In Review: Deadman #3

A trippy journey into a character's head has Deadman learning secrets and finding evil.

The cover: This is a cover that has got a lot going on. Within a supernatural vortex, Deadman pulls at this father, who is trying to keep his wife from being sucked in. Behind the title character the Spectre holds his arms open as if he is responsible for this windstorm. The Demon is also present, looking fearfully into the eye of the storm. There are bloody splatters at the top and bottom of this image. This is a good action cover from Neal Adams that suggests danger but doesn’t show the threat. However, there’s more: look at the bottom of the spiral — it’s actually lengthened text! I can make out at the bottom, “cold and Stygian gloom enfolds the blossom that is Nanda Parbat there the balance that is life…” and I can’t make out the rest. There are two more rows of text above this and it’s just awesome. I love hidden messages in books and the one on this cover is cool. Overall grade: A

The story: Dave Brand is dead, killed by Tiny who was possessed by Boston Brand, Deadman. Free of the anti-hero, Tiny looks in shock at what he’s done, unaware that he’s surrounded by supernatural characters: the Spectre, the Phantom Stranger, the Demon, and Deadman. Boston takes control of Tiny again to spare him the emotional shock and to get more answers. The Spectre moves time forward to give Boston opportunity to avoid speaking with the authorities, while the Demon and Phantom Stranger leave. Neal Adams then has his tale become a family showdown as Boston confronts his father from within Tiny and as his past self. The confrontation quickly gets physical, forcing the Spectre to enter the fray and do something to Boston to show him what lurks in a character’s brain. This is a great sequence, with the setting amazing and the obstructions comical and creepy. An uber-villain is teased, but not shown, though if one is familiar with Adams’s DC work the identity of this character will be no surprise. Once out of the character’s brain, Boston is back possessing his past self and learns some horrific information from his father. This issue revealed some solid information to move the story forward and it had some really trippy sequences. This is what I want in a Deadman tale, so I was a happy camper. Overall grade: A

The art: Neal Adams’s visuals are fantastic. The opening page is a full-paged splash showing all the players, complete with the corpse in the foreground. It’s really raining on the characters and water has pooled from the body, including some blood, to write the title character’s name in the ground. When Boston takes control of a character there’s a really neat spiral that swirls around the body that’s a great visual clue to the reader as to what’s occurring. The introduction of the Brand family at the bottom of 3 clearly shows each character, with each doing an natural action that makes them very realistic. Speaking of action, the fisticuffs that occur soon after look great. The punches thrown look good and the anger in the combatants’ faces great. The Spectre’s reentrance into the story has him changing Deadman’s physical shape and it’s simple yet completely bizarre. Page 10 features a spectacular setting that’s wonderfully bonkers, but how else would this environment be but this? The threats that appear on 14 are classic for Adams’s Deadman issues and they look awesome. How they are defeated is a visual treat. The uber-villain that appears on 17 and 18 is shown in partial reveals, but those eyes gave him away and had me screaming in anticipation for more of the character. The exit from the character’s brain on 19 is a full-paged splash that’s awesome. The best images of Deadman are the ones where he’s screaming in despair and this is great. Adams continues to wear the crown he forged long ago. Overall grade: A

The colors: Also the colorist on this issue, Neal Adams uses bright, dramatic colors that put a lot of punch into the visuals. The blood that flows from the dead body into the water that forms the title character’s name on the opening page is terrific. The light greens used to show Deadman’s body hopping is a visual marker that’s important for the reader to see. Page 4’s first three panels use computer blurs for movements and I’m including this is in the coloring review because I had heard that it was colorists who do this. As Adams is artist and colorist for this book it seems repetitive, but I’m mentioning it. It looks terrible. There’s no reason for the computer manipulation and it looks like a bad special effect. When the two family members start swinging, the background goes an orange yellow to intensity the fighting. The Spectre’s appearance brings some gorgeous otherworldly greens to the book and makes him an instant eye focus. Once inside a character’s brain, the colors become a vivid explosion making the wonders of this environment even more exciting. The green eyes on 18 confirm a character’s identity. I’m loving the colors on this book. Overall grade: A-

The letters: Clem Robins, whose excellent work can be found in several Mike Mignola titles at Dark Horse Comics, is the letterer on this book. He creates dialogue, Demon speech, the book’s credits. whispers, yells, sounds, and a letter’s text read aloud. Adams is such a capable artist he can create a scene from an angle, so a letterer must be skilled to insert text without damaging the visuals. Robins does that. The dialogue is easy to read and never tramples over the visuals. The yells, and there are several of them, are in a variety of fonts so that the reader can understand the intensity of each when compared to others. My favorite letters are on Pages 14 and 15, for obvious reasons. Overall grade: A 

The final line: A trippy journey into a character’s head has Deadman learning secrets and finding evil. Highly enjoyable story with excellent visuals. If you love comics, you’ll love this Deadman. 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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