Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard's "The New Deadwardians" surprised and enchanted me from the first pages. The concept, despite containing the words vampire and zombie, felt entirely fresh, the execution was unique, and there was just something magnificent about the whole thing. However, that's a lot to promise in a first issue, and a lot to live up to. I'm happy to say the conclusion of the mini-series with this week's issue #8 does a solid job, if not quite what I had hoped for.
Abnett's story and writing of this title has been full of intrigue from the opening pages. Set up as a "traditional" detective story, we have a detective and a mysterious death, and Abnett effortlessly world-builds a strange "Deadwardian" era full of The Young (Vampires), The Restless (Zombies) and The Bright (the living) all struggling to survive, except the few that wish they could die all around that mystery. It's smart and strong work. Abnett's murder mystery is equally as strong with plenty of twists, turns and worthy cliffhangers. The conclusion to the mysterious death, and some answers to how this world came to be, satisfy and ties things up nicely, even if it's not quite as dazzling as I had come to expect.
I.N.J. Culbard is an artist I hope to see a lot more of in the future. His style is distinctly not traditional for comics, or at least not when it comes to the mainstream, but it's solid, simple and almost honest in a way too few comics are. Culbard is fully committed to the style in which he works (though he may of course evolve it over time) and there's a fantastic consistency in what he puts on the page. His art is not going to be for everyone, but I am certainly an unabashed fan.
If you missed out on this series, I seriously urge you to seek it out either in back issues or digitally, or if you must, pick it up in trade. It's truly one of the more interesting, intelligent and fun mini-series I've read in a while. I hope these two have more up their sleeve, though as I've said, they've set the bar dangerously high with "The New Deadwardians."