The iZombie Omnibus written by Chris Roberson, art by Michael Allred, and color by Laura Allred, collects all 28 issues of the iZombie manga series. Though shelved in the adult section, this series doesn’t include sex, drugs, or non-monster related violence and would be fine down to tweenies. The bad guys do get their just desserts in the bittersweet end. The afterword, written in 2015, illuminates the gestation of a new series as well as the adaptation into film. Since the catalyst for the concept was the DC Comics character Gravedigger, who first appeared in the August 1977 edition of the Men of War series, the heroine of iZombie is a gravedigger. Thus her transformation into a revenant (an intelligent zombie) and consequent need to regularly eat human brains in order to remain sane was the explanation for her profession rather than the original focus of the story.
The television series (live action with introductory illustrations drawn by Michael Allred, also the artist of the manga series) is entertaining but is much darker and grittier than the manga rendering it unsuitable fare for kids. Season 3 will first air in April 2017 on The CW. The setting moves north from Eugene, Oregon to Seattle (presumably to provide a larger, more varied, urban population) and the main character is now a medical resident turned coroner’s assistant rather than an art history major turned grave digger (at a ‘green’ cemetery that eschews embalming fluids, a no-no for the heath-conscious zombie). Now named ‘Liv’ instead of ‘Gwen’, she still needs to regularly eat brains, she still has flashes of the donor’s memories, and she still feels compelled to resolve donors’ unfinished business. Instead of allying with an ancient order of monster slayers, she works through a local police detective.
Unlike the manga which includes a number of other supernaturals including therianthropes, ghosts, and vampires; the TV series focuses on human monsters such as murderers, drug dealers, and rapists. So Liv’s sidekick is still a lovable nerd but now he doesn’t turn into a were-terrier with the full moon and he’s much cuter (IMHO – he’s my favorite character in the TV series), a bit more socially adept, straight, and he’s Liv’s boss (Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti) at the morgue. Also dropped are the mythological overtones and the homage to H.P. Lovecraft – sensible choices for an open-ended live action series.
I appreciated the references to the manga such as the early episode in which, after eating a famous artist’s brain, Liv produces paintings reflective of the artist’s memories (in the manga Gwen paints as a way of processing each brain’s memories). Likewise the flashback intro of Liv’s transformation to a zombie on a boat in the middle of a lake and a later episode in which Liv battles a corporate hit man on the lake connects to a flashback scene in the manga in which Gwen crosses a haunted lake on a canoe. More sly was the scene in season 1 in which Ravi gets bitten by a zombie mouse (Ravi created zombie mice in order to test possible cures): based on the manga, I half expected him to turn into a were-mouse.