The New Deadwardians by Dan Abnett – Advance Graphic Novel Review [Bane of Kings]

the new deadwardians

Bane of Kings reviews the standalone graphic novel published by Vertigo Comics, an imprint of DC – and written by Dan Abnett, one of Black Library’s finest authors. The book is out on February 19th, and this copy was received from NetGalley. 

“A thrilling, horror ride through a twisted new world. Horror fans will get as much a kick out of this as comics fans. Abnett fans should love this as well. It’s a stellar comic.” ~The Founding Fields

Writer: Dan Abnett | Art: INJ Culbard | Cover: INJ Culbad | Publisher: Vertigo (DC Imprint) Comics | Collects: The New Deadwardians #1-8.

So, I’ve never encountered an Abnett comic before aside from the first issues of Resurrection Man, and I was a bit unsure about whether I should dive into this graphic novel and read it or not. As this was before my read of Pariah, which I will be reviewing lately and wasn’t as enjoyable as I thought it would be – I’d never been disappointed by an Abnett novel before. Graphic novel though? I know Abnett can handle things fine out of the Black Library universe (Embedded Triumff), but like I said, I wasn’t sure whether he could handle the comic medium (despite apparently successful runs on Guardians of the Galaxy [Something that I haven't read, but need to check out]), but after reading this graphic novel, rest assured – I no longer have any doubts. This mini series was superb, and Abnett at his best.

In this collection of the 8-issue miniseries, nearly every member of upper class, post-Victorian England has voluntarily become a vampire in order to escape the lower classes – who are all zombies! Into this simmering cauldron is thrust Chief Inspector George Suttle, a lonely detective who’s got the slowest beat in London: investigating murders in a world where everyone is already dead!

First of all, there’s an obvious premise that will draw readers to this book. The whole Zombies vs. Vampires, what would work and what wouldn’t – set in the backdrop of a post-Victorian England allows for some great thrills and Abnett, with art from Culbad, just makes the setting work. This is something that you couldn’t get in a novel and that the graphic novel setting just captures the premise perfectly.

the new deadwardiansThe lead character, Chief Inspector George Suttle – is an interesting character. We’re drawn to support him particularly when you learn that he’s the only one that’s actually bothered to remain in his job despite being like everybody else  - effectively dead. This makes us want to root for him even though he is a vampire, and whilst Abnett has twisted the traditional mythos slightly so they’re not as evil as Dracula and pals, they don’t sparkle and fall in love with teenage humans. They also still drink blood.

This is a fascinating alternate history with a great mystery and a twist on the standard police procedural allows for a compelling book. The action scenes are great, and brought to life by Culbad – who is an interesting artist even if I’m not a big fan of the cover. The book itself is rather peculiar particularly for the comics medium – most of the time comics fans are interested in superheroes (I’m guilty of this to an extent, the first volumes of Justice League and Batgirl  from DC’s New 52 just arrived in the post from Amazon yesterday), or The Walking Dead, but The New Deadwardians is a great mini series where you don’t have to catch up on hundreds of issues or worry about reading other titles to understand what’s going on.

It’s a fantastic read, made all the more interesting when you know this series has a definite ending, something that isn’t very common in comics and most of the mainstream series will only end if the sales are poor or a reboot commences. This is something that comic fans should be looking to add to their collection and as this was a digital read, I will have to check the graphic novel out in print at some time soon as well. It’s something that I’d like to add to my slowly-expanding collection.

Verdict 4.5/5

Bane of Kings is one our most senior book reviewers here at The Founding Fields, based in England. He’s a prolific reviewer that has contributed to many things here and around the internet.


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