So Sayeth the Odinson: DCeased: Is there Hope at the End of the Apocalypse?

Happy Halloween from the Odinson,

The winds of Thor begin to blow a little colder.  The leaves of Gaia are turning brown.  And the harvest of the Great Pumpkin is plucked and carved into Jack-o-Lanterns.  It’s Halloween! 

And this year the Odinson asks the question:

DCeased: Is there Hope at the End of the Apocalypse?

DCeased is a tale about the end of the world.  The end of the DC Universe!  It’s more than just another Zombie Apocalypse story.  It’s more than just another Super Heroes vs. Zombies tale.  Not only is it meta on so many levels, at its core, it may just be the quintessential DC Comics story. 

Please, allow me to explain.

Act I: DCeased – It begins as a cautionary tale.  Darkseid, ruler of the dark world of Apokolips has spent the bulk of his immortal life searching for the infamous Ant-Life equation.  On this day, he found it.  Be careful what you wish for.  You may just get it.  Upon learning this forbidden knowledge and unleashing it into the ether, Darkseid destroyed himself, his family, his world, and perhaps the entire DC Universe!   

This equation takes on the form of a super virus that makes its way to planet Earth and spreads its disease through the internet.  It can be argued that the people of the world have become beholden to their devices, phones, computers, televisions, and all their networks, social media, streaming services, and influencer platforms.  How devilishly clever then that the seeds to the end of mankind would be planted in and distributed worldwide through these very avenues. 

Anyone plugged in at the time the Anti-Life Equation made planet fall, became infected.  Billions were lost upon first contact.  The infected instantly go mad and begin to inflict harm on themselves and anyone who is uninfected in the immediate vicinity.  All societal laws and conventions immediately break down.  The police and military cannot even begin to contain the outbreak as by the minute, more and more join the ranks of the infected.     

Even the world’s Greatest Super-Heroes are all but powerless to stop the chaos.  Unable to combat the threat head on for fear of slaughtering innocent lives, many of them begin to perish and even join the ranks of the infected.  The heroes are dealt an unbelievable blow when they learn that Batman has succumbed to the disease. 

The world is lost.  A very small band of survivors attempt to leave this dead world behind aboard a space-faring ark.  But things get even worse when the Flash becomes infected and begins to spread the disease around the globe faster than the speed of light.  The only one that can stop him is the Man of Steel, but only at the cost of his own life. 

Superman dies, and with him, hope.

The opening chapter ends with a handful of survivors making their way across the stars, leaving behind a dead world, not realizing they are also leaving behind the key to their salvation.      

Interlude I: DCeased: A Good Day to Die – A small group of heroes consisting of Mister Miracle, Big Barda, Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, and Mr. Terrific band together to seek out John Constantine to see if magic can be used to cure the Anti-Life plague.  When this fails, our intrepid heroes embark on a suicide mission to use time travel to set the wrong things right.  That is never a good idea and when their former teammates Fire and Ice show up infected, the proceedings turn into the Wild Bunch real quick. 

Come on, what did you expect, the Formerly Known as the Justice League team to save the day?   

Act II: DCeased: UnkillableCheetahDeadshot. Solomon Grundy.  Bane. Captain ColdLady Shiva.  Deathstroke the Terminator.  They are some of the most dangerous super villains in the entire world.  The heroes took a shot and failed.  Now it’s up to the bad guys to save the world.

The Anti-Life virus does not recognize divisive lines.  It does not acknowledge good or evil.  In this horror story, there are no good guys or bad guys.  There is only the infected and the uninfected.  These villains are placed in a precarious situation when they suddenly find themselves the protectors of a group of children.  Among these survivors are Jim Gordon and the surviving members of the Bat Family.    

This chapter shows that when the world is on the brink of doom, even the bad guys do what is right.  Real depth is given to the villains as they begin to actually care for the children under their protection and train them to defend themselves.  However, in true Zombie Apocalypse fashion, things take a turn and the bodies begin to hit the floor.

Family and sacrifice are the themes of this chapter.  Parents making the ultimate sacrifice for their children.  Children trying to live up to the expectations of their parents.  There is even a subplot about one of the most powerful Families in the DCU, and we discover why they have not tried to save the world until now. 

As their numbers begin to dwindle by the moment, the villains and those under their protection desperately try to make it to Poison Ivy’s sanctuary, the last known safe space on planet Earth.  The only thing standing in their way are hordes of infected and an infected Wonder Woman.

Interlude II: DCeased: Hope at World’s End – Here we are privy to events that have played out off screen from the initial outbreak of the virus and leading into the final chapter.  What was Jimmy Olsen doing when the world went to hell?  Black Adam takes an unwavering stance when he eradicates the virus from his land but refuses to take in survivors from other parts of the world.  When he begins to second guess himself, he may doom the entire world. This is one of those moments when it is left up to the reader to decide who was right and who was wrong.  And finally, the rest of the speedsters Wally West, Impulse, Jesse Quick, and Max Mercury save as many lives as they can before tragedy strikes their ranks. 

This is an interesting look at the story from a different point of view.  The protagonists seem to keep making the right decisions but at great costs that can make one question what is the right thing to do when the world is falling apart.

Act III: DCeased: Dead Planet – Years have passed.  Planet Earth is a barren wasteland of the walking dead.  A small band of survivors have made a new life on a new world dubbed Earth-2.  Their peace is interrupted when a signal reaches them from their dead homeworld.  Jon Kent, Damian Wayne, and Cassie Sandsmark have taken up the mantles of their fallen mentors.  Unwilling to leave anyone behind, the new Justice League returns to Earth where they are attacked by an infected Wonder Woman.   

Barely surviving this encounter, but not without casualties, our young heroes discover the distress signal was sent out by Cyborg who informs them there is a cure.  They make their way to Ivy’s sanctuary where they are united with the last surviving heroes and villains.  Here, they learn that things have gotten even worse than they thought.  Penguin and a cabal of elites are about to unleash an army of Amazo robots on the world to eradicate all the infected.  Plus, the demon lord Trigon is about to enter the realm of mortals to burn the blight of man from the existence. 

It’s a spectacular final act that sees our remaining protagonists rise to Herculean heights to accomplish the impossible and rescue a dying world from the brink of Armageddon.  Which brings me to my point. 

Every character left standing at the end of this horrific epic has suffered loss.  They have all sacrificed.  And even when the there was no chance left, they never gave up.  There’s a scene from the incredible finale I’d like to share that completely encapsulates what DC Comics means to the Odinson.    

The endless hordes threaten to overwhelm the survivors.  The army of Amazo robots are about to eradicate everything that moves.  And the titan that is Trigon is about to destroy everything.  And amongst this chaos, John Constant can save the world, he just needs a few precious moments in order to do it.  But time is up.  And just when all hope is lost, HOPE shows up.

In a scene that can only be described as truly awe inspiring, Jon Kent gives Constantine the time he needs.  In that moment, Jon Kent becomes Superman

This quote from the issue says it better than I ever could:

“John Constantine had seen the future.  He knew Jon would die if he faced Trigon. But Superman was faster than fate.  Stronger than the inevitable.  Able to leap the divide between reality and the impossible.  And for one shining moment, a mortal man held back the devil.”

Through all the horror. All the tragedy.  All the death.  All the sacrifice.  HOPE will not die.     

Marvel Comics has always been about the world outside your window.  DC Comics has always been, and always should be, about inspiration…about striving for something better…about HOPE.  Beyond all the death, destruction, and horror, at the end of the day, this story is about HOPE.  It shows us there is hope at the end of the Apocalypse   

And that is why DCeased is a quintessential DC Comics story

This is Odinson bidding thee a spooky and safe Halloween

NOTE: For past entries of the So Sayeth the Odinson blog, over a decade’s worth of comic book and pop culture articles and reviews, click HERE.  Also, be sure to check out my novels The Survivors and Autumn Dawn, which were inspired by 1980s horror – HERE and HERE

About Odinson

I am a lifelong comics fan and pop culture enthusiast. Comic books, novels, games, television, movies, I love it all. From fantasy to science fiction, drama to comedy, as long as the writing and execution are interesting, I love it, and I want to talk about it.

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