In Review: Deadman #2

Deadman's journey becomes stranger as three of DC's inhuman characters intrude on his trek.

The cover: In a raging downpour, something emerges from the lightning, terrifying Deadman. The lightning sparks a fire on the bottom right, showing that this element is also to be feared. Neat cover from Neal Adams, though it seems that there should be something within the cloud that’s charging Deadman. It’s as if another glow-in-the-dark element was going to appear on this cover but omitted at the last minute. Neat, but not fantastic. Overall grade: B-

The story: Leaping into a man’s body in Times Square, Deadman learns the location of the new home that the evil Sensei will dwell in. He’s surprised at how nice it is, as well as its great size. A light has him going down a hallway and seeing a young woman and her husband looking at their baby in a crib. Looking at the child after the parents leave, Deadman wonders if the tyke’s parents will be dead in the morning from the Sensei. This causes the spirit of the Sensei to rise out of the child and attack the hero. The villain rips Deadman’s heart out, though there is no wound. The battle comes to a halt when the protagonist says that the baby is crying. This makes the villain return to the baby’s body, frustrating Deadman. “This miserable murderer will get a new start…another chance.” Then the baby says something that shocks the hero. Adding to Deadman’s frustration is the arrival of another DC character who walks the line between good and evil. Where this character takes Deadman is interesting, leading to a violent climax that was surprising. Writer Neal Adams really makes Boston Brand’s journey a heartbreaker, but he also shows that the hero is capable of being extremely cruel. The final two pages bring two other famous DC characters into this issue. What they’ll do and how Boston will react is something to be answered in the next issue. This was a fun read, but could have been a shorter reader with some of the action omitted; not all of it was necessary or furthered the plot. Overall grade: B

The art: Neal Adams, the artist, certainly can put a lot of movement into his characters. Deadman’s entrance into the man on the opening page is extremely well done, as is the dropping fruit. Sensei’s exit from the baby is supernatural perfection, with the blows he levels on the hero wonderfully horrific, such as is in the third panel on Page 3. When the baddie pulls out the hero’s heart it’s a shocking graphic, with the expressions on both characters’ faces fantastic. The lay out of 6 is great, built around a gigantic image of Deadman screaming. The entrance by the character at the bottom of the same page is so darn cool! When Deadman leaves this intruding individual, the perspective that Adams gives this character on 8 is awesome. The point of view that Adams gives his panels is always awesome; take a look at the third panel on 9 and the last panel on 10. That last example is an excellent way to create vertigo before the trapeze act begins. The climax begins on 15 when Deadman jumps into an iconic secondary character. The top panel on 16 is done at a forty-five degree angle to increase the skewed nature of the villain. And check out the rain that’s falling in every panel: it’s evident but doesn’t obscure the action of the characters — the sign of an expert illustrator. Page 20 has very little dialogue or sounds on it, as the visuals are strong enough to tell the story, and what a story they tell! The arrival of two characters on 21 are cosmic beauties. I really like that these characters begin to argue with another, leaving Deadman as angry and confused as ever with his words only heard by the reader. The visuals on this book are great. Overall grade: A

The colors: Also the colorist of this issue, Neal Adams starts the issue off with big, bold colors for the background of Times Square. I like how there’s a ghostly green glow around this character and any other that Deadman inhabits. Not to be outdone, Sensei also has a ghostly color associated with him as he travels between bodies: a perfectly eerie rose. Page 9 is set in a cramped interior and Adams gives it an orange tint which connotes poor lighting, which this location would have. The final action sequence takes place in a raging downpour in cool blues. I was glad that Adams went with this color because black would have made the characters too dark against that elemental backdrop. Two famous characters arrive on the penultimate page, each with their own unique supernatural color. Adams knows how to color a book as well as write and illustrate one. Overall grade: A

The letters: Clem Robins is the book’s letterer, creating dialogue, the book’s credits. yells, sounds, baby gibberish, a ringmaster’s dialogue over an intercom, and narration. His dialogue is easy to read, the sounds grow to gigantic size to enhance the action (such as at the book’s climatic fight), and some delightful baby talk. I was glad to see that the ringmaster’s dialogue was broadcast throughout the big top in a font that’s different from the dialogue, which is also different from the book’s narration. Dialogue and narration should always be different fonts and Robins shows himself to a pro in making it so. Overall grade: A

The final line: Action and drama team up with outstanding visuals that range from the real to the supernatural. Deadman’s journey becomes stranger as three of DC’s inhuman characters intrude on his trek. Overall grade: A-

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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