The penultimate chapter of DCeased: War of the Undead Gods has begun! Every story thread spun from the beginning finally leads into a big conflict. As Darkseid and the forces of Anti-living reach Earth-2, the good guys make their desperate last stand.
After Alfred Pennyworth made the choice to kill the final members of his family, repeating the mistake has become his greatest fear. When the Anti-living infect Damian and Leslie, facing the fear seems unavoidable. Especially since earth’s heroes seem to be dying left and right. Fortunately, Alfred now has the power he needs to avoid the same outcome. However, the power of the Spectre comes with bigger responsibilities to interests outside of his own. As a result, the Spectre leaves the people he loves high and dry to attend to the bigger picture. Rather, Alfred is literally used to drag out a major deus ex machina.
Superman leaves the earth for his own reasons as well. Honestly, I can’t blame Jon Kent for thinking War World targeting the earth looks like a job for Superman. Albeit, it’s hard to know exactly how mindless the Anti-living are. The conceit is that War World itself is one of the Anti-living, and not equivalent to zombies piloting the Death Star from Star Wars. I know Jon leaves for the sake of the others, but it felt like the Spectre already hit the same beat. Regardless, Jon’s hero moment feels like a full circle but somewhat generic sacrifice.
Consequently, Cyborg has the most significant full circle moment in the entire series. In the original run of DCeased, Cyborg was the first person to succumb to Anti-life. After Brainiac fails to make his move on Darkseid and War World, Cyborg gets a unique opportunity to settle the score. Moreover, while his tech was once his biggest vulnerability in the beginning, it becomes a key redeeming asset in the end. As far as arcs go, Cyborg’s retribution feels the most complete.
Finally, the least effective thread involves Mr. Miracle and his family. When Undead Gods began, Scott Free and Big Barda were reasonably fearful for their son’s safety. During the battle with the Anti-living, Scott and Barda finally learn their son’s fate as another mindless assailant. Unfortunately, instead of fighting their loved one, they tragically let him tear them apart. Part of me understands the perspective of a parent not wanting to harm their child, but I also wonder how an escape artist couldn’t figure a way out of this scenario altogether. At the very least, readers could walk away wondering if this was an example of love enduring, but even if that were true, it didn’t add very much to the conversation.
The story features several personal narrative let downs. One in particular involves the use of Kara Zor-El. She is noticeably absent, despite having a huge introduction in the first issue. Furthermore, what makes it worse is the use of her home of Kandor and the other Kryptonians without involving her. Secondly, Tom Taylor places Lobo in the conflict to be a major savior, but with less contribution than I was led to believe. Lobo’s immunity made him an extremely valuable ally, but what he does with Darkseid doesn’t take advantage of any of the set up.
Trevor Hairsine’s art has not improved in the least. It still has distorted inconsistencies in the facial renders, generally unpleasant renders, and sparse underdrawn backgrounds. However, I have been taking note of various examples of effective visual communication wherever I can. For instance, the battle information and set pieces are readable. Admittedly, it is sort of like having creative scenes in a film with terrible blocking and CGI.
- You enjoy reading DCeased.
- Looking for mindless entertainment on the page.
- You don’t mind a little gore.
War of the Undead Gods operates like a cheap action horror. It truly believes its big and gory action scenes are enough to supplement the flaws in the storytelling. While I find Alfred and Cyborg’s story arcs to be among its strengths, Undead Gods cannot put the hope back into this story. Additionally, the book is ugly, depressing, and wildly superficial at times. Yes, the zombie story has overplayed its hand, overstayed its welcome, and is difficult to enjoy. If this issue is any indication, the final conflict with Erebos will no doubt be a horrific battle that won’t mean anything at all. One can only hope to be proven wrong.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.