Another $1.00 Vertigo first issue and that’s always a good thing in my world. That the comic in question has Mike and Laura Allred providing the art makes the one dollar price tag seem like a steal and a must buy. Unfortunately, the writing on “iZombie” #1 isn’t the sort to necessarily grab readers right away, which is partly the point of the cheap first issue: bring in readers who may skip the book and hook them. That doesn’t happen with “iZombie.”
Chris Roberson’s writing is very relaxed as we’re introduced to Gwen, a gravedigger in Eugene, Oregon who seems to live in the graveyard and hang out with his ghost friend Ellie (named after Eleanor Roosevelt) every night. They go to a diner and hang out with Scott, a werewolf (more like a weredog) and that’s about it. There are some tidbits about Gwen and her relationship with her friends, but not a lot, the comic peppered with a few seemingly unrelated scenes about vampire women running a paintball course and monster hunters. It’s not bad, it’s just a little scattered and not terribly interesting in its presentation.
With most of the focus on Gwen, who is revealed as a zombie at the end of the issue, the comic is dragged down somewhat with her pessimistic, whiny narration. She’s not a very likable character, which wouldn’t be a problem if she was a little more interesting. The hints about her life that we get are of interest, like her painting or her avoiding anyone from her ‘previous life,’ but those moments are fleeting and occupy very little of the comic. Her reaction to taste of brains is pretty funny. The story and characters have potential, but the writing here only suggests that potential rather than showing it directly.
The Allreds’ art has that cool, hipster feel that the writing seems to be going for. Ellie looks very stylish with her retro look, while Gwen looks like a regular girl, maybe a little goth. The look of the comic makes these odd, supernatural characters look like real people, able to blend in for the most part. The strangest looking character is Diogenes, one of the monster hunters with a big scar over his left eye. It’s a nicely subdued look for a book about monsters.
Allred’s storytelling is strong with Gwen often wearing a scowl that matches her narration, while Scott’s enthusiasm to impress Gwen comes through strongly in the visuals. Allred keeps the layouts simple here, but does some nice small things here and there, like a well-placed lightning bolt in the gutters of one page. The art is very clear and easy to read, which has always been one of Allred’s strengths.
You can’t go wrong with a one dollar first issue and “iZombie” #1 isn’t one to grab your right away, but with art from the Allreds and a few interesting moments, this issue shows that the series has potential.