Half of this book is fantastic. The story about Xavier, the ex-police officer who became one of the undead, becoming more and more human is by far the most interesting part of this series. We only get to see her for a brief moment in this issue, but it's pretty awesome. On top of that, there's another story about the higher ups in New York trying to figure out what to do about the zombie infestation. Writer George A Romero handles this brief scene extremely well, and inter-cuts actual people shooting down zombies during the speech. It's very well done and adds a lot to this world.
The real star of this show is the art of Alex Maleev, with Matt Hollingsworth on colors. Maleev's style really fits this book well, and his art really moves this story along beautifully. It's gritty and dark, just like the world these characters live in. Hollingsworth really kills it with colors though. His palate really fits this book well, it's grim and has the feeling of a 70s films to it. This are team is utterly fantastic here.
The biggest problem with EMPIRE OF THE DEAD is that there is way too much packed into this book. While we're still in the midst of setting up this series, Romero tries to jam pack this second issue with as many secondary stories as possible to a point where the reader isn't sure what to follow. Within this issue alone, the central park zombie fights, Xavier, the zombie police officer who can still think, is captured by police, politicians try to figure out how to deal with the zombie plague, scientists kill rats, and a whole bunch of vampires are all explored here. If this book were about Xavier alone, along with the politicians story, were the only things in this book, it would be amazing. Everything else just gives you whiplash.
The opening of the book is zombies fighting each other, with weapons. At first, I thought they were regular old humans because they were... acting like humans. It's understandable that this book is exploring the humanity left within the undead. It's a cool aspect, but the opening feels like such a far jump forward, since the focus on Xavier has her mindset at the same level, it seems, as the zombies in the opening.
Vampires... It's ridiculous additive to this book.
Overall, EMPIRE OF THE DEAD #2 is a bit of a disappointment. If it weren't for the fantastic art here, it would be a 2/5. There's way too much going on in this book and way too many side stories. Two of these many side stories are good and the other ones fall flat. There isn't enough room for all of this to grow from issue to issue. Hopefully, this series gets a bit better because right now, it's not meeting expectations.