If you have zombies or vampires in a book then you are guaranteed a certain amount of interest, if you put them together in a book from Vertigo then you have a winner.
The New Deadwardians from Vertigo not only gives you both but also throws in a murder mystery, an alternative take on the Edwardian era and a comment on the social classes here in the UK.
In this 3rd issue we find Inspector George Shuttle still on the trail of the killer of a fellow vampire who was found murdered issue 1, the investigation has taken him into the East End of London across into what is know as Zone B.
Zone B is the area where humans known as the Bright live, and the inspector is made very aware that its an area where vampires know as the Young are not welcome.
It’s during this journey into zone B that we get to learn a bit more information about Shuttle, through a flashback to his time in the Zombie war it doesn’t reveal too much but does give you a tantalising glimpse into his past.
Shuttle's investigations take him to a house of ill repute know as a Thirsty house, a place where vampires go to try to connect to a part of the life they once had.
While he's there we get to learn a little bit more about the Inspectors condition (been a vampire) and how it affects him, thanks to the girls he encounters who as they say ''have the skills to raise the dead (no Viagra in those days). And once alone with one of the girls who goes by the name of Sapphire (not here real name I suspect), the Inspector confesses that he misses the days when he had desire and passion something that goes when you become a vampire. In this world there are no True Blood style lusting from the vampires, most feelings, urges and even dreams seem to disappear once you change or take the cure as they call it. In truth it is refreshing to see this take on becoming a vampire, that despite its advantages there is still a down side (pun intended) to been one of the living dead.
Its during his time with Sapphire (they talk) that you also learn that Shuttle wears a cross, a symbol that he admits burns the flesh of some of his fellow Young. He however seems to be immune from this, maybe its because he believes he became a vampire as a sacrament for God and the Queen.
After getting the information he requires from Sapphire Shuttle heads of to the market area, where his driver warns him that gangs of Quenchman operate in that area. Quenchman are gangs that don't tolerate the young and see them as Godless creatures, and as you can guess the Inspector comes face to face with a gang as the book ends..
The artwork on the book is excellent and depicts this dark grim world superbly, the story line while not rushing to a conclusion is moving along at a nice steady pace. Its a credit to writer Dan Abnett that the character interaction is so good, that you don't notice that there is little to no action in the book.
The other aspect of the book I find interesting is that only the affluent are seemingly given the cure to stop them from becoming zombies, and once cured they all live in relative safety in Zone A which for the main part is zombie and crime free. Where as the lower class are left to fend for themselves in zone B, and are left in danger of becoming zombies or killed for no other reason than been born on the wrong side of the class divide.
I drew parallels with this and the ongoing NHS (National Health Service) post code lottery debate here in the UK, where different health trusts seemingly have different rules on what they spend and who is entitled to various types of treatment. So based on where you live in the country, your age and some believe social class, it can literally be the difference between life and death dependent on which post code (zip code) you live in. Swap zones for post codes and it’s an interesting comparison intended or not, but then maybe I‘m looking too deep into the book and seeing things that are not there.
Either way a comic that makes you think, can’t be a bad thing now can it.
The New Deadwardians is only 3 issues in so getting back issues should not be a problem and well worth the effort of seeking them out, and based on what I have read so far I would be more than happy to see this book move to a monthly at the end of its 8 issue run.