Deadman (comic series)

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Deadman is the title of several American comic book series published by DC Comics , as well as the name of the protagonist of those series. In the past, the Deadman comics were always in the adventure and horror genre, with particular emphasis on the macabre aspect.

Thematically, Deadman revolved around religious and religious-philosophical questions, whereby naturally eschatological problems were dealt with, such as the question of the meaningfulness of life, the existence of life after death and the shape of this after-life.

After the character had been increasingly forgotten in recent years, the announcement by the Time Warner company that it would produce a Deadman film under the aegis of Guillermo del Toro , Don Murphy and Susan Montford brought the character new attention.

Main character

The character of the Deadman series, Boston Brand, was created by the author Arnold Drake and the illustrator Carmine Infantino and made its debut in issue # 205 of the Strange Adventures series from October 1967. The naturalistic illustrator Neal was largely responsible for the further design of the character Adams , who gave Deadman its essentially valid visual appearance to this day, as well as the author Jack Miller who refined the background story and characterization of the "dead man".


The protagonist of the Deadman comics is the ghost of the circus acrobat Boston Brand. Brand is shot dead by a man named Hook during a trapeze act and falls fatally into the ring. Instead of going into the hereafter, however, Brand's spirit is held back in this world by the Hindu goddess Rama Kushna and, moreover, given him the power to "nestle" in the bodies of the living and to temporarily control them. The meaning of this "grace" of Rama is allegedly that Brand should have the opportunity to bring his murderer to justice. As indicated throughout the series, Rama also seems to be driven by other, undisclosed, motifs. Brands' search for his killer forms the loose point of reference and hook of the Deadman adventure.

The narrative trick behind it is very similar to the structure of the American television series " On the Run ": In the search for a murderer, the hero finds himself in ever new situations and experiences entertaining adventures that actually do not affect the search for the murderer have to do and not bring him any closer to the solution of his case. The reason for these adventures is mostly meeting people in need, whom Deadman then rescues from their plight using his special skills. At the end of the individual adventure, the hero returns to the status quo - wandering through the world of the living - and the search for the murderer continues, only to be interrupted by new excursion-like adventures. Strictly speaking, however, this search is only roughly what Hitchcock referred to as McGuffin in his films : the technical pretext to bring about a situation in which certain incidents and vicissitudes can take place, which, however, is not actually about.

Alternative version

In August 2006, DC's Vertigo Imprint published an alternate version of the Deadman material by Bruce Jones . Here Deadman is a pilot named Brandon Cayce, who was secretly drugged by his brother Scott for unknown reasons before a take-off: When the drugs started to work during the flight, Cayce crashes his plane into Heathrow International Airport and dies. But instead of going over to posterity, Cayce decides to repossess his body and investigate the circumstances surrounding his death.

Publication history

The first Deadman adventures were published in the Strange Adventures series, a series that presented a hodgepodge of obscure and mystical adventures. The Deadman Adventures attracted a lot of interest from the American public because they were the first American comics to venture into drugs since the Comic Code Authority was introduced in the 1950s. In 1967 Arnold Drake and Carmine Infantino also received the Alley Award for the "best New Strip", which gave the series additional publicity, which was increased even further by the Alley Award for Neal Adams in 1968.

After the end of the independent Deadman adventures in Strange Adventures , the character only appeared as a minor character in other series, in particular the anthology series The Brave and the Bold , in the 1970s and the first half of the 80s . In 1985 the Adams editions of the old adventures were finally reissued in a seven-part miniseries.

In 1987, a four-part miniseries with new material on the character was published for the first time (author: Andrew Helfner, draftsman: José Luis García-López ). This was followed by miniseries such as Deadman: Exorcism (author: Mike Baron , draftsman: Kelley Jones ) from 1992, Deadman: Dead Again from 2001, as well as a new, nine-part series called Deadman in 2002 . The artist Kelley Jones, in particular, stood out as an artist: Jones, who cultivates a decidedly expressionistic style, created a dedicated new Deadman look in the late 1980s by portraying Boston Brand no longer as an almost human-looking man, but depicted him as a lean, bony, zombie-like ghost. The original Deadman stories from the 1960s were finally reissued by DC Comics in 2001 in a solid, splendid volume.

Deadman appeared on television in the episode " Dead Reckoning " of the animated series The Justice League (US dubbing voice: Raphael Sbarge ). The French music duo Cassius eventually produced a music video for "1999" and "Feeling For You" that included Deadman.