DCeased: Dead Planet #4 review

Last month’s issue was incredible! It set a high bar for this series, and at the time I thought it was the best issue of DCeased. In this issue our heroes set out to meet with the New Gods as they quest for a cure. But what trouble will they get themselves into this time? And, more importantly, will this issue be on par with last month’s? Let’s have a look.

At this point, Taylor and his artists have nothing to prove anymore when it comes to DCeased comics. This creative team has a clear vision for this series and they know where they are taking this story. Every issue so far has had standout horror moments and surprises that have kept me on the edge of my seat. Except this issue. While I still think this is an okay issue, it lacks the quality of the previous chapters and even becomes a little boring at a certain point.

First of all, I am not a big fan of some of the dialogue here. I’ve come to know Taylor as a writer with a real knack for these characters’ voices, but I find that in this issue these characters sound very similar to one other. If we were to separate the words from the characters, I’m not sure if we’d still be able to tell who says what. It doesn’t help that there’s also a bit of a “talking heads” problem in this book: while the characters all say relevant things that contribute to the overall conversation and message, it also seems random as to whose turn it is to speak. Characters don’t speak up because they specifically have certain knowledge or are the best at explaining something; they just speak because there’s information that needs to be relayed to the readers and it doesn’t really matter which character is used for that. As a result, there isn’t always a natural dynamic between these characters when they are in conversation.

Furthermore, some of the dialogue is quite awkward. In previous issues, I thought the jokes were clever and fun and the emotional moments really added a sense of dread or hope to the narrative. But in this issue I don’t find the jokes funny and the emotional moments are a little overcooked. For example, when some of our heroes are about to step through a boom tube to teleport to New Genesis, Damian tells them that they should all come back in one piece because he cares about them, which is still fine. But then Cassie Sandsmark says, “There is something so hot about an emotionally aware Batman,” and Damian and Cassie begin to make out in front of everybody. Wally and Fate’s comments on this situation amount to nothing but bad jokes. This could have been a tender moment, but it ends up being ridiculous as the timing is off and the humor falls flat.

Besides the dialogue and the strange kissing scene, there are other actions that I find somewhat questionable. We see Orion punching Mister Miracle repeatedly as punishment because the heroes brought Cyborg to New Genesis. I suppose that this is the kind of action that Orion would take in this type of situation, but the way it plays out is a bit contrived because its sole purpose is to show that Jon is now more powerful than his dad as he knocks out Orion with a single blow. But I imagine that for those readers who know nothing about Orion and his power level, or about Superman’s power level, or about the difference between Orion and Superman’s power levels, this scene doesn’t really mean anything. It just ends up being about three guys hitting each other, and that’s about it.

But these are just examples of relatively small things that I dislike in this issue. The main problem is that everything happens very fast, and there is barely any resistance along the way. Our heroes meet with Metron to make a deal with him. Yes, there is a brief fight, but this doesn’t go anywhere and even the narrative acknowledges that the fight is pointless. It turns out that when the heroes ask nicely, Metron gives them what they want; they don’t really have to sacrifice anything. And that holds true for everything that happens in this issue: there are no consequences to the heroes’ actions. Of course not every single thing the heroes do needs to have a bad consequence, but when they get everything for free, then there’s nothing at stake in that particular chapter, and when there’s nothing at stake, there’s no tension. Without tension, the chapter in question just remains…well…boring. And, frankly, “boring” is the last word that I thought I would use to describe an issue of DCeased. Having said that, the cliffhanger is incredible, and with something this epic coming up, I have no doubt that the creative team can easily get back on track and deliver outstanding work as usual.

The artwork is quite good, and at this point it is actually getting hard to say anything new about it, which is, in fact, testament to Hairsine’s consistency as an artist. That said, I still don’t like the way Hairsine draws characters’ faces: they just look weird, with their eyes often being a bit far apart, although he generally nails the emotional expressions. However, his characters move and act like real people—especially during the quiet moments this human element is present. I also like that there is a variety of locations in each of the DCeased issues, and that’s no different here: we find our heroes in Poison Ivy’s garden in Gotham, we find them on New Genesis, and we even find them in space. I just wish that the backgrounds were more detailed and more elaborate, because sometimes the backgrounds remain rather bland, which isn’t that effective when you’re trying to establish a sense of place. Lastly, the final page in this book is quite terrifying and something I never would’ve thought of: the powerful pose of this character, the menacing glowing eyes, and the flying debris around them makes for a striking image that I won’t soon forget.

Recommended if…

  • You are a fan of the New Gods.
  • You are ready for an exciting cliffhanger that will make you want to come back next month.

Overall: I’m criticizing this issue quite a bit, but it should be noted that most of the things that happen in this issue are things that need to happen, so there is definitely plot development. I just think that this issue is merely going through the motions instead of taking me on the kind of suspenseful, action-packed ride that I’ve come to expect. In my opinion, this is definitely the weakest issue of the run so far, and with it coming right after what’s perhaps the best issue of the run, I’m more than a little disappointed. However, I trust this creative team and I am positive that they will deliver again next month!

Score: 6.5/10

Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.