Transported to an elseworlds of brutal illustrations and onomatopoeias. A “what if” journey limited only by the breadth of the imagination. This is DCeased: War of The Undead Gods.
I confess, I’m not that into DCeased as a series. I gave up on it early on as the DC universe began to fall into despair. Strangely, the more depressing it got, the more spin-offs seemed to develop. As it filled the gap in the hearts of comic book fans missing Injustice, I distanced myself long enough for it to return as a sensation. Like the prodigal son, I have returned to survey the damages of the previous stories on the eve of its definitive finale.
Undead Gods #1 begins with the end of the anti-life equation that destroyed their world. All of the surviving heroes now have a chance to reunite with their once-zombified peers and loved ones. Fortunately, this means the original Superman has regained his sanity. Unfortunately, it is only a prelude till the infected gods of New Genesis start this crisis all over again.
This issue also marks the introduction of Kara Zor-El. Similar to Injustice, Kara is brought in as a late stage addition to the universe. I always find it odd when Elseworlds utilize legacy characters like Jon and Damian, but delay the involvement of their predecessors like Jason Todd (as seen in Batman: White Knight Presents: Red Hood). Regardless, Tom Taylor tweaks her origin story for narrative purposes to set up the new major antagonist.
The iconic figures of Undead Gods #1 fit Greek Proportions. The combination of Trevor Harsine’s pencil work with Andy Lanning’s dark hatching and shadows make each character seem remarkably fit. As a result, Damian’s Batman ends up looking older, while Johnathan and Martha Kent look their prime. Even the weakest rendered character like Alfred can’t hide his broad shoulders underneath his coat. The real superstar of the art is the colorist, Rain Beredo. There are so many great images of Beredo’s unique blended colors of deep space and the color contrasts in exploding planets and solar flares.
Although it features New Genesis, it is only a tease of the major conflict. Giving Superman the bulk of the focus allows the story to take a deep breath before submerging into the abyss again. The new trinity are bonded by trauma and share several tender moments with each other and their families. As a Justice League of emotional dependents, they are often unable to drop their guard and constantly fear for their safety. It is hard not to sympathize with their instability, especially knowing the peace won’t last.
- You like seeing happy people hurt (please seek help).
- You can tolerate heroes constantly stepping out of portals.
- Finding hope in friendship comforts you.
I think my niche on Batman-News is being the DCU war journalist. Nearly every title I have covered so far has featured some kind of “war.” As an newfound expert on war, I think this doesn’t do a bad job setting up the potential clash. Instigating a big arc right after a happy ending is a pretty brutal choice, and I am convinced that makes Tom Taylor a sadist. In any case, the artwork is mostly solid, and the story seems to be on the right track. I want to see more war and gods next time, but I cannot undervalue the big beats of character connections.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.