Rating: 4/5 – A Zombie You Can Love.
by ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.
The first volume of iZombie isn’t the typical zombie story. Although it could be argued that it capitalized on the zombie craze that began with the Walking Dead, its nothing like it. Instead it adds a lighter touch to the genre in ways that I wasn’t expecting. I’ve had this first volume sitting on the shelf for quite a while now, but seeing commercials for the new CW iZombie TV show had me pull it down from the shelf and give it a read, and I’m sad that I didn’t read this earlier. Written by Chris Roberson and drawn by the brilliant Michael Allred, iZombie will leave you impressed by its characterization, respecting the well thought out ideas introduced, and laughing at its healthy dose of humor.
Main character and the “zombie” of the story Gwen Dylan is coping with life as an undead, but not your typical undead. Yes she has to eat a brain once every month to “survive”, but she quite hates it. Her job helps her do this though with her work as a gravedigger. After each shift she hangs around the graveyard with her best friend who happens to be a ghost named Ellie, and after they’re done hanging they usually move on to a local diner with their friend they’ve nicknamed Spot, who happens to turn into a human sized terrier when there’s a full moon. iZombie is never afraid to embrace the silliness, while at the same time getting serious when it needs to.
That level of seriousness is in full effect when we see Gwen eat a brain and have flashbacks to that person’s past life and their murder. That murder is what drives most of this first volume as Gwen and Ellie investigate a freaky neighbor who they believe has something to do with it. It’s during this investigation that Roberson shows just how smart the book can be in addition to it’s humor and fun. The origins of zombies, ghosts and more are all explained within and the way Roberson lays it all out actually makes a whole lot of sense, as long as you’re willing to stretch your sense of belief of course. Within the pages of these first five issues we also see an all-female group of vampires, an ancient monster hunting organization, and a whole lot of awkward romance all drawn by Michael Allred.
Allred has recently found a whole lot of new fans with his work on Marvel’s most recent Silver Surfer series, but his work here, although dealing with a completely different subject matter is just as strong. Although at times during some issues the quality of the work seems as though there was a dip in effort, Allred’s pencils perfectly match the mood. This book isn’t scary. It’s not supposed to be. Allred’s pencils reflect the light hearted and ironic tone of a book about a brain eating zombie. Gwen like much of Allred’s female leads is super cute despite her purplish pale tone, and Ellie is an attractive Gwen Stacy look-alike who’s personality is a great balance to Gwen.
There’s a wonderful style to iZombie and after reading this first volume it’s not surprising it was picked up for a tv show. There’s an interesting premise in a Scooby Doo like group of characters who are just as interesting as the villains they investigate. I’m not sure where this book heads after these opening five issues, but I’m expecting it to be another investigation into another brain’s past and that’s a solid premise for future stories. There’s still so much to explore with these characters as Roberson only hints at all the their origins within. I’m looking forward to reading more of iZombie and it might be about time I check out the TV show and hope it lives up to the comic.
Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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