DCeased: Dead Planet #1 Review: Welcome (Back) to Hell

DCeased Dead Planet #1
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

Tom Taylor's zombified version of the DC Universe comes roaring back this week in DCeased's sequel series, DCeased: Dead Planet. Well, I say "back," but between A Good Day to Die, The Unkillables and Hope at World's End all getting released in the last year, it doesn't quite feel like this Elseworlds story ever really left. Taylor has been at the helm since page one and each new installment brings an outstanding mixture of horror, tragedy, witty comedy and genuine character moments, usually between some of the DC pantheon's most iconic pairings. All of that is present in Dead Planet and, if you haven't picked up one of these books since the original DCeased, this will jolt you right back into that world and promptly punch you in the face with one-liners and gore.

But if you've been around for every second of the ride, you can see the patterns starting to form.

As for the story, we see the survivors who made it off Earth trying to find a peaceful existence on Earth-2 (no, not that one) five years after the original series. Damian Wayne has fully embraced his role as Batman, Jonathan Kent is flying around as Superman, Lois Lane is the president, Black Canary is still a Green Lantern and Green Arrow is still wonderfully cynical. There are so many fantastic little scenes of interaction involving these characters that it makes me want to see this somehow translate into DC Comics' new status quo. What is all the more impressive on Taylor's part is that a) just about everyone else died in unspeakable fashions and b) this couldn't be less like the current status quo if that were its goal. Things take a turn when Cyborg (or what's left of him) sends a distress signal from Earth, and the heroes decide it's time for a rescue mission.

And then everything goes straight to hell. Again. Of course.

This is where those aforementioned "patterns" start creeping in. Does somebody swear they're coming back only to die horribly? You might as well put a countdown clock to their demise right there on the page. Does the narrator's melancholic voice pour salt on every freshly-cut wound? Duh. Does a misunderstanding cause an inadvertent death? You betcha, and this time it is particularly frustrating as it felt less like a narrative necessity and reads more like 'Well, we have to get him off the board...'

I'm not saying Dead Planet is bad—I wouldn't dream of it. But this issue doesn't possess the same "oomph" as DCeased's beginnings. No panel comes close to when Cyborg let out that guttural, tongue-less scream when the virus first infected Earth. And yet it's still so well-written (and drawn, Trevor Hairsine's work is as viscerally bloody as ever) that I can't knock it for returning to its old tricks. It's like looking into a pile of diamonds, plucking one out and saying, "This one isn't quite as shiny."

It's still a freaking diamond.

Published by DC Comics

On July 7, 2020

Written by Tom Taylor

Pencils by Trevor Hairsine

Inks by Gigi Baldassini and Stefano Gaudiano

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