Comics Roundup #68: DCeased, vols. 1-4

DCeased is a comic-book series I learned about from Lashaan and read for the first time last year. I’d only read the first volume, but I was immediately hooked. You see, it’s a zombie apocalypse comic-book series featuring superheroes — a story I was hoping for but never knew I’d get. I was sure to like it.

I enjoyed the story so much that I quickly bought the other available volumes but didn’t get around to reading them until earlier this year. Due to busyness and several blogging slumps, I’m just now getting around to chatting about them.




DCeased, vols. 1-4



Quick summary

DCeased is a zombie apocalypse series set in the DC universe. How did the zombie apocalypse start? Well, the villain Darkseid wanted to create an anti-life equation that he could use to control all sentient races. To do so, he needed Cyborg and Death. But by adding a bit of Death, the equation became corrupted. Cyborg was then sent to earth with the equation inside him and once he touched down, his system automatically went online, causing the anti-virus equation to become a techno-organic virus that not only spreads via social media (as soon as they see the equation online, people first try to tear it from their mind before spreading it), but also the traditional way of an infected zombie biting another being.

Those infected are called the anti-living because they aren’t consumed by hunger or feeding like a traditional zombie. Instead, the virus is driving them to spread death. (Goodreads)

My overall thoughts

I had a fun time reading this thrilling series and ended it wanting more. Although I read comics, I’ve only read a few superhero ones, so many of the characters were unfamiliar to me, and I often got confused by the use of the characters’ real names instead of their superhero ones, or when there are more than one of the same type of superhero, which I’ll touch on below.

But that didn’t deter from my enjoyment. The story was easy to follow and easy to get swooped up in. And although this is horror because of the zombies, it’s not a scary read. The zombies are gory and due to their nature, there’re lots of blood, guts, and violence throughout that’re dramatized and emphasized by the illustrations. So if such comics do not appeal to or interest you, then this one isn’t for you.

Despite such violence and gore, the story is often light, entertaining, and even a little funny. Some themes are touched on include using compassion vs. practicality to handle the anti-living and the consequences of each, and whether or not it’s worth trying to save the anti-living instead of killing them all. However, due to the fast pace and stronger focus on the action, or maybe due to my focus on those things, I often didn’t feel a strong connection to the characters, so I didn’t feel any strong emotion when a character is lost to the anti-life equation or otherwise. The exception, I guess, is in Unkillables, which focuses on villains connecting with kids. I felt a twinge of sadness when some villains were lost in their attempt to protect the kids. And the illustration of Deathstroke’s last stand, a single man against a swarm of anti-life humans, was superb.

So yeah, I enjoyed reading this and consider it one of my favorite comic-book series and zombie stories. I’m beyond happy that Lashaan introduced me to it via his reviews of the volumes.

Here’s a rundown of each volume.

DCeased by Tom Taylor, illus. by Trevor Hairsine, Stefano Gaudiano, Laura Braga, Richard Friend, James Harren, Darick Robertson, Trevor Scott, & Neil Edwards, with colors by Rain Beredo and cover art by Francesco Mattina

“I always knew math would doom us all.” — Ollie a.k.a. Green Arrow

movie homage variant cover by Yasmine Putri

The first volume sets the stage for what’s to come. We see what led to the creation of the anti-life equation, where things went wrong, and how the virus begins to spread. We see superheroes taking immediate action to protect their family, friends, and the people around them. But we also see how impossible the task is and how much more difficult it becomes once superbeings begin to get infected too. And superheroes becoming superzombies is one of the most amazing parts of this comic-book series. That’s one of the places where the art shines.

Each volume is narrated by a different side character, and this first one is narrated by Superman’s wife, Lois Lane, who’s in the future reflecting on these events. As I mentioned above, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and was eager to continue with the rest of the series. Ollie, a.k.a. Green Arrow, quickly became a favorite because of his little remarks, which insert some humor.

Some spoilers

One of the ways the superheroes attempt to survive this zombie apocalypse (in addition to taking down the internet and building sanctuary cities — which, how is it that Poison Ivy’s jungle is the only sanctuary that seems to really withstand zombie attacks?) is by having the Green Lanterns move survivors to a new earth — Earth 2. That made me wonder if that’s a common thing that happens in superhero comics — I haven’t read many. I think it happens twice in this story.

Art style

This volume is illustrated by Trevor Hairsine with colors by Rain Beredo. The artwork these two create complements the story well. The colors tend to be dark, bold, and heavy, and Hairsine tends to pack in a lot of characters and actions into his panels, or at least more than the other artists do in the other volumes. So when there’s a panel where the majority of those components are absent, like a panel that focuses on a single character saying one thing or nothing, it stands out and is impactful.

I think the art is well done. Also, I love the speech bubble for when the anti-living speaks and love the panels that feature an anti-living army. The variant covers by Francesco Mattina showing portraits of superheroes and villains if they were to become one of the anti-living are stunning and gruesome and fantastic.

Overall: ★★★★★

DCeased: Unkillables by Tom Taylor, illus. by Karl Mostert, with inks by Trevor Scott, Neil Edwards, John Livesay, colors by Rex Lokus, and covers by Howard Porter & Tomeu Morey

Unkillables follows the same timeline as the first volume but instead focuses on villains, begins with Deathstroke, and is narrated by Mary Marvel. Basically, a villain named Vandal Savage got a bunch of other villains with helpful powers together so they can wait out the zombie apocalypse (or, rather, for the superheroes to eventually die from being too compassionate toward the anti-living). However things don’t go as planned. Eventually, the remaining villains team up with Robin (I think he’s a Robin), Batgirl, and Detective Jim (who often works with Batman) to protect kids at an orphanage. The villains train the kids to be lil badasses: For example, the little girl trained by Cheetah can “strangle a pompous princess with her own golden lasso,” lol!

This one was also a favorite. The tone is lighter than the other volumes, and it’s funny, too — sometimes cornily so, where the Creeper is concerned. To me, the Creeper takes over from Ollie in the first volume with the remarks to insert quick humor. I enjoyed seeing the villains interact with the children and seeing how the children tap into the villains’ compassionate side. Things get flipped here because now we cheer for the villains since the people they have to fight are sometimes anti-living superheroes. So instead of fighting the superheroes for selfish or destructive reasons, the villains now fight them to protect the kids. How sweet… Well, I think it’s sweet, and it was presented without getting too soppy, which is why I enjoyed it.

Art style

Mostert did a good job. His panels seem more… spacious, in comparison to the art in DCeased. I think part of the reason why is because the colors used for this volume are lighter, brighter, and softer, and sometimes seem to have a golden tone to them that adds some warmth too. I guess the art here matches the story’s tone since this volume isn’t as grim as the first. The lighter, softer colors also help to make panels that are almost as packed as Hairsine’s not seem as crowded. They help give the illusion of more space. The only thing I didn’t like was how the faces are drawn, mostly the mouths. Otherwise, it was good.

Overall: ★★★★★

DCeased: Hope at World’s End by Tom Taylor, illus. by Marco Failla, Renato Guedes, Carmine di Giandomenico, Karl Mostert, Daniele di Nicuolo, Dustin Nguyen, Trevor Scott, & Jon Sommariva, with colors by Rex Lokus and cover art by Francesco Mattina

Hope at World’s End gives us the zombie apocalypse from Jimmy Olsen’s point of view, who is a photographer for the Daily Planet and also happens to be Superman’s best friend (but I think he’s a little too obsessed with Supes). The story picks up after Superman cleared out the anti-living from the Daily Planet building. It jumps some details already mentioned in the previous two volumes and instead focuses on a few new characters, such as how Black Adam is handling the zombie apocalypse in Kahndaq. The theme of compassion vs. practicality when handling the anti-living is touched on more heavily in this volume.

I actually read this volume twice this year because it was a little confusing to me at first. I couldn’t tell how the timeline here matches up with the timeline in the previous two volumes. The bit where the Flashes or speedsters or whatever team up to create a portal to a new earth (which made me wonder just how many earths are there) was especially confusing because A) I didn’t know there were more than one Flash (how confusing) and B) considering what happened to Flash in DCeased, I didn’t get how events involving a Flash in this volume would be possible because of my point A (then I realized that this dude is called Wally West and the one in the first volume was Barry, so… who is the REAL Flash??). It started making sense on my second read, so I blame my confusion on my unfamiliarity with superhero comics.

Although I enjoyed this volume as well, I don’t think it’s as strong as the previous two. It seemed inconsistent with the previous volumes (although this could be because of my initial confusion), and I couldn’t tell definitely how it picks up from where the other volumes left off. Also, there was a point when it was mentioned that the anti-living horde can’t cross the sea, but Aquaman and all his Atlantis peeps were able to do that to attack Themyscira in the first volume, so I got confused there too. It could be that the anti-living Atlantean horde can cross the sea because they are of the sea, but that wasn’t clear, so I was confused.

What I liked is that the stakes seem higher here because more superbeings have been infected, so defeating them seems impossible. We see more of Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn together, which I love because Ivy’s dour mood pairs well with Harley’s mad optimism. And I also enjoyed Damian stealing Wonder Woman’s invisible jet and the adventures he goes on with Jon and Supergirl. However, Jimmy the narrator annoyed me after a while because he hero-worships Superman, which… ugh! We also get a story about animal superheroes (apparently the virus doesn’t affect animals because it wasn’t designed with animals in mind), which was nice but I didn’t care for it.

Art style

The art is good, and I liked it for the most part. The colors are sometimes almost as dark as the ones in the first volume. The only thing that annoyed me is that Damian (Batman’s son) and Jon (Superman’s son) seem much younger in this volume (like 8 years old or something) than they did in the first (where they looked like preteens, like 13 years old). It made me think they’re much younger than they are — it’s mentioned that Damian is 12. And there were some other art style things that didn’t work for me either, but overall, it was good.

Overall: ★★★☆☆

DCeased: Dead Planet by Tom Taylor, illus. by Trevor Hairsine, with inks by Gigi Baldassini, Stefano Gaudiano, & Tom Derenick, cover art by David Finch & Tomeu Morey, and colors by Rain Beredo

Dead Planet picks up neatly from the end of the first volume and takes place about five years later. It’s narrated by Zatanna, who I think is Constantine’s girlfriend or something. For five years, Cyborg’s head has been sitting in the dirt after being ripped off his body by Wonder Woman. Eventually, he “found something inside himself” and starts sending out a signal, which Batman’s tracker briefcase (now in Damian’s possession) somehow picks up in the new earth that the Green Lanterns transported survivors to. The “new Justice League” decides to go back to the old earth to see what’s up.

We have two sets of adventures going on here. Cyborg told the new Justice League that the possibility of a cure is inside him, so the superheroes are off working on that while Constantine and his crew are off first to help out Swamp Thing with a garden problem and then to stop the demon Trigon from ending the world to get at the souls trapped in the anti-living. The garden problem arose because a bunch of “rich bastards” built a bunker in Australia to ride out the apocalypse in comfort with an army of androids, each with the power of the Justice League, to protect them.

I completed this hoping another volume is forthcoming that would neatly wrap up the story because this one simply cannot be the end. Too many threads have been left dangling, and I NEED to know what will happen next. I mean… SPOILER: Superman is still swallowing the sun and friggin anti-living Darkseid is back. So… there’s a lot more for the heroes to do.

Reading this was as thrilling as the first volume, and it was wonderful to feel as if the story is back on track. The timeline here lines up well with DCeased and Unkillables, which makes Hope at World’s End seem even more like an anomaly to me, although some characters who first appeared there also make an appearance in this in significant ways. I love the juxtaposition of the heroes planning for a cure, while the “rich bastards” plan to annihilate the anti-living, which helps to intensify the story’s pace. I was also glad to have Ollie back (despite what happens to him), but it was more Constantine’s quips that stood out to me. This and the first volume, in which Constantine also appears, made me curious about him and drove me to watch the 2005 film featuring Keanu Reeves, which was alright, and to try the comic book John Constantine, Hellblazer, Vol. 1: Original Sins, which I didn’t like unfortunately.

Art style

As for art, we’re back with Hairsine here, back in familiar hands. So of course, I love the illustrations and the dark, bold, heavy colors. It’s all wonderfully done.

Overall: ★★★★☆

I think I gave it 4 stars thinking this is the last volume, but maybe I’ll eventually bump it up to 5 stars. I really did enjoy it.

8 thoughts on “Comics Roundup #68: DCeased, vols. 1-4

  1. The artwork is pretty intense and really, really well done, at least from all the samples I’ve seen. It seems to fit the story. Very glad to see you thoroughly enjoyed it!


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