I have to hand it to Chris Roberson, in that with this issue he's managed to tie together ghosts, poltergeists, vampires, zombies, werewolves, possessed, and revenants all into a single unified theory. But I'm probably getting ahead of myself.
"iZombie" has been an entertaining book up until now, but at the same time it had started to feel like each issue was serving solely to throw another type of supernatural creature (or hunter) into the mix. It was almost like watching White Wolf Games' "World of Darkness" get built in high speed, only without all the darkness and angst. And while I was enjoying the book, I kept waiting for something more to fully pull it all together.
Well, we just hit the jackpot. Roberson takes the Egyptian idea of the oversoul and the undersoul and applies to all of these different supernatural creatures, and the end result? Sheer elegance. Sure, this issue is primarily exposition, but it's delivered in such an elegant and interesting way that I can't complain. It's an information dump that needs to happen, and Roberson makes it work in part because it's something that Gwen herself doesn't know yet. We're learning alongside Gwen, and it turns what could have been passive into something active.
Roberson doesn't lose sight of the other stories and characters, though, so it's not just exposition this month. Pairing Gwen and Amon's conversation with the vampire hunters is an important contrast, seeing what they're discussing on an intellectual level actually unfold in a real world situation. We're seeing this information in both practice and reality, and it ties the issue (and the story arc) together well. Roberson is also wise to keep some information about Gwen (why she has both of her souls still) a mystery, that last bit held in reserve for a later date.
It also helps that even when characters only get a tiny bit of space in the issue, Roberson makes them fun. Spot playing the zombie-killing-game made me laugh, and Amon has turned out to be anything but what we were initially led to believe. Gwen's still our star, but the supporting cast helps fill out the book.
Michael Allred's art this week feels a little less crisp in places, and it made me wonder if Laura Allred might have colored directly off of his pencils in some places. It's still a good looking issue, don't get me wrong. The two-page splash of Amon and Gwen framing the different types of undead is great (and Gwen and Amon are both drawn with very distinct ink lines there), and on the whole I love how Allred draws characters. But there are a few panels and figures here and there (Ellie and Amon's cat as Ellie is preparing to leave, for example) where it feels like Allred was rushed to finish the issue in time.
Overall, though, "iZombie" has now fully clicked for me; I like Gwen's wit and her ability to listen to the evidence and information given to her, and the world of "iZombie" in general is interesting. There's enough going on here that I want to keep reading, and I can't help but think that Vertigo may have another big hit on their hands. If you've been hesitant about trying a new zombie title, trust me, this is anything but your typical zombie story. Check it out.