DCeased Breathes New Life into Superhorror Genre

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When I first heard about the DCEASED concept, the immediate callback was to the Marvel Zombies issues that saw the company's super-characters turned into creatures of the undead. But an appropriate amount of time has passed so that this doesn't seem derivative and, I have to admit, the name is deucedly clever.

The conceit of DCEASED is that Darkseid has finally found the other half of the anti-life equation, buried in Cyborg's programming. But getting it out might kill Cyborg, and destroy his chances at obtaining the equation. So Darkseid summons Death personified in the form of the Black Racer, to keep him from taking Cyborg. But by introducing Death into the equation, he corrupts it, and the modified anti-life equation destroys Darkseid and all of Apokalips as his zombied body releases Omega energy from the core of the planet.

But that's not the end of it. Cyborg was sent back to Earth, and as his body relinks to the Internet before he can firewall himself off, people see the equation on screens everywhere -- monitors, phones, the entire ubiquity of a plugged-in society. The virus is both cybernetic and biological. It can take over by being seen, and then passed on as an infection to others. Millions are dead -- or undead -- almost instantly, wanting only to destroy themselves and others.

As the first issue wraps up, Batman finds himself attacked by an infected Nightwing. We're left to wonder as to his condition as Damian is staying over at Jon Kent's.

The second issue picks up from there, and sports among its variant covers a gorgeous homage to A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. The infection is still just upon the world, so a lot of people don't know about it. So when Ivy send Harley in to confront Joker about how he's treated her, she has no anticipation of what destructive madness truly awaits her. And it was great to see a reunion of my "hard traveling heroes," Green Lantern, Green Arrow, and Black Canary, as they are camping to take a break from their last Justice League battle. Unfortunately, one of them is going to die.

Poster for the original Nightmare on Elm Street

DCEASED is obviously its own little universe, setting up a story with its own rules much like the INJUSTICE books. In fact, I would not be the slightest bit surprised of DCEASED characters began showing up in the INJUSTICE game, if it's not deemed too similar to the Blackest Night versions that are already part of the roster.

The artwork is a bit uneven -- detailed in some places, sketchy and cartoony in others -- which is the natural result of having two artists with dissimilar styles on the same book. As for the storytelling device, it's a tad convenient that the anti-life equation quickly becomes biologically transmiited after being cybernetically transmitted. But honestly, it doesn't have to make that much sense. Tom Tayler takes the idea and runs with it, delivering a bang-up superhorror story with all the tragic consequences that entails.

Enter a DC universe where there's nobody who can save you, if you dare.

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0