iZOMBIE is a witty and deliciously fun comic series created by writer Chris Roberson and artist Michael Allred. The series was published by DC Comics under its Vertigo imprint from July 2010 thru August 2012, ending with issue #28, and was collected in 4 trade paperback volumes.
Gwen Dylan is a zombie. But, she’s not a “mindless and shambling” zombie. She can live as a normal 20-something girl if she eats a human brain once a month. If not, she’ll become “total Night of the Living Dead.” However, when Gwen does eat a human brain, she absorbs that deceased person’s memories and usually ends up having to solve some sort of mystery involving that person, Scooby-Doo style. She gets her monthly serving of brains by working as a gravedigger at an eco-friendly cemetery.
Gwen is joined by several other quirky characters all living in Eugene, Oregon. Ellie, a ghost, is Gwen‘s adorable best friend. Ellie was a sweetly innocent teenager who died in the ’60s. Scott (aka Spot), a were-terrier [a Scottish terrier, no less!], is Gwen and Ellie‘s good friend. Spot is initially smitten with Gwen. But, Horatio, a human, is Gwen‘s love interest. Horatio is a monster hunter, but, he doesn’t know Gwen‘s true nature.
Gwen is a great protagonist. She’s strong, independent, but, yet vulnerable, too. However, my favorite character is definitely Ellie. She died young, and is bound, as a ghost, by only what she remembers when she lived. But, when she lived, she never went anywhere, or did anything. Despite that, Ellie is always so perky and charmingly retro, and adorably naive. I love Ellie! And, I enjoyed re-reading this wonderfully smart comic for this post!
“Life sucks. Then you die. And then …”
In iZOMBIE: Dead To the World (collecting issues #1-5 and The House of Mystery Annual #1), Gwen eats the brain of Frederick Harris who appears to be a loving family man, and she vows to bring his murderer to justice. The path leads her to John Amon, a debonair ancient Egyptian mummy living in Eugene. He admits that he killed Harris who wasn’t as innocent as Gwen assumed. Amon tells Gwen about the “undersoul” and the “oversoul” which explains the existence all supernatural creatures including Amon and herself, revenants. He also tells Gwen that she will, ultimately, lose her own memories if she doesn’t start killing people, like he killed Harris. Meanwhile, Horatio and his partner Diogenes, track and kill a vampire, Claire, who unbeknownst to them, is part of a pack of vampire vixens, led by bitchy Nemia, who run a paintball business to feed on, without killing, its patrons. Gwen also runs, literally, into Horatio for the first time.
“You are what you eat”
In iZOMBIE: uVAMPIRE (collecting issues #6-12 and The House of Mystery Annual #2), Gwen‘s memories, like Amon said, are slowly fading, but, she’s not ready to kill innocent people. She unknowingly eats the brain of recently-deceased Marion Nakagawa whose daughter, Tricia, Gwen was once friends with. Gwen promises to tell Tricia that Marion loves her, hoping that she’ll be able to unravel some mysteries of her own past, and, she remembers that she has a brother, Gavin, whom she follows at the University of Oregon. Meanwhile, mad professor Galatea, who once knew Amon, revives vampire Claire to help her with a sinister plan to call forth a Cthulhu-like monster-god Xitalu, and Horatio and Diogenes confront the paintball vampire vixens and make a deal with them. Oh, and Ellie learns, from Amon, how to possess a body, and Spot‘s dead grandfather’s “oversoul” gets stuck in a chimp! Gwen also has her first date with Horatio.
In iZOMBIE: Six Feet Under and Rising (collecting issues #13-18), Amon tells Gwen that she is the only who can stop Galatea and her sinister plan. Galatea meets an old friend, Valentin Kovsky, who is now a disembodied brain in a coffee maker. Gwen‘s friend Tricia is, now, a paintball vampire. And, Spot falls into a sinkhole at Gwen‘s graveyard, getting lost in a maze of catacombs that are filled with hungry zombies. Ellie seeks out Gwen to help Spot. Gwen enlists the aid of Horatio, but, the zombie outbreak spills into the streets of Eugene, and Horatio encounters the Dead Presidents, supernatural secret agents who work for V.E.I.L. run by Abraham Lincoln. Horatio learns that Gwen is a zombie, and he’s not happy. Gwen remembers that she knew Amon before she died, and that she died by killing herself at Amon‘s request!
In the final (epic) volume iZOMBIE: Repossessed (collecting issues #19-28), the zombie outbreak has been stopped, but, now, Galatea is bent on bringing the Cthulhu-like monster-god Xitalu into our universe. After being defeated by the Dead Presidents and the Gravediggers (led by Diogenes), Galatea enlists the aid of the paintball vampires. Soon, Eugene is invaded by the “hounds of Xitalu” and “walk-ins”, people and animals possessed by things from outside our universe. Meanwhile, Horatio rescues Gwen from the Dead Presidents (who want to recruit here) and tells her that he loves her. But, Gwen, instead, finds Amon and asks what she needs to do to save the world. He tells her that she must consume the souls of all the people in town, including her friends and family, and feed them to Xitalu. Now, Gwen is forced to make a difficult decision. This volume is packed with action and twists, as all the quirky characters from the entire series converge amidst the invasion from beyond space and time! This volume also includes two issues drawn by guest artists (J. Bone and Jim Rugg), and, as much as I love Michael Allred‘s atwork, I love the change of styles (especially J. Bone‘s cool retro style).
iZOMBIE is exactly the kind of comic that I would love to see adapted into a movie or, even better, a TV series. I’m already casting the roles in my mind! This delightful series has everything for all kinds of (horror) comic fans: zombies, vampires, mummies, ghosts, were-terriers, mad scientists, disembodied brains, phantoms, Frankenstein monsters, and Lovecraftian horrors. Plus, iZOMBIE has a great female lead, a lot of drama and a little bit of romance! Perfect.