December 11-12, 2021
Written by Tom G. Wolf
Neal Adams is having something of a renaissance in recent years at DC. Though he’s long been considered a legend in the comics industry for his seminal work on Batman, Green Lantern and Green Arrow in the 1970s, it’s great to see him enjoying the limelight again. Coming hot off the heels of 2016’s Superman: The Coming Of The Supermen limited series, Adams is now returning to one of the characters that helped make his name all the way back in the early days of his career – Deadman.
Though Deadman holds a significant spot in the hierarchy of DC’s weirder characters, he’s never quite risen above the C-list in the eyes of the wider public. He’s a cult figure who’s often used to great effect in a supporting role (e.g. Kingdom Come, recent issues of Trinity) but it’s rare for him to take the limelight. So for someone of Adams’ stature to spearhead this limited series, there’s obviously a considerable amount of personal passion for the character involved.
It shows on each page, too. Adams has taken on writing, art and cover duties for the title, and if the first issue is anything to go by, the remaining five are going to be great to look at. His signature style screams 1970s, but this is by no means a criticism. Given how distinct it looks from other comics on the shelf at the moment, it feels positively fresh; age has not dulled Adams’ illustrative skill.
That said, Adams is a much better illustrator than he is writer. To those of you who read the wonderfully entertaining but borderline incomprehensible Batman: Odyssey, this will not be shocking news. There’s a convoluted plot involving the League of Assassins, an attempt on Commissioner Gordon’s life and Deadman trying to figure out why he was murdered in the first place. All of these elements ended up feeling disconnected rather than meaningfully layered, but we imagine some of these connections will become less opaque as the series goes on. But Deadman isn’t so well-known that you can assume your readers are going to be familiar with much – if any – of the lore surrounding him. A little more introduction might have been helpful.
Deadman #1 has some serious shortcomings in its storytelling – but the art makes it worth the price of admission. Make sure you get the glow-in-the-dark cover if you can too!
Deadman #1 is available at all good comic stores now.