It may have taken some time but the DC side of comics finally came up with their answer to the popular Marvel Zombies series with their six issue mini-series DCeased, in which zombie apocalypse came to Earth. Rather than be a carbon copy this went in a slightly different direction, more serious, and with a vastly different explanation for what was going on. The graphic novel includes both the six issue run, as well as A Good Day to Die spin-off.
It all begins with the Justice League defeating Darkseid and stopping his invasion of Earth. Before he returns to his homeworld of Apokolips he informs them that it was never about conquering the planet, but that he had been searching for something that he has now found. Back home, he tells a captured Cyborg that it was the second half of the 'Anti-Life Equation' that he was looking for, and that within Cyborg he has found it. He planned to use this formula to bridge the gap between electronic and biological viruses in order to be able to control everyone who was infected, but something went wrong and instead of control, the equation instead caused the infected to die and be reborn as the undead. With a zombified Darkseid on the loose on Apokolips, his sorcerer Desaad in panic sends the root of the virus, Cyborg away back to Earth hoping that will sever the connection. Back on Earth, the man is powerless to stop the virus within his body automatically uploading itself to the internet and pretty soon nearly the entire population of the world has become a mindless zombie due to the ease it spreads online.
First things first, I can't say I really understood the beginning of this. I gave up trying, needless to say, the virus spreads by people using their phones and using TVs and computers. The zombies here aren't so much flesh hungry as just supremely violent, but being braindead creatures their violence comes out in the form of teeth and claws. It follows the traditional rules in that anyone bitten becomes infected, eventually to turn, this even applies to ingesting blood of the infected. Superheroes and villains are what make this so different as you would expect. Unlike Marvel Zombies, which had most the superheroes quickly infected, here the main crux of the story is the surviving heroes battling to find a way to save Earth. In the Marvel run, eating the flesh of the living allowed the heroes to retain a degree of intelligence, still able to speak and to act somewhat rationally. Here, the zombies have nothing but base intelligence, even the superheroes become mindless creatures, albeit ones who are still able to use their powers in order to destroy. The speed at which the Earth falls is down to these superpowers, such as Captain Atom, someone who it appears has the power to explode like an atomic weapon, Aquaman who can control the creatures of the ocean and Giganta who becomes a fifty foot tall zombie.
I was surprised with some of the outcomes to these well known heroes, it is only a very minor spoiler to reveal that Batman was one of the first to fall. It was fun seeing a zombie Batman (and a zombie Joker), but I was disappointed my favourite hero was gone so quickly. There were a gigantic cast of characters here and to be truthful a huge majority of them I had no idea who they were. Of course, leading the good side is Superman, joined by The Flash, Clinton Archer and others. With various holdouts established around the world in some surprising locations it comes up to the heroes to first try and find a way to reverse the apocalypse, and then to find a way to survive it, saving as many regular humans as possible.
The story barrels along at a lightning pace with barely any proper downtime as it scoots from one set of characters to another. For me, not knowing who a good two thirds of these people were did take some enjoyment out of it. There were so many people wearing a whole variety of stupid costumes and their deaths didn't mean anything to me. But then when ones I did know met their end it felt a little bit more bleak and sad. It seemed a bit of a missed opportunity when it comes to the supervillains of the DC world. There were a handful that have actual impact on the story, such as Lex Luthor, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, and there were a handful that appeared in a zombie form (The Joker, Clayface and Killer Croc spring to mind) but most others didn't make an appearance at all.
Despite not knowing who a lot of the characters were, I enjoyed DCeased as much as I enjoyed Marvel Zombies. The darker, less joky tone is back up by plenty of gruesome violence, and a story that was a little different due to the cause of the apocalypse being a digital one. There has been a sequel (DCeased: Dead Planet), as well as two spin-offs not included here (Unkillables and Hope at World's End), so I will be certainly checking those out as well in the future.