The cover of DCeased #3 is very misleading. It almost looks like the DCU trinity is holding their own, but as you open this comic up, be ready to stare into hopelessness and truly understand how a Man of Steel might not be strong enough to bring hope. Hopefully you have read the last two issues — if you haven’t, stop right here, go read those issues, and come back; the story will be richer for it. Here we go into this look at issue #3 with some SPOILERS!
The issue opens in the Batcave with one of the hardest things to see: a mourning Alfred standing over the bodies of infected Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson, and Tim Drake. They are all in bloodied, tattered costumes and when Alfred refers to them he calls them his boys…sometimes we forget how paternal Alfred is to the Bat-Family. Tom Taylor does a great job with Alfred Pennyworth and shows us how vital he is to the story and legend of Batman. When Tom was writing Injustice, he gave Alfred some shining moments and right away we get that presence of character strength in this story.
Don’t forget to examine the panels as you read the words, because not only is Alfred saying goodbye as our mysterious, unidentified narrator describes how fast this event has played out, but Alfred is carrying a briefcase with a bat symbol on it. So be ready for that to play a major part later in the series.
Alfred leaves the cave in a Bat Plane and not only is he on his journey to Damien, but he also helps out as best as he can by air-striking infected monsters as well. Luckily for Harley Quinn, that helps her to get some distance from an infected Joker. Last issue, we saw that she wanted to make some peace with their relationship, but fate had other ideas. She manages to get a shotgun from a nearby person who was overwhelmed by the infected, so she recovers it and also the will to face her problem head-on.
Now this isn’t the main DC Universe, but it does allow us to see one of the best panels about Joker and Harley’s relationship…resolving by way of shotgun blast to the gut. Harley finally got the Joker off her back and accepted, in her own words, “you were never any good for me.” I like this a lot as I see lots of people share about how the Joker/Harley relationship is “Goals” when in reality it isn’t healthy at all. So I really appreciate Tom Taylor giving Harley Quinn a strong moment here.
So once Harley has made her peace with “Mistah J” she now has to face an infected group of Gotham City Heroines consisting of Batwoman, Huntress, Catwoman, and Batgirl. I love how Harley calls them the Zombie Birds of Prey. Looks like this is a nice lineup for the upcoming Warner Bros. movie and a great plug for the CW Batwoman as well — at least the comics can pull off some great synergy within the company. The scene shifts to Damien (Robin) Wayne and we see him mourning the loss of his family, when Jon (Superboy) Kent comes to comfort him so he won’t be alone. Superman is listening in and the rest of the group (Lois Lane, Green Arrow, and GL Black Canary) all recognize that he will move on, but still he has just lost his father. Those words will hurt you later on in this issue…
Superman stresses to Lois that he needs to get to Smallville, but he does offer to secure the Daily Planet building for them. The narrator talks about the hardest part for any infected/zombie story…how to deal with people you know and/or love being lost to you but still “alive” in this horrible state. They stress that you have to disassociate yourself from them. While the narration is going on, we see Superman clean the building and eventually he gets to Perry White’s office. Tom Taylor and Trevor Hairsine do a great job with that panel, as it isn’t clear. Is Perry White infected or is he safe? So maybe there is hope for him, but at least the building is now safe for the group as Superman finally heads to Smallville.
Now we find ourselves in Atlantis and it starts off as a fun scene between Mera and Tempest as they are working on building up his powers and there is some fun teasing between the two, but the seas turn red. An infected Aquaman arrives with some sharks and just tears through the guards and brings the infection to Atlantis. Here we discover that the infection can be spread by the waters as well. Tempest gets taken by the infection and luckily Mera uses her powers to push them all away and escape, but who knows where she is going to go now.
We’re back to Superman and on his journey to Smallville we see him in action as we know that Clark can’t turn away from someone in danger. He helps out as many as he can and then runs into an infected Clayface attacking a helicopter; inside the copter is Black Lightning and his family. Superman saves them and tells them to head to the Daily Planet for safety. Superman finally makes it to Smallville…
Trevor Hairsine does a great job with the next couple of pages. This is going to sound crazy, but with the rest of the book it felt busy and loud…like it would be in an apocalypse situation, yet when we get to Smallville it is quiet. Which will make this that much harder because it lets us know that we are alone and not safe. Clark arrives to the farm to see his Ma standing outside with a shovel in front of the barn. Ma tells Clark that she has hit him and that he is in the barn in one of the lower bays. Clark doesn’t use his X-ray vision, and honestly, would you? Maybe she hit him and it was just that, he come up and just have a bump on the head right?
This is called DCeased for a reason, and Tom Taylor doesn’t pull punches so this page will be worse than Kryptonite on the Man of Steel. Clark opens the bay up and an infected Pa Kent lunges at Clark, so he restrains him and pushes him back into the lower bay and seals it up. It is interesting that he didn’t put Pa down considering in some farm life views, you put something out of its misery. Clark tells Ma that they have to leave and Ma tells him they can’t this is their home and Pa…to which a very rattled Clark tells her “he isn’t here.”
Take a moment and digest that issue…wow, no wonder the title was “Red Sea.” That was just a tidal wave of loss: Batman, Nightwing, Red Robin, Batgirl, Batwoman, Huntress, Catwoman, Joker, Aquaman, Tempest, Clayface, maybe Perry White, and sadly Pa Kent. Lots of heroes were tested and honestly it was hard for Alfred, Damien, and Clark. I don’t worry too much for Alfred and Damien because the Bat Family has some hardened tough characters, but I do worry for Clark.
Let us go back to those last couple of pages, with Clark and Pa. We see that Clark chose not to put Pa down since he is infected, so that gives us a peek into how Clark will deal with people he cares about. Now take that information and let’s go to the Perry White part; in the main DC Universe Perry White is young Jon Kent’s Godfather, so he is a beloved member of the family. If Perry wasn’t infected then we have no problem, but if he was, did Clark just leave him in the Daily Planet building? Could that be something we need to worry about with next issue?
Overall I am appreciating this “Elseworlds” tale, and have to say I am very glad that Tom Taylor is writing this. Tom has a great way to take the secondary characters and give them spectacular moments. I mean, if Tom wrote an Alfred book, I could honestly see picking that up. Trevor Hairsine’s pencils are just amazing. When you see an infected person it just looks horrible and it is that much harder when they are characters we know from the DCU. The way Trevor drew the fall of Atlantis was just brutal and Pa Kent’s moment was just unreal and harsh to see. Again this is DCeased, so nothing is guaranteed. Until next month, stay safe and take care of your loved ones.