The iZombie tv trailer has just dropped and gave us the first glimpse into just how they’ve adapted the delightful Vertigo comic into a CW show. For this iZombie comic fan it is…okay? The basics are still the same: a young woman (named Liv on the show but Gwen in the comics) is a zombie who has to eat brains to maintain her un-deadness, and the brains give her visions from the dead person’s life and untimely death. Then she decides to solve the victim’s wrongs, namely who killed them. Basically, the iZombie trailer promises a weirder than average police procedural.
Now, don’t get me wrong–I LOVE a police procedural, even if the “quirky detective” subgenre is hopelessly exhausted at this point. Give me some classic Jerry Orbach Law and Order and I am the happiest of campers. It’s just that the original iZombie…wasn’t a police procedural. Sure, Gwen and her cheerful supernatural cohort did occasionally help solve the murders of people whose brains she ate, but the comic is much more about how they all live with their decidedly unusual and, in Gwen’s case, un-dead condition.
Most of all, the trailer is missing the fun, memorable pop sensibility Mike Allred’s art brought to the comic. The comic was zany and Laura Allred’s bright coloring made even the occasionally dark subject matter feel upbeat. In the trailer, it isn’t just Liv’s complexion that is pallid; the whole thing felt a little dark and washed out. Which makes total sense if all you know is the premise of a zombie girl eating brains and solving mysteries…but as an adaptation of iZombie it’s not exactly on point.
What made the original iZombie special wasn’t just that there was a zombie who was “managing” her condition instead of being part of a moaning, menacing unconscious beast. The movie Warm Bodies and BBC’s excellent In the Flesh both explore the same concept to delightful results. But the world of iZombie comic wasn’t limited to just the undead; instead, the main character’s BFFs are a ‘60s go-go dancing ghost and a were-terrier coming to terms with his sexuality. Add in some mummies, a sorority of vampires, and a monkey imbued with the soul of a grandpa, and the iZombie comic is a veritable Monster Mash.
Based on the trailer, none of that wacky supernatural world is on display, though there is at least one other zombie out there the lead character runs into. Maybe it’s something the show is building up to, who knows, but I’ll be sad if the lead character doesn’t have those friendships to turn to in times of excessive zombie angst.
That’s the other big difference: in the comic, Gwen wasn’t in contact with anyone from her previous life and part of the big arc was recovering the knowledge of who she’d been. Apparently, on the show, Liv is not only still close with her live family and friends but they don’t even know she’s dead. While it’s a big departure from the comic, I can definitely see how Liv’s situation can be mined for lots of drama that could make great TV.
The trailer has the witty banter you’d expect from Rob Thomas, of Veronica Mars fame, and I’m excited to see that both Liv’s co-worker and reluctant partner in crime-solving are men of color. Mind you, that isn’t any MORE diverse than the comic, which featured prominent Middle Eastern and East Asian male characters, plus way more women and LGBT characters. But it is, sadly, a little better than you get on TV most days.
If I didn’t know anything about the comic, I’d be pumped. Since I’m already a fan of the comic, I’m cautiously excited, but part of me can’t help mourning what could have been. But at the very least this’ll bring more attention to an awesome comic that was overlooked during its original run. The trades are still in print, people! Hop on this wagon now and get bonafide iZombie hipster street cred.