Inventive as a murder mystery story and unique as a horror story, The New Deadwardians is a downright enthralling reading and an alluring visual experience. Delivering one of the most unique vampire/zombie stories of the decade, horror fans will undoubtedly appreciate Dan Abnett’s genre sensibilities. This is a fresh take on the living dead, which will make readers rethink what they already know about the undead and bloodsuckers.
WRITTEN BY: Dan Abnett
ART BY: I.N.J. Culbard
PUBLISHER: Vertigo Comics
RELEASE: February 6th, 2013
Chief Inspector George Suttle stumbles onto a strange and puzzlingly case. How can he solve a murder in a world where practically everyone is already dead? In this alternative post-Victorian England, the upper class has converted themselves into the forever-living vampires. While the rich get richer, the lower class has become infected by the ravenous zombie plague. As Suttle searches for the murderer, he soon discovers a conspiracy behind closed doors. Suttle must decide whether to let his killer walk freely, or continue to keep the horrible secret hidden in the darkest corners.
Dan Abnett develops Suttle’s character arc flawlessly. The theme to Suttle’s growth is about what human nature is willing to surrender. Because it was his patriotic duty, he scarified his life to serve a higher authority, for Queen and country. But in return for his services, he has become hollow and lonely, missing the promise of death. Though his heart has stopped beating, Suttle is only alive when he starts asking questions about the murder investigation and getting into trouble with his superiors.
Abnett lets his characters develop their own style of wordplay throughout the story. The upper-class members are more eloquent because they have the wealth to receive an education. The working class have their own slang when referring to a vamp or a zombie. In an interesting note, Suttle’s maid has to phonetically pronounce her words. The lower class is unwanted and disregarded as outcasts, a perfect metaphor for zombies.
I.N.J. Culbard has done a great job transporting the reader into the past, recreating the Victorian English look. By capturing the right clothing, the hairstyles, and backgrounds, Culbard’s illustrations resemble a cinematic period piece. In a particular scene, Suttle watches as the wealthy play a regular game of hunting and shooting. To make a point about social class, Culbard slowly reveals the rich are executing zombies for sport.
What is fascinating is how Culbard creates a believable and grounded world. At the dinner scene, the lighting comes from the candles on the table. Because the vampires are used to the dark, there is hardly any need for light. With no use for electricity, this is a step backwards in technology.
Highly recommended, “The New Deadwardians” is a sensational display of storytelling and art. Abnett and Culbard have built up and answered many questions about this fascinating world, while presenting a few more at its conclusion. Even after reaching the satisfying conclusion, I wanted there to be more, hoping for Suttle to investigate another case.
Rating: 4.5/5 skulls
Reviewed by – Jorge Solis
Editor’s Note: This was my favorite series of 2012. I cannot recommend it enough.