Remember that famous scene in The Godfather where Michael Corleone is having his henchmen settle all The Family’s old scores while he attends his infant son’s baptism? George Romero clearly does, because Empire Of The Dead Act Two #3 (or George Romero’s Empire Of The Dead Act Two #3 to be technically correct about things) is all about Mayor Chandrake — who’s front and center in Alexander Lozano’s stunning cover, as shown above — eliminating all threats to his leadership of both New York City and the secret vampire cabal for whose benefit the entire town is run. He’s ruthless, determined and, unlike Michael Corleone, not afraid to get his own hands dirty in the process.
The bloodbath is precipitated, as you might guess, by a visit from the cops — not Chandrake’s own loyal “security” personnel, but actual, rank-and-file NYPD detectives. Apparently, he doesn’t own them all yet, and one newcomer to the story, a certain Buckie Perez, seems to be the post-zombie apocalypse’s answer to Jim Gordon in that he can’t be bought, bullied, or otherwise strong-armed into toeing the mayor’s line. Between a true “good cop” snooping around, the seeming political ascendancy of his nephew, Billy, and the pesky presence of an “unauthorized” victim of vampirism still resting semi-comfortably in the hospital, then, there are a lot of loose ends to tie up.
The problem is — one of the above-mentioned targets survives their attempted assassination, and there’s still that missing dirigible from a New Jersey warehouse to be accounted for.
Outside Chandrake’s desperate and homicidal machinations, though — which do lead to some interesting, if overly-expository in terms of how they’re handled, revelations (for instance, there are actually a lot fewer vampires than we’d previously been steered into assuming) — some other notable plot developments do take place here, particularly in The Arena, where the void left by the loss of super-fighter Zanzibar ends up being filled by — zombies who have actually learned to team up and work together? Trainer/wrangler Paul Barnum sees this, reluctantly, as a positive — but only for the time being, since he knows what it means if the same behavior patterns begin to emerge on the streets.
As for the cliffhanger, it’s a doozy — mistakenly believing that all his problems are solved, Chandrake pays a visit to his latest muse, Dr. Penny Jones, in her newly-equipped-to-the-hilt lab, and let’s just say that she might finally be getting close enough to the fire to be irrevocably burned.
All in all, then, a reasonably solid issue story-wise with one addition to the creative team worth mentioning in the form of the arrival of inker Rick Magyar, who seems to stay fairly true to Dalibor Talajic’s pencil line in that not a whole lot of stylistic difference can be discerned between this and the previous two installments, which Talajic inked himself, apart from an overall “darker” look owing to Magyar leaning a bit more heavily on his brush, so to speak, which suits both the material itself, as well as the mood it creates, quite nicely. A solid effort from all concerned, then, that has me very much looking forward to next month.