When I bought and reviewed “iZombie” #1, I thought it was an enjoyable read, but didn’t appeal to me on a personal level enough to keep buying the series. But, in discussing comics with CBR columnist Tim Callahan, he kept praising the series, recognizing the first issue’s faults, while saying that it’s improved as it’s gone on, convincing me to give it another shot to win me over. I found this issue much like the first one: pleasant enough in craft, showing some potential, but not engaging or interesting enough to win me over.
The art by the Allreds continues to be a draw that’s hard to ignore as a lot of the charm of the characters comes from the visuals. The visuals drive the middle part of the issue, which is more relaxed with Gwen, the sort-of-but-not-quite-a-zombie girl, hitting her usual diner hangout and, then, running into Horatio, the monster hunter, and having a pretty good time with him. Roberson’s dialogue is good, but Allred really sells things with the body language and facial expressions. Horatio leaning back and extending his bent arms while saying “Hey! It’s Gwen, right?” tells you so much about his personality, while the awkwardness of Gwen finding out that her friend the werewolf has let the secret of his and her true nature slip to a co-worker is palpable thanks to Allred’s art.
The best page has to be Horatio and Gwen getting to know one another, presented in a splash page where we see ten of the pairs as they walk, showing their progress, while Gwen narrates their conversation and how great it is. Allred has a knack for making the two look naturalist and distinctive. How they walk, how they pause, the way Gwen carries her jacket, it all communicates who the two are and, more importantly, how they react to one another, working with Roberson’s narration very well. It’s a pretty typical ‘meeting someone you’re totally in sync with’ scene, but Roberson and Allred nail it.
Where the issue falls down is a sense of cohesion and engagement. Scenes don’t flow from one to the next always. While the issue is ostensibly held together by Gwen and a dilemma over her future, which is only compounded by other problems to make a pretty bad day, there’s a distance between her and the reader. Instead of feeling for her and empathizing with her problems, there’s just observation and voyeurism. Nothing about her allows us to get into her head despite her narration. She’s too superficial and lacking depth to actually care about, leaving the comic without any means of drawing you in.
Ultimately, reading “iZombie” #5, I’m left with one question: why should I care? The comic never answers that or gives me a good reason to come back next issue aside from some good dialogue and great art. But, without a solid emotional core or intriguing plot, those positives just hang there and don’t seem as appealing. On the surface, this is a pretty good comic, but it’s lacking something underneath.