Have you ever played Sim City? The kind of game where you can build a city, sort out the street layout, where the houses are built, where the schools are. You can build an ideal thriving metropolis. That’s only a small portion of the fun. Half the fun in having built up -much like a sandcastle- Is throwing a big godly fist through it to tear it to shreds. Unleashing tornadoes, monsters and earthquakes that can swallow entire cities. Therefore it comes as no surprise that DCeased #2 is less focused on world-building than it is about tearing the DC universe apart. Not brick by brick, but in totality. Tom Taylor is a deft hand at this exercise, asthroughout his authorship of the comic Injustice (based on the video game series of the same name) he made his name in crafting narratives that engage in dramatic destruction.
In issue two we see the consequences in the immediate aftermath of the virus that has been unwittingly unleashed by Darkseid, utilising the Anti-Life Equation to destroy every living creature. Tom Taylor treats us to his signature brand of character moments interwoven with destruction and heartbreak. He pulls off moments that shock and terrify yetresonate deeply. There can be a tendency when utilisingdisasters within any story (especially one that is limited to six issues as this is) to have characters and motivations pushed aside in favour of mindless destruction.
Images of gore and emotionless violence often disconnect the reader from the story, when the focus should be on the human drama. Thankfully Taylor makes a smart decision to focus on strands and character pairings as opposed to briefly trying to understand what’s happening to the world through a series of montages or panels.
Within the epidemic genre, one of the main themes the Walking Dead utilised very effectively over a much longer period of time was building up characters that the audience had never met before, so that when they met their demise, the loss was much more heart-breaking. In this instance, we already know the characters in the context this series is set.The premise is somewhat similar, but what we don’t know is who will survive and who will not. The destination is not the focus. The journey with the characters we know and love is.
The artwork by Trevor Hairsine and Stefano Guadiano set the tone exceptionally well by making sure that character models, faces and expressions are articulated in a way that reflects the personal amongst the grand scale action. There’s a consistent theme of showing characters dealing with the death of loved ones and understanding that things are not going to get better,in fact they’re going to get much, much worse. The colouring and line work balance between the superheroic and the horror end very well. Naturally because this is an Elseworlds Justice League book, it certainly tends to err on the superheroic side. Interestingly, there’s a lot of blood inside the book, but there is no gore or scenes reminiscent of “Crossed”, which is understandable but refreshing. Having the blood at least (which pops out spectacularly) certainly helps sell the stakes.
This book has already garnered several reprints. It’s a fantastic achievement, and at the end of the series I’m looking forward to the criticism that arises comparing and contrasting it to other zombie apocalypses set in superhero worlds, a la Marvel Zombies. With spin offs being announced left right and centre, I’m certainly looking forward to the world that Taylor and Co are carving off for themselves, piece by piece.