DCeased: Dead Planet #1
Written by Tom Taylor
Art by Trevor Hairsine, Gigi Baldassini, Stefano Gaudiano and Rain Beredo
Lettering by Saida Temofonte
Published by DC
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.
That's not just the theme of Tom Taylor and Trevor Hairsine's DCeased: Dead Planet #1, but might also mirror the thoughts of a lot of readers picking up the fifth installment of this seemingly unstoppable undead franchise. While even I had expressed some concern about rigor mortis in DCeased's joints during its interstitial series Hope on World's End, Taylor digs deep to find some compelling hooks to give this zombie juggernaut a reason for being.
For the more genre-savvy among us, it'd be easy to express skepticism about DCeased: Dead Planet — not only have we seen team-ups starring new generations of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman before, but more importantly, why would these characters who barely survived the first series tempt fate by ever returning to this cursed planet of Anti-Life-infected metahumans?
Without spoiling too much of this series' big twist, Taylor elegantly lays out a perfect reason why — because heroes don't leave behind friends in need. He illustrates this through the lenses of several characters, but in particular, Taylor's counterpoints between new Superman Jon Kent and the reluctant Green Arrow work double-time by not only justifying the series as a whole, but making us feel something for these characters and their innate goodness, even in the face of almost hilariously bad odds. It's one thing to shout at a horror movie character not to run into the basement — but what happens when running into the basement is your job?
I'd also say that out of all the various DCeased spinoffs, Dead Planet feels like the most required reading following the original 2017 series. As such, Taylor does a great job at reestablishing everything we needed to know from the first series — namely, the Big Seven of the Justice League have all fallen to the Anti-Life Equation (complete with a few more specific nods to what happened to Superman, Cyborg, and Aquaman), while a ragtag team of heroes took what survivors they could to an alien world. But the twist at the end of the original DCeased adds an important wrinkle to the mix, one that Taylor uses to keep readers on their toes. It's a smart subversion of everything that’s gone on before, and further reinforces that no one is safe.
Original series artist Trevor Hairsine returns to DCeased: Dead Planet, and while we don't necessarily see a ton of the Anti-Life Infected in this issue, he’s able to really ratchet up the tension in an effective way. In particular, a scene where an unexpected character breaks through the Green Lantern quarantine zone is a pulse-pounding beat because of how Hairsine composes his panels — even the readers aren’t able to keep up with what's coming for them. His scratchy style also strikes that tricky balance between the clean superheroic style and the gory zombie storytelling that Taylor is playing with — in particular, Hairsine's best moments are the bursts of violence, whether it's a character being ambushed by zombies or another hero making an unexpected sacrifice for the greater good.
I'll be honest — I had thought time was running out for DCeased, and that Tom Taylor had finally run out of things to say about this horrific new world. But I'm delighted to say that Taylor and Hairsine proved me wrong, delivering a sequel that will engage you, surprise you, and will ultimately turn everything we know about this series on its head. If anything, I'd argue that DCeased: Dead Planet might even be better than the first series — but even if that turns out to be too early to make that case, I can definitely say I can't wait to see where this series goes next.