The New Deadwardians #3 is the point in this 8-issue Vertigo series by Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard where I decided I actively liked it, rather than simply respecting it and being intrigued by it as I was previously, and that's not just because there are a lot of boobs in this one. So far, it's managed to make vampires and zombies creepy again, and by the end of this issue, it's made normal humans quite a threat to these supernatural people, and that's an interesting role reversal.
Chief Inspector George Suttle, the last homicide detective in Zone A in this London which cordoned off to fence out The Restless (aka zombies), is heading to Zone B, the East End, where The Bright (aka normal humans) still live in much more ramshackle conditions than Suttle and the rest of The Young (aka vampires) live in the pristine and austere Zone A. In the course of his journey to investigate the case of the mysteriously murdered highfalutin undead, he encounters disdain from the Bright, flashbacks to the war, a solemn reminder of his own un-life by staring in the face of the Restless who don't even register him, and animals who very angrily do register him. It's an entirely unsettling trek.
What's more, we learn that Abnett's Young are not the sleazy horndog vampires in vogue today when Suttle makes his way to a "thirsty house" of ill repute in the course of his work and discovers for the first time in fifty years that he no longer has a libido thanks to "The Cure" that made him this way. He never even missed it, and this establishment trades on the fact that The Young pay the working girls to try to reawaken that desire they've lost (and occasionally let them engage their "tendencies" to bite them, too). So Suttle is even particular amongst The Young because he hadn't noticed it was gone. He doesn't eat, he doesn't dream, and there is no flavour or appetite to his life.
A woman calling herself Sapphire, however, seems to have a keen interest in helping him rediscover his passions, while being benevolent enough to actually help him in his investigation. It could just be good business, but perhaps something else is at play as well. The statement from Suttle that he remains a good Christian immune to the 'burning' from holy symbols despite being undead because he took The Cure as a sacrament for God and country is weirdly admirable and disturbing and sad all at once.
After leaving the thirsty house without sampling the wares, Suttle makes the mistake of heading off alone to follow a lead, encountering hopeless poverty, a dead end, and a gang called the Quenchmen, who ain't too keen on the Young, the godless shites. Quenchmen. Abnett's all about the clever names here, and that's part of the charm.
Culbard's art is very clean even when its depicting fllth, and it's refreshing compared to so much of the muddy art we see in a lot of these stories dealing with darkness and creature mystery. Abnett's made us like and respect Suttle despite his prim standoffishness, and set up this post-zombie society in an interesting fashion. The New Deadwardians is an interesting read if you'd like a less obnoxious take on the classic undead tropes, so check it out while it lasts.