[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Written, Drawn & Colored By: Neal Adams
It’s not often that a comic book legend comes back to create again. In the past few years, Neal Adams has returned to DC Comics to have another go at the characters he’s most associated with…one can only suppose Green Arrow or Green Lantern is next.
The issue opens with Deadman on the trail of the Sensei. His trail leads him to a very nice house with a young couple and baby. Much to his chagrin, the beautiful baby that momentarily distracts him actually houses the soul of the Sensei. In his astral dimension, Deadman is suddenly attacked and hurt by the Sensei. He survives the attack and is soon surprised by the appearance of the overly cryptic Phantom Stranger.
The Stranger gets Deadman to go back to Hill Bros. Circus, where “it all began,” to perhaps find some answers. Boston has to watch his brother Cleveland nearly die in an aerial stunt. It does end with one of Cleveland’s flying team falling to his death at the hands of another shooter.
Boston follows the shooter and is able to subdue him using the body of Tiny the strongman. But, after he attempts to feed him to a lion, the Spectre, Phantom Stranger and Etrigan the Demon all appear to give their own opinions of the situation. This leads Boston to condemn them all, as he is clearly lost as to which direction to turn.
There’s no denying Neal Adams can still nail the art. I dare say there are very few artists in the field today that can hold their own with Adams. It’s worth buying this book just to flip through and look at the art. Adams is still a great storyteller and draftsman.
The inclusion of other mystical characters- Phantom Stranger, the Spectre and Etrigan are a welcome treat. While connecting this story to the greater whole of the DC Universe, it also firmly establishes Deadman in a particular genre and suggests that there’s more to his purpose than coming to a peace with his situation.
Adams is doing something emblematic of an earlier time in his approach to the story. In both issues so far, he’s introducing the reader to a situation that is not fully revealed until the issue plays out. This was not uncommon in Adams’ heydey. It may be troubling to modern readers, but is welcomed by this old man.
The aforementioned storytelling style may be difficult for some. At times, this makes the plot appear to be haphazard or disjointed. It’s not dissimilar to reading Shakespeare. At first it appears incomprehensible, but after one’s brain gets trained, it becomes not only understandable, but enjoyable. One has to be prepared for the unexpected at every turn.
The beautiful art by the legendary Neal Adams is a treat. The story while seemingly disjointed reflects an earlier style that is still enjoyable if only slightly troubling at points. There is a lot of promise in what comes next and there’s certainly the feeling that ANYTHING could happen. No telegraphing here, Adams is in complete control.