“I, ZOMBIE VOL. 1: DEAD TO THE WORLD” (Graphic Novel Review)

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Originally published at Fangoria.com on March 6, 2011

The I, ZOMBIE VOL. 1: DEAD TO THE WORLD trade paperback (Vertigo Comics, out March 16) collects the fresh and hilarious debut series of Gwen Dylan, the zombie girl detective. This lead heroine must make the most out of her 20-something life, even though she is undead. Gwen and her posse of friends stumble onto an unsolved murder that puts their entire existence at stake. This is a comic book that readers should definitely grab!

With her old life over, Gwen Dylan reluctantly started a new one as a gravedigger. She spends most nights with her best friend, a ghost stuck in the ’60s. Still wearing clothes from the past decade, Ellie has difficulty pronouncing the word “Internet.” Scott is a hopeless romantic who dreams of winning Gwen’s heart, but the only thing stopping him is the full moon. He can’t control his transformation into a were-terrier; earning the annoying nickname, Spot.

In an inventive twist, Gwen has to eat brains once a month or else she becomes a mindless and blundering zombie. But each time she devours her meal, she is also receiving a lifetime of memories from the brain. Her latest meal reveals Frederick Harris was murdered in cold blood. While piecing together Frederick’s scattered memories, each painting Gwen draws is a pivotal clue to his killer.

Frederick is living inside Gwen’s mind, yelling at her to avenge his untimely death. As Gwen continues the investigation, she unfortunately finds herself caught in the middle of a neverending war between monster hunters and vampires. Away from town, there is a sorority house full of gorgeous bloodsuckers. They wander into various nightclubs, searching for their latest prey. When the hunters are done with the vampires, Gwen and her friends are next on their list. Elsewhere, inside a haunted mansion, lurks an Egyptian mummy wrapped in linen. This mummy enjoys torturing his screaming victims and killing them in Gwen’s name.

Author Chris Roberson loves making satirical jokes at popular culture. He has with a keen sense of humor, driven from horror comedies like SHAUN OF THE DEAD and TEEN WOLF. Each member of his supporting cast has a fresh and solid voice filled with wit and flair. Gwen’s snappy dialogue is a perfect mix of angst and savvy attitude. The pop art by MADMAN’s Michael Allred and the pastel colors of Laura Allred are the key selling points to this comic book. Through the use of a splash page, the illustration follows Gwen’s narration and movements in a single shot. Comic book fans shouldn’t miss the cameo appearance of Allred’s Madman in the opening pages!

What makes I, ZOMBIE so enjoyable is how it attempts and succeeds at being so many things all at once—an amateur sleuth story, a murder mystery and a romantic comedy. This is the perfect jumping point for new readers to catch up with the ongoing series. If you’re looking for something that’s purely entertaining and really funny, this is the comic book for you! For more info about the I, ZOMBIE series, go to the Vertigo Comics website.