Monday, September 26, 2011

DC Universe Presents #1 - A Review

DC Universe Presents marks the return of the classic comics anthology. DC Comics boasts one of – if not the largest – stables of fictional characters in existence and it’s gratifying to see that with all of the old favorites boasting multiple titles in the Revamp that they would devote a single title toward shining a spotlight on obscure heroes. This #1 issue – reportedly the first of a three part storyline – is devoted to Deadman.

The script primarily focuses upon the life and death of Boston Brand – a trapeze artist shot down in mid-swing. His soul snared from oblivion by the deity Rama, who offers Boston a chance to better his position in the afterlife by helping the unfortunates he ignored while alive. He wanders the earth now, following a magical instinct that takes him where he needs to be, using his power of possession to take people over and help them when they most need it. At about the midway point, Brand begins to speak of his current assignment – a disabled American soldier – and his confusion as to what he is meant to do in this case.

Paul Jenkins has been one of my favorite writers for a long time and – in my opinion – is one of the most criminally underrated authors in the comic book industry. His script introduces the concept of Deadman masterfully and moves at a quick pace through the various lives Boston has helped improve in the past. The one flaw with the story is that we see nothing of Boston’s life before his death so we don’t have any evidence apart from his own word – and that of a medium he once knew that he tries to speak to - that he really was enough of a jerk to deserve being cursed with undeath. We are told he was but there’s nothing that really shows it to us.

Former Wonder Woman artist Bernard Chang handles the art duties and shows why he’s a popular artist in and outside of the industry. There’s a good solid line of visual storytelling going from page to page, making the reading of the book intuitive despite some odd panel placements. And I love neat little visual pun in that Rama – an avatar of the god Vishnu – looks somewhat like one of the blue-skinned cat people of the film Avatar. Maybe I’m reading too much into the art but I thought it was amusing!

All in all, this isn’t a bad book but it’s really not something I plan to keep reading. The script is good, though we could use more showing and less telling. The art isn’t bad at all. Really, the only reason I don’t want to pick up issue #2 is that I really don’t find Deadman to be all that interesting of a character. That's no fault of the creative team - it's just personal taste. But if you've never read a Deadman story before, check this one out. It might be your cup of tea.

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