One universally acknowledged truth of life and death in DC comics is that the deceased rarely stay that way forever. Oftentimes, these reunions can be cause for celebration. But sometimes, well, the dead come back wrong. And in the worst-case scenarios, the dead all come back at once…and hungry.
It’s a warning worth taking to heart as two separate undead nightmares arrive this week in the forms of Task Force Z and DC vs. Vampires. But keep calm and keep your wits about you, and we might just get through this together. After all, it’s all happened before. While non-living threats may not quite be up there with Joker attacks and invaders from Apokolips when it comes to frequency, this is something our heroes have some experience with. So, taking past run-ins with the undead to heart, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when facing a zombie apocalypse.
Stay Off Your Phone
If you’re reading this and are even slightly concerned there might be a zombie outbreak happening right now, stop it. Seriously. Turn off your phone, your laptop, anything connected to the internet, and stay off until you’re sure the crisis is over. Because in DCeased, that’s exactly how the Anti-Life virus gets you.
After Darkseid infected Cyborg with a deadly variant of the Anti-Life Equation, Cyborg returned to Earth and immediately devastated the planet by uploading the techno-organic virus to the internet…where everyone who saw it was instantly converted into the Anti-Living. So, while the web-connected age keeps us all closer than ever, all news is bad news when a glance at your screen can turn you into a literal zombie. Talk about doom scrolling, am I right?
If the undead happen to be flying about in matching black uniforms with rings on their fingers and feeding on emotions instead of brains or blood, then you’ve got a Black Lantern outbreak on your hands. These tricky devils can be a Black Handful, but the crisis of Blackest Night taught us with some trial and error how to take a Black Lantern down.
What you need to defeat a Black Lantern Corps member is the light from two other colors of Lantern ring. One green, and dealer’s choice on the second. There’s already close to ten human Green Lanterns flying around, so the flagging one down shouldn’t be too tough. As for the second part…maybe try hoping REAL hard, or getting REAL angry?
Escape the Prison of Your Flesh
When a supernatural death plague is wiping out humanity, your best option may actually be to become something other than human. Since life began on Earth, the primordial forces of the plant-aligned Green, the animal-aligned Red, and the death-aligned Rot have been vying through selected agents for control of the planet. It’s bad news for life as we know it if any of these powers gain supreme victory, but the “Rotworld” scenario where death wins is hands down the worst of them.
But as we learn from the handful of surviving heroes in this dark potential future, when the force of death and decay is at your door, you’ve got three viable options left to you. You can embrace the Red by surrendering to your animal nature—like Beast Boy. Or you can make your stand with the plants, trading flesh for bark—like Poison Ivy. Or, and this is my personal favorite, just embrace transhumanism altogether and upload your consciousness into a robot body, eliminating your stake in any of the competing forces of life and death, like Steel does here. (Also pictured here is Black Orchid, who has another deal involving an experimental synthesis between Red and Green…it’s a whole thing.) Point is, zombies can’t eat your flesh if you’ve got no flesh to give, and vampires can’t suck your blood if you’ve got no blood to suck. Roll safe.
Slay the Sire
When it comes to your classic vampire uprising, the way out is actually pretty simple. Unlike other monster varieties, the vampire race are like a sort of undead pyramid scheme. Take out one, and you take out every vampire they’ve ever converted. So, really, to bring a swift end to any nasty vampire situation, all you have to do is kill one vampire: the common ancestor of all the vampires in question. That’s how Andrew Bennett and the Justice League Dark deal with it in “Rise of the Vampires.” And any plan John Constantine’s on board with can’t possibly have any unforeseen drawbacks, right?
If You Can’t Beat ’Em, Eat ’Em
Okay. So, none of the other tips on this list helped you and you’re a zombie now. Not ideal. But just because it’s the end of the world, doesn’t mean it has to be the end of YOUR world! The Vertigo comic and television series iZombie both provide instructional afterlife guides on how to maintain a relatively normal and fulfilling life once you’re among the undead.
All right, you need to eat brains to survive. There are ways to source that! Just because you’re dependent on cannibalism now doesn’t mean you have to be a monster about it! With time, effort, and a robust support network of fellow like-minded undead, you may just find that life really begins for you once it’s technically over.
Alex Jaffe is the author of our monthly "Ask the Question" column and writes about TV, movies, comics and superhero history for DCComics.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexJaffe and find him in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion.