Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Story: Chris Roberson
Art: Mike Allred
Letters: Todd Klein
Colors: Laura Allred
So, what’s it about?
Gwendolyn Dylan is a gravedigger in “Emerald Town”, Eugene, Oregon, known for its trees, and also its secrets.
You see, Gwen is also a zombie; but not your usual, run-of-the-mill shambling, flesh-dripping George Romero-style zombie. Gwen has to eat human brains, once a month, to retain her personality and memories. Gwen is, more specifically, a revenant, a distinction that is made from John Amon, a mysterious stranger who claims to be a mummy from Egypt, several thousand years old, that Gwen meets, while researching a mystery.
You see, when Gwen ingests gray matter, she also consumes their memories and final wishes, sometimes leading her to try and resolve their final requests.
Aren’t zombies a little overdone?
I certainly understand why you feel that way. We must remember, however, that iZombie emerged, shuffling into the daylight, back in 2011, when The walking Dead was going, full-tilt, and the feature-length World War Z movie was still just a twinkle in Marc Forster’s eye.
Secondly, iZombie comes off more as a deconstruction and a riff on not only the zombie mythos, but every other supernatural franchise as well.
What’s so different about it?
First and foremost, the characters. Every character in iZombie seems like a real person – er, creature – with their own back story and hidden motivations. Gwen is a painter, who lives in a crypt and has a thing for ’60s dolls. Ellie is a ghost who’s been dead for 40 years, and never got to travel. Nemia is a business-savvy vampire, trying to work out a sustainable model. Spot, real name Scott, is an awkward IT guy, who just happens to sprout fur on the full moon. John Amon, a mummy, keeps a pet snow leopard, and doesn’t like monkey cartoons.
Okay, I get it. It’s different – I’m intrigued. Who worked on it?
iZombie is written by Chris Roberson, from my hometown of Portland, Or., best known for the Fables miniseries Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love and Fables Are Forever, as well as publisher of MonkeyBrain Books, with his spouse Allison Baker.
The artwork comes from Michael Allred, who is mostly likely no stranger to readers of this page, being solely responsible for the weird pop-art masterpiece Madman.
Oh yeah! I know those guys! So how’d they do?
Roberson’s writing is the highlight of this series, for sure. There’s never a wasted word, with clever segues and natural sounding dialogue, that keeps the action clipping along.
Allred’s art is clean and fluid, with bold and confident lines, that draw you in and root you in the story. The artwork gets better and more ambitious as the story arc goes along, particularly in Issue #4, The Magical Memory Tour, which features a number of mouth-watering double pagers.
So, all in all, did you like it?
Undoubtedly! I am a freak for the supernatural, for horror in all of its many faces and fangs. Being a horror junkie, I often times feel that I’ve seen it all, done it all, “I was sick with experience,” to paraphrase Interview With A Vampire. So it’s nice to see these familiar themes and stories updated to modern times, without feeling gimmicky.
I’ve also been reading a lot of ’50s/’60s horror/SF comics lately, jammed to the gills with exposition and deus ex machina, that is to say, the writing’s not that great, so it’s refreshing to see actual quality writing in a series, showing that comics can be a medium to be taken seriously.
Well, if you follow comics at all, it most likely won’t come as a surprise to know that iZombie has launched as a TV series on the CW. I wanted to check out the source material, before watching the series, so I could compare and contrast the two.
I didn’t get a chance to see the premier last night, as I was busy having my ears blasted out at a shoegaze concert, but I’ll be back next week, with my thoughts, so stay posted!
Is it worth it?
That depends. I’m not here to make your choices for you. I can say the art and writing is exceptional on iZombie Volume 1: Dead To The World and will most likely appeal to any fan of horror or the supernatural, as well as people who like a good mystery, with well-realized characters and a compelling storyline.
Personally, I can’t wait to read volume 2, as well as check out the CW series.
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