A wishy washy prog’, a few shots of Glayva, JD and a couple of Stellas lead Luke to dig out this collection of a curtailed Vertigo series, created by a writer and artist very familiar to squaxx.
The New Deadwardians
Dan Abnett & I.N.J Culbard
Review by Luke Williams
This is a bit of curio from a few years ago. If anyone is interested at all in my reading taste (and why would you be?), Dan Abnett has not been a favourite of mine. But that changed a few years ago. Some of his work in the ‘Prog and the Meg’ really started to push my buttons. Abnett is a writing machine at the moment – he is akin to Wagner and Grant in the eighties. And whilst I really can’t see what the fuss is about “Kingdom” or “Sinister Dexter, “Grey Area” is great fun and “Lawless” and “Brink” are awesome and “Insurrection” is one of the best things to appear in the Meg’ (see here) “So”, thinks I, ” let’s check out his extra Thargular activities”.
Abnett’s here with regular contributor Ian Culbard for a detective drama set in Edwardian England (dur) with a twist. We follow ex army officer Chief Inspector George Suttle, the sole murder detective in the Metropolitan Police. The rest of the murder squad are no longer needed as most people are already dead, murder is mostly a thing of the past.
Britain’s population is divided up between the “Restless” – zombies, made up of the underclass of the country , turned by a mysterious event which led to a bloody conflict. There are the “Young” who have received the so called “cure”, which prevents them from turning into zombies and allowed the British to prevail against the zombies. The cure means they become vampires, and gives them “urges”, which I’m sure I don’t need to spell out. That leaves the “bright” which is basically everyone else. Normal humans, not “cured” or affected by the zombie curse. The population of the country are split between zones “A” where the “Young” and privileged live, and zone B where the “Restless” and most of the “Bright” can be found.
Murders are rare, so it causes quite a stir when the mutilated body of a “Young” who is n advisor to the Crown turns up on the embankment next to the Houses of Parliament.
Beginning his investigations in the East End, Suttle begins to uncover a conspiracy, that leads all the way to the higher echelons of government. At the same time we explore the world and all that means to be undead and what it is to “live” in this world.
Abnett’s pacing is slow and deliberate, don’t expect action and explosions here, but strong character development and unintrusive exposition. Abnett’s characters interactions are subtle (pardon the pun) and unforced, the plot develops naturally and carries a not so subtle underlying commentary on class.
I occasionally find Culbard’s characters difficult to distinguish, but have fewer problems here. Whilst it would be easy to reduce many of the pages to series of talking heads, Culbard skillfully avoids that trap, and the pages flow beautifully.
Initially, this was solicited as an ongoing series, but sadly it was curtailed to 8 issues, collected in this here volume. Pick this up, it’s great. And whilst you are at it, hunt out the duos “Wild’s End” collections from Boom! Studios, you won’t be disappointed.