Writer: Tom Taylor
Artists: Trevor Hairsine, Stefano Gaudiano & James Harren
Colors: Rain Beredo
Letters: Saida Temofonte
Cover artists: Greg Capullo (regular)/Francesco Mattina and Yasmine Putri (variants)
Editor: Ben Abernathy
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US
(Note: I started writing this review the week the comic was released, but I got significantly sidetracked. I figured I’d begun, I might as well finish.)
DC seems a little late getting into the 21st century zombie craze, and by “a little late,” I mean ridiculously late. I honestly wasn’t going to delve into this latest event book, but one thing changed my mind: two proper nouns on the cover. Tom Taylor has impressed repeatedly with his super-hero genre work. I was thoroughly impressed with X-Men Red, and I’m really enjoying Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man now. But the clumsily titled DCeased just doesn’t scratch the same itch, as it’s pretty much devoid of the charm, relevance and strong characterization that one normally finds in the writer’s work.
Darkseid, defeated by the Justice League, retreats back to Apokalips, but little do the heroes know that he actually accomplished part of his quest to discover and acquire the Anti-Life Equation. Unfortunately, his attempt to manipulate it has unleashed something else, a techno-organic plague that promises to make life tear itself apart. It’s a virus that turns people into mindless, flesh-eating monsters, and it’s coming to Earth…
Trevor Hairsine seemed like a solid choice for illustrating a super-hero zombie comic. His grittier style is in keeping with the horror of zombies, and he’s certainly well versed in super-hero genre storytelling. His interpretation of Darkseid is striking — appropriately monstrous and imposing. Of course, he’s joined here by artist James Harren as well, and it makes for a slightly inconsistent look in the art at times, but it’s not overly jarring.
The most glaring misstep in terms of visuals is in the lettering, specifically when it comes to the narrative captions. The attempt to bring some kind of faded, post-apocalyptic quality to the typeface makes it incredibly difficult to read.
One of the problems with this story is that it lacks any real sense of suspense. The reader knows the “real” versions of these familiar characters won’t be altered so radically and permanently. It seems as though this might take place outside of regular continuity, but the publisher should have been more overt is labelling it as such.
I think my favorite aspect of the book was Tom Taylor’s take on Cyborg. He seems far more grounded, full of attitude and less of the tortured soul we’ve seen in the past. I also appreciated the brief glimpse of Jon Kent and Damian Wayne spending time like regular teenage boys would. Linking this zombie disaster story to the Fourth World and specifically to the Anti-Life Equation seemed like a solid way to bring this horror sub-genre to the DC Universe, and Taylor’s portrayal of social media as the means to spread a plague was topical, if a little ham-fisted.
I couldn’t help but think about how DC and Marvel are completely focused on event-driven comics as of late. Crossover events have always been prevalent in mainstream super-hero comics for the past three decades or so, but the trend seems particularly heavy-handed these days. DC is in the midst of Heroes in Crisis, Doomsday Clock, Year of the Villain, Leviathan and now DCeased. The good news is that these stories seem to be limited to their own titles, not line-wide, but it feels like the publisher is rushing to the trough too often, too quickly. 4/10