Or – “Have Y’Ever Noticed How Deadman Looks A Lot Like Daredevil?”

Daredevil’s second costume is ridiculously similar to Deadman’s: Short boot cuffs, short gloves, red bodysuit, big D symbol on the chest.  (I suppose Daredevil is technically a Double-D, but…

Y’know, there’s no good way for that sentence to have ended.)  Either way, the new DCU wouldn’t be the same without Boston Brand and his body-hopping exploits.  But what does the new status quo bring our favorite ghostly presence?

Writer: Paul Jenkins
Artist: Bernard Chang
Cover Artist: Ryan Sook
Colorist: Blond
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Editor: Wil Moss
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in DC Universe Presents – Deadman: Boston Brand was a world-renowned aerialist and world-class jackwagon in life, flying through the air in corpse makeup and a big red unitard as “The Deadman.”  When a mysterious one-handed assassin cut him down in his prime, Deadman was empowered by the Hindu deity/presence/what-have-you called Rama Kushna to solve his own murder.  Eventually, with the help of the Batman, he did so, but remained a wandering spirit, becoming more and more desparate to find his final rest.  During the events of Brightest Day, Deadman was returned to the living, but since I only skimmed that story, we’ll presume that none of it was relevant, and frankly, very little of it was even readable.  The new day that has come thanks to Barry Allen’s selfishness (ironically, trying to solve a murder case) has led to a new Deadman, but how much of the song remains the same?


The new take on Deadman is pretty clearly laid out in the very first page of this book, which is something that I really appreciate.  We witness a very-Evel-Knievel inspired daredevil type jumping his motorcycle over a pile of wrecked cars, with only the acrobatic prowess of Deadman possessing him to save his life.  “I didn’t die,” says the narration.  “I mean, Albert didn’t die…  I was already dead…  Let me start over.”  We then segueway into a retelling of Deadman’s origins from Strange Adventures.  I’m troubled by this, actually, because so many of these first issues (aside from the ones that I knew wouldn’t do anything new, such as the Bat and Green Lantern titles) aren’t actually FIRST ISSUES.  The story of Boston Brand is tweaked here, but only slightly, making him an even bigger d-bag than before, and making Rama Kushna much more humanoid than I remember.  The gist of it is, though, instead of solving his OWN murder, Boston Brand’s mission is to help a series of random people, “human bricks” in the road to his own redemption.  It’s an interesting premise, but I can’t help but think it resembles the television show ‘Quantum Leap’ a bit more than I’m comfortable with.


We meet Deadman’s newest “client,” a soldier named Johnny who lost his legs in what is clearly Afghanistan, which could be a good hook for a story.  Unfortunately, we quickly get trapped in a quicksand of cliches, and his helpful therapist (there’s one) tries to overcome his defense wall of anger (two) by telling him that he can “honor [his dead friends] by LIVING.”  (Three through ten, inclusive.)  It’s an interestingly moody book, bordering on dark, but some storytelling flaws affect it.  At one point, it seems that Johnny might be attempting suicide by taking pills, and Deadman spends a great deal of time watching him rather than helping.  We have an extended sequence wherein Boston haunts an old friend, and the issue ends on a pretty shocking note, as Deadman does something unprecedented enough to bring Rama Kushna physically to Earth.  The ending is a bit of a shock, and could be percieved in bad taste, I’m sure, but it’s one of the bold choices that the book makes, and I kind of want to know what happens next with our character.


The problem, of course, is that I’ve only really known this character for 20 pages or so, and having him move this quickly to what seems to be a status quo breaking move seems like awkward storytelling, and moreover, Deadman appeared in ‘Hawk and Dove’ as Dove’s boyfriend, something that I hope gets referenced here.  (Or maybe I don’t?  Wouldn’t it be interesting if one of the things they’re not telling us is that not all the relaunched titles take place on the same Earth?)  Either way, the issue is intriguing enough, and the main conceit seems like it’ll hold water for a while, at least.  Deadman is one of my fave-rave characters, although many of his recent appearances have done nothing for me, so I’m just happy to read a book with him as the central character again.  DC Universe Presents #1 is a mixed affair, but is successful in positioning the character as a lead, and keeps me interested enough to want to come back next month, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall.  I sincerely hope they don’t go the evil/crazy goddess route, though…

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  If we were to posit that multiple Earths MIGHT be involved in this relaunch, how many do you think we have in play so far?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. TaZ
    September 23, 2011 at 3:13 pm — Reply

    Why does it seem to be “cool” this go round with DC to make all of the male “hero” characters @ssholes EXCEPT for a “kinder, gentler” Batman (who’s son is an @sshole)??

    • Damascus
      October 3, 2011 at 5:40 am — Reply

      I think for this one, part of his backstory depends on him coming across as an asshole so that he has a reason for Rama Kushna to offer him his chance at redemption. As he is right now, it appears that the fact that the “living bricks” future fates rest on his decisions while he’s inhabiting their bodies seems to weigh on him and he holds that seriously. I don’t think he was really intending what happens in the final panel, I think it was simply a way to make Rama show herself for once.

      Also the soldier/Johnny has three pill bottles that are mostly full and he takes two red pills with some water and then falls asleep, that didn’t feel like an attempt at suicide, more likely they’re some form of painkiller or something like that. If it was a suicide, I think he’d have downed many more tabs than that, or they’d have thrown one more cliched shot and shown the bottle overturned on the ground with pills all around it.

  2. J Michael T
    September 23, 2011 at 3:24 pm — Reply

    Hmmmm. 52 Earths? Nah. They wouldn’t, would they?

    • TaZ
      September 23, 2011 at 3:40 pm — Reply

      It would make a whole lot more sense than what’s going on now.

  3. Armaan
    September 24, 2011 at 2:18 am — Reply

    Wouldn’t this story be like Justice League and Action comics? Ie, telling us about the early days of one Boston Brand?

    • TaZ
      September 24, 2011 at 7:00 am — Reply

      Probably but that still makes no sense if the purpose of the DC “relauch” was to “update” characters. So they’re updated to five years ago and we’ve got to go through five years of “flashbacks” to catch up to “current time?” And how do you keep up with which books are “current time” and which are “relaunch-recaps” without a spreadsheet. Also, the basis of the “relaunch” is that many of these are the “same” characters, just with altered origins and time-lines.

      Also, the “bricks” deal is a bit too “karmatic” for me. That would imply that at some time or another Boston would “meet the man in the middle” and “move on” (whatever that implies in the DCU now).

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m still primarily a DC fan and found a lot I like about some of the books but the ones reviewed yesterday (DC U Presents and Red Hood and the Outlaws) are not to my liking. Especially RH&O where within the first half of the book both of the male characters have boned the extra-terrestrial hottie mainly to one-up Dick Grayson. That sounds like something more out of the “Sidekicks” series than two former partners of Batman and Green Arrow. The Deadman story seems much more fitting for a “true” Vertigo title and I’m not sure how they will work this character in with Dawn Grainger (and he did make a cameo in Hawk and Dove #1).

  4. GeorgeWook
    October 2, 2011 at 9:37 am — Reply

    Why is this called “DC Universe Presents – “? Is this just a deadman ongoing, or is it going to follow a different character with each arc?

    • Damascus
      October 3, 2011 at 5:42 am — Reply

      Yeah I wondered that too, the title makes it sound like a grab bag, like a rotating book with a different focus for each arc. If that’s the case, I’m fine with that too. It might make for some more cohesive shorter run stories and give us the chance to see different characters too. But I’d like a Deadman ongoing too, so whatever they’re going to do I’ll have to wait and see.

      • October 3, 2011 at 5:54 am — Reply

        Pretty sure that Deadman is set for a short arc (5 or 6 issues?) and that the book will have a rotating focus after that…

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