DCeased: Dead Planet #1 held nothing back as we skipped several years into the future after the Anti-Life Equation Virus ravaged Earth. Since the events of DCeased we saw how a new Justice League was formed with Damian Wayne, Jonathan Kent, and Cassandra Sandsmark adopting the Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman identities, respectively. In addition, when the heroes that left Earth got a message from Cyborg it was learned that a cure for the Anti-Life Equation Virus is in fact possible. With hope finally appearing in the DCeased Universe will things finally turn around for everyone? Let’s find out with DCeased: Dead Planet #2.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Trevor Hairsine
Inker: Gigi Baldassini
Colorist: Rain Beredo
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In Chicago, Arsenal observes the incoming horde. Arsenal gets all the living residents to finish their barricade in a warehouse. Suddenly Arsenal is burned to a crisp by Anti-Living Fire.
As Gracie, a girl Arsenal had been protecting, cries over Arsenal’s death John Constantine, Zatanna, Red Hood, Ravager, Detective Chimp, Blue Devil, and Ragman, who are now going by the team name of Shadowpact, arrive. Shadowpact works quickly to eliminate the horde of Anti-Living that is in the area.
Zatanna goes off and takes on Anti-Living Fire alone. Eventually, Zatanna gets Anti-Living Fire to get close enough so she can dispel Anti-Living Fire’s power, causing her to crash into a building.
Swamp Thing suddenly appears behind Constantine. Swamp Thing demands to talk about the Garden. Constantine says he is busy dealing with the horde of Anti-Living. Swamp Thing immediately uses his powers to take out the remaining Anti-Living in the area.
Constantine says he knows about the Garden in Gotham City. Swamp Thin says he is talking about the Garden in Australia. Constantine jokes about how dangerous Australia was before the Anti-Life Equation Virus hit the world. This pisses Swamp Thing off, who tells Constantine to shut up, much to everyone’s shock. Swamp Thing tells Shadowpact that the Garden in Australia is screaming for help and wants Shadowpact to assist in order to protect everyone.
Over at the Gotham Garden, Red Hood and Ravager bring the survivors from Chicago into the safehaven while the rest of Shadowpact went with Swamp Thing. In discussing things it is shown that after augmenting the Tower of Fate the Gotham Garden was able to become a paradise that kept the Anti-Living from invading.
Suddenly something is detecting approaching the Gotham Garden at rapid speed. Mary Marvel and Doctor Fate take off to see what is approaching the Gotham Garden. Much to their surprise, they find a desperate Wonder Woman (Cassie Sandsmark) holding a heavily wounded Superman (Jonathan Kent). Doctor Fate immediately notices that Superman’s injuries are magic based.
Later the Justice League from Earth-2 is brought inside the Gotham Garden. There Batman (Damian Wayne) reunites with Jason Todd and Cassandra Cain. Jason tells Damian that being Batman suits him and that Bruce made the right decision. Damian and Jason then hug.
Poison Ivy notices that Green Lantern Canary has Anti-Living Green Arrow with her in a containment bubble. Poison Ivy says that the Anti-Living, no matter who they are, are not welcomed inside the Gotham Garden out of safety. Green Lantern Canary understands and takes off as she will not abandon Green Arrow even if he is Anti-Living.
Harley Quinn notices that Hawkwoman is carrying Cyborg’s head. Cyborg reveals, much to everyone’s shock, that there is in fact a cure for the Anti-Life Equation Virus. Cyborg goes on to say that he spoke with the Anti-Life Equation and it told him that the cure is inside him. Doctor Face says they can use a combination of magic and science to figure out what the cure is.
Damian notices that Cassie is walking off on her own. Damian goes to check on her. Cassie breaks down after having to see Diana Prince killed twice. Damian, taking off his cowl, tells Cassie that he is there for her and they kiss.
In Australia, Shadowpact finds an Australian Bunker surrounded in a ring of fire with a horde of Anti-Living around it. When Shadowpact takes a closer look at the area what they thought was blood turns out to be an Anti-Living Plastic Man. Before they can fully react to this revelation Anti-Living Plastic Man kills Ragman, Zatanna, and Blue Devil. Constantine, Swamp Thing, and Detective Chimp are shown to be falling into Anti-Living Plastic Man’s demonic-looking mouth.
Elsewhere three shadowy figures are shown possibly seeing all this go down. End of issue.
The Good: DCeased: Dead Planet #2 does a fantastic job keeping the momentum going from the first issue while, at the same time, slowing things down to bring in story beats from the Unkillables, Good Day To Die, and Hope At World’s End tie-in comics. Bringing in all these story elements from other tie-in comics spotlights how well developed the DCeased Universe has become since its creation. Tom Taylor, Trevor Hairsine, and all their collaborators deserve a lot of credit for making everything that has been built fit perfectly together.
One of the great things that Taylor and Hairsine do is open DCeased: Dead Planet #2 with the Shadowpact showing up to fight the Anti-Living. This introduction works both as a continuation of the plotlines from Unkillables and Good Day To Die as well as an introduction to the characters in Shadowpact for readers that may have not read those tie-in comics. The writing for these early scenes is very precise as you quickly understand that Shadowpact was formed by the remaining heroes on Earth to combat the Anti-Living and keep survivors safe. This team’s mission is made clear through the work of Taylor’s dialogue and Hairsine’s artwork.
What especially helped this opening scene work so well was that we started with Arsenal. Through Arsenal’s appearance, you quickly understand that those left on Earth have been doing all they can to survive. And even for someone like Arsenal, who was able to keep himself and others safe up to this point, there was no time to rest. At any moment his or anyone else’s story could be over. Arsenal unfortunately dying at the hands of an Anti-Living Fire is a great example of show don’t tell when furthering the stakes of a story.
Arsenal’s death immediately reminded you as the reader of the danger that is around every corner of the DCeased Universe. It makes you concerned for anyone that is outside the Gotham City Garden that Poison Ivy and others set up. Which made the deaths of Zatanna, Blue Devil, and Ragman at the hands of Anti-Living Plastic Man hit even harder. In a situation where our heroes couldn’t afford any more losses the deaths and possible turn into Anti-Living for these characters is tough. Especially when it comes to the loss of Zatanna, who would’ve been a valuable hero given her level of magic that could’ve played a key role in speeding up the creation of a cure for the Anti-Life Equation Virus.
Having these losses, along with everyone we saw turned into Anti-Living or killed during all the DCeased comics leading into Dead Planet, just emphasized why we see the surviving characters act the way they do. You can see that going through the experience that they have been put through in the DCeased Universe has forced all these characters to grow up. For all their differences every character has to put aside their differences so that they can simply survive.
That is best shown in the reunion between Damian Wayne, Jason Todd, and Cassandra Cain. Damian going in unsure about revealing that he took over the Batman mantle continued his arc. We saw in Hope At World’s End that it was tough for Damian to accept taking over being Batman. Having Jason and Cassandra both, without hesitation, say that the costume fits Damian and that it’s the best choice Bruce could’ve made was heartwarming. The hug between Damian and Jason just cemented how great this particular scene was as it did feel like it completed a big part of Damian’s arc in this universe.
This also added to how we do see this version of Damian being much more aware of others’ emotions as shown with how he talks with Cassie Sandsmark when he notices her being upset. He isn’t the cold-blood kid whose destiny is to become the Batman from Batman #666. This is a mature Damian who understands and works with others. Which made how he and Cassie talked with each work so well. While the kiss established the fact they are now a couple it was the way they talked with each other that made their relationship feel a natural part of the story.
The revelation that there is a cure from Cyborg was also another well-handled story beat. The shock in Harley Quinn and the other’s faces when they realized they could’ve been trying to come up with a cure the whole time felt like a punch to the gut. The guilt over feeling that they had to kill any Anti-Living that attacked them or other survivors clearly weighed heavily on them.
At the same time, Taylor does a very good job of making this revelation be a sort of rallying cry for our heroes to work together moving forward. Now moving forward this is what our heroes’ big mission is. Having this new focus for everyone will make what they have to do to create the cure even more fascinating to watch. Because while they know thanks to Cyborg that there is a cure they are starting from zero as they still need to figure out how to create it.
This race for the cure made the fact that Taylor ended DCeased: Dead Planet #2 a brief look at three shadowy figures even more interesting. There is no telling if these three mysterious characters will help our heroes or become antagonists who work as a wall that they have to overcome. Who these three figures will be just as interesting to find out since Taylor wouldn’t have ended DCeased: Dead Planet #2 with a focus on them if they aren’t going to be big deals moving forward.
As mentioned before, Trevor Hairsine once again delivered high-quality artwork throughout DCeased: Dead Planet #2. Hairsine’s art style has defined what the DCeased Universe is. He particularly excels at the talking head scenes when emotions are boiling over. A great example of that is when Poison Ivy tells the Justice League they can’t have Anti-Living Green Arrow in the Gotham City Garden. The sense of authority in this order was apparent. So was Dinah Lance’s reaction to leaving with Anti-Living Green Arrow, as you felt how she was not going to leave Ollie behind and is willing to go out on her own if she has to. Hairsine brings this and all other scenes in DCeased: Dead Planet #2 to life in his own style that is so fitting for this universe.
The Bad: Nothing
Overall: DCeased: Dead Planet #2 continued the momentum from the first issue and brought in plot elements from other tie-in comics all in one wonderful package. It is impressive how Tom Taylor and Trevor Hairsine are able to bring everything together in a way that continues to grow all the characters involved in this story. The sense of character progression is as excellent as the high stakes that continue with the Anti-Life Equation Virus ravaging the DCeased Universe.
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