June 27th 2011
Review by Bernice Watson
iZombie is a fresh, lighthearted take on the perennially popular topic of zombies. Written by Chris Roberson (Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love) the story centres on Gwen, a fairly ordinary young woman but with one notable difference. Gwen is a zombie. But she is not your glassy-eyed, shuffling, moaning standard. In order to maintain her near-human persona Gwen must consume one human brain a month. Failure to do so results in an unfortunate reversion to stereotypical zombie-ness. So it is that Gwen works by day as a gravedigger and, occasionally, by night a grave robber seeking a gruesome prize. As it turns out fresh human brains are not the tasty snack classic zombie fiction would have us believe. Gwen’s gag-inducing monthly chore is just that – gross. To make matters worse for poor Gwen it also comes with an unnerving side-effect, for a week after chowing down on brain matter Gwen is left with the final memories it contained. Driven to complete any unfinished business, Gwen finds herself an unwilling slave to the recently deceased.
The first thing that struck me about iZombie was the artwork. Michael Allred’s pencils and Laura Allred’s colours create a distinctive visual style that I found very compelling. In the use of bright, bold, flat tones iZombie reminded me of Jamie Hewlett’s work for Tank Girl. The art also clearly references golden age comics with the use of Ben-Day dots here and there that bring to mind the work of Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol in the pop art movement. The 60s aesthetic is further reinforced by Gwen’s best friend Ellie, a ghost, who died in the swinging 60s and wears an assortment of trendy retro outfits throughout the book.
Something about the characterisation of Gwen and her close friends also reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The combination of a group of young people, immersed in the paranormal world (a zombie, a ghost and a were-terrier) solving mysteries just reminded me of the Scoobie Gang (both in Buffy and, of course, in the actual Scoobie Doo series after which Buffy and her friends affectionately nicknamed themselves). However iZombie is its own creation and should in no way be written off as derivative.
This first collected edition has excellent pacing as it introduces the characters, setting and lays down the rules of the world the reader finds themselves in but without packing too much detail into too little space. Creative panel layout and snappy, postmodern dialogue keeps the story flowing and engrossing.
iZombie is my second experiment with grabbing something off the shelf at my local comic book store at random and without knowing anything about it. So far the technique seems to be paying off as iZombie is another thoroughly enjoyable read and I will be eagerly awaiting the second TPB in the series.