Quick Hits: iZombie #12 and more…

iZombie 12

iZombie #12: Regular series artist Mike Allred takes a break here to let some newcomer named Gilbert Hernandez handle penciling duties. Obviously, then, this book looks great; I’m glad that Vertigo was able to substitute out one legendary artist for another. It helps that Mike’s wife Laura continues to color the series, which helps this book blend with the usual iZombie aesthetics. The story also makes sharp use of its fill-in issue status; it looks back in time to tell the story of how Ellie the Ghost first met our protagonist, Gwen. Actually, telling stories is what this issue’s all about, as the inhabitants of Ellie’s cemetery take turns telling tales about their lives. I really love the different narrative and artistic styles in play here, and it seems an especially clever way to add depth to the series’ backstory.  This issue also makes a great jumping-on point for new readers. It doesn’t necessarily bring them up to date on the series’ big developments, but it does a good job of establishing the tone of the world they’ll visit every month.  A

Batman Beyond #4: After the last three issues’ battle with the new Matter Master, Batman Beyond takes a breather to throw the spotlight on its supporting cast, especially Maxine Gibson, Terry’s classmate and one of the few that knows about his double life. I find Maxine an interesting character, and this issue deals with the unique challenges brought about by privileged knowledge pretty well. As per usual with this series, I wasn’t too crazy about the art, which this time was handled by fill-in artist Eduardo Pansica. While his work boasts more definition than that of series regular Ryan Benjamin’s, his technique, especially when it comes to faces, is a little bizarre. I’m also not crazy about this book’s flirtation with current DC continuity. References to Batman, Inc. and the Unternet seem meant to deliberately frustrate. After all, this book is based on a cartoon show; issues of continuity should probably be kept vague, no?  C+

Infestation #2: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning wrap up their bold IDW crossover here with the story of the CVO’s last stand against a horrific zombie plague. Augmented with powers and technology from the worlds of Transformers, Star Trek, GI Joe and Ghostbusters, the vampire/zombie hybrid Britt seems unstoppable; only through some tricky magic and technology can our heroes in Covert Vampiric Operations hope to save the day. This is a fine end to Infestation; it plays out kind of as expected, but it doesn’t lose the sense of adventure and fun that’s propelled this series. I really enjoyed David Messina’s art here, particularly in relation to the monstrous zombie Undermind threat. I suspect Infestation will prove most memorable for its wild tie-in stories, but this book provides a satisfying finale all the same.  B

Sweet Tooth #20: While on their way to Canada, Jepperd and Gus’ traveling party is split into two groups. The girls go missing, presumed kidnapped, and it’s up to the boys to find them. In actuality, the girls have happened upon a native with a seemingly idyllic place to live, including electricity and copious stocks of food. What mysteries does this stranger hold? Well, time well tell, but here’s what’s not a mystery: writer/artist Jeff Lemire has turned in another fantastic installment of this series. In growing his core cast from two to eight, Lemire’s created some really interesting group dynamics that beg to be explored. It also makes the series’ oldest and most central relationship — that between Gus and Jepperd — seem fresh; their conversation in this issue is thick with tension and full of emotion. Month after month Sweet Tooth surprises me with its compelling characters and suspenseful plots. At this point I’m not sure what a bad issue of the book would look like.  A

tags: adam beechen, andy lanning, batman beyond, chris roberson, dan abnett, david messina, eduardo pansica, gilbert hernandez, infestation, izombie, Jeff Lemire, sweet tooth

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