DCeased Unkillables by Tom Taylor and Karl Mostert
DC Black Label, hb, £13.47
Reviewed by Sarah Deeming
Darkseid has unleashed the anti-life equation on the world, hoping to control the minds of Earth’s inhabitants. But the anti-life equation was too powerful, and even Darkseid fell victim to the equation. Not even the superheroes can stand against it, and soon Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman become mindless, bloodthirsty monsters, killing the people they had once sworn to protect.
Yet, some people are immune to the equation. Slade Wilson, Deathstroke, can regenerate quicker than the equation can move. And he isn’t the only one. Throughout the world, the villains and antiheroes are finding their shoot-first, question-later approach to life is the one thing keeping the monsters from destroying what’s left of humanity. Provided they can put aside their mistrust and learn to work together.
When DCeased came out in 2019, it was one of my favourite books of the year. The limited series explored how humanity survives when the heroes who protect them become monsters. Any DC fan will have noticed it focused only on the good characters and not the villains or antiheroes. As a Red Hood fan, I wondered what happened to him when most of the Batfamily was the first to fall. DCeased Unkillables answers that question.
Whereas the first focused on the sacrifice of the heroes, Unkillables explores the selfishness of the villains and antiheroes. These are characters who don’t have friends or loyalty, so will kill one another to survive. Deathstroke is in a group of villains brought together because they are capable of surviving the equation. While over in Bludhaven, Red Hood has found an orphanage full of children but no adults.
The artwork is consistent with some of the same team coming back for Unkillables. It is dark and gritty, as befitting the subject matter, and doesn’t hold any bars when it comes to depicting the violence and destruction the anti-life equation causes. Yet, when there are lighter moments, and there are a couple of those, then the artwork matches.
Without giving anything away, I found the ending satisfying. The characters’ ultimate salvation comes from someone who was not ready to use their superpower until they have been given the education of a lifetime from the villains. If you have a good knowledge of the DC Universe, then you may be able to pick up on the foreshadowing, but that doesn’t diminish the impact of the reveal when it happens.
Unkillables isn’t as long as DCeased, but it packs a lot in, including plenty of feels. I cared about what happened to the characters, and that is a remarkable thing considering the book-length. While DCeased focused on the heroes’ descent to monsters, Unkillables elevates the villains to the role of protector and explores the impact it has on them.
Highly recommended to all DC fans, and if you haven’t read the first one, then you have the pleasure of discovering both stories together.