June 15, 2015

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Quick Hits: iZombie by Roberson/Allred/Allred, Ufology 2 by Tynion IV/Yuenkel/Fox/Metcalfe, and Capote in Kansas from Parks/Samnee

Did you enjoy that iZombie finale? Well, you should read the comic! We'll lead off our short series of sketches on a few comics with James' review of the first trade of the Vertigo series that's turned into a media sensation...



iZombie Vol. 1: Dead to the World
Written by Chris Roberson
Illustrated by Michael Allred
Colored by Laura Allred
Lettered by Todd Klein
Vertigo Comics

Gwen has all sorts of problems: her job isn't perfect and her coworkers annoy her, she wonders what she's doing in life, and her friends have their own issues that she ends up helping them deal with. Oh yeah, and she's a zombie that needs to periodically eat brains. And her best friends are a ghost and a were-terrier.  That's the premise of the hilarious, moving, totally engaging iZombie from Chris Roberson with art from the distinguished team of Michael and Laura Allred. I haven't yet watched the TV show, but I can highly recommend this series as an absolute delight, as long as you're ok with brains-eating. 

The first arc of the story (Dead to the World) sets up the premise; Gwen, her unusual friends, and all sorts of strange goings on in Eugene, Oregon. It also opens up the story to make clear that Gwen and her friends are part of a much wider world and longer story. There have been unusual creatures for a very long time, and there have been those whose mission is to stop them. Gwen also solves a mystery in the first arc; every time she eats brains she gains the memories of the person whose brains she's eaten. Sometimes this leads to her solving the mystery of their death. 


The art here from Michael and Laura Allred is done in their consistently gorgeous, vivid, pop-art style for which they are justifiably beloved; no mean feat considering that The Allreds are illustrating the undead, among other monsters. The women are almost all strikingly beautiful, the monsters are monstrous and the action is clear and dynamic. There's so much humor and warmth and emotion on every page. The├┐ also use a nice pixelated effect when showing flashbacks or to emphasize certain characters, which adds to the "pop-art" feel of the book. It's a terrific series, and I look forward to reading more. (Review by James Kaplan)


UFOlogy 2
Written by James Tynion IV and Noah J. Yuenkel
Line Art by Matthew Fox
Color Art by Adam Metcalfe
Published by BOOM! Studios

Boom!'s UFOlogy, currently on issue 2, is a fantastically blended Roswell meets X-Files type story. In a small college town, our main characters are high-schoolers on the brink of graduation. Both are increasingly isolated from their town and fellow students, one because of a refusal to move on, and the other because of a father's obsession. When a potentially real UFO sighting occurs, the son of the local UFO-spotting radio host, rushes out to see what has happened. He and the town super-senior are about to find out that the truth actually is out there. UFOlogy has great characters, a fantastic sense of humor, and a fun, webcomic-like aesthetic. (Review by Bree Reeves)


Capote in Kansas
Written by Ande Parks
Illustrated by Chris Samnee
Published by Oni Press

A fictional look at what might have happened when the city slicker Truman Capote goes to Kansas to get a sensational story and finds that the people involved are far more complex than he'd anticipated in an excellent old gem from Ande Parks and "newcomer" Chris Samnee, whose artistic skills are amazing right from the start.

I don't want to discount Parks here, because he does a great job showing that Capote's intentions for In Cold Blood were far from honorable, and his entanglements both at home and in Kansas make him an interesting, if not sympathetic character. He starts off as a grand jerk, with some lovely quips that fit his public personal perfectly, but by the end, he's much more shaken and thoughtful--at least until returning to the public stage. It's that complexity that makes every character, from a cameo by Harper Lee to the killers themselves so compelling to read about. It's certainly fiction, but what we feel within the world is extremely real to them and to the reader.


And then there's Samnee. My God, he came out of the gate fully formed, and working here in black and white just makes his amazing art all the better, as we can see it without any colors dulling the stark contrasts between black and white. While he's great with capes, Samnee's ability to show facial emotion, character blocking across the page, and shadow--all of which kept Daredevil at the top of the charts during his long run--just dazzle the reader. Like Frank Miller during the good years, Samnee understands how to ramp up the tension by withholding things in heavy blacks or using cross-patterns of black and white to set a mood. But the most striking thing to me here was the facial features. Samnee has to do a lot of talking heads moments, even if they're full body shots, and unless he keeps it interesting, the story flags. Fortunately, he's more than up to the task, capturing Capote's smirks and even more reflective moments with each page. The other characters get the same treatment, even minor figures like a waitress or a passer-by on the street.

I would imagine a lot of folks following this site have read Capote in Kansas, but if you are a crime fan of the Brubaker bent or just love Samnee's Daredevil, make sure you check this out, Parks and Samnee really knocked this 2005 book out of the park, and it's a ten year old book well worth reading. (Review by Rob McMonigal)