Mr_Batman had the pick for new comics shipping May 5th and he most excellently selected I, Zombie #1 by Chris Roberson and Mike and Laura Allred.
Last week, the Review Group lost one of it's own. I'm going to step back and let Starlord's opening from this week's thread do the talking.
We here at the Outhouse, as well as our review group, lost a member and to some of us... a friend last week. Around these parts he went by Old Man, but at other sites he was known as Alan Coil. For me, he was simply Lew – my friend. He was a self proclaimed crotchety old man, full of piss and vinegar with a strong opinion on almost anything. Knowing him personally I can tell you that he was and wasn’t all those things. Oh he did have strong opinions and wasn’t afraid to explain them, and to a casual acquaintance he could be misconstrued as a crotchety old man, but if you knew him – he was anything but.
Having been given the privilege of spending many Wednesday afternoons sitting him with at our comic shop I learned two very important things about Old Man. First, he really did not like Brian Michael Bendis at all. Two, he really didn’t care what other people liked or disliked; except it gave him wonderful ammunition to tease the hell out of you.
The last time I got to see Lew was the week after the review group had reviewed the final issue of Blackest Night. In his review he gave the issue a ten and then proclaimed it to be a greater story than “The Watchmen”. There were quite a few comments over that one, and Old Man defended his statement to the end. Well, that Wednesday I walked into the back room that was reserved for us comic geeks who gather for the afternoon’s celebration of new comics and I will never forget the look he gave me when I entered the room. His eyes had that mischievous twinkle in them and we didn’t have to say a word to each other; we both just busted out laughing at the same time. When we had finally caught our breath and calmed down a bit while our other friends stared at us like we had lost our mind, Lew said. “I hope Grant Morrison didn’t read that.” Another round of laughter that lasted even longer followed.
Other than occasional emails, that was the last time I really got to spend time with Lew. It was also the perfect way to describe exactly the kind of person Old Man was. A jokster with a heart of a gold that he tried desperately to hide, but never could.
This week Mr_Batman had the pick of the week and he chose “I Zombie” #1 from Vertigo. The Outhouse Review Group would like to dedicate this week’s article to our Old Man who always gave us some of the most interesting, funny, and entertaining reviews. You will always be missed never forgotten and Blackest Night will always be greater literature than “The Watchmen”... Grant Morrison be damned. We’ll see you on the other side my friend.
Review by thefourthman
While the reason for this week's dedication is sad - it is awesome that we honor Old Man with a decent book.
A promising debut with fantastic art. Really what more could you want from a number one?
What holds this book back from being perfect is that it maybe has too many influences, even if it does wear them on its sleeves. There are shades of Scooby-Doo, Buffy, Pushing Daisies, and maybe even a little nod to Chew.
However, it is an engaging read with a clever take on zombies. In a field often way too broad to make a mark, this one does a fine job of making itself a player.
Gwen Dylan is a zombie. She is also a grave digger – this is, of course, a front for her to get fresh “meat” without all the unpleasantness of a George Romero film. She is intelligent – which is displayed by her ability to narrate her own story. This unlikely attribute for a zombie is explained through a monthly need for braaaainnnnnnzzzzz or she turns into a mindless roamer, if you will.
She has friends - an apparent ghost named Ellie (her best friend), a were-terrier named Scott (or “Spot) who wants to make out with her, and Dixie the maybe former mob hit man who runs a local diner.
In this single issue, we get expert exposition and character development. We also get at least two mysteries to take the story forward – one being some likely Vampire activity at the local Paint Ball attraction and the other brings up the failed ABC sitcom.
This is a dense comic. There is more here for a single dollar than most comics that cost $4.99 and declare themselves giant sized or provide second features.
To top it all off is Allred in full on pop art mode. Ellie is a mod styled girl who would be at home in a Who musical or a Dave Gibbons’ Graphic Novel. The gravediggers look working class sheik in their bowling shirts. Even attention is paid to making the box of the doll look hipsterrific.
Roberson is a relative newcomer to me, but with this and Cinderella – I may have a new favorite writer to pursue.
Review by 48THRiLLS
I have been looking forward to this since it was introduced at the Vertigo Comics panel last summer at SDCC and in my opinion the hype was definitely met. What a fun book, a Zombie, Ghost, and Were-Terrier... and Vampires? This is right up my ally and I cannot wait for the second issue to come out. Vertigo has been knocking it out of the park with these $1.00 number 1's... consider this already added to my pull list. After all that gushing I still have not mentioned the art which is perfect for this book, I don't really know shit about what is considered technically good or bad art I just know what looks good to my eyes and I dug the tone of the coloring and how the characters were drawn, nothing to busy but not too simplified... I dig.
In honor of Old Man I gave this book a perfect score and think it is the best thing ever written since Blackest Night #8
R.I.P. Old Man, you and your reviews will be missed.
STORY - 10
ART - 10
OVERALL - 10
Review by starlord
I rarely buy any Vertigo singles because I love to wait for the trades. Vertigo is my trade King. After reading this, though, I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to wait. It's like taking the best of the horror creatures and throwing them into a Twin Peaks style community.
Although it also reminds me a bit of True Blood in its opening issue, but there's enough bizzareness in this book to make me want to come back. And as much as the main heroine is interesting with some serious potential, I'm already sold on Spot. I can't wait to get his origin!
Michael Allred's art was a nice compliment to the story as well. Some of the dialogue was a bit corney between Gwen and Ellie but it was corney in a rather fun way, I thought.
I'm not afraid to say this: This first issue of iZombie was better than every issue so far of the Walking Dead. It's just that great! (That one was for you Old Man. I miss you and I loved you like an older brother, pal)
My Score: 10
(Doing that used to drive Lew crazy. )
Review by guitarsmashley
Vertigo puts out another strong first issue, what a surprise? I mean I bet the stuff they turn down is still better than the utter shit bendis puts out at any point in a given month. The art isn't to my complete liking and I'm already counting on Allared being late or being off the book by the second arc. But the Wereterrier was great and I look forward to actual character development as the book continues. I'm glad I chose to buy this monthly unlike mistakes I've made with The Exterminators, Unwritten, Unknown Soldier and Sweet Tooth. I'm with this book for the long haul I just hope allared will be off before that haul happens. The writing is good it's a little less than I expect from Roberson after the amazing CInderella mini but it's a first issue with a lot of intrigue and lots of places to go. So I'm gonna stick with it.
Review by Porcelain38
I liked this book.
It was quirky enough , but not too quirky that it was a turnoff. Mike Alfred is the definitive hipster artist. The main character seems likeable. The were-terrier was a cute thing. The supporting cast is interesting.I like the concept of the book and can't wait to see where this goes in future arcs.
R.I.P. Old Man
Review by Kerny
I'm gonna have to be the lone dissenting opinion.
This books quirkyness just didn't work for me. I found it annoying more than anything. To me, it was a mature version of scooby doo without scooby or shaggy. It's a bunch of quirky characters and a play on tradtional monster cliches, but I didn't find much of it cute or funny. There is a lot of characters thrown at us and already subplots are brewing so that was good. Of course, it was only a dollar as well, always a plus.
The art is also not my thing. I can recognize it's good art, but its just not my thing. I do love the facial expressions, and no two characters look the same.
RIP Old Man. You were one of the funnier posters participating here, and your reviews were also unique and interesting, just like yourself.
Review by Zero
I usually pick up Vertigo first issues out of habit, and the trend of putting them out for a dollar hasn't put me off that one bit. That the latest features art by the amazing Mike Allred is really just overselling it to me.
Allred's art has changed very little over the years, except perhaps becoming a crisper and a more concentrated version of itself. Every line is placed right where it should be and nothing looks untidy or out of place. When digging up a grave or having half a face I really expected it to look out of place but instead it works perfectly with the quirky horror vibe of the comic. The characters all with personality from the adorable dog-man to the oddly scarred mystery hatchet man and the writing is allowed to drop straight into its groove without fumbling and reaching to seem cool.
But it is cool. The pages aren't overcrowded with text but we get a lot of set-up and a fairly big cast and a healthy dose of foreshadowing thrown at us right away. If it seems like I don't have much to say about the writing that's because I don't think there is. It's solidly written but too early to say much more than we have a likeable protagonist with a visually interesting supporting cast who are still fairly blank slatey. Nothing sticks out as massively original but throwing a lot of old ideas together is by no means a bad idea.
Lots of potential here, especially in the art department. I'd have liked more story in my first issue but I got some great art anyway. Solid stuff and an impressive start with predictably amazing art.
Review by Jude Terror
Wow, what a waste of a dollar. I'm very surprised this book is scoring such high reviews from people who generally pan better books. This was one of the most derivative, unoriginal, boring things I've ever read. A hodge-podge of every stereotypical campy "cool" concept smushed together in one smug hipster package. I can't imagine that anyone would take any one of the concepts explored in this book seriously if it weren't for the fact they were presented in a way that screams "I'm too cool for this stuff, but I'm doing it anyway, which actually makes me doubly cool." Hipster logic at it's worst, like wearing a three sizes too small Judas Priest t-shirt with your france pants because Judas Priest are so corny, but since you KNOW they're corny and you're wearing the shirt anyway, you must be on the cutting edge of the hipster elite. This is Scott Pilgrim with absolutely none of the charm, a psuedo-intellectual self-aspiring douchebag's Twilight. I bet people are really proud of themselves for enjoying this. Complete and utter garbage, and invalidates the opinion of anyone who gave this above a 5 but bashes a Marvel or DC book ever again. All of this has been done before, better, and in a fashion that wasn't snobbishly ranking itself too good for the material its parodying.
The art was ok.
Review dedicated to Old Man, who was always wrong in political threads.
Review by GLX
I went to my local comic shop and picked up my comics, last night. I talked to one of the guys at my shop about crossovers, Vertigo comics and Greg Land. While leaving the shop, I noticed some weird figures outside. They must cut from a southern variation of the same cloth that produced Jude. Anyhoo, I head back home and start reading my comics. My dad opened the door and asked, "What are your reading, son?" I replied, "I, Zombie #1." He asked me, "How is it?" I answered by saying....
7* out of 10*
Review by Punchy
Story - Has anyone else noticed that Vertigo seems to be going back to it's magic and horror comic roots recently? It kind of got away from them with crime books like Scalped, and whatever the hell genre Y: The Last Man is. But just lately we've been getting back to the magic and horror stuff, The Unwritten, American Vampire, and now I, Zombie. And just like those titles, this is another promising debut issue from the best imprint in comics.
The central premise of I, Zombie is that Gwen Dylan, a Zombie with a difference, eats brains and then has to investigate the deceased's murder alongside her Ghost and Werewolf friends. The Hollywood high concept would be 'Buffy meets Scooby Doo meets the Walking Dead meets Chew meets Being Human meets Scott Pilgrim'. And surprisingly, it works.
This issue is pretty light on action, it mainly sets up the character's and their situations, but I found it engaging. Gwen seems like an interesting character with a past worth exploring. I'm a sucker for Ghosts who are stuck in the past, so Ellie is cool, and we all like to see a hopeless loser guy chase after a girl he loves. Even if that girl is a Zombie and he's a werewolf (sorry, were-terrier). The banter between the characters zings past nicely, and I can see myself enjoying just hanging out with these guys once a month.
Roberson also introduces some subplottish threats, you've got the Vampires who run a paintball game, the mysterious company searching out the undead, and even some ghostly dolls. And of course the mystery of who killed the guy who's brain Gwen eats, and even how she died herself. This issue was only a little taste, but I'm intrigued enough to want to eat a whole brain's worth.
I don't get any criticisms of this being too 'hipsterish' or whatever, it just seems like an interesting concept to me. I didn't detect that much irony here, Roberson seems pretty committed to his vision of what a Zombie is. It may not be as scary as the traditional take, but it's valid, and I liked it.
This is another hit for Vertigo I thinks, it has a strong female protagonist, and what with the current craze for all things horror archetype, this could do really well. This opening issue may be a little light, but for only a dollar, I can accept it.
Art - I think part of what made this book's quirky tone work is the art of Mike Allred. He's just fucking awesome isn't he? I bought Madman for like 2 years despite not knowing what the hell was going on, just to look at his art. His style goes against so many horror conventions, it's bright, with clear linework, and along with the unconventional characters, it's the perfect complement. I hope he sticks around. Accusations of hipster doucheness could become more accurate without an artist of Allred's calibre.
Best Line - 'When the ghost girl thinks you're behind the times, well...'
Review by doombug
"My old life was over, so I started a new one."
Gwen seems like your average girl at first, works a 9 to 5 kind of job as a grave digger with a crew but she's obviously hiding some secrets from everyone. It's a quirky idea, having a smart zombie who still holds on to to concept of life and doesn't crave brains 24/7. You surround her with other unique takes on classic horror concepts like a retro ghost, Scott aka Spot the weredog, mysterious creatures hunters who may be attached to her past life and a vampire who is up to know good.
Each new character is introduced with only just a few pages each but it's easy to be interested in each one. There are seveal plot threads being juggled at once like the hints of Gwen's previous life as well as Ellie's. Not to mention the consequences of Gwen's brain eating activities which will seem to feed the over all series.
Mike's art is as strong as ever and I really get the sense that they have a ton of issues already in the bag before the release. I really loved his take on Spot the weredog and i'll be curious to see more of the character in the coming issues.
All in all this is a good looking book with an attractive main character and supporting cast.
Overall score: 8.5
Review by Spicy Dick
Still sad about Old Man being bugled off to Jesus, but it was great to see how many people around the world will remember him. I also took it as a reminder that the words you say to someone might be more important than you think at the time, because you never know when someone may come down with a fatal case of mowing the grass, or something equally dire and unexpected. R.I.P. Alan Coil
So, that izombie, eh? Is it a contrivance of kewl thematic material (zombies, hawt vampires gone wild, rhubarb pie) crassly assembled to appeal to an "indie" comics reader, or is it a promising debut for a new Vertigo series by fan-favorite Mike Allred and less well-known (to comics fans) writer Chris Roberson?
Hard to say how the book will hold up if it goes in the direction of the crime-solving mystery like it seems to be, but I think Chris Roberson doesn't deserve the "hipster douchebag" sort of invective that gets thrown around all too often by insecure comics readers, and a lot of craft and hard work went into making the book look so damn good.
This is the writer of among other things, Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love and he and his wife run Monkeybrain Press, specializing in genre fiction and nonfiction genre studies. This isn't some guy who racked up a bunch of student loans for a useless liberal arts degree and then slacked upwards--and for those detractors, one in particular, he also wrote X-Men: The Return for Pocket Books in 2007. He is a well-respected science fiction author whose work has been nominated for many awards, and we are lucky to have him working in comics today.
So kudos to Vertigo for getting such a talent on a monthly book--hell, two talents counting Mike Allred! I don't know if the book is for me or not in the long term, but I'll give the creators the benefit of not pretentiously declaring it a fraud after one issue.
Review by amlah6
When this first got announce I was a little bitter. Allred was putting Madman on hiatus again for some zombie book with a writer who at the time hadn't actually worked in comics? Balls!
While people have been throwing around the hyperbole that Roberson's Cinderella mini has been the best Fables book over the past couple of months, I've been trade waiting it so it'll be July before I get to see that magic trick for myself. No, this comic right here is my introduction to the writer and I have to say it was quite the pleasant surprise. The tone, the setting, the pacing I thought all meshed with Allred's pop art stylings perfectly. Had the book not been called what it's called and I hadn't seen the previews already, the reveal that Gwen was a zombie would have been pretty damn cool. While the base concept seems to be in the same realm as Chew, I don't see the books headed in even remotely similar directions and even if they were Gwen is way cooler (and cuter) than Tony Chu. Besides, it's hard not to love a book that features a mod ghost and a were-terrier as supporting characters.
After 15 plus years, I still get excited every time I pick up a comic with Mike Allred art and this was no exception. I especially loved the last few pages with the grave digging sequence and the post brains circular layouts page. Excellent stuff.
Even without the Allred art, this was a comic I would have enjoyed a lot. With the Allred art it's a comic that I love. I think I'm going to have to buy this in singles. Shocked
Review by Mr_Batman
Just for the record, some people have said that this "has been done before", or at least things similar. I think this is one of the first times, if not THE first time, I've read something like this.
I have to say: I enjoyed this very much. This could've been a really cheesy, crap comic book. But it turned out to be great. We already have a lot of subplots going on here (and it'll be interesting to see where they go), and that excites me. This comic actually has substance to it and there are some really great parts. The wereterrier part was funny, and the part where she eats brains was fantastic from a story stand point too. I enjoyed a lot of the dialogue. None of it was over the top or lame IMO. Overall, a pretty nice story developing here.
I've never really read a comic book with Allred art. I've seen it before, but never have I read a book with it. It's a very unique style. It gives the comic life, and there's never a part where it's dull for me. To sum it up, I thought it was fantastic.
That gives I, Zombie a group score of 8.09. The Vertigo resurgence continues even if Jude's butt is a bit hurt over having to read a comic with an Eleanor Roosevelt reference.
To make your own declaration or Old Man's awesomeness, join us in this week's thread found in the News Stand forum where you are invited to post your own review!
Punchy has the pick for next week and he has selected Heroic Age: Prince of Power #1 published by Marvel Comics. Look for the new thread after it becomes available Wednesday morning.
Heroic Age: Prince of Power #1
WRITER: Fred Van Lente
PENCILS: Reilly Brown
THE HEROIC AGE IS HERE The Lion of Olympus has fallen. And as the Heroic Age dawns, the Golden Mace of Hercules passes to a new Prince of Power...who just happens to be Herc's best friend, Korean-American kid genius, Amadeus Cho. But when Amadeus finally reveals what he plans to do with his new power, the heavens themselves may shatter as Marvel's mightiest pantheons are shaken to the core! And wait a minute...what's THOR doing on the cover of this book? Fan fave writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente and beloved "Thorcules" artist Reilly Brown bring the thunder with the next essential chapter in the mind-blowing, heart-wrenching, and gut-busting epic that is the "INCREDIBLE HERCULES" experience! Rated T …$3.99