In my previous review I said that the creative team had lost me, but I also said that I was hoping that the creative team would be able to deliver a strong finale. Unfortunately, I don’t think that is the case. This series has had stellar moments, but I’m not feeling this final issue at all. It’s suffering from many of the same problems that I’ve already pointed out and, while it’s not terrible, it just ends up being very lackluster. So let’s have a look.
This issue sets up a few interesting ideas, but never develops any of them. For example, there’s a shift in dynamics: where our heroes had been battling the infected before, they’re now trying to protect them from the Amazos that were unleashed on the world in the previous issue. They are doing this because they want to cure them from the Anti-Life Equation. But we gloss over this battle. We barely see our heroes struggling to protect the innocent. It goes by in a flash, and we’re already on to the next sequence where Batman and Superman take down an Amazo in no-time. A way to defeat the Amazo army is devised instantly, and we now know that our heroes have got this. What could possibly stand in their way at this point? There’s nothing exciting about any of this, especially not considering how casual our heroes go about everything. The dialogue is too matter-of-fact and the body language—outside of fights—too relaxed. If our heroes aren’t feeling the pressure, then why should the readers? What’s even the point in all of this?
I feel like I’ve said this a few times now in the past couple of reviews, but, again, what’s at stake here? There’s no emotional investment. With this breakneck pacing, our heroes just sail through the whole ordeal like it’s nothing. I’m getting tired of seeing how they get their victories handed to them for free, or at least with a major discount. I want to like this book, but if it’s just about a group of people tiptoeing from the one scene to the next, then I’m afraid that this really isn’t for me. I need them to face real challenges, so that I can root for these characters.
What would have certainly helped is a compelling villain, but even though Trigon is here to wreak havoc, he turns out to be nothing more than a big Godzilla-like monster stomping across the world. Trigon barely has any personality, nor any memorable moments. He’s a giant demonic punching bag from hell for a super-charged John Constantine. The fight scene that ensues isn’t anything to write home about, either: Constantine punches Trigon in the face; Trigon smites Constantine; Constantine casts a magic spell. These feel like mere snapshots rather than the powerhouse battle that it should be. As a result, the final confrontation of DCeased: Dead Planet remains…boring.
Zooming out, everything is just so predictable. I see these plot twists coming from a mile away, because their setup is always so obvious. Even when the comic tries to trick us into thinking that all is lost, attentive readers will realize that Constantine has an ace up his sleeve. Now, I’ll admit that the way in which Constantine deals Trigon the final blow is very cool, but without a more compelling build-up to this moment it just lacks the desired impact and so it feels unearned. This could have been that “hell yeah!” moment that gives you a last boost of energy so you can cheer extra loudly when you hit the final page, but instead it’s just a missed opportunity.
Furthermore, not once does this comic suggest that Batman’s plan to cure the innocents of the Anti-Life equation might fail. It’s such an easy clean-up for the heroes, too. The threats have all been taken care of, and now, conveniently, our heroes can cure the people at their leisure, or so Zatanna herself narrates. There is no sense of urgency to bring these people back to life. There are no consequences. The cure works instantly when administered. Nobody, heroes and civilians alike, pays a price, save for one character—but we gloss over that, too.
The art is fine and functional, and I appreciate that Hairsine handles so many different settings and characters in one book. I still don’t like the way he draws faces, but I’ve always liked how he’s able to capture characters’ emotions so effectively. However, in this issue I’m missing that, and as a result these characters feel less lifelike. What’s more, there are a few fantastic character poses—like the Justice League leaping from a boom tube to attack the Amazo army during the opening pages—but for the most part we see barren wastelands and straightforward fight choreography. Of course there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of the artwork on display here, but with the script offering such a boring and predictable narrative, I think the art needs something extra to carry this issue. So in that sense it’s all just a bit disappointing.
- You want to complete your DCeased collection.
Overall: I wish I could praise this finale. I wish I could tell you all to buy this book. I don’t like writing negative reviews like these. But I have to be honest and this just leaves me cold. It’s remarkable how I was blown away not too many issues ago by what Taylor and Hairsine were able to produce, but just feel let down now. I think this series needed to take more time to set things up. Perhaps it needed more issues, or more pages. It has moved too fast, things happened too easily, and the story has turned out kind of shallow, even though there was so much potential for more! Again, this issue isn’t terrible, but just very lackluster. I say, it’s time we started raising that bar again rather than taking the easy way out, because readers deserve that.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.