Deadman Neal Adams 2017

Review – Deadman #2: Back To the Circus

DC This Week
Deadman Neal Adams 2017
Deadman #2 cover, image via DC Comics

Deadman #2 – Neal Adams, Writer/Artist


Ray – 3/10

Corrina: A Circus, In More Ways Than One


Ray: The second issue of Neal Adams’ latest writer-artist outing has more of a story than the dreadful first issue, but it suffers from a serious execution problem. Thankfully, there’s less Batman, as he seems to bring out the absolute worst in Adams’ writing. The issue opens with Deadman bodyhopping until he makes his way to the infant Sensei, who has been reincarnated. That leads to the bizarre spectacle of Deadman yelling at a baby and fighting an elderly ghost until the Phantom Stranger shows up. This leads to more screaming until Deadman punches the Stranger. The story then takes him to the circus where he used work when he was alive, and where his brother and his family have now revived the act as “The Deadmen”.

Seeing Deadman forced to confront his old life has some potential, as he’s a character who spends a lot of time running from his past. The reveal that he has a twin brother has promise as well. But too soon, the issue devolves into history repeating itself, and then Deadman spends several pages torturing the culprit in graphic fashion. The big issue with this series is that Deadman is not remotely heroic. He’s a loud, arrogant bully with a lot of anger built up, but it’s hard to separate that and Neal Adams’ typical hysterical dialogue. Remember Batman screaming “I hate hate hate the breath in your lungs”? in a previous mini? This issue has more interesting ideas than some previous stories, but it’s just a disaster in execution.

Corrina: Well. Huh. It’s certainly an interesting book, in that it throws many of DC’s mystical concepts at you all at once. I confess, the idea of Deadman railing at a baby whose absorbed Sensei’s soul is off-beat enough to work. I also liked that someone, finally, punched Phantom Stranger. He’s had that coming for a long, long time.

But such moments do not make a great story or even a good one. I’m more familiar than Ray with Boston Brand’s circus family, as I’ve known about his twin brother from stories in the 1970s. (It’s possible Adams illustrated those.) I liked that this story went back to the circus and the trick of Deadman saving his brother before it was too late was terrific. But then there is a bunch of incoherent yelling from Boston at everyone, and the story falls apart with Boston torturing a guy to death. (And we don’t even know why he’d do that–that would have been nice to know.)

For a much better Deadman story, check out Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love by Sarah Vaughn and Lan Medina.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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