Legends of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
Legends of Zita the Spacegirl is Ben Hatke's second comic book about a gutsy gal who just happens to be lost in the universe. Zita has already saved the planet Scriptorus and is now on a publicity tour, hopping from world to world to shake hands and answer questions from all sorts of alien beings. Unfortunately, she's starting to tire of this celebrity song and dance routine.
So when Zita encounters a robot that suspiciously looks like her, she decides to switch places with it so she can play hooky with her best giant mouse friend Pizzacato. Little does she know that this is about to lead to a whole mess of intergalactic trouble.
The robot doppelganger accepts a very dangerous mission from a couple of furry aliens who are fooled by the switcharoo. This is presents a good life lesson for children: Never trade places with people that look exactly like you!
Zita and Pizzacato are left behind as her friends blast off without her. Against her better judgment, Zita steals a spaceship to follow them. That rash decision will lead to many troubles, as a massive, seemingly-cycloptic police squadron begin to hunt her down.
It's not all bad for our heroine, though. She's still got her wits about her and is able to find allies in the unlikeliest of places. Help comes in the form of a circus ringmistress named Madrigal, who has a history with Zita's rascally friend and tour manager Piper. She gives Zita a new spaceship, which is not only alive, but can be controlled by a mental link.
Much like the first book, there is a flood of fantastically strange and funny creatures. We catch a glimpse of the aptly-named musical robot Robo-Oboe. Aliens pop up with dozens of eyes, or arms, or razor sharp teeth! Strangest and most beautiful of all is a giant bionic tentacled creature who swims through space, crossing paths with Zita from time to time. Be sure to look in the back of the book for sketch drawings of even more silly celestial beings.
Zita must find her crew and face her hardest mission yet, fighting a planet-destroying swarm of star hearts. Will she make it? I certainly hope so, if only so I can continue to see this cute, hilarious universe.
The writer/artist Ben Hatke lives in Virginia, but has created an epic saga that has the potential to contend with Kazu Kibuishi's Amulet series in terms of world-building and imagery. These books are the stuff of great escapism. Get lost in one today!