By: Dan Abnett (writer) & I.N.J. Culbard (artist)
The Story: Vampires and zombies in late 19th century London.
Review: I rather liked this issue. It wasn’t “great” and it didn’t “blow my socks off”, but it offered a very different look at a zombie apocalypse. Many readers are “sick of zombies” but for me, I never get sick of seeing different creator’s visions for what society looks like afterward the zombies rise up. As long as the story is mostly about humans surviving in difficult times, it is usually interesting. The trouble is that most creator’s zombie apocalypses look the same: Bleak. Seriously, in most zombie stories the survivors are starving and fighting off hordes or ghouls and the occasional gang of rapists. Where’s the originality?
So… The New Deadwardians #1 was kinda a breath of fresh air. It is set around the turn of the 19th century in London. What makes it unique is that the survivors have a little pocket of civilization carved out in London and it’s all so very English. They still have lights and the gentlemen still put on robes before going to investigate bumps in the night. Compare this to an unshaven and smelly looking Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead and you see some of the appeal. It’s like comparing some proper English chaps to a bunch of rednecks from Tennessee. Now, what isn’t clear is whether this society is still thriving OR whether it is just a band of crazy Brits keeping a stiff upper lip against the inevitable onslaught of zombies. But I’m eager to find out!
Granted, some of the appeal might just be that the comic is so stereotypically English. I find myself comparing it to comedy like Monty Python or the more recent Simon Pegg movies where a LARGE part of the appeal is this English deadpan humor juxtaposed against outrageous situations. That’s kinda the same here except instead of comedy bits around a dismembered Black Knight, you’ve got a zombie horde.
Of course, the other wrinkle in this issue is that the main character is a vampire. But rather than being some societal outcast, he’s a member of the police force and is still soldiering on, trying to investigate what murders the city still has to offer him. It isn’t clear how much of a role the murder-mystery will play in the series, but I kinda hope it is slightly background material because watching Englishmen dealing with zombies is cool. It’s like a serious version of Shaun of the Dead.
The art is very solid and honest. It reminds me of the art in The Unwritten in that Culbard is never trying to show off or create a big splash page that he can sell the original art for. Very solid stuff. Half of the panels seem like they’re straight out of Wally Wood’s “22 panels that always work” (which is a good thing).
Conclusion: Vertigo has another winner. I’m a little disappointed that this is only an 8-issue series because I’d love to see more of how Edwardian London would deal with the zombies.
Note: Now that Vertigo has debuted these four new series, I’d rank them: 1). Saucer Country, 2). The New Deadwardians, 3). Fairest and 4). Dominique Laveau. Saucer Country and Deadwardians are both very promising, Fairest seems like extra catnip for diehard Fables fans and I’m not sure I see a point for Dominique Laveau.
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