Darkseid is invading Earth. Again. Over the course of a week, the Justice League beat him back. His forces routed, his jaw broken by Superman, Darkseid takes up the League’s suggestion that he get off the planet. But his final words are ominous.
When the dust clears, the League wonder what happened to their colleague Cyborg.
Guess who Darkseid came for?
It turns out that the Apokoliptian tech in Victor Stone’s body contains the half of the Anti-Life equation for which Darkseid has long searched, and he has no qualms about killing the hero to get it. But Cyborg turns the tables and infects Darkseid, with massive – let’s say apocalyptic- consequences.
Cyborg, sent on his way as Desaad realises what’s happening, arrives back on Earth. Vic’s personal internet instantly connects with the worldwide web… and the Anti-Life Equation is unleashed.
Within minutes, the world goes to hell.
I’m no fan of the zombie genre, I don’t find the concept of brain-eating undead types attractive. The gothic eerieness of I Walked With a Zombie, that I liked. I laughed and cried at Shaun of the Dead. But I can’t be bothered with straightforward zombies, even when they’re being used as metaphors, a la George Romero’s oeuvre.
But a good pun gets my attention and DCeased is a pretty good one. Tom Taylor at the scripting helm is always a good bet. And artists Trevor Hairsine, Stefano Gaudiano and James Harren are all pretty decent, to understate matters.
I enjoyed this non-continuity comic hugely. Taylor’s trademark smart dialogue is here in spades, not only giving the Super Sons real spark, but gifting Cyborg the most personality he’s had in decades… well, ever. He displays real guts as he gets sassy with the two scariest men on Apokolips. Darkseid and Desaad have dramatic charisma to spare, there’s a pleasingly intense Wayne Manor moment and Superman is the awe-inspiring hero he should be. The initial spread of the Anti-Life Equation is nicely 21st century yet fits in perfectly with what New Gods creator Jack Kirby set up – it’s like he planned it all along.
Hairsine’s storytelling, inked by Walking Dead alumnus Gaudiano and moodily coloured by Rain Beredo, is excellent – look at the expressions, the body language, how Barry moves around Batman as he demands a truth he can pretty much bank on.
The offworld pages, fully illustrated by Harren, map less onto the current DC house style, and are all the better for it; the looser, less constrained style suits the horror that is Apokolips’ cavernous dungeons and the evil creatures who live there. My favourite panel is that one, above, with Desaad looming toward Cyborg in a zoom that would do Flash proud.
The one tweak I would make to this excellently crafted book would be to darken the narrator’s lettering, it’s in a faint typewriter-style font that reads as faint grey unless you go to panel view on a digital reader. It’s a pain, but likely in the script rather than a choice of always excellent letterer Saida Temofonte.
How about that cover from artist Greg Capullo and colourist FCO Plascencia? I can’t think of a single image that would better grab a superhero fan who also likes zombies. Even I love the hands going through the unfortunate SWAT fella’s head. >ulp<
Overall, this is a lovely surprise of a comic book, great looking with a compelling script whose twists and turns, if Taylor is on form – and he always is – are going to be tough to anticipate. I’m in for the next five issues of heroes in a real crisis.