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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fear in Four Colors: I, Zombie #1

I'd been eager to check out Vertigo's upcoming I, Zombie series ever since it was first teased last year in the House of Mystery Halloween Annual. And now I've finally gotten my hands on the first issue, and have to say that the jury is still out on whether this is a book I will be reading on a regular basis.

To be clear, I don't regularly collect comics any longer for the most part, but I'm more than willing to make exceptions if I deem something worth my time. The thing is, I, Zombie is interesting, but the first issue really didn't give me enough to make an informed decision. Firstly, it's being touted as an utterly original take on zombie fiction and horror comics in general, but frankly, it's pretty obviously derivative, and reminded me very much of a cross between S.G. Browne's Breathers: A Zombie's Lament, and The Ghost Whisperer.

The story follows the travails of one Gwen Dylan, a very fetching young female zombie who must eat a fresh brain once a month to maintain her sentience and avoid reverting to a mindless, shambling corpse. She's sweet enough to confine herself to the newly deceased, which comes easy since she's employed as a grave digger. The catch is that when she consumes a brain, she gains the memories of the former owner, which inevitably compels her to investigate whatever unfinished business remains in that person's former life.

A cute little premise, but still feels somehow like something I've come across before in a lot of different variations. Which is all well and good, since, as they say, there is nothing new under the sun. It sill has the potential to be quite terrific. The book is written by quirky alternate history and science fiction scribe Chris Roberson. And most impressively of all, taking up the art duties is Mike Allred, creator of Madman. Allred's retro pop-art style could make just about anything cool, and it works with I, Zombie as well. The book is visually delicious, this cannot be denied.

Nevertheless, it's too soon to tell whether the Roberson/Allred team will make the book worthwhile in the long-term. The debut issue doesn't cover much ground beyond introducing us to the primary characters and the concept itself, and quite simply, it wasn't enough to immediately sell me. It definitely piqued my interest; the question is, will it hold it?


Cinema Suicide said...

I liked I, Zombie but I hate reviewing issue 1s because it's impossible to get a good grasp on what's to come since the entire issue is spent setting up what's to come in the future. Gauging the narrative is tough business because there really isn't one yet, but I am a fan of fiction authors scripting comics, see Michael Chabon and Joe Hill for recent examples, and I like Mike Allred a lot. So I'll stick with it and see what happens.

B-Sol said...

Yep, that about sums up the dilemma! I'll definitely be investigating further.

Pax Romano said...

I've tried to embrace these "graphic novels", but I just can't seem to enjoy them - I'd prefer a novel with some illustrations over a comic book. There's just not that much to sink your teeth into, zombie or no zombie.

B-Sol said...

Be careful Pax, you're treading dangerously close to "get off my lawn"-iness!! Seriously though, there are quite a lot of great graphic novels out there, even though they seem to be almost getting more attention than regular novels these days, which is a little bit sad. That said, this is just the first issue of a series--I, Zombie isn't a graphic novel (yet), just a plain ol' comic book.

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