I, Zombie: A Jug of Wine, A Lobe of Brain, and Thou : Monkey See Today in comic shops: The debut of a new series about a zombie girl detective/gravedigger. Did we mention the were-terrier? Because there's a were-terrier.
NPR logo I, Zombie: A Jug of Wine, A Lobe of Brain, and Thou

I, Zombie: A Jug of Wine, A Lobe of Brain, and Thou

I, Zombie combines girl detectives, go-go boots, and the occasional were-terrier. hide caption

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Today presents you with a chance to get in on the ground floor of a new comic series.

About six feet under the ground floor, technically.

The series is I, Zombie, described by its publisher Vertigo as a mix of zombie girl detective, urban fantasy and romantic dramedy. Which, let's just note, is a lot to chew on already, and that's not even mentioning the wealth of densely quirky elements writer Chris Roberson tosses into the pot, which send the book soaring past merely "high-concept" into ... just plain high.

To name a few:

1. Our lead character? Gwendolyn "Gwen" Dylan. Gravedigger. Zombie. Denture-wearer. (Okay, not that last thing.)

2. Gwen must eat one brain a month "or I go all mindless and shambling."

3. When she eats said brain, she's flooded with its memories. If you guessed that these memories invariably set her on a path to solving mysteries, avenging deaths, etc. you've been reading ahead.

4. Her best friend's the ghost of a go-go booted, swingin' 60's teen queen.

5. She's hounded by Scott/Spot, a lovestruck were-terrier.

6. The local sexy vampire chick enjoys waxing prolix on common paintball injuries. ("No joke. A quarter of all paintball-related ocular injuries result in the complete enucleation of the eyeball.")

There's more, much more, and although the first issue has so many ideas to set up that it leans hard into the expository dialogue ("Look, I know you're still struggling with Bethany's death." "You're one to talk. Or haven't you noticed that you spend your free time hanging around graveyards, too?"), Roberson keeps his foot on the accelerator and keeps the mood light.

In this, he's helped immeasurably by artist Mike Allred, whose clean, cartoony style continually reminds us that we're not meant to take things too seriously. (To be fair, the business with the were-terrier did a lot of that work on its own.)

Allred's Madman comic, which he both writes and draws, is a bold, colorful, hugely imaginative work, filled with action. I, Zombie's first issue reins Allred in, and it'll be interesting to see him open up once the plot kicks in and Roberson lets his elaborate narrative scaffolding fall away.

Need another reason? The first issue is priced to move — to shamble, anyway — at $1.00. (There's also a sweet variant cover by Darwyn Cooke, if you can find it.)

Yes, a kitchen-sink, too-much-of-a-muchness quality hangs over I, Zombie's first issue, but at its center is Gwen, a character whose savvy, sardonic, world-weary attitude shines through all the genre trappings. So long as Roberson keeps showing us that Gwen's got brains as well as braaaaaaaiiiiinns, I'll keep reading.