First Appearance: House of Mystery Halloween Special (2009)
iZombie was created by writer Chris Roberson and artist Michael Allred and was published by DC Comic’s Vertigo imprint in 2010 and lasted 28 incredibly fun issues revolving around Gwendolyn Price, gruesome monsters such as zombies, ghosts, vampires and the most bloodcurdling of all… a were-terrier. Ok, so to be fair, the were-terrier was actually a really nice guy and Gwen and all her friends were the actual monsters. The characters of iZombie first appeared in a short story in the first Halloween special of House of Mystery in 2009.
So what I figure I’ll do on this episode is talk about the comic first and then about the CW show and see where the two overlap. Then we’ll role right into the interview with Mike Allred, who I have to say is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever talked to. He is crazy busy and I really appreciated that he took the time to talk with me about iZombie and his new series, Bug. For this episode I’m just going to include the part of the interview where we talked about iZombie, but I’m putting the Who is Bug, The Forager episode and I’ll be adding the second interview I did with Mike Allred where we talked about all things Bug and Kirby. It was a lot of fun. So look for that one.
So who, or what is Gwen Price? When the story begins we find Gwen leaning on a shovel in a pair of overalls in the cemetery, waiting for a funeral to end in her hometown of Eugene, Oregon. Now there is nothing nefarious going on, Gwen works there and is just waiting to finish up her workday. When the funeral ends she and her crew get to work and filling in the hole and then call it a day. But as the other leave Gwen makes and excuse and tells them she forgot something and that she’ll see them tomorrow. Looking over her shoulder Gwen heads over to a mausoleum, opens the door and enters.
See Gwen lives in the cemetery with her friend Ellie, a ghost who died about 40 years ago. Why does Gwen live in the cemetery? Well, she’s a zombie, and working and living in the cemetery allows her to know when and where to dig for a fresh meal. Now she isn’t the Romero shambling incoherent type of zombie that is hungry for flesh, no, Gwen can totally pass for human as long as she eats a brain a month. If she were to go without, she would become an extra for The Walking Dead in a matter no time. Now to add another nice wrinkle in the whole zombie thing, when Gwen eats a deceased person’s brain she not only gets a full tummy, but se also gets flashes of their memories and lives.
Now as the story goes on we get to meet some of Gwen’s friends, Ellie a ghost who died about 40 years ago and Scott a were-terrier that they affectionately call Spot. But their lives get very complicated when they go trick or treating one halloween and get candy from a creepy stranger in a mask. Now later that night Gwen feeds on the guy she buried earlier and she starts to get flashes of the guys death. She realizes that the guy was murdered and that he died in the creepy strangers house they visited at Halloween. So cue the Nancy Drew theme. The gang investigates and Gwen comes face-to-face with the murderer, Amon. And it’s pretty funny, she enters the house and it’s all creepy, but then the guy is just standing there all dapper and offers her a drink saying he’s so glad they could finally meet. And that’s one of the cool things about the book, you constantly are pleasantly surprised at the twists and turns the stories take, not going to the normal cliches. And this isn’t just done with the writing, the art and colors by Mike and Laura Allred complement each other on such a level you cannot image the world they have created looking any differently. Full disclosure…I am a HUGE Mike Allred fan and of his incredibly talented wife Laura who colors pretty much all his work. We actually talk about their process in the interview.
So back to Gwen. Meeting Amon is a huge turning point in the comic because it’s then she and we as readers get a much larger perspective on who she and all the other creatures that inhabit Eugene, Oregon really are. See, Gwen isn’t just a mere zombie, she’s a revenant. As Amon describes it, normally when a body dies the soul departs for the great unknown, but on rare occasions the body or the soul can remain behind. Sometimes the soul stays in its own body sometimes it’s just on its own. That and a soul two parts, an oversoul and an undersoul. The oversoul (or the conscious mind) is seated in the brain, and contains thoughts, memories, and personality. The undersoul (the unconscious mind) is seated in the heart, and contains appetites, emotions, and fears. And depending what soul sticks around determines the supernatural entity that is created. So here’s the rundown:
- Ghosts are bodiless oversouls
- Poltergeists are bodiless undersouls
- Vampires are bodies without undersouls (thirsting for emotions) through blood
- Zombies are bodies without oversouls
- Revenants are unique in that they possess both oversouls and undersouls.
Gwen then learns she is not just a mere zombie, but a revenant who possesses both and under and oversoul, making her incredibly special as far as things go in the supernatural world goes. But she still has a problem, this guy who’s giving her all this great info is still a murderer. It’s then he tells her that he only kills the guilty and that he technically doesn’t really need to murder them, that he could just suck out their souls, but heck, they’re bad people so he’s doing good. Gwen then starts to get flashes of the murdered man’s life and realizes he was not a good guy and that he actually murdered a jogger. But she’s not sure she could ever kill and eat a living person’s brain. Then Amon drops another bomb. If she keeps eating the brains of corpses she will be reduced to a mindless Romero like zombie. She doesn’t really believe him until he says oh yeah, well tell me Gwen, how did you die. She is stunned when she realizes she really can’t remember anything of her past.
So many more fun things happen in the series that I would love to get into, but this podcast would be a really long one if I covered every story arc. But one thing I did want to mention is that Gwen finds falls in love with a very handsome guy that she does not realize is apart of a monster hunting corporation. But that’s OK, he doesn’t realize that she’s a zombie. That is until things really start ramping up. And now to the part where things start ramping up.
As the story progresses Gwen learns that she and Amon have an actual history. She learns that there is something coming. A lovecraftian devourer of worlds named Xitalu, that will suck every soul on the earth leaving our little ball of mud, well, just that, a little ball of mud. We learn that Amon has fought this beast over 500 years ago with some help. He has been preparing to not so much kill the creature, but hold off it’s destructive nature by offering a sacrifice like he did so many years ago. Back then it was a civilization that was then wiped from memory, now it’s Eugene, Oregon. Gwen being a powerful revenant is told she needs to suck the souls of the residents as a sacrifice to the monster so it will go away for another 500 years or so. But this of course doesn’t sit well with her. She would have to kill her friends, a brother she has just remembered and been reacquainted with and her boyfriend. In the end however Gwen comes up with a much better solution. Realizing the monster is just made up of countless numbers of souls she decides to try to drain the souls from it, instead of the city. In doing this Gwen destroys Xitalu, taking in all it’s power, and changing into something more. She is now to powerful of an entity to stay on Earth or in our dimensions and she leaves to explore new realms. But that’s not the last we hear from Gwen, she is able to channel her mind through a friend enough to tell us how things end for her friends, which was a nice touch. We learn that everyone pretty much lives happily ever after and that life goes on.
Now I loved this series so when I heard it was making it’s way to the small screen on the CW Network I was psyched. Now I’ve watched a lot of movies and TV shows adapted from comics, and I’m not one of those fans that, if not happy with the adaptations rants, “They RUINED IT!!”, cause guess what, the comic still exists. I know, I just reread all the issues this weekend.
But guess what, even though there are no vampires, ghosts or were-terriers and that the plot is very different, the show is just fantastic. The actual origin of Gwen is changed substantially as well as her motivations. For example, there is no Amon, or Xitalu, no over or undersouls, but I have to tell you. It’s so good.
Gwen is now Liv, she’s still a zombie and gains the memories from the brains she eats, but now she even inherits some of the attributes of the person the brain belonged to. So for example, on one episode she eats the brains of a compulsive gambler and then is trying to bet on everything. She also has a different profession. Liv morgue where she can get all the grey matter she needs. But one of the coolest parts of the show is the long backstory that is happening that surrounds how she was turned, who is doing this, and what is all means to the world at large. It’s just a very tight show, with great writing and characters that really gell and I cannot wait to see what happens this season.
Now let’s get to the interview I did with the co-creator of iZOMBIE as well as the creator of Madam, artist on countless comics such as FF, X-tatic and his new upcoming series Bug!: The Adventures Of Forager, and just a really nice guy…Mike Allred.