REVIEW: DCeased #1

DCeased #1 is finally here, after months of incredible art reveals and anticipation built among fans and creators alike. DCeased has gone viral. The mega mind that has cultivated and expanded upon the Injustice: Gods Among Us franchise has brought true horror to the DC Universe and it is fantastic. Tom Taylor along with artists Trevor Hairsine, Stefano Gaudiano and James Harren bring us the very first installment of what is going to be an unmissable, unrelenting fight for survival. Before we dive in lets checkout the covers.

Cover A of DCeased is brought to us by an artist that is no stranger to horror-esque themes. Greg Capullo has delivered some extremely harrowing Batman covers over the last few years, especially covers depicting a faceless Joker. This cover focuses more on the rabid nature of the virus and reminds me of moves such as World War Z and Train to Busan. This cover is perfect and the fact that Batman is facing Police officers makes it all the more tragic.

DCeased Issue #1 Greg Capullo

Cover B is by an artist that has been creating epic pin up pieces for the Batman ongoing title, Francesco Mattina. Mattina’s variant spotlights an infected Batman. Now, for me Batman endures. Whatever happens, Batman will endure. Well seeing this cover, Batman is very much succumbing which seriously feels me with dread. However it still looks incredible and is actually quite terrifying! This is actually the cover that I picked up!

dceased 1 Francesco Mattina

Cover C of DCeased #1 is by one of my favourite cover artists Yasmine Putri. Her take on the ‘IT’ movie poster is superb. Its so clever taking the ‘IT’ theme and applying it to The Joker and Jason Todd. Now that is a horrifying relationship. I love that fact that the cover links with and gives the perfect nod to pop culture classics.

Dceased 1 Yasmine Putri

As well as these covers, there have been retailer variants released. Now, that’s when you know this comic series is going to be legendary… it’s not every day we get retailer exclusives. I won’t go into as much detail as the other covers, but my god they are GLORIOUS! Each and every one is beautifully tragic. My personal favourite is the Midtown Comics Lois Lane and Superman variant by In Hyuk-Lee.

DCeased #1 opens up in the calm directly after the storm as we find a thoroughly defeated Darkseid, kneeling before a triumphant Justice League. Bound by Wonder Woman’s Lasso of truth, a beaten yet defiant Darkseid declares that he will indeed leave Earth at the behest of the League while chillingly revealing that he now has what he came for! The opening pages to this inaugural issue are fantastic with questions being raised straight off the bat. For example, when does this story take place, is it set within continuity, or is it meant to be consumed as more of a standalone tale?

The outfits worn by Wonder Woman and Green Arrow definitely suggests post Rebirth era, however the line-up has thrown me slightly. The unknown narrator of the issue doesn’t clearly define whether Green Arrow, Black Lightning and Nightwing among others are being included in the Justice League. Or if they are just allies of the League who have naturally rallied to the cause. Black Lightning’s appearance raises the most questions regarding continuity because up until now Black Lightning hasn’t featured in the wider DC Universe at all post Rebirth era.  

Another question raised is did Darkseid actually succumb to the Lasso of truth? To me he didn’t seem effected at all by it, and in the end pretty much shrugged it off with ease to pave the way for his exit. One thing is for sure and that is Superman definitely played his part in ending this Darkseid led invasion. I love how Superman’s fist are covered in blood. This is a great reminder that even though Superman is a beacon of hope, he is also one of the Leagues heaviest hitters and that often its his brute force and strength that the League rely on to end the biggest of threats.

As DCeased #1 moves on we get a fantastic exchange between Batman and the other heroes gathered as the team. This takes place with the reader as we simultaneously learn just what Darkseid was talking about when he said he has what he came for. These scenes really play on the classic ‘Tower of Babel’ Justice League story line. In that story the Justice League learns of Batman’s paranoia or according to Batman his “practicality” when it comes to contingencies. I love seeing Batman’s distrust even for the most altruistic of reasons rear its head. It keeps Batman at a distance from his teammates and I feel he likes it that way. The characters facial expressions in these scenes are absolutely perfect. Artist Trevor Hairsine captures Batman’s unflinching grimace perfectly. This is quintessential Batman.

As the story develops, artist James Harren joins the fray alongside writer Tom Taylor as we are transported to Apocalypse where Darkseid and his minion Desaad bring about the despicable Anti-Life Equation into play. This whole sequence is harrowing not only for one of DC Comics most beloved heroes but for the reader too. The sheer level of torture and savagery our hero endures is captured gruesomely via incredible art by James Harren. However it isn’t only our hero that suffers, as the villain himself gets a taste of his own medicine. These pages are pure horror from start to finish with an explosive ending that really does raise questions once again, specifically regarding continuity of this title. I love how Jack Kirby’ influence can really be felt throughout these pages even down to Jack’ signature ‘Kirby Krackle’.

As DCeased #1 begins to wrap, the full extent of this altered Anti-life Equation being released upon earth and the DC Universe is felt instantaneously. Now when I first saw this book being advertised and I received a rough outline of the premise, I automatically became very critical of it, regarding it as just a rehash of story-lines such as Batman Contagion and Justice League The Amazo Virus. However the inventive and contemporary way this ‘virus’ is being delivered is pure genius. The sheer look of horror on the face of  ‘patient zero’ after being sent away from Apocalypse and finding himself back on Earth is truly heartbreaking. The characters pain radiates off of the page. This character truly has been through so much and for this to befall him is unbearable.

The utter carnage being caused by the Anti-Life Equation is staggering, however the speed in which it is being spread is probably one of the issues biggest talking points. Social media and screen time is constantly debated and there are many positives and negatives on both sides of the argument. One thing is certain and that is societies rapid dependency on technology and social media. It is so fascinating to see it turned against us.

This is a fantastic start to the DCeased series. The structure of DCeased #1 really reminds me of a pilot episode of a prestige format TV Show. The issue really did have a strong start, middle and end. When reading this first issue I got a lot of vibes from the 1973 George R. Romero movie ‘The Crazies’. Writer Tom Taylor really has created an immersive horror, survival story within the Superhero genre. It is going to be so fascinating to see how our heroes tackle a violent world essentially full of innocent people they can’t hurt.

As a rule Im not a fan of multiple artists on a single issue but the artists that worked on this particular issue were fantastic. James Harren’s style doesn’t stylistically marry up to the style either Trevor Hairsine or Stefano Gaudiano, however I thought his art delivered the biggest punch for me. Harren’s art is definitely the most horror-esque and he captured Darkseid perfectly. Darkseid in this issue just looked fantastic, very similar to that of his creator Jack Kirby.

As the Equation takes hold, the violence intensifies. The horror violence and gore is at time rather extreme and is effecting both civilians and heroes alike. I was rather surprised at how graphic the violence was in this issue. It gets very bloody and harrowing considering its being perpetrated by characters we know onto their loved ones. DCeased #1 is definitely a great opening issue and I seriously cannot wait a whole month for DCeased #2!

Bravo Tom Taylor, seriously.

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