DC Comics’ Year of the Villain is continuing with The Infected: Deathbringer #1 written by Zoe Quinn, with art from Brent Peeples, colors by Arif Prianto, and letters by Simon Bowland and Troy Peter. In this one-shot, Donna Troy is the latest hero who has been infected by The Batman Who Laughs.
Donna Troy has fought alongside friends, led the Titans into battle, and buried more friends in the line of duty than she cares to remember. Coming directly out of the events of The Batman Who Laughs and Batman/Superman, Donna Troy becomes Deathbringer, a hero who is done with bringing peace to a world it cannot be trusted with. With a newly awaked dark side, Donna’s past is on full display and the guilt of those she’s lost is at the front of her mind.
Now, I’m usually a fan of Quinn’s writing as Goddess Mode is one of my favorite comics of the year. That being said, there isn’t enough weight in her script to truly bring the stakes that come with Donna becoming one of the Infected. There are moments of humor that don’t fit the darkness and heaviness of the one-shot. The panels are filled with too much dialogue, most prominently in the subplot of the fighting neighborhoods that the Titans and Donna preside over. Everything is narrated to a frustrating extent with many of the word balloons bogging down art, that while not my favorite, is more than capable of telling the story without the added wording.
I was pulled in by the cover art of one of DC’s strongest female heroes. It reminded me of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, where Lara rises from the water surrounded by fire. The cover is powerful in the same way that seeing a woman turn evil is powerful. But sadly, Peeples’ art in The Infected: Deathbringer #1 left a lot to be desired and didn’t capture the same impact that the cover had. Instead, his Infected Donna features a few veins and some face markings that don’t seem to invoke the same ferocity as the cover. Additionally, Prianto’s shading and colors of this one-shot leaves characters without much emotion, accentuating Peeples’ lack of definition in his art. Each character looks too smooth, with what lines exist placed in weird spots.
But the worst part of the art is that it feels rushed, with some elements of the character’s armor not seeming to fit on them, namely helmets and hoods on heads, most notably with Steel and Raven. This may be due to the fact that Peeples replaced Ben Oliver earlier this month, who had been solicited on the title.
Overall, the implications of The Infected: Deathbringer #1’s ending holds more weight than the actual story itself. Quinn has shown that she knows how to write complicated characters buckling under expectation and responsibilities but this isn’t brought over to Donna Troy. While she gets close to this, she misses the mark, lost in her own wordsmithing. But with a fluctuating team, all of these issues are understandable and I hope that the next time we see Deathbringer in other event issues, she’s given her fierce due.
The Infected: Deathbringer #1
Overall, the implications of The Infected: Deathbringer #1’s ending holds more weight than the actual story itself. Quinn has shown that she knows how to write complicated characters buckling under expectation and responsibilities but this isn’t brought over to Donna Troy. While she gets close to this, she misses the mark, lost in her own wordsmithing.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.