I picked up a couple of new graphic novels recently and thought what better way to celebrate this than write an iZombie review and make everyone else read them too! I will try to split it to give a general review and then a more spoiler-y review that gives you plenty of time to run away if you don’t want to read it.
I had seen iZombie in my local comic book shop many times, had heard it was being made into a TV show and had heard good things about it in that way that you can’t pinpoint exactly where you heard it but you know that you did. So, as I wandered around the shop I thought ‘why not? I can give it a try.’ After reading the first volume I had to get the second and then after reading that I thought I have to write an iZombie review, people need to know what they are missing out on!’
Something I should explain right off the bat is that I prefer to read my comic books in graphic novel form, it means I have to wait a bit longer but then I can binge on it for a bit longer too, and trust me, I am a binger!
Listed as ‘a smart detective series that mixes urban fantasy and romantic dramedy’ my first thought as I read the first volume was immediately ‘oh this is like Being Human but in comic book form’, albeit the TV show is about a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf so it’s not exactly the same as iZombie is about a Zombie, a Ghost and a were-terrier. So, it has a fun little twist on it. This story focuses on Gwendolyn ‘Gwen’ Dylan a zombie but she is not your typical Walking Dead-esque shuffling, homicidal zombie that we see so frequently these days. No, in fact, she has a job as a grave-digger which obviously suits her down to a tee. I mean who more than a zombie needs to know where the bodies are buried. The reason she is not a shuffling skin bag? She has to eat a brain once a month to retain her memories but by doing this she also gains that person’s memories and feelings that are residual within the brain. Due to this she acts as an avenging zombie with her friends for help, and you thought your life was complicated?!
The first few pages of the comic are a bit confusing, you are dropped right in the middle of something but you are not sure what, there’s a strange man talking to an animal and you don’t really understand why. After that you meet the main character and our leading err.. ‘lady?’ fills us in with some exposition of who she is, what she is and what her day by day life as a zombie is like, whilst also introducing us to Ellie, the Ghost, as well as Scott/Spot, the were-terrier. It then flits somewhere else where we find out lady vampires are feasting on paintballers (I knew there was a reason I won’t go paintballing..other than the bruises).
The main characters spend an awful lot of time in the local diner that is inexplicably open at all hours, think of it like a supernatural version of Central Perk from Friends. The time spent here reveals more about the characters and their interactions with each other, it is nice to see a sassy female lead in this comic and although there is the cliché unrequited love of the male best friend it doesn’t get in the way of the story.
I love the art style in these books and although Michael Allred’s style might not be to everyone’s taste, I really like the pop art-esque style and colouring and how every woman has subtle differences to their looks and features, whilst some of the cover art is just stunning.
Before I delve into the spoilers for this iZombie review I will just say that for those who have not read the books yet, the story telling is a little slow, it takes pretty much the whole of the first volume just to introduce everyone because there are a LOT of characters. But please, stick with it, the 2nd volume starts to move the story along once all the characters are bedded in and will leave you begging for the next volume with burning questions to be answered.
I’ve warned you, I really have, its bright yellow and everything…the next part includes plot points and character explanations that you may not want spoiled so stop now and turn back before it’s too late!! Unless you don’t care then..carry on! Onwards with the iZombie review!
The first graphic novel volume focuses on introducing the characters as I have already said, there are the main characters but it also introduces a group of sexy lady vamps who are feeding on locals but not killing them as they tried and hide from supernatural hunters. These hunters are from a private corporation and sent to find out the mysterious goings-on in Eugene (this would be the vampire activity). By sheer luck Gwen meets one, Horatio, and gets her flirt on with him and a date ensues. If I were watching this as a TV show I would be saying to the TV; ‘You hunt supernatural beings as a job and you can’t recognise a zombie right in front of you? When her skin is grey/blue? You need a new profession mate!’ But hey, let’s not get into inconsistencies.
We also meet Amon, who let’s be honest, is a bit bat s**t crazy, but then he is a mummy (the kind with the bandages not a parent) and times have changed way past him. But I do LOVE how they explain the origins of supernatural creatures, and bear with me here as I had to read it a couple of times (I swear I am normally smarter than this!) it is all about souls, under-souls, over-souls, wombling free souls! When the over-soul is freed from the corporeal body, it becomes a ghost, but when the under-soul is so freed, it becomes a poltergeist. When the body dies, but the over-soul remains, it becomes a vampire, and vice versa when the under-soul remains, it becomes a zombie. It goes on further to explain that when the over-soul takes someone else’s body, they’re possessed. If it’s an animal under-soul that gets into your body, then you become a werewolf or were-whatever-the-animal-was, please god let there be a were-cow somewhere! If someone dies but both souls remain in the body, you become a revenant, and this is basically what Gwen is, so in theory not actually a ‘proper’ zombie, but then why does she act like one? In short, I am not sure, maybe they address it in later books that I have not got to yet.
The second volume is all about origin stories, you find out how Scott became a were-terrier, how is Grandfather becomes a Chimp and all about Ellie’s life as a Ghost including what looks like a Ghosts Anonymous meeting, where they all fight and moan. Even the lady vamps get a look in as Galatea’s plans for world domination are revealed (only to the reader). We also get more of a look into Gwen’s back story, but her living one, when she goes to find a childhood friend even though she is supposed to be dead and (quite smartly) generally keeps her distance from anyone who might have known her then.
The storytelling does jump around quite a lot and changes style on random pages (to good effect), we find out that Amon and Galatea have history but I guess that is kind of to be expected considering how old they are, they were bound to bump into each other at least once in the hundreds of years… They talk about a convergence that is yet to be explained but you know it isn’t good when one character is hell-bent on it and the other refuses. Honestly, villains are so determined these days, it’s a wonder the heroes ever win!
I am going to finish my iZombie review with a final sum up, I would recommend these books, as I have said before they can be a little slow but once you get into them they are quite interesting and funny. Although the comic only survived a short run ( 28 issues or 4 collected volumes) I am looking forward to reading the rest and hope that they tie up the loose ends in time.