The original DCeased miniseries is a wild ride through a zombie-infested DC universe, and it’s a series that I really enjoyed reviewing. So when DC announced Unkillables, I was looking forward to reviewing this one as well. Unkillables is written by Tom Taylor once again, and the artwork is brought to us by Karl Mostert. It’s my understanding that this series will be much more focused than the original run, meaning that it will be more street-level and less cosmic. But is it worth picking up? Let’s have a look.
Right from the start the creative team goes full throttle and throws us into an incredible action sequence. It shows the art team’s potential and, honestly, if this is the kind of quality that we can expect from Unkillables, I think we have nothing to worry about. Mostert’s sequential art is on point throughout this entire book, but to illustrate that I’ll only talk about the opening scene. Not only does this allow me to avoid spoilers, but discussing every single passage in this comic is well beyond the scope of this review.
In the first panel of page two (above) we see someone jumping through the window of a mansion, while Deathstroke is outside at the front door, looking up at the jumper. In this panel we see shards of glass raining down. In the second panel we see the person breaking his ankle on impact, while the shards continue to rain down around him, and we look over Deathstroke’s shoulder at said person. The angle has shifted too: no longer do we see the mansion, but we’re now looking out at the green world that surrounds the mansion. The third and final panel of page two is not that interesting in itself, as it’s just a medium shot of Deathstroke with the front door behind him, but it’s entirely functional in that it sets up what happens on page three (below). Here we see several other people storming out the front door, catching Deathstroke off-guard for a moment. Quickly, Deathstroke realizes that these people aren’t running away from him, but are scared of something inside the mansion. This realization happens simultaneously with the frontal shot of Deathstroke looking through the front door. We can’t see what’s inside yet—all we see is Deathstroke, with sword and gun in hand, and the sunset sky in the background.
When we turn to the next page (below), we see a splash page, and the angle has turned again. Now we are behind Deathstroke, and inside the mansion we see lots of bloody zombies that are all coming toward him. After this a massive fight scene starts, where every panel continues to set up the next. The fight just flows, and it’s both dynamic and fast-paced. Nearly the entire comic flows that well, and seeing as the art almost always mirrors Taylor’s writing, I think it’s safe to say that this is a master class example of how to craft sequential comic art. I feel like this is an element that is sometimes overlooked in recent publications, which is strange considering that comics are all about sequence. Without true sequential passages, a comic’s just not much of a comic—it ends up being more like a collection of pictures. I honestly had no idea what to expect from Mostert, but let me tell you: the man is one helluva storyteller!
That said, I do have some nitpicks with the art, mainly with the way Mostert draws faces. I have to admit that I don’t like the way they are drawn, but I recognize that that is probably a matter of taste for the most part. However, his characters’ faces are also very similar when compared to each other. Yes, some faces are older, some are younger, some are bigger, some are smaller, etcetera. But they do end up being just variations of the same type of face, which I find somewhat distracting.
Furthermore, what’s interesting is that there are three different inkers in this issue. I expected to notice that and perhaps be bothered by it. But as I was reading the issue, I soon forgot that there were three inkers, because the inks blend rather well. I’m also a big fan of Lokus’ colors: the book is very colorful for a zombie-apocalypse story, which adds a lot of depth and variation to each panel and raises the final product to another level. All in all, the art is of high quality and I suppose you can pick up this book even if you just want to study good comics art and figure out how these artists make it work.
Of course such stellar artwork wouldn’t have come about without a solid script. What I like about Taylor is that he is able to tell fun and energetic adventure stories that are set against a dark and grim backdrop. In a time where the latest Batman stories are still clinging to the old and tired trope of “deconstruction,” and where even the most recent Superman stories are much too dark and depressing for my liking, Taylor’s take on an apocalyptic DC universe can almost be read as a commentary. You see, while his stories have the potential to follow the style of the aforementioned titles and delve into full-on angsty storytelling, they are anything but that. The jokes in this issue are witty and timed well without taking away from the high stakes or the character development. In fact, they add to them.
That is not to say, however, that this entire issue is all about comedy. For example, there is a scene where we see an important Gotham character finding the dead body of someone that’s really important to said character. Here, Taylor could’ve opted to make the scene more light-hearted by having another character say something funny, or he could’ve resorted to melodrama. Instead, Taylor devotes only a single page and merely five lines of dialogue to this scene, allowing for the artwork to convey the sadness of the moment, and he also ensures that the scene doesn’t run on too long so it loses its impact or takes away from the rest of the story. Mostert isn’t the only good storyteller in this comic—Taylor does a helluva job of it too.
- You are a fan of the original DCeased series.
- You like zombie-apocalypse stories, especially when they take place in the DC universe.
- You are a fan of Deathstroke.
- You are a fan of Red Hood.
- You are looking for a comic with great sequential art that you can study and learn from.
Overall: Unkillables is off to a great start! This issue features stellar sequential art and writing; it balances emotional scenes and quirky humor really well; and it’s a great setup for what’s to come. I’m excited to read the next issue, but also worried about what’s going to happen to these characters, and that’s probably the best thing that a creative team can hope for with a first issue. Recommended!
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.