Kaput & Zösky

Kaput & Zösky
Written by Lewis Trondheim; illustrated by Eric Cartier
Translated by Edward Gauvin
First Second, $13.95
Ages 8+

Review may contain spoilers.

Kaput and Zösky are two aliens determined to rule the world. Any world. Sadly, they aren’t very good at their job. Even when the two intrepid destroyers do manage to take over a planet, something invariably goes wrong.

Thirteen stories in this collection feature Kaput, a short, round, redheaded ball of evil who wants nothing more than to blast his way to merciless power, and Zösky, who is tall, yellow-eared, and willing to at least attempt to strategize before blasting his way to merciless power. Together the two win a planet through a lucky spin of the wheel and then give it back because there was no butt-kicking involved, run from a planet where the inhabitants follow Kaput’s every suggestion, and escape from a planet ruled by vampires by belching garlic breath. Each four- to six-page story follows the rule of three by setting up quickly, using plenty of the snappy dialog readers expect from author Trondheim, and finishing with a fun punch that often doubles as a bit of social commentary. Gauvin’s cartoony art works perfectly for this writing style and the simple background designs and use of bold colors make the characters pop.

Social commentary is also found in the wordless one-page “The Cosmonaut” stories that come between each episode of “Kaput & Zösky.” Often funnier than the main stories, these sight gags are simple enough for elementary school children to understand the humor, while sophisticated readers will see more in the cosmonaut’s attempt to plant a flag on a planet that terrifies him, or his willingness to do the right thing only after destroying those who scold him.

All of the stories in Kaput & Zösky contain blasters and blasting, and when blood is shown, the blood is red. While this may bother some parents, it’s unlikely to deter ten-year-old boys who will be caught up in the kind of humor and cartoon violence they are used to seeing on Saturday mornings. Each “Kaput & Zösky” story is similar to the next, so adults may not want to read them all at once, but upper elementary and middle schoolers will get a kick out of the whole thing

This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © First Second.

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