Friday, June 25, 2010

Chronic Review: I Zombie # 2!

I Zombie # 2
DC Comics/Vertigo Imprint

Script: Chris Roberson
Pencils: Mike Allred
22 pages for $2.99

I'm not sure if I tore into this book on the show when it first hit stands, but I remember being disgusted when I saw the title in Previews. "I Fucking Zombie! Are you shitting me? Does the world really need one more goddamn title about shambling death!"

I vowed then that I would have absolutely nothing to do with the book, even though the first issue was offered at a dollar. That was probably a mistake.

The thing of it is, when you crack open Roberson's I Zombie, you quickly discover that it isn't really a zombie book, at least not in the traditional sense. This is not survival horror, or particularly interested in gore. This is a world-building mystery book.

Oh, don't get me wrong. Gwen, the leader character, is forced to imbibe some brains once a month or she does fall into the old shambling mound of the grotesque variety. One gets the feeling though that she would really just like to paint. The thing of it is, when Gwen does chow down on some brains, she ends up absorbing some of her victim's memories, and hijinx do tend to ensue.

It's a cute little hook, and it's a cute little book. It's not changing the way we look at comics or anything, nor should it have to. The brain eating bit isn't new, it sounds a lot like Tony Chu over at image, and the memory absorption bit is a lot like Rogue, and the nerdy friends act a lot like the guys over at NBCs Chuck, and the paranormal hunters act a lot like....well, you get the picture.

I zombie is a pastiche of stuff you've seen before, with a little bit of a twist, and filtered through the delightfully quirky pencils of Mike Allred, and when you put it all together, many of the pieces seem familiar, but the quilt is it's own entity that feels sort of comfy.

There is a density to this book that I wish more titles would emulate. Most comics you pick up off the rack leave you waiting for the good idea. This one is bursting with oddities. You've got Gwen the zombie and her pal the ghost. (Ghosts can't go anywhere past their living memories geographically) You have the severe looking weirdness hunters, a love interest for Gwen and his two nerd friends. You've got a bizarre looking mummy dude who makes dinner for some kind of leopard creature that he speaks to as if they've been married for some time.

There's a pack of vampire chicks who look like bloodsucking sorority sisters, and they're trying to pragmatically carve out a sustainable feeding system around the tourism industry. You've got the A plot, which is a mystery revolving around the death of the guy who used to own the brain in Gwen's belly. All of this is in one issue, folks. I think Chris Roberson is fit to pop with all the ideas running around his brain, and he can sustain this book joyfully for 100 issues or more, I would wager. That kind of energy is contagious.

So there you have it. If you were avoiding this title because there's only so many zombies you can stomach, I don't think you need to worry. Maybe I should have just trusted Karen Berger? I felt I got more value out of I Zombie than just about anything else I read this month, (Secret Six and Fantastic Four notwithstanding) and really, if Roberson pumps a couple of fresh surprising additions into the mythos he's building, this book could be really special.

- Ryan

PS: Probably a good book to hand somebody with a uterus, too.

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