Few books commanded fans' attention this year like Tom Taylor, Trevor Hairsine, and Stefano Gaudiano's DCeased, and the series was recently brought to a gut-punching and thrilling conclusion. The series imagined a world where Darkseid's anti-life equation was corrupted by death itself and subsequently went on to corrupt the people of Earth once they were exposed to it. The story that followed featured some of DC's biggest icons doing everything they could to stop it and save those who were infected, but as we learned int eh finale, not everyone got a happy ending. We recently had the chance to speak to DCeased writer Tom Taylor all about the last issue and the series overall, including the character he bonded with most in this crazy story.
"There are a million characters that I love writing," Taylor said. "I'm a huge DC fanboy, I'm sure it's clear when you read it, but for me, I am first and foremost a Superman guy and a Lois guy. So DC is Superman and Lois, I mean that's why it was Lois being revealed as the narrator in Issue five. But their journey, and his sacrifice, his goodbye to his family, to Lois and Lara and to Jon. That was pivotal for me to land that. That scene is probably my favorite of the whole series, and also then how he lives on in Jon as well. So writing Superman's huge, but writing Green Arrow is massive as well. I am a huge Green Arrow fan, a huge Black Canary fan. So Green Arrow's moment in Issue six is, yeah, definitely one of my favorites as well."
That Green Arrow moment is rather priceless, as he sends an arrow directly through Aquaman's head and jabs at Batman in the process. That said, there's a much weightier moment later in the issue between a corrupted Superman and his son Jon, a moment that had to hurt since Taylor is such a Superman fan.
"Yeah, absolutely, but the thing is, these things have to hurt. If they don't hurt the writer, if I'm not affected by it, then the reader isn't going to be affected by it," Taylor said. "I teared up almost every time I saw those pages. Ben Abernathy our editor, teared up when he read it, even though it was in the outline. He teared up giving it to the letterer when he read it for the third time, and that's just a testament to, particularly Trevor Hairsine who just... those two pages, I've already asked him if I can keep those two pages. I'm always too embarrassed to ask artists for work. It's like, 'How do I buy those off you?' But that moment is perfect. Trevor just nailed the emotion of it, and that, the difference with the silhouette that was obviously Superman and Lois saying goodbye, and then what he says to his son, but without those moments, if I want to do it, it's too easy. I did not want to write that, but I knew that would translate on the page."
One of the more heartbreaking sequences in the final issue is the exchange between Cyborg and Wonder Woman, as thanks to the Golden Perfect Cyborg discovers the cure to the equation lies within him, and that the people who have been changed can be changed back. Unfortunately, Cyborg dies before he can relay that information to the rest of the heroes, and it was part of Taylor's plan to have that gut punch affect the reader, not the heroes involved in the story.
"The thing is they don't have to live with it," Taylor said. "Only the reader knows it as well as Cyborg knows it. It makes the tragedy far more tragic. That none of that had to happen, that Alfred didn't have to shoot Batman. That Superman didn't have to fly straight through The Flash. That there was a chance out there, but no one knew it. It's a gut punch. And yes, it was almost always the plan, because I didn't want it to be a zombie book. I wanted it to be a book that could only happen in the DC universe. So to do that, I had to come up with a way to make that happen, and that was Apocalypse. That was the Anti-Life equation, with one half being in Cyborg, because he was the pinnacle of Apocalyptian and Earth technology, and then bringing those two together and corrupting it with death itself, by injecting him with the blood of the Black Racer."
"So I wanted it all to make sense, but then, of course, it always made sense that with a start in him, then there must be an ending in him as well, because that's what all of death and life and apocalypse and Earth and all of that, it's what it's all about. So it made sense, and the fact that he couldn't recognize it in himself it's also part of the tragedy," Taylor said.
The good news is we're getting more adventures in the DCeased universe thanks to a new spinoff series, and that's great for not only fans but also Taylor, who condensed his original story for the series a bit.
"My original plan was for something quite a bit longer, and we condensed it because we decided to just make it a six back when they weren't sure it was going to sell," Taylor said. "That's pretty funny. Yeah. Before it sold 260,000 copies for issue one." Taylor also teased some of the possibilities the book's ending sets up. "We have essentially set up an all-new Justice League and established that it's possible the virus can be beaten. So if there's a way to go forward if the chance arises. If the retailers and the readers want it enough, who knows what could happen. I've got fingers crossed."
It worked out quite well, and Taylor couldn't have pulled it off without the entire team knocking the series out of the park.
"I just want to give a shout out there to the team on this as well, just to say, to Trevor Hairsine and Stefano Gaudiano to Saida Temofonte to Rain Beredo, just what they've done with this book is just...it wouldn't have worked in any way, shape or form without that clan, without the expression and the love and the emotion that Trev brought to it all," Taylor said. "Just in tying everything together, and Rain, it's just, yeah, we've had an incredible team on this book. They told an incredible story, and then Abernathy as well the editor just, none of this would have been possible without them."
DCeased #6 is in comic stores now, and the DCeased hardcover is in book stores and online retailers on November 26th.