Saturday, November 4, 2017

Deadman #1

If you turn off your lights, this cover will glow in the dark.

By buying this comic book, I have committed a grievous sin. How do I justify purchasing this book written and drawn by Neal Adams when The Coming of the Supermen, also written and sort-of drawn by Neal Adams, was possibly the most terrible comic book I've read since September 2011? It was so bad that I blacked it out and I often forget to mention it as the worst comic. Other comics may have been drawn worse or edited more poorly or had substandard writing. But none of them had all of them put together! The worst part is that I feel bad saying that about Neal Adams and his work. He's just an old man who peaked decades ago and here I am shitting all over his modern work. Technically you can hardly tell that I'm shitting on it because who can tell two different shits apart, really? I suppose somebody might walk by and think, "Look at the way some of that shit is sitting awkwardly on top of that other bit of shit. I bet that's two pieces of shit and not just MC Escher shit!" It's not like my saying Neal Adams' last work at DC was terrible makes what he did any more or less terrible. Somebody with eyes and an ability to read and the stomach to purchase The Coming of the Supermen can experience exactly how terrible it was without any input from me! And yet here I am purchasing another new comic book completely written and drawn by Neal Adams. Well, that's what the cover says, at least. I'm sure the interior credits will mention some people who helped out. If not in this first issue, by the third at the very least.

So why am I encouraging DC to hire Neal Adams? Because I like Deadman, that's why! Plus I guess I sort of feel DC is doing the right thing by hiring older writers and artists. I mean, they could just retroactively give them a piece of the profits on characters they created. That would solve two problems in one move! The writers who were screwed out of any percentage of characters that became a windfall for the company get their money and I don't have to read any of their shitty new bullshit!

This issue begins with Commissioner Gordon inspecting nuclear sites in Japan. Why? Did I miss something in James Gordon's history that made him the ideal candidate for this job? Seriously though, did I? Because I don't understand how this could come about! It's possible it will be explained on the next page but who has the patience to wait for an explanation that far in the future?! I want to know why I'm so Goddamned confused right now! I mean aside from the simple confusion of trying to read a modern Neal Adams story.

When Neal Adams writes and draws a comic book, I wonder if he writes or draws first? I don't think it matters.

That scan is from page two. So two pages in and I've already got dozens of questions. The main one is how come James Gordon asks "Who're you?" when he sees his doppelgänger rather than "Should I get my dick out?" The next major question is why is James Gordon so into Japanese nuclear power plant seals? It doesn't say anything about his interest in them in his Who's Who entry. I'm least curious about who the second James Gordon is. I guess that's what happens when you take Commissioner Gordon out of Gotham and have him gallivanting about the planet working jobs he has no reason to be working. No wonder the nuclear reactor at Fukushima melted down. Maybe get some actual scientists and engineers in for inspections next time, guys.

Also touring the reactor? Boston Brand and the man who killed him. Separately, of course! Brand's assassin, Hook, has infiltrated the reactor with his team of eight henchmen. I don't know why they've come along since Hook screams at them that James Gordon, the target, is his. I guess they're just supposed to wander around looking for him. Boston Brand has come because Hook is here and he thinks this is his chance to kill him. I wonder if Neal Adams had a short story sitting around about a takeover of a nuclear reactor and he decided to use it for the basis of the Deadman script when DC contacted him.

I wonder if DC even contacted him? Maybe Neal Adams calls daily asking if they'll let him write a series. And since Deadman wasn't really being used, why not give him a chance to make him really popular again? Or completely ruin him, which is more likely.

Neal Adams gets tired of writing the already incomprehensible story of Gordon's trip to Japan so Deadman has a flashback to another time he failed to kill Hook.

I probably shouldn't even be writing this review if all I'm going to do is shit all over an old man. It's going to be really embarrassing when the old man recognizes me at a con and kicks my ass.

At one point, the Narrator called Boston Brand "Casper" and I got really confused for awhile. But that's not as bad as how confused I was when the Narrator explained how the Hook killed Boston but was accused by the League of Assassins of failing to kill Boston even though he obviously did kill Boston. It seems to have something to do with Boston Brand having a twin brother and a strongman named Tiny?

I'm not sure Neal Adams cared or understood Boston Brand's origin story. The gist of it is that Boston Brand needed to kill The Hook for some kind of karmic justice. But The Hook was killed by somebody else and so Deadman never found peace. In this one, Adams has introduced (or regurgitated) a bunch of elements to explain why The Hook would be killed by the League after succeeding in killing Boston.

Is it funny? Is it?

Deadman watches Hook's body drop into some water through a trapdoor. There is a large splash and Deadman thinks, "Splash?! Yeah . . . this will never be done. Sensei . . . teacher . . . lives up to his name. Disposed of Hook's body. Very efficient. League of Assassins . . . any cold-blooded killer could learn a lot from these monsters. And now a new assignment, busywork for Hook." It's like reading an Ann Nocenti script on acid! And I mean both that Nocenti wrote the script while on acid and the reader read the comic on acid in that analogy! My best interpretation of the moment as a whole is that Deadman has been awestruck by the idea that somebody would hide a body after killing it, thus thwarting justice! As for the "this will never be done" part, I have no idea what he's talking about at that moment. Did he want to fuck Hook's corpse? Who can tell? That's one possibility as likely as any other! And then it ends with Deadman simply ignoring everything he just thought about Hook being dead and stating that Hook (who he just mentioned was super dead and disposed of) now has to do the League's busy work by killing James Gordon. What the fuck now?

I suppose I should just forget all of that and just get back into the present story. Deadman wants revenge against Hook who is still alive even though the flashback showed how dead he was. That's the motivation. Although I still don't know the motivation for Gordon inspecting Japanese nuclear facilities or Hook's need to kill Gordon outside of Gotham. Oh! And I can't forget the sudden appearance of James Gordon's evil twin brother!

Fine. Here's one win for Neal Adams. I always enjoy a good bowel movement reference, no matter how absurdly or awkwardly placed in the dialogue.

Because Batman is on the cover and Evil Twin James Gordon recognizes Deadman when he possesses a Japanese worker, I have to assume Evil James Gordon is actually Batman who caught wind of this assassination plot and showed up to thwart it. Or maybe he didn't know about the plot at all and he was just as curious as I am as to why James Gordon has suddenly become an expert in Japanese nuclear reactors.

Evil Gordon reveals himself to be Batman. He's on the trail of whoever hired Hook to kill Gordon and he claims it wasn't Sensei because Batman killed Sensei himself. You heard me! Deadman was similarly shocked by the revelation! Batman killed a man! And proudly admitted it! What could possibly be going on?! I mean other than Neal Adams not giving a fuck and the editors being told to just lay off the script and let the man have his fun?

Sensei didn't slip between your fingers! When were you ever trying to kill Sensei?! You were just trying to stop him from killing Hook. This doesn't make any sense at all!

It turns out Batman didn't kill the Sensei but admits later that the Sensei is as good as dead. I don't know why Batman couldn't have told Deadman the stuff he tells him later. I suppose it's because Neal Adams doesn't really fucking know where the story is going. Anyway, Deadman gets a clue to head to Hong Kong in search of the Sensei. I guess the Sensei is the one Deadman wants to kill now since he put out the hit on Boston Brand. I mean, technically he didn't because Hook got to choose his own target and chose it from a poster, as stated earlier in the story. But Deadman doesn't seem to want to kill The Hook anymore. He could have back in the nuclear reactor but instead decided to yell at Batman for a bit and leave the assassins unconscious on the ground.

Deadman #1 Rating: This comic book is as good as a shit flavored scratch and sniff sticker. I still don't know why James Gordon was inspecting nuclear reactors. It's not like the battle against The Hook needed to take place there. Couldn't Neal Adams have come up with a place that made more sense? Like maybe a visit to the proctologist? Or a Police Commissioner's convention? This is going to bother me for weeks.

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