Review: The New Deadwardians / Writer: Dan Abnett / Artist: I. N. J. Culbard / Publisher: Vertigo / Release Date: February 19th
Every time I watch a period drama, especially those set in the Edwardian era, I often note that the thing which would vastly improve it is the addition of zombies, and perhaps some vampires. Luckily for me, writing machine Dan Abnett must have felt the same way, as his latest graphic novel, The New Deadwardians is Downtown Abbey meets The Evil Dead.
The graphic novel follows the exploits of the last homicide detective, Chief Inspector George Suttle. You see, following a very English zombie apocalypse during the late Victorian period, the upper classes became vampires. Of course, being very English, they don’t call it vampirism, and refer to their regular blood transfusions as ‘The Cure’. Because most of the toffs are now undead, the ruling classes are less interested in investigating murders. That is, until one of their own turns up dead, and hasn’t been killed by one of the more traditional methods of killing monsters.
Abnett uses the investigation to draw us into a very strange but familiar world, where all the blood sucking parasites are in positions of power, but are terribly, terribly polite about it. Of course, the rest of the country is deeply unhappy about all this, and is on the verge of revolution. Parallels with the real world are made often and well. For example, society frowns on young women becoming undead, so there is a ‘Throats for Women’ movement. The mix of horror, detective drama and period drama works very well, and it’s filled with great sequences and clever ideas.
Culbard’s artwork is simple, clean and conveys the action and atmosphere of the story very well, and he does draw a good zombie. There are some key scenes that sell the reader on the idea that the green and pleasant countryside is covered in zombies. Fans of Anno Dracul, Upstairs Downstairs or From Hell should take a look at The New Deadwardians.