Image: First Second

Ben Hatke is a major name in the world of kids comics, charming young readers with the vibrant artwork, warm emotion, and dynamic action of his Mighty Jack and Zita The Spacegirl series. Mighty Jack is a modern interpretation of “Jack And The Beanstalk” that follows a boy, his autistic sister, and their neighbor into a magical land that sprouts up in the backyard, giving Hatke the opportunity to explore fantasy and horror genre elements through an all-ages lens. Zita The Spacegirl moves in a whimsical sci-fi direction with the high-flying escapades of a young girl and her best friend who are teleported to space, discovering alien planets and strange companions while fighting cosmic forces of evil. Next year, these two best-selling titles cross over in Mighty Jack & Zita The Spacegirl, and The A.V. Club has an exclusive first look at the cover and interior pages of the heroes’ first shared adventure.

As mystical forces threaten to take over the Earth, Jack, Zita, and their friends have to team up to squash the invasion. This excerpt from Mighty Jack & Zita The Spacegirl, on sale September 3, spotlights how these two groups of characters interact, with Hatke drawing connections between the casts that create a sense of geniality while also introducing tension through characters who have been touched by darkness. Featuring colors by Hilary Sycamore and Alex Campbell, these pages draw readers into a cozy backyard picnic, and the creative team contrasts the joy of this gathering with encroaching doom. Many of the interactions at the top of this excerpt have no discernable dialogue, highlighting how well Hatke establishes relationships through facial expressions and body language. Jack and Zita have a playful energy but their closest friends are acutely aware of the danger that is quickly approaching, finally arriving on the final page to disrupt this cozy dinner.

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