Written by Tom Taylor, with pencils by Karl Mostert, inks by Trevor Scott, Neil Edwards, and Karl Mostert, colors by Rex Lokus and letters by Saida Temofonte, DCEASED Unkillables #2 out this week from DC Comics throws out the playbook. Instead of conforming to comic book “norms,” this team continues a series in which anything can and does happen.
DC, in its infinite wisdom, has handed the keys to the kingdom to Tom Taylor. He gets the whole sandbox, all the toys, to do with as he pleases. The world of DCEASED is so full of possibility, Unkillables seems like only the tip of the iceberg. With the anti-life equation running rampant, and the series being firmly out of continuity, anything could happen. Taylor’s knack for making us care about unlikely heroes finds its stride in this issue. While the world burns around them, we are reminded that even the cruelest individuals have a heart deep down.
Mostert, Scott, and Edwards also find their stride in this issue. While the first issue of DCEASED Unkillables occasionally veered into the territory of the Uncanny Valley, this issue maintains its style while avoiding the same pitfalls. Perhaps the most interesting part of this issue is what the artists choose not to show. Instead of reveling in the guts and gore, the scenes that risk tipping the balance are often cut short. A particularly heartbreaking scene ends with characters seeing their essential targets. We then cut to days after the deed is done. A scene that could have been a little too cheesy, ensures a kiss is about to happen but cuts away again. And so these artists keep the story on its true course by course-correcting moments it veers too far in any direction.
It’s interesting to review this comic among so many others. The colorwork that Lokus does here is quite different from a lot of other modern comics. Many comics work against a moment to create surprise. Scenes of impending doom are colored brightly. So when the other shoe drops, we’re left shocked and awed. But Lokus knows this story is a story of dramatic irony. It’s Armageddon. We know death is coming for so many of our beloved characters, so Lokus decides to give us advance warning. Though much of the comic is colored brightly to show the happy tone, impending doom looks like impending doom. We can only clench our knuckles and wait for the apocalypse to be over.
Temofonte’s lettering might be the bloodiest part of this apocalypse. With gory sound effects for gunshots, bones breaking, skin tearing, and sword stabbing, there’s plenty of red on the page. Even the captions narrating the events of the issue are in text boxes that are covered in blood splatters. Yet few sound effects are lettered the same way. Some, like the gunshots, look like big block letters, and others look like they’ve been messily penciled in. We get the sense that the more brutal the moment, the messier the letters look. There are lots of messy letters in Unkillables, as this team pulls out all the stops.
DCEASED Unkillables #2 is a sprint into the abyss. Rules are broken as fast as they are set up, and the mess of the end of the world takes its toll. This creative team doesn’t pull back and doesn’t stall. Every moment is full speed ahead. Pick up the next issue of this great series on March 18th at a comic book shop near you!