DCeased was my favorite comic series last year. The smash-hit mini-series written by Tom Taylor killed the DC Universe’s heroes and now, in DCeased: Unkillables, Taylor is showing what happened to the villains during that time with three oversized issues. Published under DC Comics’ Black Label, DCeased: Unkillables #1 is written by Tom Taylor, with pencils by Karl Mostert, inks by Trevor Scott, Neil Edwards, and John Livesay, colored by Rex Lokus, and lettered by Saida Temofonte.
Promised as a street-level tale of death, heroism, and redemption, Unkillables #1 focuses on two stories centering on Red Hood and Deathstroke. With this dual story nature, we follow Slade as he strikes up an alliance with other super-villains. We then see Jason Todd as he collects the remaining Bat-Family around Gotham. Both of these paths involve them crossing into areas we saw affected in DCeased. This adds character to the story and connects it to the larger world.
What made DCeased great was how Taylor showed heroes, our beacons of hope, becoming hopeless, and what happens when even they fail. I wasn’t sure how he would make the villain and anti-hero perspective just as compelling. Additionally, a large piece of the horror was telling the story from Lois Lane’s perspective through narration. Sadly, that storytelling technique isn’t present here. Instead, we’re given direct dialogue and exposition that does more to explain away how Taylor and crew can maintain such a large cast after we saw the devastation of the Anti-Life Virus caused the first time around.
Sadly, Unkillables #1 is filled to the brim with power loopholes that justify the title of the book but don’t make much sense given the power sets of the characters that we have seen succumb to the virus. In fact, there is so much time used to explain the hows of the world that this debut issue doesn’t bring any of the emotional impacts that the heroes’ story or the one-shot managed. Instead, this issue relies on shock value. From Slade hacking his way through a room full of white supremacists in the opening pages to Jason Todd desecrating the Joker’s body, it’s all shock and no emotion. That being said, there is a skeleton for Taylor to build on and I hope the next two issues will round out the story now that the basics have been established. Less exposition, more action.
As for the art, there are moments where it works, mainly when Mostert is showing large scenes with no faces clearly in focus or when he’s illustrating masked characters. The opening scenes of the book are very well done but then it slips. About half-way through the issue when Commissioner Gordon and Red Hood are together in a car, the characters just look off. Gordon has too many wrinkles that it’s impossible to read his emotions, and the mouths of the characters seem the wrong proportions, making the back half of the book hit a weird and uncanny note, and not in a good way. That said, Lokus’ colors are good, and Temofonte’s lettering is solid.
Sadly, when everything adds up, Unkillables #1 is frustrating. There are interesting things brewing for the story but as an opener, it pales in comparison to the rest of the DCeased titles. It may be that I can’t detach what was brought in those titles, but it’s safe to say I opened the issue and didn’t get what I expected. I trust Taylor’s writing for this to end up in the right place for issue two but for now, this issue left me with solid mixed feelings.
DCeased: Unkillables #1 is available where comics are sold.
DCeased: Unkillables #1
Sadly, when everything adds up, Unkillables #1 is frustrating. There are interesting things brewing for the story but as an opener, it pales in comparison to the rest of the DCeased titles…I trust Taylor’s writing for this to end up in the right place for issue two but for now, this issue left me with solid mixed feelings.
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.