In DCeased: Dead Planet #1, on sale July 7, writer Tom Taylor kicks off the spin-off to DC Comics’ horrifying zombie invasion story with an opening chapter that strikes a bittersweet balance between devastating loss and courageous perseverance. Taylor offers readers a heartfelt story that transcends its genre, though he still sprinkles plenty of frightening moments throughout the issue.
DCeased: Dead Planet #1
Writer: Tom Taylor
Pencils: Trevor Hairsine
Inks: Gigi Baldassini & Stefano Gaudiano
Colors: Rain Beredo
Letters: Saida Temofonte
From the first page, Taylor sets the scene: the heroes have lost everything, but they still have to keep living. The art team, led by the work of pencil Trevor Hairsine, opens the issue with an alarming collage that shows a zombified Batman, a decapitated Cyborg, and other similarly fallen heroes. The Dark Knight’s devilish grin is particularly disturbing, as it shows that all semblance of the hero we know is gone. This harsh, brief recap of DCeased makes it impossible to forget the series’ dire consequences, and it immediately draws the reader into the sequel; the heroes are already broken, so we’re eager to see how they carry on.
Though we see Cyborg’s head right away in the story, Taylor still clearly has big plans for Victor Stone. When Cyborg sends a distress signal to the new Justice League, he serves as the catalyst for the rest of the plot. The scene’s emotional impact is magnified by its terrifying effect on the reader. Hairsine shows Victor’s decapitated head left abandoned on the ground of the abandoned Earth. After a time jump, Cyborg’s head hasn’t moved an inch. Instead, Hairsine shows that weeds and moss have grown both around and on him. Cyborg’s implied misery is staggering; the man watched his friends turn to zombies and his world fall apart in every conceivable way . Now, for five years, he has been completely stationary and alone. Taylor leaves the reader to imagine Cyborg’s suffering, which leaves us feeling utterly unsettled.
On a happier note, Taylor introduces a Justice League that will leave you begging for another spin-off. Led by Superman (Jonathan Kent,) this unconventional lineup features Batman (Damian Wayne), Green Lantern (Dinah Lance), and other roles filled by new faces under their respective costumes. All of the legacy heroes have been forced to grow up too fast, as Damian and Jonathan are both coping with the loss of their legendary fathers. As seen in series like Super Sons, the bond between Damian and Jonathan is always a fertile ground for narrative possibilities. Unfortunately, a heroic sacrifice at the end of the issue limits the room for further exploration in this series. Still, both men face the unenviable task of filling their fathers’ shoes. Their ability, or lack thereof, to do so will likely shape the story as a whole.
The opening installment of this series appropriately revolves around Jonathan, who, as Superman, is the heart and soul of the Justice League. Two tear-jerking moments distinctly place Jonathan at the foreground. First, when the Justice League decides to answer Cyborg’s distress call, he discusses the matter with his mother, Lois Lane. She affectionately caresses Jonathan’s face and says, “Come straight back. We’ve lost enough, Superman.” Color artist Rain Beredo makes the moment visually striking, as he uses a white background to place even more importance on the characters. The implicit gravity of Lois calling her son Superman after Clark Kent sacrificed himself in DCeased demonstrates Taylor’s brilliant subtlety. This touch allows him to infuse a story about zombies with genuine tenderness.
Whether you read every issue of DCeased or randomly decided to pick up this issue, Taylor presents a story that draws the reader in by including warm moments amidst profound horror. Additionally, a gutting cliffhanger leaves the reader already counting down the days until the next issue’s release.
What’d you think of DCeased: Dead Planet #1? Check out your local comic shop to see if you can pick it up there, or you can also shop online.