The New Deadwardians #7
STORY BY Dan Abnett
ART BY I.N.J. Culbard
PUBLISHER Vertigo Comics
Vertigo comics are having a strong 2012.
Not particularly revolutionary given its history: series such as The Sandman, Preacher, 100 Bullets and Fables have all won the Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series, whilst the company has had cinematic success with the likes of A History of Violence and Stardust.
However, in 2010, Vertigo announced it would become a strictly creator-owned imprint, with all titles that originated in the DC Universe, with the exception of the long running Hellblazer, returning under the DC banner, losing the likes of Swamp Thing and Animal Man. There were those that argued that Vertigo had seemed to lose its identity.
They, however, took stock and this year are responsible for two strong contenders for Best Finite/Limited Series in Sean Murphy’s Punk Rock Jesus (highlighted in our ‘Wednesday Watchlist‘ feature) and The New Deadwardians, of which Issue 7 is the penultimate. And this week has won the accolade of ‘Comic of the Week’, which was long overdue.
Class struggle is not often portrayed in mainstream comics. Here Dan Abnett (Resurrection Man and Legion Lost) displays a deftness often lacking from the medium with members of the aristocracy escaping ‘the great unwashed’ lower classes, who consist the zombie horde, by becoming vampiric, (something they’ve always been surely?). At its heart, however, is a detective story. Chief Inspector George Suttle, investigating murders in a world where everyone is dead already, whose nobility is particularly striking, is lonely. And so far, his quest for the truth has taken him from the sewers to the halls of power in this strange new world.
The Edwardian murder-mystery, in zombie ridden, vampire plagued London has highlighted the debauchery of the aristocracy, which has been presented in rather nauseating fashion. Furthermore, the story has been contextualised in flashback sequences as skilfully written as they are drawn. The New Deadwardians is somewhat reminiscent of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, starring Jeremy Brett, who had the unenviable task of following the iconic Basil Rathbone, in tone.
In this issue, as Suttle prepares to close his case, dark secrets threaten to shatter his and those of his worlds’ existence, as he finds he can no longer trust anyone. Not even himself. As we realise in an attempt to save lives, life itself has been destroyed.
The simplicity of INJ Culbard’s (At The Mountains of Madness) artwork is a wonder and matches the playful tone of the book. There’s also an intimacy to his work. This is not just another vampire/zombie crossover. The plot has been perfectly executed; each issue has had a suspenseful conclusion – the envy of many a writer one would imagine. Here Abnett has laid his cards on the table and set up what will undoubtedly be a fantastic conclusion.
The series has been a rare treat. Much like Brian K Vaughan’s Saga and Hickman’s The Manhattan Projects this is a monthly experience not to be missed, with perhaps some of the best looking covers in comics today.