It's a slimmer week for graphic novels on this coming New Comic Day but out of the picks it's interesting to note that while both could be filed under a summer blockbuster movie category, both score a high rating thanks to a focus on character.
iZombie (DC) has little to do with apples and all to do with brains. Collecting the first five issues of the Vertigo series, it follows young Gwen Dylan who happens to be a zombie. Nothing new there - they seem to be everywhere at the moment. However Gwen is still a walking, talking, intelligent human being (albeit technically dead), it's just that she has to eat a brain once a month otherwise she will develop into stumbling, mumbling, thickie. The story developing device is that by eating a brain the thoughts and memories of the owner are passed on to Gwen allowing her to, oh I don't know, maybe investigate an untimely death. The focus is more on character than murder-mystery though and artist Michael Allred makes everything look cool mixing 'frameable' pop-art panels and retro chic horror.
Warren Ellis's run on Astonishing X-Men (Marvel) has been a little variable to be honest but on Xenogenesis, which was probably hung on the least high-concept of the three story-arcs, he and artist Kaare Andrews produced a piece of work that reminds you what a great team the X-Men can be. The reason is that it turned out to be a perfect match between art that walked a line between superhuman caricature and brutal realism (kind of Frank Quietly, steroid-enhanced animation-style) and simple honest-to-goodness brilliant character dialogue. The way Ellis writes the team in this story, I could quite happily listen to them speak all day long. Everyone thinks they know Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Beast and their characters but translating that into vibrant dialogue reminded me what great comic characters they are and how well they interact with each other. So simple and yet quite rare.
What was the Red Skull's secret WWII plan that will only now impact the Marvel U? Find out in the prologue to Fear Itself: The Book of the Skull. Uncanny X-Force marches on Spider-Man gets a new costume (oh don't be like that - this one looks quite fun) and Batman is starting to feel like a weekly title. There's also Frazer Irving artwork in the Xombi #1 and an irresistible cover to Knight & Squire #6.