Thought it couldn’t get any worse than last issue’s Anti-Life virus zombie Plastic Man? Prepare to be dead wrong with issues three and four of DC’s DCeased: Dead Planet!
Issue three opens up with the surviving members of the Shadowpact inside the Anti-Life zombie Plastic Man as if Eel O’Brian was the Sarlacc Pit. It turns out not as many of them were killed at the end of the last issue and were actually saved by Swamp Thing’s plant shield. Detective Chimp, Constantine, Zatanna and Swamp Thing lament their fallen comrades Blue Devil and Ragman, who sacrificed themselves to save the team, and quickly move to try and get out of Plastic Man’s innards. Zatanna bursts through Plastic Man and magically incinerates him while Swamp Thing gets the team clear. With that out of the way, the team moves on to the “greater evil” that lies in the bunker. More on that later.
Meanwhile Damian Wayne / Batman formally reunites with Commissioner Gordon. The two catch up with each other and we see that Damian is not as emotionally stunted as his father was; he sews his own costume and hugs Gordon, talking like they’re old pals. This is interrupted by Dr. Fate’s announcement that Jon Kent / Superman has recovered from his injuries with the help of the good doctor and Mary Marvel.
Back at the bunker in Australia, the remnants of Shadowpact are being given a tour of the place by Simon Stagg and Maxwell Lord. Turns out the place is run by a cabal of the remaining “1 percenters” in the DC Universe, who are protected by mercenary soldiers, and waited on by their families. Even during the zombie apocalypse, the rich still uphold a class system. John Constantine’s portion of the tour is interrupted when he’s pulled away by Jason Blood a.k.a. Etrigan the Demon. He gives John a dire message that the zombies are going to be the least of the planet’s problems. The Anti-Life zombies are undead, meaning their souls aren’t exactly leaving their bodies and going to hell. This angers Trigon (Teen Titan Raven’s dad and demon lord) who has had it with zombies on earth and plans to wipe the slate clean along with the entire planet. More problems add up as Constantine and Etrigan’s discussion is tabled to check in with Swamp Thing who found out that the rich supervillains have been forcing a captive Floronic Man to use “the Green” to produce for the bunker. This has Swamp Thing riled up and ready to pick a fight with the bunker security as well as strangle Maxwell Lord. An attempt at calming the situation is made but it falls flat when Swamp Thing pops Max’s head off like a bottle cap. The villains deploy Dr. Ivo’s army of Amazo robots, leaving the team with no other option than to get the hell out of there and regroup with the heroes in Gotham.
The two groups are able to share notes and they figure out what to do in regards to a cure, Trigon, the Australian bunker, etc. It all boils down to finding a “Life Equation”, which is the opposite of the Anti-Life equation. The problem is that the only ones who know the Anti-Life Equation are the New Gods and Darkseid, the latter of which is dead. John Constantine might know someone who can help the group find it: Mister Miracle. Seemingly dead if you read DCeased: A Good Day to Die, Scott Free a.k.a Mister Miracle is actually alive and he is pretty bitter about seeing Constantine again. The last time they saw each other Big Barda was killed / infected but his bitterness is put to rest when John tells him of the possible cure (using Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth for good measure) and his plan. What’s the plan? Go to New Genesis and steal Metron’s Mobius chair.
End of Book 3.
We pick up issue four where we left off, with John Constantine, Detective Chimp, and Mister Miracle returning to Gotham to put the pieces of the plan together. In order to find the secrets of the Life Equation within Cyborg, they’re going to need the Mobius Chair (an all-knowing, all-seeing time / space travelling smart chair) and they’re going to have to trap Metron to do it. With the plan set, the team of Superman, Cassie Sansmark / Wonder Woman, Green Canary, Mister Miracle, and Mary Marvel are off to New Genesis.
The team is welcomed to New Genesis by Light Ray, who does so by annoying Mister Miracle. In a cool reference to the Mister Miracle series by Tom King and Mitch Gerards, Orion comes in to beat on Scott in their “Stand” “Standing” confrontation. That is until Superman steps in and knocks Orion out with one punch. Highfather quips about how regularly his two sons fight each other. Mister Miracle asks Highfather to summon Metron so that the team can use the chair but he is reminded that Metron’s will is his own and that he cannot be simply summoned. Luckily, the team has what Metron craves; knowledge, specifically in the form of Madame Xanadu’s crystal ball which Constantine ”borrowed”. Highfather then sends the call for Metron but before the team can go he introduces Mister Miracle to his son. Apparently Scott and Big Barda actually had a kid before she died and Scott had left him with Highfather for the past five years.
So the team lays a trap in the ruins of the planet Apokolips and springs it as soon as Metron arrives to try and take Madame Xanadu’s crystal ball. They’re pretty unsuccessfully too as while they trap him fairly well, he is able to break any bonds and flee fairly quickly. Before he is able to escape, Superman and Mary Marvel decide to be diplomatic instead of offensive. Mary uses the Wisdom of Solomon to implore Metron to let them use the chair. She explains that if the Anti-Life virus continues, it will wipe out all knowledge in the universe. Metron agrees in exchange for a look at the crystal ball. Cyborg sits on the chair and finds out that the cure is his blood and if he re-codes it, he will find the Life Equation.
With the deal done, Metron returns the orb but senses something in the future and promptly leaves, followed quickly by our now weirded out team.
So what was enough to scare Metron?
After everyone leaves, the space where the planet Apokolips was now returns to being the actual planet Apokolips as the Black Racer witnesses the birth of an Anti-Life zombie New God. We close the comic as New Genesis is the first to find out that Darkseid is back and he’s an Anti-Lifer.
End of Book 4.
DCeased: Dead Planet #3 and #4 were a really enjoyable and cool couple of issues continuing the story of this mini-series. I’m trying not to compare comics running concurrently because judging something based on its own merits is a better way to critique and analyze it. DCeased: Dead Planet is one the few DC books I’ve been keeping on my pull list and it’s because it really does a great job of being self-contained while telling a damn good story. A lot of the regular DC books out are either engulfed in events or are just not doing anything worth reading. DCeased is trying its hardest and doing its best to tell a likable, compelling story that’s also a sequel. It builds on the previous series and does it so smoothly and naturally, making it both entertaining and intriguing to read.
Both issues introduce new aspects into the universe as well as new obstacles for our heroes to overcome. Elitist super villain militias, Trigon wanting to wipe out all life on earth, and the resurrection of Darkseid through the Anti-Life virus are all great new problems for the heroes to fight and overcome. While it is a bit cliché to do the “real villains in the zombie apocalypse are actually humanity” trope, Tom uses it to his advantage. He makes the trope really fun by using a lot of familiar DC characters as the rich doomsday preppers. Both Trigon and Anti-Life Darkseid are a “didn’t see that coming” threat that I'm looking forward to see how the heroes will combat.
Through all the action and horror in this book, there are also a lot of comedic as well as wholesome moments. Damian being a much more emotionally well-rounded Batman than his father is both good character development and a fun take on the character. Much of it leads to funny moments like Damian and Gordon’s reunion in issue three, Damian’s farewell before the team leaves for New Genesis, and Doctor Fate and Kid Flash’s commentary on Damian and Cassie taking too long to say goodbye in issue four.
All in all, Tom Taylor and Trevor Hairsine continue to craft a great story that’s as fun and wholesome as much as it is gruesome and horrific. Tom Taylor proves once again that he is THE guy DC should always be giving work to and Trevor Hairsine continues to supply A+ art. If you’re not already picking this series up, put it on your pull lists ASAP!
Verdict: 8/10 Resurrected Anti-Life New Gods
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