iZombie v. 1: Dead to the World
Written by Chris Roberson
Illustrated by Mike Allred
Colored by Laura Allred
Lettered by Todd Klein
Published by DC/Vertigo
It’s probably not Roberson and Allred’s fault, but I found this particular trade paperback less than satisfying. It just never provided any sense of resolution to the reader – and I understand, this being an ongoing serial, some storylines will remain open for perhaps years. Yet I still prefer that each book in a series gives some closure to some piece of the narrative. I quit monthly comics ten years ago because trades were a more satisfying reading experience. With longer stories becoming the norm, but publishers opting for low-cost collections of only five, maybe six, issues, even trades are often unsatisfying these days. Putting more pages in these collections is strongly encourged, by me anyway. Price resistance kicks in when I know I have to pay many times for what I could have in fewer installments.
Of course, even if Dead to the World provided a clearer resolution, I’m not sure I’d be back for more. iZombie‘s a cute series, about Gwen, a zombie lady who must eat brains once a month or become a mindless, shambling monstrosity, and what occurs when her latest brain comes with memories of its own murder. But it’s still a zombie book, with vampires, monster hunters, ghosts and a were-terrier. It’s building its own particular take on these creature mythologies, but it’s all still monster mythology. The monster subgenre of horror isn’t really my thing, so I can appreciate a solid twist and some nice art, but there’s no deeper hook here to bring me into it.
Roberson’s stiff dialogue carries the story, but doesn’t get deeper into the characters. The plot swerves effectively in a few key places, such as Amon’s back story, but it’s all plot – there’s no deeper significance to any of it. Mike Allred’s long been a favorite comic artist of mine, with a clean pop-art, cute-girl style that doesn’t seem obviously suited to a monster comic. Yet he acquits himself very well in iZombie, with strong character designs and clear page layouts, bringing a brightness and clarity to Gwen’s sullen lot in life.
In short, iZombie‘s an interesting series, but not necessarily a compelling one. I’m sure many readers will dig it – those with more interest in monster movie riffs than I, for example – but Dead to the World doesn’t set the series up to be anything more than a middling (if pretty-looking) genre exercise.