To the outside world, Gwen looks like any other white-haired, pale-skinned Goth Grrrl. The fact that she’s stuck in a dead-end job as a gravedigger might raise some eyebrows, but as far as anyone knows, Gwen is just another twenty-something slacker trying to pull her life together.
Unfortunately, it’s kind of hard to pull your life together when you don’t have a life. Oh, Gwen is social enough. She has friends and enjoys the night life of Eugene, Oregon, such as it is. But she is dead. In truth, Gwen isn’t merely dead or really most sincerely dead—she’s undead. Specifically, Gwen is a zombie. And if she doesn’t eat at least one brain a month, her already spotty memory becomes worse.
So in order to keep her sense of self, Gwen has to take her work home with her. And when she does, along with a revolting aftertaste, she experiences flashbacks from the life of the person she had for dinner along with an undeniable urge to see their final wishes seen to, be it avenging a murder or reaching out to an estranged child.
This is the world of iZombie, a series which shines like a beacon of joy amidst the usually dark and dour genre of urban fantasy. There is a sense of gleefulness to this book and Chris Roberson displays a wicked sense of humor throughout the series. Most of the characters are funny in a way that doesn’t involve snarky one-liners and sarcasm; the sheer absurdity of undead life (if you’ll pardon the expression) is a rich vein that Roberson mines for all it is worth.
While iZombie is funny, it also features one of the best developed mythos of any urban fantasy series I have ever read. The hows and whys of various monsters are explained using the Egyptian concept of under-souls and over-souls. Genre enthusiasts will want to give this series a shot based upon this new take on the classic mythology alone.
Michael Allred’s artwork is another part of this unique aesthetic. Best known for his work on various superhero titles, there is a clarity and simplicity to Allred’s style that separates him from many modern comic artists. It also divorces the appearance of iZombie from the common clay of horror comics, where heavy inks and exaggerated proportions are the rule.
The only bad thing about this series is that at four volumes it feels terribly rushed. One senses that Roberson wished to spend more time playing with the characters and letting them run around solving mysteries before the over-plot of the series kicked in. Indeed, readers are likely to wish they had more time to watch Eleanor, the ghost, worry about her troubles in finding a boyfriend or Scott the Were-Terrier trying to balance his Dungeons and Dragons nights with his (ahem) other nights before the serious business involving the end of the world had to be attended to.
Thankfully, the series is good for what it is, for as long as it lasts. And while a bit of tasteful nudity and less tasteful gore make it unfit for most audiences under the age of 18, it is still an enjoyable read that will appeal to comic fans in search of something unusual, as well as those who enjoy urban fantasy and supernatural romance.
vol 1: Dead to the World
vol 2: uVampire
vol 3: Six Feet Under & Rising
vol 4: Repossession
By Chris Roberson
Art by Michael Allred
Publisher Age Rating: Adult (18+)