its own thing by means of For Want of a Nail.

These comics contain examples of:

  • Abandoned Warehouse: Where Nightnubs' lair is in Issue 30.
  • Abnormal Ammo: In Issue 26, it's revealed that GIR has a "muffin shooter", which is a gun that he uses to shoot muffins into his mouth. Dib shoots some into Zim's eyes instead.
  • Accidental Misnaming:
    • A Running Gag in Issue 16 is that Zim keeps referring to Gaz as "Gus". She doesn't seem to mind (at the very least, she never corrects him).
    • In Issue 28, Zim keeps calling the Irken scientist Floog "Flurg".
    • Throughout Issue 50, both Zim and Dib are unable to get Chammy Wamboo's name right.
  • Acronym Confusion: Dib was horrified when he though he killed Inquisitous the Observerís "Son" until he found out it meant Sentient Observation ENvoy.
  • Adaptive Ability: The monster lady bugs created by Zim in Issue 7 are not only able to recover from being obliterated by Zimís blaster, they became immune to it.
  • Adding Insult to Injury: After the hellish experience of being Zimís intern in Issue 9, everyone hated Dib's video, calling it a bad fake. While at the same time they loved Agent Batflaps' video, which was just two hours of his feet.
    Gaz: Hey Dib! I can hear you crying through the wall! Shutup!
  • Aesop Amnesia: Averted by Issue 10, as Dib has finally learned that Gaz doesnít care anything about paranormal activity so he pays her to listen to him.
  • After the End: Turns out that the whole Battle Void arc was an example, as Issue 49 reveals that the Zimvoid isn't a Pocket Dimension but actually all that's left of Zib's home timeline after he accidentally destroyed his universe.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: In Issue 25, Zim does this to escape Virooz's ship... and goes in a circle, ending up back where he started.
  • Alien Gender Confusion: Seen in Issue 13.
    Extraterrestrial Abductor: Behold! The ugly human female you call your best friend!
    Zim: AHHAHHAHH! Dib is neither of those least, hey Dib, are you female? I can never actually tell with humans.
    • Comes up again in Issue 17 when Zim refers to Dib as "this human lady."
      Dib: I'm a boy, Zim. A human boy. You've been on Earth how long now?
      Zim: Whatever.
  • All for Nothing: After all the humiliating work Dib does as Zimís intern in Issue 9, no one likes or even believes his uploaded video.
  • Alternate Self:
    • Issue 12 has Zim interacting with his future self, Emperor Zim.
    • This is a major part of the Battle Void arc as it involves multiple alternate Zims, and one alternate Dib.
  • Ambiguous Gender: The comic series features Recap Kid, who gives a (suitably manic and inaccurate) Previously onÖ at the beginning of most issues. Jhonen Vasquez wrote the character's dialogue for the first issue, but commented "He (or she? I never specified and Aaron AlexovichĎs art keeps it mysterious)..." For what it's worth, Recap Kid has eyelashes, but when asked if this makes them a girl, story artist Megan Lawton responded "Recap Kid is a kid."
  • Ambiguous Syntax: In Issue 31, Zim tells Dib that he has a "big bird plan" coming up, causing Dib to ask if he means a big plan involving birds, or a plan involving a big bird. At the end of the issue, Zim reveals it was the former.
  • Anger Born of Worry: The comics have Gaz's tense relationship towards Dib become this as part of Adaptational Nice Guy; her regular anger and annoyance towards Dib is no longer from seemingly disliking her brother, but rather disappointment that he's wasting his life obsessing over Zim, who she thinks is an incompetent egomaniac doomed to Failure Is the Only Option, and thus isn't worth dealing with.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism:
    • In Issue 15, Dib refuses to believe that Ms Bitters is anything other than a creepy old woman, despite it being quite clear that she's not human.
    • In Issue 29, he also has a hard time accepting the idea of secret societies using magic powered by Poop Cola, despite repeatedly seeing it used, and it not being remotely the weirdest thing in this series. This then gets turned around on him in the following issue, when the Poop wizards refuse to believe his claim that aliens exist, and Zim laughs at Dib's explanation about everything involving the Poop magic. Again, this is despite all the involved parties being involved in far weirder things.
    • Likewise, when Dib informs the wizards about Zim in Issue 30 they call him crazy for believing in aliens.
    • The fact that (per the series) Membrane Still Believes in Santa despite his Agent Scully role elsewhere is justified in the Christmas quarterly. He simply couldn't live with the idea that his own parents were the ones who bought him socks.
  • Arc Villain:
    • Virooz in Issues 22-25.
    • Number 1 (aka Zib) for Issues 46-49.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Dibís intern duties in Issue 9 include dusting the ooze, walking Minimoose, eating burnt peanuts because it shuts GIR up, data entry, Robo-Parents maintenance, and yard work.
  • Art Shift: Several issues have guest artists, whose styles are different from the standard IZ design:
    • Issues 6, 11, 26, 31, 36 and 41 are drawn in a style more reminiscent of newspaper comics than what the series usually uses.
    • Issue 16 has darker color tones and an overall more Animesque style.
    • Issue 21 uses a somewhat more horror-influenced style than usual, befitting its Darker and Edgier tone and Downer Ending. As a result of this and the body-swapping gimmick of the issue, it ends up being more or less a brick of pure concentrated Nightmare Fuel.
  • As You Know: Lampshaded when Issue 20 opens with Zim crowing about his latest Evil Plan:
    Zim: My Conquer-Blob has been made with one thought in its every mushy cell — to conquer the Earth for Zim!
    Computer: I know all this already. Who are you saying all this again for?
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Professor Membrane's cloaking field from the second quarterly. Dib is very impressed by it, but his father says that it takes five years for it to recharge.
  • Bad Future: In Issue 12, Zim and Dib accidentally slingshot into a future where Emperor Zim has taken over the world. Dib is understandably horrified, and while Zim is initially pleased, he finds his future self an ungrateful jerk and teams up with Dib in order to defeat him and escape back to the present.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • The Xliactian Historian will tell nobody the jump codes that lead to the Gargantis Array... unless they buy a bunch of stuff.
    • In Issue 5, when Dib was about to be locked up for being an NPC:
      Dib: You're gonna lock me in here?! But I didn't do anything!
      Lord Voxelrot: You're right, and that "anything" was gaming. Which you didn't do but listen. Don't think of the console as a prison for NPC's. think of it as a way for an NPC to finally be given a sense of purpose besides just filling space.
      Dib: That doesn't sound so b—
      Lord Voxelrot: Also it's a hideous prison.
    • After Dib asked Voxelrot who he was, he replied that he'll never tell him. He'll keep him hooked up to the Console and Dib'll always wonder who he is... before just deciding to reveal he's Gaz.
    • Zim goes to a tiny galaxy when he wants to be alone and think about what it all means. Before punching a small planet in the face.
    • Inquisitous the Observer assured Dib that the Inquisitorians always ensure their technology is thoroughly tested. Which heíll be doing right now on Dib.
    • In the fourth quarterly, Zim is trying to infiltrate the corporate headquarters of Zip, a mascot that looks just like him. The secretary tells him that the only people being allowed in are Zip mascots. For a minute, it looks like Zim is going to ditch his disguise and go in as himself... instead, he put GIR and Minimoose in a terrible costume.
  • Becoming the Mask: In Issue 38, Zim has GIR impersonate Dib in order to convince everyone that the real Dib is an imposter, thus removing him as a threat. Unfortunately for Zim, GIR becomes convinced that he really is Dib and starts hounding Zim even worse than the real Dib ever did.
  • The Bermuda Triangle: Parodied in Issue 46 with Pandora's Quadrangle, "the stormiest place in the ocean", where numerous ships and planes have disappeared. It turns out to contain a portal which leads to a small planet surrounded by other such portals.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Issue 12 shows that Zim will conquer Earth in the future, creating an Egopolis of himself and enslaving everyone, all in preparation for turning the whole planet into a ship and flying it to the Tallest as a present (whom, it should be noted, are genuinely impressed by his actions).
  • Beyond the Impossible:
    • Dib got 21406 dislikes for his internet video but only 6 views. Even he himself lampshades this.
    • Inquisitous the Observer stated the fact that Dib and Zimís recollection of events were so drastically different was this, concluding that one of them had to be completely delusional.
  • Blatant Lies: In Issue 8, Dib claims he left the family vacation early not because he accidentally deleted Gaz's game account resulting in her threatening his life and breaking his Dibpad over his head, but because he discovered that cowboys are the mortal enemies of vampires.
  • Book Ends: The cover of the first issue, pictured above, features Zim bursting out of a grave as Dib looks on in horror. The cover of the final issue shows gravestone statues of Zim and Dib yelling at each other.
  • Bottle Episode: Issue 20 consists primarily of Zim and GIR sitting on their couch, binge-watching a TV show.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Issue 22 sees GIR infected with a virus that makes him try to kill Zim.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: In Issue 37, when Dib is pondering why his father and Gaz are seemingly believing Zim pretending to be part of the family, he thinks they might be robots, or clones, or even robot clones.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • In Issue 23, Dib's one panel appearance involves the Robo-Parents telling him that he's "not in this one", to his confusion.
    • In Issue 31, after being confronted by the mutant super bear, Dib turns to the audience and laments that he only has one panel to appreciate it.
  • Brick Joke: Issue 14 opens with Zim falling into a hole randomly dug into his front yard, breaking his legs in the process. At the end of the issue, it's shown that he's still stuck in there, and trying to throw his legs over his shoulders so that he can climb out.
  • The Bus Came Back: The third Quarterly features the return of the two idiotic aliens from the episode "Abducted".
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: By Issue 9 Zim has completely forgotten uploading embarrassing footage of Dib working out for all the universe to see, at the end of Issue 2.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Issue 29 has a gag about GIR buying out all the city's supplies of Darkpoop Cola. In Issue 30, Dib goes to retrieve one of these to help defeat Poopthulhu and ends up giving it to Gaz instead when Poopthulhu is defeated without him.
  • Christmas Episode: The third Quarterly issue is an anthology containing three Christmas-related stories — the first shows what happened to Zim's sentient Santa suit after it was tossed into space, the second has Zim in Yet Another Christmas Carol, and the third chronicles Professor Membrane's life-long vendetta against Santa Claus.
  • Companion Cube: Issue 45 has Li'l Meat Man, a vaguely baby-shaped wad of meat that Zim becomes incredibly attached to, treating it as if it really were his own child. Until it fully registers with him that it's just meat, at which point he stops caring.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Issue 15 turns Gretchen into one, as she is shown to be utterly convinced that Miss Bitters is the Hive Queen of a race of bug monsters that are using the skool as a base to Take Over the World from.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Issue 5 reveals that Gaz could care less what Dib does; itís only his insistence in involving her to the point of completely disregarding her wants and desires that makes her so antagonistic toward him. It reaches the point where she puts him in an And I Must Scream situation to get him to stop.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: In Issue 39, the alien investigating the main characters' memories notes that Gaz seems more stable than Dib and Zim. Gaz dryly notes that that's faint praise.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • The first quarterly issue is focused entirely on GIR getting sidetracked by misadventures while trying to run an errand for Zim.
    • One of the stories in the third quarterly issue is focused on Professor Membrane and his hatred of Santa.
  • Didn't Think This Through: In Issue 44, Dib spends so much time and energy on catching up with Zim atop Meat Mountain that he didn't actually think about what he'd do to stop Zim's plan when he got there. Fortunately, he has a "Eureka!" Moment just in time.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In Issue 45, Zim and Li'l Meat Man are accosted by a group of men in chicken costumes who don't like meat people because they're "ruining our country", in a clear parody of the KKK and other hate groups.
  • Downer Ending: "The Dookie Loop Horror" is a doozy of one not only for the comic series but for the franchise as a whole, involving Zim, Dib and everyone in their entire universe becoming trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop from which it's literally impossible to emerge and which always ends with universal destruction, with only Zim and Dib able to remember it all.
  • Egopolis: Issue 12 shows that after Zim takes over the world, he puts up statues and pictures of himself everywhere, renames every street after himself, and lives in a palace designed to look like his own head.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • Issue 12, with Zim and Dib teaming up against Zim's future self, Emperor Zim. Somewhat Averted, however, as Zim was only able to convince Dib to help him defeat his future self by putting a slave collar on him to get him to cooperate.
    • During the Battle Void arc, Dib allies with the Zim Resistance in order to defeat Number 1 aka Zib, in order to stop him from conquering and/or accidentally destroying the multiverse.
    • A brief example in Issue 50. After spending the whole issue being annoyed by Chammy's attempts to make them be friends, they work together to banish her through a portal to another planet in order to get rid of her.
  • Epic Fail: Dib is absolutely terrible at skiing.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In the final issue, Zim reveals that in one of the iterations of the "Groundhog Day" Loop, GIR baked Dib into a pie. He's visibly horrified as he relays this, and admits that he tried to stop GIR.
  • Exact Words:
    • Tak's A.I hatred of Dib causes it to follow his orders this way. For example, from Issue 2:
      Dib: Wait you couldíve caught up with Zim any time? Why didnít you do it before now?
      Takís ship: You asked me to track Zim. You didnít say catch him.
    • In Issue 4, when Zim activated his defense gnomes' motion tracking and told them destroy anything that moves. They detected their own movements and destroyed each other.
  • Eye Scream: In Issue 26, Dib shoots a couple of muffins into Zim's eyes as a distraction, causing him a lot of pain.
  • Fantastic Fighting Style: Pants Pants Revolution, the ancient pants-based martial arts of the space pants that allows them to generate bursts of psychic energy.
  • Fantastically Indifferent: In the Bad Future, once Professor Membrane converted his consciousness into pure energy, he stopped caring about saving Earth from Zim.
  • Fate Worse than Death: To the amoebas accidentally created by Zim, living is this due to the fact that Zimís ultimate destiny is to destroy Earth, and they only live to please him, and since destroying things pleases him he must be angry at them as he hasnít destroyed them yet.
  • Fission Mailed: In Issue 27, Xooxi's last boring conversation drags on for so long that the comic finally gives out to a black page bearing a message from the issue's artist, stating that she can't stand how boring it is anymore and demanding to know why she was forced to draw it.
  • Fluffy the Terrible:
    • In Issue 7, GIR's pet slug monster — which Zim mutates into a giant armed with More Dakka — is apparently named "Dennis".
    • In Issue 9, Zim refers to his giant Core-Muncher monster as "Linda".
    • In Issue 10, the Sylvestran Snarl Beast has a default form of a six-legged kitten.
  • Food-Based Superpowers: In issue #18, Zim takes over the restaurant Burrito King by kicking out its owner, Burrito Royale. Burrito Royale travels the land to gather followers (despite him only being gone since the morning of the day he returns, he claims that it was a long journey) and learn the power to control beans before returning to reclaim his restaurant. Burrito Royale demonstrates his new power by levitating a bunch of beans (although he doesn't like when one of his followers dubs him a "beanbender") before kicking Zim out by using the beans to push him through the door.
  • For Science!: Why would Membrane build Gaz a machine capable of allowing her to enter alternate realities so that she could kidnap her brother and trap him in a nightmare of virtual horrors? For science.
  • Framing Device: Several issues have characters ending up in situations where they tell/view various stories:
    • Issue 15 has the students in Dib and Zim's class trading theories on Miss Bitters' origins.
    • Issue 17 has Zim and Dib telling highly unlikely stories about themselves to an alien jailer in order to get it to release them.
    • Issue 40 has Recap Kid getting sucked out of the universe and viewing various alternate realities while trying to find their way back to the main comic universe.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: A pudding-related accident with a body switching machine in Issue 21 causes Zim to switch with Gaz and Dib to switch with GIR. The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body is in full effect for most of them: Gaz takes over Earth while Zim becomes apathetic and obsessed with games, and Dib goes insane after looking through GIR's files; GIR himself stays exactly the same.
  • Freedom from Choice: The Plim have spent so long having everything in their society handled by automated systems that they lack any sort of initiative. As such, they hate the thought of deciding anything on their own to the point of it making them scared and uncomfortable, so they just do whatever they're told.
  • Friendly Enemy: Occasionally subverted with a heavy dose of Take That, Audience! to fans who read Zim and Dib's relationship in this way. In Issue 13, a couple of aliens believe that Dib is Zim's best friend due to the excessive amounts of time they spend together and kidnap him to use as a bargaining chip; taking Zim's insistence that they're actually bitter enemies for a bluff, they proceed to torture Dib in various ways, to Zim's totally unconflicted enjoyment. Issue 50 has Love Freak Chammy Wamboo insisting on the friendship potential in Zim and Dib's relationship, with the two pointing out all the flaws in her reasoning.
  • Future Me Scares Me: Zim really does not like Emperor Zim.
  • Girly Bruiser: The Girly Rangers, an organization of sweet, smiling Genki Girls that won't hesitate to bust open a can of whoop-ass should their charms not result in someone buying their cookies. They have a ninja-like fighting style and use their cookies as ninja stars. Their organization's name is a combination of the Girl Scouts of America and Power Rangers, which pretty much says it all.
  • A Glitch in the Matrix: In Issue 37, Dib sees blackberries growing on a tree, and a squirrel with a carapace. This helps him realize that he's trapped in a poorly researched virtual illusion.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: In Issue 12, Dib while imprisoned with no company other than his future self's corpse, starts arguing with it.
  • Gone Horribly Right: In Issue 38, a sequence of events leads to GIR impersonating Dib so well that everyone becomes convinced that he's the real Dib and chase the real Dib out of town. Zim decides to take advantage of this, and tells GIR to keep up the impersonation. However, at prompting from Gaz, this leads to GIR trying to expose Zim as an alien, and doing a better job of it than the real Dib, leading to the ruining of Zim's latest plan.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Zim and Dib are stuck reliving the same day over and over again in the final issue, due to GIR breaking Zim's container of time-poop.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: The mobile-suit human Zim used to get a bank loan in Issue 6 ends up broken in half by GIR running off with the legs.
  • Hikikomori: Dib became this in Issue 1 after Zim disappeared.
    Gaz: I think you hiding in here forever is awesome Dib, but Zim has been gone a long time. Let it go. Move on. Take a bath. It was funny at first, but now itís just awful and gross. Youíre gross, Dib.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • In Issue 4, the Tallest used a Paranoia Gambit on Zim For the Evulz which eventually caused Zim to send the trash they made him think was an unstoppable weapon back to them. However the device they used to send him the trash was a Flawed Prototype and sending it back could end up destroying half the universe. Specifically the half they were in.
    • In Issue 25, Virooz creates a makeshift PAK to transfer his mind into Zim's body. But when Zim's own PAK takes it back, Virooz's PAK is left attached to a couch, trapping him.
    • Issue 34 reveals that Zim pays to have a private space prison lock up people for him. But when his bill comes up overdue (as a result of him putting GIR in charge of paying it), he gets locked up in the same prison, leaving him at the mercy of the people he imprisoned.
  • Human Resources: In Issue 44, Zim's latest plan is to abduct people, wrap them up, and sell them as stuffing for pillows at an alien retail store.
  • Hypocrite: Dib telling Groyna, the last survivor of a zombie pants apocalypse, that she is stupid for thinking just one or two people could stop an alien invasion.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Dib in Issue 8 is walking through the skool while condescendingly thinking to himself how people are blind and that they miss what really goes on in the world to the point that they could be surrounded by zombies and not notice. All while being surrounded by zombies and not noticing.
  • I Have Your Wife:
    • Issue 1 reveals that Zim enforces Prisoner 777's loyalty by holding his children hostage, threatening to erase them from existence if he doesn't do what Zim says.
    • Played for laughs in Issue 13, as some aliens abduct Zim's "best friend" to set up a Hostage for MacGuffin exchange. Unfortunately, they took Dib, having mistaken him for Zim's friend; understandably, Zim isn't inclined to help.
  • I Know You Know I Know: Zim does this with himself in the fourth quarterly. He's annoyed at having to follow his own prerecorded instructions, but can't tell whether he anticipated his reactions to work around that. Turns out he programmed both actions to have the desired result.
  • Implausible Deniability: Zim denying that heís trying to turn all of Earth's atmosphere into hot cheezo dust while he's flying into the Earthís atmosphere with a cargo of flaming hot cheezos.
  • Insufferable Genius: A lot of Dibís life would be a lot easier if he would just stop trying to prove how much smarter he is than everyone. For example in Issue 30 in order to get Dark Poop from Zim so he could save the world he had to face his greatest fear which Zim thinks is a sandwich. Dib immediately tells him heís not afraid of that. As well as all the other things Zim conjured.
  • Irony: The second quarterly sees Professor Membrane in the position Dib usually is — being ridiculed for trying to get people to see through a Paper-Thin Disguise and prove something they're oblivious to.
  • It's All About Me: The comics repeatedly show that Dib cares a lot more about being right than proving that the paranormal exists. In many cases he has come across aliens or the supernatural and cared more about not wanting to deal with the people involved in those events than the events themselves.
    • Issue 29 shows that Gaz has to schedule time for her to watch TV because Dib hogs it so much and even then he sees nothing wrong with taking the remote from her.
    • Also in Issue 29, Dib was specifically told that he might have magical abilities but refused because he thought soda based magic was stupid.
    • In Issue 30 because Dib took so long to get the Dark Poop the Poop Wizards had to sacrifice themselves to save the world. His only thought was that he gets to keep the soda.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: Issue 22 ends with Zim entering GIR's mind in order to find the virus that's driving him crazy. He spends most of Issue 23 in there.
  • Large Ham: Inquisitous the Observer.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia:
    • The backup strip in Issue 7 has Zim trying to delete Dib's memories of him.
    • The fourth quarterly has Zim doing this to himself, in a delusional belief that not knowing his own plan will make it unstoppable.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Like with the original series, Zim infrequently pays for his more cruel actions.
    • Issue 2 ends with Zim successfully sending Dib's humiliating video to everyone in the galaxy. In turn, Dib leaves Zim behind, stranding him within the Gargantis Array.
    • After an issue of tormenting Dibís Plot Allergy, Zim ends up getting a hive from a cat.
    • In issue 28, Zim effectively tricks the Irken research team to do his bidding and menial, selfish tasks for several decades that due to Year Inside, Hour Outside rules, only last a few hours of Zim while all the other Irkens age into senile beings. By the end of the issue, a mishap caused by the chronal dampener turns Zim into a senile old man who doesn't even recognize Dib.
    • Zim pays to have people locked up in Moo-Ping 10, usually just for annoying him. Then he falls behind on his payments, so he finds himself locked up alongside his victims (who specifically refuse to be released, as they want payback).
  • La Rťsistance: One pops up in the Battle Void arc. The Zim Resistance is composed of Zims who refuse to obey Number 1's rule.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In Issue 46, Zim doesn't remember Skoodge ever being on Earth, a possible acknowledgement of how the episodes where that happens were never made.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again:
    • At the start of Issue 41, Recap Kid makes it clear they want to completely forget that Issue 40 (which they spent viewing The Multiverse) ever happened.
    • In Issue 49, the Tallest are shocked by Zim (actually an Alternate Universe version of him) proving to be incredibly confident and momentarily taking over the Armada. So they ordered everyone to forget it ever happened and all records of it to be wiped.
  • Lighter and Softer: Although the comic series remains full of mordant wit and extravagant Dib abuse, Dib's family situation is a little kinder, with a less neglectful Professor Membrane and a more sibling-like relationship with Gaz.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: In the second quarterly, Zim is thrust in front of a mic onstage and asked his name, to which he comes up with "Mike Audience."
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Turns out to be the cause behind the events of Issue 37.
  • Mad Artist: When Zim pretends to be an artist in Issue 3 for his latest plan, people take his usual eccentricities as him being this.
  • Magic Versus Science: Zim vs the Space Pants' Queen in their Pants Pants Revolution fight.
  • Mechanical Abomination: Issue 46 opens with Zim attacking Dib with the "Car-Nivore", a monster made from a living car, which is designed to absorb other cars into itself.
  • Memory Gambit: In the fourth quarterly, Zim spends weeks in a sensory deprivation tank attempting to come up with a new plan. He emerges at the end of the set time to find that he already emerged at the halfway point, put his plan into motion, and went back in to deliberately forget the rest of it, leaving himself a series of videotaped instructions to help him finish the job. Despite his own best efforts, his inability to comprehend where the plan is going prevents his usual interference and causes it to go off without a hitch. It also prevents him from changing the nonsensical objective his addled brain came up with after weeks of sensory deprivation.
  • Mini-Mecha: The Membrane Labs junior executive suit that Professor Membrane builds in the second quarterly. It's basically a very large copy of his body (minus the head) that's armed with More Dakka for no apparent reason.
  • Mister Seahorse: In Issue 6, when a morbidly obese GIR fell out of his mobile suit human, Zim claimed this. The news blamed it on a side effect of the Ribiyich.
  • Mistaken for an Imposter: In Issue 38, everyone is fooled by GIR's Dib costume, and become convinced the real Dib is a clone, chasing him out of town. He's able to return after GIR-as-Dib "dies", only to be mistaken for a zombie.
  • Mobile-Suit Human: Zim built one in Issue 6 to get a bank loan.
  • Moral Myopia:
    • Despite Dibís frustration at the world not believing the paranormal, Dib sees nothing wrong with disregarding or even destroying things that other people care about because they arenít as important as his paranormal studies. This is ultimately revealed in Issue 5 to be the reason for the antagonistic relationship between him and Gaz after he prevented her from being the first person in history to beat a game to show her Zim yelling at a cat.
    Gaz: If I only could not care, but nooooo! You make me care. Whether I like it or not. You want to be left to your stupid business, but every chance you get, you think everyone, you think I have to hear about that business. Donít you?
    • That same issue also showed Gaz to be this as well. She claims that Dib was selfish for trying to get her involved with his interests, but at the same time not only is she never willing to spare him any time, but her obsession with video games is at such a violent level that even Dib's obsession with the paranormal can't compare. And another thing, even when Dib chooses (after the fact) to try and do things that she enjoys, she STILL finds some reason to hurt him (beating Dib up because he happened to win a game fairly).
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Ms. Bitters' is the focus of Issue 15, as the students all come up with different ideas on what she is.
  • The Multiverse:
    • Appears near the end of Issue 32, when Zim and Dib's pushup competition transcends them out of the universe. The various universes are manifested as giant sentient ab muscles, which offer to send the pair to the universe of their choice. They choose instead to keep competing.
    • This is also the main plot of Issue 40, as a "cosmic mistake" sucks Recap Kid into the space between universes, and views various alternate realities while trying to find their way back to their own.
    • A major part of the Battle Void arc, as Zim, GIR and Dib end up in Pocket Dimension linked by portal to numerous other alternate timelines and inhabited by the Zims of all those other universes.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Membrane is still a master of this.
    "Daughter, prepare for the awesome eventuality of... dinner!"
  • Mutagenic Goo: In Issue 7, the crashed Voot Cruiser's spilled fuel acts as this, causing rapid evolution in anything that falls in it.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Issue 46 has GIR mentioning Tak and Skoodge as other Irkens who came to Earth, although Zim doesn't remember either (despite mentioning Tak by name in previous issues); Zim not remembering Skoodge coming to Earth references how the episodes where that would have happened were scrapped when the show got cancelled, leaving them in a state of dubious canonicity.
    • Clembrane cameos in the first quarterly issue.
  • Negative Continuity: Just like the show. Reinforced twice in Issue 3. The first time was Recap Kid getting run over by Zim's ship (meaning the rest of the comic does not follow the previous two issues), the second being at the very end when Dib recalled Issue 3's events and Zim denied them.
  • Never My Fault: In Issue 29, Dib spilled an incredibly rare limited addition drink when he was wrestling with Gaz for the remote (even though she had already scheduled TV time) because he wanted to watch a show. Gaz told him to either find her another drink or apologize. Dib treated apologizing as a Fate Worse than Death.
    Dib: And I can never apologize! Because it wasn't my fault!!!
    Store Clerk: Wow, kid, you have issues.
  • Never Recycle Your Schemes: Usually played straight. There is one subversion, however, as Issue 22 sees Zim once again trying to disperse Flamin' Hot Cheezo dust into the Earth's atmosphere in order to make the planet uninhabitable for humans, something he tried once before in Issue 12, though in this case he changes the planned method of dispersal.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In Issue 43, Dib takes down the anti-technology field surrounding planet Plim so that the natives won't declare Zim their leader based on his lies about being able to do so himself. However, he finds out too late that the field was to hide Plim from the Irkens, so they're immediately conquered anyway.
  • No Fair Cheating: Gaz after Dib defeated her in a fighting game.
  • Noodle Implements: Issue 14 opens with Zim setting out to gather the supplies needed for his latest Evil Plan — a robot pie oven, seven million pairs of rubber gloves, and a space amoeba with a giant... something. (He falls into a hole before he can finish the sentence, let alone grab anything.)
  • Noodle Incident: How exactly did Dib manage to capture Zim and trap him in a giant glass jar at the start of the second quarterly? Even Zim doesn't know.
  • Offscreen Inertia: Indirectly acknowledged in an exchange between Zim and GIR in Issue 10.
    GIR: Remember that commercial for the puddin' where the kid eats the puddin' and he turns into puddin' and he flies around the room? That was scary.
    Zim: Silence! I remember that commercial and it was upsetting so speak no more of it! They never show the kid turn back so you're all, "Is he trapped as pudding forever?" Awful.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Issue 30 has Poopwatch's fight with Poopthulhu, which happens while Dib is stuck trying to get a bottle of Darkpoop from Zim.
  • Operation: [Blank]: The third Quarterly reveals that Professor Membrane's anti-Santa arsenal is codenamed "Operation Snow Cone".
  • Other Me Annoys Me:
  • Our Zombies Are Different: In Issue 8, zombies are created by wearing mind altering alien pants.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: When pretending to be an artist in Issue 3, all Zim did was put on glasses, a hat, and a scarf, and change his name to Shminvader Shmim.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: Zim gets off several of these when he's being interviewed by newscaster Jeff Sheffy in Issue 3.
    Zim: Oh, David, your assumptions are soówhat's the wordóbegoodious.
    Jeff: That's not a word.
    Zim: DO NOT CENSOR MY ART! Anyhow, this is the sixth of my Star Donkey series. To bind myself to so-called "numbers" would be flapdoodious.
    Jeff: That's not a word, either. Oh, I get it! You are an artist!
  • The Pig-Pen: Dib when he became a shut in after Zim disappeared. The smell was so bad that Gaz and Membrane had to burn all of his things to get rid of it.
  • Planet of Steves:
    • Played with in Issue 42, which features the Planet Plim, home of the City of Plim, inhabited by the Plim species... all of whom have individual names.
    • A major part of the Battle Void arc is a Pocket Dimension inhabited entirely by Zims. They have to use numbered collars to differentiate each other.
  • Plot Allergy: In Issue 11, Zim discovers Dib is allergic to most furry animals and proceeds to build a machine that launches such animals at Dib. He spends most of the issue just torturing his nemesis, proving he is superior... and then the last panel reveals he's allergic to cats, too.
  • Poke the Poodle: In Issue 1, Zim's "reign of terror" includes such heinous crimes as: Kicking over a trash can, switching people's mail around, and reading a newspaper despite never subscribing. Then averted when GIR literally launches a poodle into space.
  • Previously onÖ: Recap Kid's job is to tell everyone what happened in the last issue.
  • Private Profit Prison: Issues 34 and 35 feature Moo-Ping 10, a space station-based prison where you can pay to have your enemies imprisoned. Zim in particular is shown to use it just to get rid of people who he doesn't like (or in one guy's case, just looking like someone he doesn't like). Unfortunately for him, however, the aliens running the prison are also very strict about payments — when he falls behind on his (due to putting GIR in charge of them) they lock him up as well, forcing him to spend two issues trying to figure out how to escape.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: The Space Pants from Slksskz.
  • A Rare Sentence: Dib in Issue 8, after being attacked by the Space Pants.
    Dib: The last thing I remember, I was attacked by pants. I can't believe I'd ever say those words. But here I am saying them.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: Issue 39 does this, as an alien observing Earth abducts Zim, GIR, Dib and Gaz to his ship, due to them being the only beings present when his exploratory probe and its robot operator were destroyed, so that he can interrogate them on what happened, via putting them in a machine that plays their memories. Dib's memories show that Zim attacked his house in a Mini-Mecha made from random pieces of machinery, and when the robot showed up to meet Dib (do to detecting Tak's ship in his garage and determining it to be the most advanced technology on the planet), Zim took offense and destroyed the robot. In Zim's memories, he peacefully greeted the robot while in a much more advanced mech, only for Dib (whom he portrays as a drooling moron) to blow up the robot by accident. Gaz's memories show that she wasn't even paying attention to the fight at all. And GIR's memories... cause the memory machine to melt down and the alien's ship to explode.
  • Real After All: The second quarterly is built around Maxwell Beesworth's obsession with the legendary Beeboogoat, a ghostly bee/goat hybrid. In the final panels, it turns out that his obsession comes from the fact that he's a Beeboogoat disguised as a human, and he's looking for another of his kind.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Played for Laughs with the deceased Thoob in Issue 46. Apparently, despite him never existing in the series proper or not even appearing until Issue 46, Zim liked him enough to devote a shrine to his memory and outright mourn him.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: Twice in the third Quarterly, Zim receives several insults towards his character and takes them as compliments, but gets angry over something else. The first time, he's called a "mean and nasty human", and takes offense at being called human, and the second time expresses rage at someone saying it's bad that he's so awful.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: Zim retains his memories of the time loop in the final issue thanks to a special hat, while Dib retains his because of one of the objects that Gaz stuffed into his head.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Dib yet again involves Gaz (in the middle of playing an online game, by turning it off) in spying on Zim... telling a cat that was being fed by GIR to get off his lawn. Needless to say, she reacted badly.
  • Serious Business:
    • Gaz's gaming has reached the point that when Dib interrupted her while she was playing a game (as in turning the game off) just so that she could look at Zim yelling at a cat, Gaz asks Membrane to build an invention so she could search for a dimension where gamers rule the earth and put non gamers in mind simulations similar to The Matrix, where they are forced into the role of player characters, controlled by random gamers and die violently over and over, and subjects Dib to it.
      • Also do not be a freemium gamer in this world.
    • Zim losing one of his boots at the end of Issue 6.
    • Issue 19 reveals the existence of the Zoo Crimes Division, which protects the Town Zoo like a fortress, and treats Zim's home-made zoo like a felony.
    • Issues 29 and 30 revolve around secret groups of magic users fighting over control of Poop Cola, which is the source of their power.
      • Poopwatch respects proof of purchase.
      Poopwatch Wizard: Curse you, Poopwatch code of ethics! The one who holds the receipt by rights holds the poop.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The first quarterly features a time traveler coming back in time to avert a Bad Future where evil apes rule the world, by having GIR teach two opposing armies of mutant animals how to dance. Believe it or not, It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Shapeshifter Default Form: The Sylvestran Snarl Beast initially looks like a cute 6 legged kitten.
  • Show Within a Show: Issue 20 gives us Floopsy Bloops Shmoopsy.
  • Snap Back: Issues can end with things like the Earth getting kicked into the sun by a Star Donkey (which ends up being snapped back by the end of the very issue it happens) and Gaz taking over the Earth after body-swapping with Zim, but ultimately it'll all be ignored by the very next issue.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Several times in Issue 50, Gaz does this to Chammy.
  • Stop Worshipping Me: In Issue 7, Zim initially likes having the amoebas worship him, but they quickly get on his nerves.
  • Story Arc:
    • Issues 22-25 are the "Arc of Virooz", referencing the mysterious force responsible for infecting GIR with a virus that makes him try to kill Zim.
    • Issues 46-49 are the Battle Void arc, wherein Zim, GIR, and Dib are trapped in a Pocket Dimension inhabited by the Zims of various alternate universes.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In the second quarterly, Dib and Zim both consider using the sewers to sneak in and out of Beesworth's lodge.
  • Stupidest Thing I've Ever Heard: This was Zim's reaction when Dib told him about the evil wizard of Dark Poop trying to unleash Poopthulu in Issue 30:
    Zim: I care nothing for your foolish human superstitions Dib! Poop Magic is the primitive sodaguzzling belief of primitive sodaguzzling human ape-brains!
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • When Zim discovers that Dib is allergic to cats, Dib is able to solve the problem by getting himself some allergy meds, rendering himself immune to Zim's attacks.
    • In the first issue, years of obsessing over Zim with little to no regard to his personal health and hygiene has left Dib cripplingly obese and invalid, allowing Zim to conduct a reign of terror unopposed. Comically subverted when Zim's "reign of terror" ends up being a string of ultimately harmless pranks and Dib is able to recover his original health after a single day of working out.
    • Sitting in sensory deprivation for an extended period of time is not good for your mental health, as Zim learns in the fourth quarterly. After three weeks, he goes into a manic delusional state and puts in motion an overly complex plan to destroy every balloon in the world, then after another three weeks completely forgets that he did this. It's even specifically stated that he's getting some brain damage from this.
  • Take That!:
    • Issue 9 gets a lot of mileage out of its YouTube parody, with its obviously faked videos and the string of trollish and downright moronic viewer comments.
    • Issue 15 takes a swipe at the infamous "guns turned into walkie talkies" cut of E.T. by having all of the soldiers' guns be digitally replaced with hot dogs. Then, just to piss off the censors, a blurb mentions that the decision was made by the president and CEO of Now That's What I Call Doggin' Inc.
    • Issue 18 has a character gain control over beans, while repeatedly denying the title of beanbender. The last page is a poster of the movie adaptation of his story, which depicts an entirely caucasian cast when the character himself is Ambiguously Brown, mocking the infamous live action adaptation of The Last Airbender.
    • Zim's plan in Issue 37 is essentially the plot of The Matrix. Which makes Dib's lampshading of all the logic plot holes in it a pretty clear jab at the movies.
    • Issue 50 is a deliberate Take That, Audience! at people who'd rather Zim and Dib drop the rivalry and be friendly towards one another, by having these opinions be voiced (and enacted) by the crazy and forceful antagonist of the issue.
  • The Magocracy: Poopwatch, an organization dedicated to monitoring the magical use of Poop Cola.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Zigzagged in the fourth quarterly. Some of the messages left for Zim by himself correctly anticipate his reactions, while others are way off.
  • Third-Person Flashback: How the Memory Visualizer works. Dib lampshades how odd this is, but is ignored.
  • Time Dilation: Issue 28 is built around an experimental Irken device called the Time Accelerator (or the "Time Thingy" as it's nicknamed). It generates a field which causes time to move faster the closer you get to it. And when it ends up exploding near the end of the issue, it causes Zim to age into an elderly state.
  • Time Dissonance: In Issue 7, thirty seconds for Zim is thousands of years for the amoebas he created. Also, a side effect of them evolving so fast seems to be a very loose concept of time, as they keep making references to centuries passing every few minutes.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball:
    • In Issue 12, Zimís actions in the future changed the past. Dib quickly points out that that isn't how it works only to be told to shut up.
    • In Issue 49, Zim messing about with time travel causes all the alternate timelines to merge together. Again, an exasperated Dib tries to explain that's not how it works, only for Zim to ignore him.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Dib, even after finding out that the Space Pants are a race of Puppeteer Parasite aliens that consume all of a planet's resources before moving on decided to aid the Pants Queen in defeating Zim, the only one who knew how to defeat them. Luckily Zim was not quite dead.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • Membrane, after he Took a Level in Kindness, sold out Dib in issue 5 so that the gamer robots wouldn't take his dinner robot.
    • Dib also has come to fit this trope; while he was never exactly a saint in the show, he was a bit nicer than he has been in the comics. Nowadays he's more prone to things like abandoning people when they're no longer of use to him (Groyna in Issue 8 for example) and refusing to apologize when something is clearly his fault (such as Issue 29 where he spills Gaz's soda).
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Professor Membrane seems to have become a more attentive parent in the comics as he is seen making dinner (or at least operating the robot who does it) and even playing video games with Gaz.
  • Training Montage: Dib had one in Issue 1 to get back in shape. Gaz had to stop him from singing his own montage music.
  • Tranquil Fury: Gaz in Issue 5 after Dib turned off her game.
  • Troll:
    • In Issue 2, Takís personality based A.I. used Dibís exact words to track Zimís ship so that by the time they got to the location Zim was long gone. It wasnít until after going to hundreds of spaceside attractions that a frustrated Dib tells it to actually catch Zim did it do it.
    • Agent Batflaps seems to be a parody of your standard Internet troll, coming up with obviously fake videos and only having bad things to say about Dib's.
  • The Unapologetic: Dib, when he destroys or disregards something someone else likes or finds important because itís not as important as him stopping Zim (or whatever other paranormal activity heís focused on at the time). In fact, he will only ever apologize if the person retaliates in a way he canít counter. Gaz called him out on this in Issue 5 after she put him in a And I Must Scream situation when he destroyed her chance to be the first person in history to beat a certain video game. Stating that he was just doing everything he could to get out of the situation and didnít really mean it. It literally took ten million games and logic defying deaths for Dib to legitimately mean his apology.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Dib in Issue 8 — after Groyna saved him from being zombified, he tried to leave her because her experience of being the last survivor in a zombie apocolypse was making her emotional and he's uncomfortable around crying girls. When she convinced him that they could work together, he kept telling her how stupid she was for thinking one or two people could stop an alien invasion by themselves. Finally, when they came across her zombified friend and she tried to save her, Dib pretty much just left her to die.
    Dib: I'mÖ umÖ going to go downstairs now and look for the pants-hive. I'd help butÖ basement door right here so yeah.
    • Zim in Issue 35 after shapeshifting alien Zorphic, whom he had imprisoned for no real reason, helps him escape from Moo-Ping 10 after he's himself imprisoned there for a debt. When Zim is able to pay off the debt, he's freed and his prisoners, including Zorphic, are recaptured. He doesn't bother to tell the staff to free Zorphic, thinking that it seems like too much trouble.
  • Unknown Rival: Played for laughs in Issue 46, where Zim fails to remember who Tak is when she's mentioned (despite referring to her by name in several earlier issues).
  • Unreliable Narrator:
    • Throughout Issue 17, Zim and Dib keep telling stories that present themselves as awesome, and paint the other in a negative light. In Dib's case, this involves making him a badass who everyone loves, and for Zim, it's making him an All-Loving Hero.
    • In Issue 39, Zim's delusional, self-serving memories portray him as having peacefully met the alien probe only for Dib (who is shown as a drooling moron) to destroy it by accident. This is in contrast to Dib's memories, which are more in line with the pair's standard characterizations (Dib tries to greet the robot as a self-appointed ambassador of humanity, only for Zim to destroy it when it annoys him).
  • Unwanted False Faith: In Issue 7, where Zim quickly gets annoyed with the amoebas worshipping him.
  • Villain with Good Publicity:
    • Issue 21 has this as the way Gaz-as-Zim takes over the world — first, she gets everyone's attention by destroying all the world militaries' weapons, calling it an act of world peace. Then, she solves world hunger with a new artificial food, which happens to contain an alien chemical that makes people stupid and easy to control. This leads to the world's leaders all asking her to take over as ruler of Earth.
    • In Issue 42 and 43, Zim is far more popular with the Plim than Dib is.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Zim in Issue 2, after eating a dark matter filled donut, is prominently shown vomiting out of the Voot Cruiser.
  • Whatevermancy: Poopromancer, one who practices magic by harnessing the power of Poop Cola.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: A minor example from the Battle Void arc. The Elder, the leader of the Zim Resistance, is last seen in the cliffhanger ending of Issue 47, only to disappear by the time Issue 48 starts, and is never seen again.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Issue 33 confirms that the series is set in America, just not where.
  • Who Would Be Stupid Enough?:
    • Zim explains that the Snarl Beast they're fighting is the first one anyone has seen in "over a thousand years" because "nobody has been dumb enough to look for one in all the time." He then boasts that "Zim is dumb enough!"
    • No one believed that Inquisitous the Observer's ship blew up because it couldn't handle the stress of looking at the world through GIR's eyes.
      Inquisitorian Elder: I'm sure the Big Bad Robot is just as scary as you remember him, but I think our GIANT SUPERCOMPUTER can handle anything this defective SIR unit can dish out.
  • Written-In Absence: Zim is absent during the plot of Issue 14 due to accidentally falling down a deep hole in his front yard and breaking both his legs.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: In Issue 43, Dib beats Zim to win the spot as leader of the Plim by taking down the anti-technology field surrounding the planet... and then the other Irkens, who had been searching for Plim for centuries, immediately swoop in and conquer it anyway.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: The second story in the third Quarterly issue sees Zim put into a Christmas Carol-style simulation to try and teach him the true meaning of "Fistmas". It's all a poorly thought-out plan to somehow Take Over the World on the part of a pair of stupid aliens.
  • You Are Too Late: In Issue 2, Zim has already enacted his plan by the time Dib catches up to him.

Alternative Title(s): Invader Zim, Invader Zim Quarterly