Tom Taylor’s DCeased miniseries has been an equally entertaining and emotional rollercoaster ride through an apocalyptic, zombie-infested DC Universe. While the latest issue of the main series left us with one helluva cliffhanger, we take a sidestep this month to check in with a few other characters that aren’t featured as prominently in the main series. These characters are Mister Miracle, Big Barda, Mr. Terrific, Booster Gold, Blue Beetle and John Constantine. So what about this issue? Is it required reading or is it okay to skip this and stick to the main series only? Let’s have a look.
If there’s one complaint that I have about the main series, it would be that it’s moving at the speed of light. There’s barely any time to zero in on individual characters. For example, we saw Mister Miracle and Big Barda in issue #1 of the main series, but then the story seemed to have left these characters in the dust as we rapidly moved on to other plot beats. And that’s what this issue is for: to find out what happened to the aforementioned heroes as well as a few others that I mentioned in my introduction.
This issue doesn’t read that much different compared to the main series. It’s still very fast-paced, almost as if we’re rushing to get to the final page. And yet I don’t really mind it as much here. In fact, I actually quite like the fast pace, because it’s like a way of showing that the heroes are working against the clock. There is no time to linger and focus on individual characters or emotional beats. There is no time to mourn the fallen. These heroes mean to save the world, and they are focused on that mission, and they move to accomplish the mission and don’t look back—no matter what.
What’s more, for a book with such a poignant title and lots of blood, gore, monsters and overwhelming odds, I would almost describe the tone as light-hearted because jokes are being cracked on nearly every page, even when a hero falls or when it seems that there’s no escape. While the humor is a big reason as to why this book is so entertaining, I do think that it gets in the way of the story a little bit. For one thing, the story now reads more like a campy B slasher movie rather than an issue of the core DCeased series, which, despite also being comedic at times, has a much more serious tone overall. It’s also harder to take the book seriously when some of the heroic sacrifices and death scenes are offset by wisecracks and gags. Character deaths just aren’t as impactful as some of the deaths that we see in the main series, and I do think that that’s a shame, because this is precisely what Tom Taylor is so good at: making you care about someone and then breaking your heart by killing off said character.
Another thing that strikes me is that the heroes don’t really seem to accomplish much. Some of them die along the way, and while their deaths are heroic and pretty awesome to see unfold, without some kind of accomplishment I’m wondering what is the point? If only one hero survives but doesn’t actually do much—besides setting a zombie on fire, head-butting a time traveler and teleporting from place to place—then is this comic really worth picking up? It probably explains how that hero ends up in the main series, but beyond that, as it stands, this issue really does seem skippable. Don’t get me wrong here—all the characters are well-written; the action is badass; the gore is over the top; and the jokes are funny—but, truth be told, I don’t think that this issue really enhances the main series. It’s solid entertainment, that’s for sure, but it lacks a payoff.
The artwork is crafted by Laura Braga (pencils), Darick Robertson (pencils & inks), Richard Friend (inks), Trevor Scott (inks), and Rain Beredo (colors). With two artists on pencil duties and three inkers, the book’s aesthetics are anything but consistent. Fortunately, Beredo’s colors do provide a welcome sense of consistency that keeps it all together, although I do think that the colors appear somewhat flat in places. Because of this, there isn’t always a good sense of depth, as if the things depicted are all on the same layer. On the other hand, some of the color work is also pretty good, particularly flames and blood and gore. The flames are nicely layered, with reds and yellows and oranges merging into a fiery whole. As for the blood, it is so red that it doesn’t quite look realistic, but it doesn’t need to: in a horror comic like this, over-the-top red fountains enhance the fight scenes and make for a great visual spectacle.
With regards to the pencils, I don’t think that Braga and Robertson match well. Braga’s work is less detailed and not always very consistent. Whereas her zombies look menacing and scary and the overall tone of her art matches that of Taylor’s writing in the sense that there’s a light-heartedness to it, and even the fight scenes are funny from time to time, I think her character faces are strangely inconsistent. Sometimes their faces seem to morph and at times the bodily proportions shift ever so slightly (for example, in one panel Big Barda’s arm appears to be of a certain length, and in the next it seems either shorter or longer). Braga’s fight scenes are bombastic and fun with blood flying everywhere and countless of zombies, but they are also mostly collages of cool images rather than fully sequential passages.
Robertson’s art looks so different from Braga’s that it’s almost like we’re reading a different book. Robertson only draws a handful of pages in this issue, and, honestly, I wish that he had drawn the entire issue! The scene with Constantine has nearly everything that I want from a comic book artist: it’s great sequential art with every panel following on from the previous one; the backgrounds are incredibly detailed; the expressions on Constantine’s face are priceless and convey a lot of emotion; the zombies look dangerous and bloodthirsty; and the camera angles and page layouts are cleverly constructed for some nice visual variety. Robertson has also inked his own pages, and in my opinion his inking is easily the best in the entire issue. Where I notice fat blacks and muddy inking throughout the book, Robertson’s are sharp and detailed and accentuate the drawings. The fact that his art is of a higher quality can even be considered somewhat jarring, because the moment that I flipped the page and saw his work, I found myself enjoying the book a lot more, and when I saw Braga’s art again I was somewhat disappointed that Robertson didn’t get to illustrate more. But for the most part it’s the clashing of different art styles that doesn’t benefit the book.
- You are a fan of Robertson’s artwork!
- You are a Constantine fan!
- You enjoy Taylor’s humor!
- You can’t get enough of zombies, blood and gore!
Overall: I really enjoyed reading this issue because the jokes were funny, the pacing was on point, and the action was over-the-top and gory. However, seeing as the heroes don’t really accomplish much by the end of the story and the book is aesthetically inconsistent because too many artists are at work, I can’t say that this is a comic that you should definitely pick up. I guess, if you’ve been reading the main series, you might as well grab this issue, but even so, I don’t think you will have missed out on a whole lot if you decide to just stick with the core issues. Like I said, A Good Day To Die is fun, but if all some of these heroes are doing is, well, dying, you’ve got to ask yourself, what’s the point of all of this?
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.