30 August 2009
Neal Adams: THE "DEADMAN" COLLECTION
It fills me with a great sense of pride to announce that I have, without a doubt, decided on the identity of my all-time favorite comic book artist: Mr. Neal Adams. My (conscious) introduction to Adams came earlier this summer (you'll find it profiled on this blog, actually) with his work on Green Lantern/Green Arrow, was followed up a short time afterward with a (not profiled on this blog, because I forgot to) three-volume collection of his Batman work, and has most recently manifested itself in my completion of The "Deadman" Collection, a compilation of some of Adams's best work. And that, my friends, was a very long and complicated sentence that needn't have been so long or complicated. But you've got the story now, and I can start talking about Deadman for a second. Deadman is the name of a DC Comics superhero who happens to be, brace yourself, a dead man. Boston Brand, famed aerialist, is shot and killed by the mysterious "Hook." He dies, but doesn't quite die, no...instead, he's allowed to stalk the earth and seek revenge on his killer, thanks to the intercession of eastern deity Rama Kushna. You've called it already: no, this is not your typical superhero series. But it gets better: Deadman can't even touch the various evil-doers he must thwart as he continues his quest. All he can do is inhabit the bodies of living people, controlling their actions for a time. It is, at the very least, an extremely unlikely superhero concept--but in the hands of Neal Adams, it turned out to be a surprisingly good one. Adams's art helps to drive the story: it's realistic enough that you actually can suspend your disbelief in a story that requires quite a bit of disbelief to be suspended, and nice to look at on top of that. This whole collection, in fact, is really quite a beautiful volume (it's my father's, not mine; my father, who sells books, owns a lot of nice ones; I, who only buy them, own a lot of shoddy, used paperbacks that smell faintly of cigarettes, old men, or cat urine, if I'm lucky), and one I'd count myself lucky to own. And, since I haven't had a single bad word to say about it, I think I have to grade this on an A.