Review – Deadman #1 (DC Comics)

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Neal Adams
Artists: Neal Adams, Clem Robins
Release Date: 1st November 2017

What can I say about Deadman issue 1? Well, I’ve never properly read a solo Deadman outing, but I’ve always found the character interesting. One of the great things about the DC roster is that you tend to get a good taster for the characters when they guest star in other arcs, much like Batman does in this issue – but more on that later. My experience with Deadman is primarily from Justice League Dark, and while the storyline of those issues wasn’t brilliant I did find the character to pretty cool. A wise guy from the East Coast just trying to live a normal life but hampered by the fact that he’s, y’know, dead.

He interacts well with other characters and even though his power to possess people at first seems like a gimmick, that soon disappears in the same way the jokes surrounding Aquaman do after reading a few pages. Neal Adams takes the helm here and, given the fact that he’s not only the writer but also the sole artist on this issue, you can tell this is his baby. The sharp blackened outlines and colourful warping visuals sit well with the supernatural hero. Deadman himself is gaunt and somewhat haunting which matches the intensity of the storyline and emotions felt from the characters.

This issue picks up a tale that divorces our hero of from his usual dry sense of humour.  Boston is on the trail of his own killer, seeking to find justice by killing the man that took his own life. This journey has brought him around the world, and has seen him cross paths with not only the League of Assassins but our very own Batman in the process. The thing is, I’m just not quite sure where this all fits within the DC Universe.

First of all is the artistic portrayal of Jim Gordon.  It’s been widely established that since the New 52 we’ve had a much younger Gordon, so why is it that he’s suddenly lost the ginger hair and aged 30 years? If this is in the future then why aren’t Bruce or Alfred any different? There’s also the plot which doesn’t really add up. The intention I feel was to involve Batman as a form of contrast to Deadman.  While they both show the darker side of the DCU, Batman staunchly goes against killing while Deadman is all for it. It feels like Batman is supposed to be some moral compass to Boston, but if that was the case why does he push him towards his killer when Bats knows full well that Boston is just going to kill him anyway?

The dialogue didn’t sit right with me either.  It felt clunky, almost like an anime dubbed over in English which changed the original meaning of the conversation. To me this feels like one for die-hard fans of Deadman only.  It poses a very different mystery which, at face value, could prove to be a good insight into our hero. But I’m just left wondering if this was really needed with everything else that’s kicking off with DC right now? We’ve got Metal happening and the Doomsday Clock fast approaching, so if you’re going to start a brand new comic you’d think that it would be one that would grab the reader’s attention more. But that’s just my subjective view as a passing appreciator of the character.

This is definitely one for the fans, but I’m just not sure about its appeal for anyone else.

Rating: 2/5.

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The writer of this piece was: Indiana “Indy” Marlow
Indy Tweets from @smokingpunkindy

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