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Neal Adams on Bringing DEADMAN Back to the DC Universe

Neal Adams on Bringing DEADMAN Back to the DC Universe

Neal Adams is one of the most legendary names in comics, going back to his work on Uncanny X-Men, Avengers, Green Lantern/Green Arrow, and most notably, bringing Batman back to his role as the Dark Knight Detective after the campy ’60s TV series with writer Denny O’Neil. But aside from Batman, one of Adams’ earliest assignments at DC Comics was illustrating the adventures of Boston Brand, better known as Deadman, starting in the pages of Strange Advenures in 1967. Now, fifty years later, Adams is returning to Deadman in an all new miniseries hitting comic shops in November, once again both written and drawn by him.

For those of you out there unfamiliar with the character, Deadman is a ghost, formerly a circus trapeze artist named Boston Brand who performed under the stage name Deadman, a persona which incorporated a red costume and white ghost makeup. Boston Brand is murdered during a trapeze performance by a mysterious assassin. Afterwards, his soul is given the power to possess any living being by a Hindu god named “Rama Kushna,” in order to search for his murderer and bring him to justice.

Although artist Carmine Infantino did the first issue featuring Deadman, Neal Adams did all the following issues until they cancelled the title (Strange Adventures). So what is it that brought Adams back to the character after so many years? “What drew me back to the character was that I didn’t finish the whole story,” Adams said. “When they originally ended the story, because DC Comics couldn’t see tremendous sales, they didn’t realize that the fans were going out and buying copies from the newsstands, and they were selling them to other fans separately, and that was the beginning of the direct sales market. It actually was a tremendously popular book, and I sign mint condition copies of those comics even now. But DC Comics had no real idea how popular it really was until later on.”

To Adams, the story of Boston Brand was really never concluded. He told us, “I always loved the character, but I never got to finish the story, and because of that I never told anyone what the story was really all about. So all fans got in effect (in those original comics) was just an introduction to Deadman. They don’t know he’s got a brother and sister that disappeared. They don’t know that he has two parents that are still alive and part of another circus, and that there is darkness between him and his parents.”

Aspects of what we know of as Deadman’s backstory will change too, according to Adams. “They don’t know that his parents are associated in some way with Ra’s al Ghul,” the creator shared. “They don’t know that Deadman wasn’t shot as a test for an assassin, but for a very specific reason. They don’t know his real relationship to Nanda Parbat, the League of Assassins and Ra’s al Ghul. I have planted seeds along the way, in other books that I’ve done like Batman: Odyssey, that have given clues. But only now we’re seeing the real story. The old Deadman stories – It’s like a movie that you’ve only seen the first ten minutes of.”

We had to ask, in the fifty years since Deadman was created, why haven’t other creators had as much success with the character as Adams had way back in the day? “Deadman is about Deadman. And that’s the thing everyone else misses when doing Deadman stories. They treat Deadman as if he were just another costumed superhero. It’s really only about some other (DCU) characters in the sense that they come in and they go, but in a Deadman story, the focus has to be on Deadman.”

Having said that, this is a DCU story, and other DC characters will be making an appearance, starting with the DC hero that Adams is maybe most associated with. “To begin with, the first one who appears is Batman, but he’s disguised as Commissioner Gordon,” Adams told us. “We’re going to have Doctor Fate, we’re going to have the Spectre, we’re going to have Etrigan the Demon, because all of these characters are part of the dark side, the dark side that Deadman lives in (so to speak). This dark side being a possible movement between dimensions, there are other areas between life and death that we go into. This is the dark side of the DC Universe.”

With so many heroes at DC making the jump to the big and small screens, could this return to prominence for the character be a harbinger of things to come for the character in terms of Hollywood. Adams certainly hopes so, telling us “there are certain directors who want to bring Deadman to the screen. What I’m doing now (with this new series) is bringing the rest of the Deadman story to life, and believe me, they’re not going to ignore it. You’re going to be surprised by a lot of things in this series, and you’ve got a lot of new characters to invest in, so be sure to read every word.”

Deadman #1 hits comic shops on November 1. You can check out a black and white preview of the first six pages in our gallery down below.

Are you excited for Neal Adams triumphant return to the character he helped make famous? Be sure to let us know your thoughts down in the comments.

Images: DC Comics






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