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Invader Zim Volume 2: Progressive Stupidity 
Written by: on August 29th, 2004
Invader Zim: Volume 2 - Progressive Stupidity Invader Zim
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 2001
Director: Steve Ressel
Writers: Jhonen Vasquez, Frank Conniff, Roman Dirge, Rob Hummel, Eric Trueheart
Cast: Richard Steven Horvitz, Andy Berman, Rosearik Rikki Simons, Billy West, Melissa Charles

DVD released: August 31st, 2004
Approximate running time: 225 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 4.3 Full Frame
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby digital Stereo
DVD Release: Media Blasters
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95

Welcome to the Volume 2 Review of Invader Zim. In this review, I’ll
recap all of the major characters in Invader Zim and where they stand
in the first animated series by Jhonen Vasquez (creator of Johnny: The
Homicidal Maniac, Debi, and SQUEE comics).

Zim, an Alien Irken Invader, who’s bent of destruction, was so powerful, that he brought premature devastation on his home planet in Impending Doom 1. Knowing that Impending Doom 2 couldn’t go on without him, he quit being banished. The Tallest, the most important of the Irken and the creators of Impending Doom, assign him the task of earth, which lies at the edge of the galaxy. The Tallest construct immediately an advanced robot compatriot from refuge, Gir reports for duty, unknown what the G stands for in his name. Once Gir and Zim hear the Doom song for over 6 months, they find themselves on the outskirts of Earth. Zim commands Gir to investigate earth so they can disguise themselves as human.

From this knowledge, they fashion themselves a home and persona as Zim the boy and Gir the dog. Zim discovers an enemy in his midst named Dib. Self-proclaimed Paranormal, Dib studies Zim waiting for him to slip up and expose him to the swollen eyes. Gaz, Dib’s sister keeps to her best behavior by ignoring her brother and focusing her attention to the Game Slave. Professor Membrane, inventor of Super Toast, and has his own television show, has little time for his crumb crunchers. Zim and Dib are both in Miss Bitters classroom, who’s iron fist and pessimistic outlook guide the students to grow up to become machinations of the machine.

From the first Volume, Zim showed his humanity with Bestest Friend, Parent Teacher Night, and Dark Harvest. Zim and Dib duel each other in NanoZim, The Wettening, Career Day, Bad, Bad Rubber Piggy, A Room with a Moose. Zim’s troubles on earth in Walk of Doom, Germs, Attack of the Saucer Morons, Invasion of the Idiot Dog Brain. Zim saves the earth in Planet Jackers and Hamstergeddon.

“I’m the creator because I know when there are lasers.” – Jhonen Vasquez

The Episodes:

Plague of Babies – A baby from next door watches from his room as Zim makes an impromptu landing. Zim knowing the danger of exposing himself to a baby Zim does his own investigation as a Baby Inspector. Bloaty’s Pizza Hog – Just when Gaz’s gets a chance to choose where to eat for this year’s family outing, Dib is missing. Her father, Professor Membrane, refuses to go without Dib because this is a family affair. Gaz in deep hatred of her bother must find him or miss an opportunity to eat with all her family until next year. Door to Door – The Skool has a fund raising program to upgrade the skool’s desks, selling candy bars. Zim becomes transfixed over a secret grand prize that he must receive.

FBI Warning of Doom – Zim sees the FBI warning in the beginning of a rental tape and soon after receives a call telling them to return the tape or else. Knowing this must be a government plot, Zim attempts anything to return the rental tape in the closed mall. Bolognius Maximus – Dib burns Zim’s forehead with a deli slice of bologna during skool lunch and thereafter being ridiculed by his classmates, Zim promises to enact vengeance. He does so by making Dib delicious. Game Slave 2 – While Gaz frustratingly plays Piggy Hunter on a Game Slave One, she watches a commercial for the Game Slave 2 with an improved version of Piggy Hunter. Gaz must have and Dib’s insistence to watching Mysterious Mysteries before leaving makes her rage and regret her bother was ever born.

Battle of the Planets – (2 part episode) Zim’s Mars Probes show the potential of the Marziods and Zim and Gir find a way to exploit it. Agent Darkbooty and Dib notice Mars transmissions that show the structures on Mars are more then they seem and launch their own plan to foil Zim. Halloween Spectacular of Spooky Doom – (2 part episode) Zim fears for Halloween costumed humans who lust over his delicious blood candies as Dib discovers how truly vast his enormous head is. Mysterious Mysteries – The television host searches the Dib archives to save his job. The Mysterious Mystery show reenacts Dib’s visitation with the alien Zim.

Future Dib – The inventor of ‘Super Toast’, Professor Membrane made PEG (perpetual Energy Generator) for free power for all of mankind. But with great power comes great responsibility, one false move and it might mean a wave of Doom. This doom is exactly what Zim wants. Hobo 13 – The Irken Invaders finest solders are trained from this very planet. So The Tallest sends him here before granting Zim’s request for battle tanks to annihilate earth. Walk for your Lives – Probing Day of Invader Zim causes an explosion to go all wrong.

Megadoomer – The Tallest think they are shipping off many malfunctioning SIR units to destroy Zim until a disgruntled shipper switches addresses of two packages. Lice – Skool gets infested with lice and Miss Bitters calls upon the delouser to rid of this infestation. Abducted – Two inept aliens come to abduct humans, so they begin at Zim’s alien base for human life. These alien abducting characters are also featured prior in SQUEE comics. The Sad, Sad Tale of Chickenfoot – Dib disclaims the validity of Mysterious Mysteries episode of Chickenfoot.

This volume shows a remarkable improvement of character development and story writing that the first lacks. The stories become more epic as the characters “fit” better rather than being molded to the story. The low points were Battle of the Planets and Abducted. The favorite and most inventive episodes were Plague of Babies and The Sad, Sad Tale of Chickenfoot. I found myself more focused than before on the episodes progression, which was done faithful to the story. The burrito and taco humor and the Pig and Moose humor is on the rise with volume two.

“This whole episode is stupid, that’s why I love it.” – Jhonen Vasquez

The DVD:

The ten minute bonus feature ‘Interview with the writers’ is an short interview with writers Eric Trueheart, Daniel Koenig, and Roman Dirge (excluded from Volume 1) interspersed with short clips of episodes. Trueheart and Koenig have no experience at writing for animation, and Dirge’s affiliation seems to come from his friendship with Vasquez. Some interesting facts include that the voice of chickenfoot was initially planned for Ricardo Montobaun and that Dib was to discover that he’s his father’s creation.

This DVD release includes a secondary audio track for four episodes: Game Slave 2, Hobo 13, Megadoomer, and Chickenfoot. These secondary tracks seem more focused on the musical composing of Kevin and some additional notes. Jhonen’s character in the Game Slave 2 commercial is based on Vampire Hunter D and the mention of Clarance Wong is really the name of one of Jhonen’s friends who he still plays with on line. Kevin mentions his disdain of Jhonen’s insistence on redoing the vocals in “meats of evil.” Kevin notes that although he didn’t work with the sound engineers, his music was crafted about the dialog, and is happy about convincing Jhonen to depend more on music to set the mood.

As you can see, although the intro menu looks similar to Volume 1: Doom Doom Doom, there are differences between the two The Irken Subtitling is Yellow rather than white, and actually shows spacing, not that these subtitles have any use. The graphics on first 2 disks have a purple background, while the new 2 disk set has a red backdrop to it. The clip that holds the booklet from Volume 1 is missing from Volume 2, just another sign that the boxed set is upon us and the booklet will be enclosed with only Volume 1. Distrait that the ‘Extra and Episode Guide’ was loose, I just put that into my Volume 1 keep case and the cards are in there much more snugly now. Maybe as a tribute to the FBI Warning of Doom, you can actually skip the FBI warning to the Main Menu (sweet!). And the secondary commentary is more useful than the first disks 5.1 surround sound pig squealing and spans over 4 episodes.

This DVD is faithful to the original 4:3 Aspect Ratio and just like volume 1 interlacing is present still the overall image is very colorful and vivid. Audio options include yet English and Spanish audio as well as the goofy Irken Subtitles. The audio is exceptional and the subtitles are easy to follow. Anime Works (subsidiary of Media Blasters), should be praised for improving this second volume while staying faithful to the setup of volume 1. I can’t wait what you have in store with the third volume which will contain unreleased episodes. This is an educated guess, but I foresee an interview with Jhonen Vasquez if not in the third volume then in the boxed set.

“I love to think that there’s a supernatural world behind [Invader] Zim.” – Jhonen Vasquez

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