Although I’ve criticized elements of DCeased, it’s, on the whole, been consistently good, and the Superman scenes—particularly the emotional scenes in the previous issue involving Pa Kent—are outstanding, making me wish that Tom Taylor was either the main writer on Superman or Action Comics or both. This issue picks up where the previous one left off, and we’re thrown right into the action. Now, before we jump into the review proper, I just want to tell you all up-front that this issue is simply fantastic! But what is it that makes this issue so good? Let’s have a look. SPOILER ALERT!
First of all, this issue is plotted really well and it moves at the speed of light and quite a lot happens in it. It’s hard to talk about the comic without spoiling anything, so make sure you read the comic first before you read my review if you want to remain entirely spoiler-free.
This issue is filled with spectacle. The exposition is kept to a minimum, and most of what happens in this issue is relevant and exciting. It’s yet another example of how well Tom Taylor understands the DC characters. These characters have already been through a lot and have saved the universe more times than they can count, which is, of course, acknowledged in issue #1 during the opening scene where they defeat Darkseid. Taylor keeps this in mind and writes these heroes not as clueless people that are struggling to overcome their current ordeal, but as seasoned, competent warriors that plan ahead and do everything they can to save the world. For example, in this issue it’s revealed that Superman already knows exactly what is causing the infection, because the minute that the infection started, he used his X-Ray vision to find out what was happening. Moreover, when Superman and the others realize they need more time, it’s Damian who tells Superman, almost casually, that he should just go and get more time. As it turns out, Batman had already contacted The Flash and Kid Flash and told them to stay put so as not to get infected. Superman picks up the Flashes and, while they don’t get into action just yet in this issue, I’m sure they have quite a big role to play in the remaining chapters. However, still on the topic of experienced heroes, the only misstep that Taylor makes is that Dinah instantly knows how to use her power ring to the full extent, which I find somewhat unbelievable. But, at the same time, I recognize that it’s good for the pacing of the story to grant her this ability, and it’s hard to say no to a ring-slinging version of Black Canary anyway.
Yet, as great and exhilarating as this issue is, there are a few moments that interrupt the flow of the story somewhat. It’s not a big problem, but given that it’s as of yet unclear why these specific moments are in the book, they do stand out to me as moments that, for now, don’t have a lot to do with the actual story.
The first of these moments involves Harley Quinn and the infected Birds of Prey. For one thing, I’m glad that the creative team didn’t make Harley a super badass, unstoppable fighter that defeats the Birds of Prey single-handedly, as that would have been plain silly. Instead, another character arrives on the scene to help her out, and this is a character who is legimitately powerful enough to stop the Birds. But, beyond this, it’s not revealed to us what happens to Harley and her rescuer, and neither does Harley actually contribute anything to the overall story progression. I have faith that Taylor will connect Harley’s part to the main story in time, but another slight issue that I have with Harley’s inclusion is that it’s not entirely clear yet what her arc is supposed to be at all.
The second of these moments involves Mera, who seeks succor at Themyscira. While I really dig the idea of Mera going to Themyscira (since it seems like a fitting and obvious move seeing as Atlantis has been destroyed), it’s as of yet unclear why Mera is in this story, either. Her appearance in the previous issue made me think that she would get her own arc, but other than showing her arrival on Themyscira, she, like Harley, doesn’t contribute anything to the overall story. If anything, her appearance is merely here to set up Wonder Woman’s entrance in this issue.
The third and final moment involves a brief explanation of why the zombies aren’t zombies, but rather a blight, an extension of the anti-life equation, but this explanation fails to convince me that the infected are any different from zombies. Even Green Arrow comments on this, saying that if those people move and behave like zombies, they simply are zombies to him, and I agree with that notion. In short, this entire explanation seems unnecessary and superfluous to me, nothing but a weak attempt at setting this book apart from other zombie books, and in my opinion the narrative would’ve flowed better without it.
Besides these three minor hiccups, there are also beautiful character moments that are likely to hit you right in the feels. For example, the moment when Damian sees the Batplane he hopes, despite everything, that it’s actually his father. But then Alfred steps out of the plane and tells Damian that Bruce wants him to know that he’s proud of him and that he should’ve told him that every day. He also gives Damian the Bat-suit, and tells Damian that Bruce deems him worthy of it, and then he gives Damian a hug. It’s small scenes like this that breathe life into an otherwise purely action-driven comic, adding an additional emotional layer that I really appreciate.
As for the action scenes, I’ll be honest: my mind is blown. Not only do we get to see an infected Giganta attacking the heroes out of nowhere, but especially the bookends of this chapter have me on the edge of my seat. The issue opens with Captain Atom getting infected, and seeing as he’s essentially a living atom bomb, this raises the stakes significantly and it’s a fantastic way to open up the issue. We don’t return to Captain Atom until we get to the final pages, and the cliffhanger—which I won’t spoil—is daring and big and exciting. I have no idea how our heroes are going to escape what’s happening to them, and it remains to be seen who is even going to survive this. After all, the way this story is set up, anybody can die. Including Superman. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait a month until we get to see the damage, and I have to say that I’m actually quite nervous about the aftermath.
Moving on, while I mostly love the writing, I’m not always so sure about the art, although I don’t think that Hairsine is a bad artist at all. I think he draws nice backgrounds, his page layouts are clear and easy to follow, his action scenes flow and are paced well, his splash pages are great and especially his reveal of Giganta is awe-inspiring, but I still think that his characters’ faces look wonky, which I find to be very distracting. There are times where I find myself staring at a character’s disproportionate face, wondering why their eyes are so far apart or why their expression looks so weird, and momentarily I forget that I’m supposed to be reading this otherwise cool superhero comic. Especially his design of Damian doesn’t really work for me, because he makes Damian look really weird with his spiky hair, and I find it hard to guess what age Damian is supposed to be by just looking at his design. But other than that, Hairsine’s art is kinetic and impactful when it needs to be and he clearly has a knack for storytelling, as his sequential passages work just fine.
- You want to read a fast, exciting comic with a cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers!
- You’re here for Taylor’s touching trademark character moments.
- You want to marvel at the awe-inspiring reveal of an infected Giganta.
Overall: This is a great issue! The action is bombastic, the character moments are endearing, the art is (mostly) good, and the cliffhanger is perhaps one of the best cliffhangers that I’ve seen in quite some time. If you’ve been reading and enjoying this series from issue #1, you’ll probably end up loving the @#$% out of this issue. And if you’re new to this series, there’s probably still time to grab issues #1-3 along with this one and binge-read all of them to get ready for the next installment. Recommended!