Wednesday, March 23, 2016

iZombie, Vol. 1: Dead to the World (iZombie #1) by Chris Roberson

Gwen Dylan isn't what one would normally think of when zombies come to mind.  She holds down a job, sure, it's as a gravedigger but how else is she supposed to get access to brains?  The brains taste awful but eating them is a small price to pay once a month to hold onto who she is and to keep her memories intact.  If only her monthly diet didn't also come with the memories of the deceased.  It's particularly a pain in the ass when Gwen eats the brain of someone who has unfinished business and wants justice.  Gwen feels compelled to help and fortunately, being part of a great scooby group which is made up of her ghostly best friend Eleanor and Spot/Scott the wereterrier  makes giving the dead their desire easier..

I chose to pick up this comic after falling in love with CW's I Zombie.  Naturally the basic premise of a self aware zombie surviving in our world is very much a part of this graphic novel.  Even certain things, like Gwen's getting the memories from the brains she eats remains the same; however, there are several characters in the graphic novel which aren't in the show.  It's still light, irreverent and a joy to read.

In Roberson's version of the story, the world is much larger. He includes the aforementioned were terrier, ghosts as well as vampires and mummies.  I personally love Scott/Spot though he spends way too much time mooning over Gwen.  When he is not actively hoping that his relationship with Gwen will turn romantic, he works in IT and uses the internet to hunt down clues to help Gwen give closure to those whose brains she has eaten.  Scott/Spot is the classic socially awkward geek but seems to have a bit of a sense of humor about the fact that of all the supernatural creatures he could possibly be, he's a were terrier.  Gwen doesn't seem to respect Scott/Spot and I think that it's a stretch to call her feelings friendly.  Gwen seems to have no problem using him for his expertise and accepting gifts from him yet, she's absolutely dismissive about his feelings for her and even ditches him when she thinks she sees someone she knows.

Gwen is a much better friend to Eleanor, her ghost bff, who died forty years ago.  Eleanor is a a dreamer and would love to see the world but unfortunately, ghosts can only travel to places where they went in their lifetimes and since Eleanor never got far from home, this means her options are really limited. Even with her limitations, Eleanor is not content to just waste the night away at the graveyard with Gwen. Eleanor wants to go out and experience the parts of the world that she is able to.  Just because Gwen is better with Eleanor than Scott/Spot doesn't mean that she's great.  Gwen never tires about going on about how flighty and emotional that Eleanor is.  To me it feels as though she is discounting Eleanor's feelings.

Thus far, the vampires we have all met are women.  I like that they stick together and that they are smart business women.  In order not to attract attention, they women up a paintball business and then separate their prey from their friends long enough to feed.  It's a smart business if you think about, 'cause the food comes to them.  It allows them to take enough to survive without leaving any bodies behind.  I would really like to know more about the organization of their society.

Roberson does take the time to explain exactly what makes an immortal.  We learn that there are two different kinds of souls and depending on which one remains on the earthly plane, or which soul inhabits your body will determine what kind of immortal you will end up being.  Unfortunately the explanation was so quick, that I'm not sure I really understood it.  We also learned that there's been an organization throughout the years which has actively hunted beings it views as impure, determined to put them back in their graves.  Clearly a storyline is building here, particularly given an instant attraction between Gwen and one of the hunters.

Thus far, there are no LGBT characters in this comic.  We did however have Scott/Spot being teased about being gay because he disappeared once a month and didn't explain to his friends what he was doing with his time.  It's juvenile and it's most certainly a problem.  I don't understand how it is that writers can find the time to bring in homophobia but for some reason cannot get around to introducing a gay character.

There are actually several characters of colour. It seems as though John Amon - the Egyptian Mummy, will act as a guide to Gwen. It's John who explains about how the different supernaturals came into being and John who warns about the hunters. John even suggests that Gwen isn't actually meeting her dietary needs and proves it when he questions Gwen on how she died and she suddenly cannot answer.  It's early days in the story and yet I'm approaching this character with caution because while Gwen isn't quite certain she trust him yet, a good part of character building for Amon thus far, has set him up as the wise person of colour. Diogenes seems to suffer from a similar problem to Amon.  Diogenes is the more experienced hunter  and he actively asks as mentor Horatio who is cast as the young upstart keen to step outside of procedure. Horatio and Diogenes do seem to have a good relationship it's just hat once again, it places the person of colour into the position of imparting wisdom on the white character which is a trope.  It's still early so I'll reserve judgement but having seen this once to many times, I am suspicious.

Visually, Dead to the World is actually fun to read and drawn in vivid colours.  We don't a lot about the characters backstory so far but we have at least been given an explanation of the world and how these characters fit together.  It's pretty clear that Gwen is the protagonist but I'm not at all sure that I like her because she seems a touch self involved. There seems to be great gender inclusion so far and the case is racially diverse.  It's really too early to see how this series will end up being but as far as this introduction is concerned, I enjoyed it and read it quickly.