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Heartache & It’s Nuclear Core (DCeased #4 Review)


Writer: Tom Taylor

Penciler: Trevor Hairsine

Inker: Stefano Gaudiano

Colorist: Rain Beredo

Publisher: DC Comics

Rating: 8/10

The general overtone for this mini-series is this: impending and inescapable doom. Tom Taylor hasn’t been holding any punches. In true George R.R. Martin-esque fashion, he has not been kind to any of the DC Universe’s heroes. No one is safe. Any hero you feel any attachment to is just another potential victim who, at any given moment could fall, rise, and return as one of the Anti-Life Equation’s Blighted Ones. Every issue’s finale has been big and heart wrenching, only to be bested by the next issue’s finale. Now, at the end of the second act, my mind was literally blown away by the last page. 

Part four of our metahuman-zombie apocalypse kicks off in Washington DC, with Amanda “Nick Fury is a Punk” Waller, Captain Atom, and the Atom, performing a sub-atomic autopsy. Their attempt at scientific method in finding the root and possible cure to the world-wide rage pandemic is met with the biggest complication that no one could’ve foreseen: Captain Atom becomes one with the Anti-Life blight. The issue downshifts a couple of gears when we are taken back to both Metropolis and Gotham. The first location being the Daily Planet, where reunions are shared all around. Moments of mourning are emphasized by panels of white space only occupied by hugging families for brief moment. The rooftop survivors have gotten the Planet’s old radio tower up and running, ready to broadcast their signal for refuge to any survivors that can hear them. As Lois sends out the first little gift of hope to the world via analog radio, we cut to panels revealing who has survived thus far, both heroes and villains. Briefly, a search party consisting of the now Green Canary and Superman finds Barry Allen and Wallace West.

We then cut away to Gotham City, where we last left Harley Quinn in the midst of the infected Birds of Prey and Catwoman. Luckily, we’re given our second little gift of hope. Unluckily, that update ends quick and we’re shot back to Metropolis. Lois’ radio broadcast is cut short by giant footsteps when the survivors holed up on the roof of the Planet are attacked. They now see the size and magnitude of the Anti-life Equation when Suberboy see’s Rage Zombie Giganta tearing her way through Downtown Metropolis, on a collision course with the building they’re all standing upon. Defensive positions are initiated and we are given our first real set of action panels with a splash page.

During battle, more members of the Justice League step in and join the fight. Most notably, the return of Cyborg. After his explosive entrance to the fray, he reveals to the rest of the team what the zombies really are. Dead, life hunting rage monsters that must be killed. During Vic’s explanation, however, an interruption falls out of the sky. Hawkgirl reveals to the team the happenings in Washington. Captain Atom, having gone completely feral, is hit hard and fast by 2 of the Justice League’s heaviest hitters. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late. 

Trevor Hairsine and Rain Beredo’s collaborative work in this series has been excellent. I’ve found that other comics with a lot of blood within its pages usually start to fall flat and uninteresting, but that is not the case her. The amount of texture in the entirety of the artwork, is insane and beautiful. The blood looks thick and messy. The costumes are tattered and dirty. The hair is matted. Depth, shadows and blood reign supreme here and I love it. 

The reunions are heavy in this comic but survivor’s guilt and mourning were balanced out by the action panels in both Metropolis and Gotham. The ebb and flow of this issue rises and falls masterfully, cutting in and out of the multiple stories happening at once. Tom Taylor is literally going to kill more survivors and I don’t know what more exciting, not knowing who’s next or finding out who is. 

We made it guys. We are entering the final act. Two more issues (not including the spin off with Scott Free and Barda) and we will finally see how they stop this. Tom Taylor has given us four gory issues, tearing away at our feelings for these characters in sacrifice for a great zombie story. How much more can he kill? Who will be left standing? Who will be the hero? Within the next two issues, all will be answered. I just don’t know how much more heart string pulling I can take. 

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