Comic Book Review: ‘The New Deadwardians’ #1

Posted Friday, March 30th, 2012 06:00 pm GMT -5 by

It’s ‘The Walking Dead’ meets ‘Downton Abbey’ with a splash of ‘True Blood’ in Vertigo’s newest miniseries, ‘The New Deadwardians’!  In a true zeitgeist-reflecting tale, we meet Chief Investigator George Suttle, who is one of “The Young,” a euphemism for vampire.  Though he doesn’t require sleep, he still lies in bed at night.  Then he hears something downstairs.  He and his butler, Roper, descend to find his housekeeper, Mrs. Hedley, being eaten by a zombie, or rather a “restless” as they refer to them.  Suttle dispatches the Restless and sends Roper to summon the local constabulary.  Suttle tells one policeman who he is.  The policeman later makes a comment about one of The Restless smelling him, before catching his mistake.  “Begging your pardon, sir.  Of course it won’t smell you.”  Apparently, his status as a vampire is known and vampires cannot be sensed by The Restless.

Suttle finds another maid, a younger girl named Louisa hiding in a closet.  She reveals that she was bitten by the zombie and Suttle tells her that she will “take the cure” to prevent her from turning into a Restless, which seems to scare her more than the thought of turning.

Suttle’s ancient mother begins ringing her bell, as it is well past the time she should have been served her breakfast.  She worries that he is too thin and pale, “You look like one of those wretched Young things.”  So clearly she is unaware of his nature.  George leaves with Louisa in one of those new fangled “motor cars.”  He explains via caption that “Sunlight is not a problem, provided one uses zinc paste and wears a hat.  And the latter is only good breeding, after all.”  He explains the differences between London, from the time before The Restless and its present state.  He dispatches Louisa to take The Cure, while he himself receives a blood transfusion and explains that he has recently had his fangs filed back.  He tells the doctor that he’s had no vampire tendencies, but he admits via caption that the blood in his kitchen that morning had unsettled him.

He then goes to work at Scotland Yard, where we discover that he is the only officer in the “Murder Department” because apparently, few people are truly murdered.  Most come back as either a Restless or a Young.  They chat before another officer comes in and explains that they have a real murder to investigate.  Suttle finds a few policemen and a doctor examining a body just outside of Parliament.  It is a naked man in his forties, with one hand removed postmortem and other strange scars.  Suttle is curious as to why no Restless smelled the body before then, but upon further examination, he realizes that the corpse is a Young.  The doctor is stunned as there are only three ways to kill a Young and this body shows no signs of any of the three.  And yet… here it is!

Like many Americans, I find British period dramas quite charming, and this one, mixed with zombies and vampires is right up my Nerd Alley.  So I very much enjoyed this first issue and look forward to the unraveling of this mystery, not to mention learning more about the past and perhaps how the Restless came to be.  It’s actually pretty hilarious to see zombies that are dressed to the nines in crisp suits and ties, versus the typical haggard variety we’re used to seeing dressed in tatters and rags. As proper and serious as the story reads, there’s a dark sense of humor bubbling just under the surface.

The art threw me at first.  It has a clean, Michael Allred look to it, which at first I didn’t think fit a supernatural story.  But after reading the whole thing, I think it helps create that extreme contradiction between the proper, sophisticated British society and the frightening creatures that now plague it.

So this is a winner for me!  I’m really looking forward to reading more!

Verdict: Buy

THE NEW DEADWARDIANS #1
Written by Dan Abnett
Art and Cover by I.N.J. Culbard