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The New Deadwardians #4: The Restless Young

Chief Inspector George Suttle of Scotland Yard runs into some uncouth Quenchmen out to end him.

New Deadwardians #4

If you can get past the "Young and the Restless" joke upon which Dan Abnett's 8-issue Vertigo series The New Deadwardians was apparently founded, you might find this take on the undead an interestingly eerie diversion.

When last we left Chief Inspector George Suttle of Scotland Yard Murder Squad, he'd been cornered in the rough and tumble Zone B, home of the Bright (read: normal humans) by a surly group of ruffians who make a point of hating on the Young (read: vampires) called Quenchmen, threatening to "quench that godless thirst of yours." As we learned last issue, The Young may be eternal and immune to the threat of the Restless (read: zombies), but they're also a form of undead that leaves them without much in the way of desire or ambition or appetite of anything beyond the few who have thirsty urges. Thus, not only are these Quenchmen mistakenly harassing a godful man, but the mere fact that he's about to get into a fight helps Suttle feel more alive than he has in years, even though it's averted by the timely intervention of his driver, Constable Bowes, threatening to kill their balls off.

It's with thoughts of reinvigorated appetites in mind that the later scene with his newly-Youngened maid Louisa, converted in an emergency to stave off a Restless bite, realizing with an unsettlingly wide-eyed distance that she really does not want to be Young, in part because she has no desire for food anymore. She can't even cry for what she's lost, and wants out. A fairly ominous set-up for something likely to be very sad later on down the line.

Also likely to end badly is Suttle's journey into Zone D, where the Restless roam free – although they tend to just congregate at the fences to Zone B to creepily stare at the human food they want. Through there lies the path to the remote Hinchcliffe Estate – family to the mysteriously undead-yet-murdered victim whose case Suttle is trying to close. During the trip, Suttle tells Bowes about the Restless plague and how he took "The Cure" (read: the en-Youngening) out of service to his country without question, knowing only that it would make him immune to the Restless. It seems to involve blood replacement and a Bible.

Abnett's story has its fun, with the cute little names and their suspect's pseudonym "Pretendleby" as well as working girl Sapphire's sporting attempts to reawaken Suttle's long-dead appetites, but it also is an interesting look at what defines humanity – desire, ambition, want, and a deadline in which to get it known as death. Immortality may seem nice, but as Suttle said in the first issue, "I have more future than I could possibly need, and there's nothing I wish to do with it." That's a death in and of itself.

The New Deadwardians is a good series, with bright and clean art from I.N.J. Culbard, even if his heads seem misshapen a lot of the time. There's still something enjoyable about it. Worth a look, for sure.

8.5