DC's comics more "adult" publishing offshoot Vertigo Comics, had something of a relaunch not too long ago presenting four brand new titles. The most notable of these was The New Deadwardians which is yet another book with a distinct undead focus (I promise no more zombie comic reviews for a month!). It is an eight issue mini series written by fan favourite comics veteran and prolific novelist Dan Abnett with art from newcomer I.N.J Culbard. This is one of those titles you can imagine how it came together in the ideas room and surprisingly, it has one of the most well thought up concepts in quite some time.
The New Deadwardians is set in an post-Victorian post zombie apocalyptic England where civilization is divided into safe and unsafe zones and is at odds with a horde of zombies called The Restless. The ruling upper class have turned themselves into Vampires calling themselves The Young to avoid any chance of Zombie infection. We meet our narrator, homicide detective Chief Inspector George Suttle who surprisingly is also one of the Young. He is rudely awoken by one of the Restless chewing on his chambermaids intestines and this sets off a murder mystery investigation. George, able to roam around in daylight thanks to zinc sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat encounters one of the Young in the unsafe zone, long dead, naked with no staked puncture marks and missing a right hand. The one obvious question posed to the Chief Inspector is how exactly can one of the unkillable be killed?
Abnett has been a favourite writer of mine for a while now and he is in his element here. Nothing is messed about with in his portrayal of a turn of the century London in the grip of daily survival horror even down to the cockney accents of Suttle's help-staff. In what could be thought of as quite a laughable concept, the writing and plot is deadly serious with a touch of unintentional humour and just the right amount of mystery and intrigue to keep readers hooked in for the next few issues.
Culbard's art is very clean easy on the eye but not too show-offy at the same time making it a perfect match for the "cleaniless" of zombie and vampire infested London. Every page is mostly kept to the comic standard panel grid format with around 3-5 panels per page and no double-page spread to speak of. The simplistic art is a fantastic choice in bringing to life or in this case death, the bleak and miserable surroundings of the world of the Deadwardians.
There has been a trend in the past few years of combining Zombie related fiction with post-Victorian England literature such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (which is also an upcoming film). Having never read any of those I can't pass any judgement here but The New Deadwardians is a fantastic addition to that world and well worth sinking your fangs into.