“No robot monkeys for you!”

If Invader Zim comes off as something out of a late night cold pizza induced/fever dream, you’ve pretty much gotten the gist of it.  It’s like Ren & Stimpy meets The Powerpuff Girls, with a frenetic pace and a bent towards absurdism and cultural satire.

“I sure like tv.  And wearing pants.” –Zim

Nickolodeon garnered a reputation beginning in the early 90s of taking chances on shows with bizarre premises and edgy content (as well as scatological surrealism).  Created by Jhonen Vasquez (twisted creator of thee underground comic, Jonny the Homicidal Maniac), the series ran from 2001 to 2002—a pilot episode and 46 canon episodes—before being canceled.  The complete series was released on DVD, but Paramount keeps going back to the well and releasing it in various formats.  Invader Zim: Operation Doom is a collection of 13 fairly random episodes of the cartoon series.

Invader Zim is set in a dystopian future with its inhabitants enslaved to television and fast food.  An alien named Zim (voiced by Richard Steven Horvitz), member of the Irkin race, has been exiled from his planet by The Almighty Tallest (Wally Wingert and Kevin McDonald) to the remote planet, Foodcourtia, for trying to annihilate their civilization.  He has to escape the fast food restaurant he is trapped in before he is trapped by The Foodening.

Travelling with his faithful robot companion, GIR (Rosarik Rikki), he makes it to Earth, infiltrating the human race by pretending to be a school boy.  Only a strange kid named Dib (Andy Berman) suspects him of being an alien bent on Earth’s conquest.  Dib’s little goth sister on the other hand, Gaz, (Melissa Fahn), recognizes that Zim is easily thwarted.

Zim is about his mission.  He knows his and understands his role in it.  For us, we have the mission Dei, the sending of God.  We, too, are a sent people meant to infiltrate culture and run counter to it, being God’s instrument of His mission in the world:  to bring about reconciliation and healing, one to another and one another to God. God’s reconciling act is centered on the cross, a gift of freedom. The resurrection is a sign that the powers have been defeated, though still active. The cross transforms our condition while also providing an example of hope. A faith with present-future components: the present reality lived in light of a future one. Being united in mission is a sanctifying process. To fight injustice and oppression; ministering to neighbors; not putting up fences or moving away develops disciplines needed for growth. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we practice Pentecost and live out the Gospel. Reconciliation touches the most hidden parts of our souls. God gave reconciliation to us as a ministry that never ends.

“The lesson here is that dreams inevitably lead to hideous implosion.” –Ms. Bitters

Invader Zim:  Operation Doom may make you long for the halcyon days of Ren & Stimpy, when you’d gather your friends together on early Sunday mornings and watch the episodes, laughing yourself senseless at the discordant chaos and general grossness.  Invader Zim doesn’t quite rise to that level of brilliance, it is creative and fun  There are persistent rumors that if DVD sales of Invader Zim are strong enough, Nick might bring the show back to the air.  Those rumors aside, Operation Doom is a good into to the general zaniness of the series.  It’s strange and mildly anarchic, full of sarcasm, satire, and immaturity.  If you are into that in your cartoons, this is the series for you.