A Tribute to the of

When last we visited Boston Brand, he was still dead, a victim of the rifle shot from the mystery man known only as "The Hook." Thus Deadman came into being, but he is a restless, angry spirit seeking justice for his murder. Witness the passion that drives him on the splash page of his second appearance in Strange Adventures #206 from November of 1967. He stands defiantly in a moonlit graveyard with both fists clenched as he answers the queries of three owls perched above him, speaking on behalf of the great beyond: "You are dead now, "Boston" Brand. Your struggle for survival is ended! Peace is yours at last!" "I can never rest!" "Then even in the cold house of death, you are still a boiling cauldron! Why? What cruel fuel drives your weightless, formless being?" "To avenge my own murder!" "But, are you not beyond the petty motivations of the living?" Deadman's screaming reply provides the title to this story: "No, ---an eye for an eye!"Here on Earth Prime credit for this sophomore outing goes to Carmine Infantino (plot) & Arnold Drake (script). (A reprint published in Deadman #1 dated May, 1985 gives solo credit to Strange Adventures editor Jack Miller, in his 2000 autobiography, page 70, Infantino credits Miller with writing the finished dialogue.) As mentioned in my review of Deadman's debut, this is the first story where the incomparable Neal Adams takes over the artist's chair formerly occupied by Carmine Infantino. Cover pencils by Mike Sekowsky, George Roussos applied the cover and interior inks.

The first few pages of this tale are a recap of the last one, showing Boston Brand's killing at the circus, his relationship with Lorna, the owner of the circus where he is the featured high wire act, the musings of the Eastern mystic, Vashnu, regarding Rama Kushna, spirit of the universe, Deadman's being addressed by the strange spirit and his discovery of his ability to inhabit and manipulate the bodies of the living, leaving no memory behind and ultimately the beginning of his quest to seek justice for his premature death.

Following the flashback, we join a motorcycle gang, roaring down the road toward the same two-bit circus where Brand was employed. One leather-clad goon, Morty, is addressing another member of the gang, Jeff, telling him to get $10,000.00 from his sister or else "the fuzz" is going to find out what Jeff did in Dayton.

Soon, Jeff is reunited with Lorna, who is overjoyed to see her little brother. He quickly gets down to cases, telling her he's having money troubles and needs $10,000.00. The startled Lorna says she doesn't have anywhere near that sum and Jeff interjects that soon she'll have $250,000.00 and so will he. The incredulous Lorna asks how this can be. Unbeknownst to the siblings, Deadman has reappeared, just to see Lorna again, despite the fact that she can neither see nor hear him. As he slips through the wall of the office trailer, he's just in time to hear Jeff's explanation: "I kid you not, Lorna! As half owner of this circus, I decided to insure our star act, Deadman, for two hundred and fifty thou! And now our star is dead!" Boston muses that Jeff just revealed a quarter of a million reasons to kill him. Lorna replies that he couldn't have done so without her knowledge and he further elaborates that He slipped it in with a number of other routine papers for her signature and she signed off then. He then demands the money, telling her to take it out of the coming insurance payment. Lorna refuses, stating that the money in the safe is just enough to cover the payroll. An exasperated Jeff seizes the money, shoves his sister to the floor and storms out while an equally exasperated Deadman follows, determined not only to set things right with Lorna, but to investigate Jeff's life and see if he was involved in Boston's death. He enters Jeff's body to do just that.

Deadman, now in control of this new body, begins to do his homework. Pulling the wallet from his jeans he discovers he is Jeff Carling and has possession of an address book and a motorcycle license among other things. He then locates the bike and sits astride it when Morty pulls up demanding the money. When "Jeff" refuses, Morty gets physical, pulling the cash from his jacket and again threatening him with the mysterious reference to Dayton. Boston doesn't know exactly what's going on yet, but he fully intends to find out. Morty then tells Jeff that they need to go to Jack's Shack where the rest of the gang awaits. During the trip, Deadman worries that he'll slip up and get Jeff into trouble or worse before this is over, but in for a penny, in for a pound and soon they've arrived. An unexpected surprise is the exuberant welcome Jeff receives from Magda, his girlfriend. Brand notes that the other gang members show obvious jealousy and he wonders how Jeff has managed to stay alive. There isn't much time for further musings, though, as the leader of the cycle-hounds instructs them to move out. With a roar of motorcycle engines, the gang does just that. Deadman's thoughts race as quickly as his ride as he ponders where they could be going, what the reference to Dayton is about and how he'll find out if Jeff pulled the trigger that killed him.

As the gang arrives at the nearest city, Morty and the others take their leave and Boston locates his apartment through the address found in the wallet. To his surprise he discovers another girlfriend waiting for him, but the surprises are far from over as he finds a rifle hanging in Jeff's closet that just might be the murder weapon from the circus. That notion is quickly put to rest, though, when upon further examination he finds it's a .22 caliber rather than the .30 caliber variety that took his life. Deadman also notes that the sights are badly off, allowing for accuracy of 10 feet if the shooter was lucky.

Later that night, Morty visits Jeff at his apartment and Boston decides to try and get to the bottom of his blackmailing, refusing to give any more money to Morty and demanding to know just what he would tell the authorities. Morty explains that Jeff shot a rival gang member named Lenny Deane in Dayton. He displays a photograph of Jeff with the rifle and mentions that while he, Morty, had subcontracted the killing, the police won't be privy to that fact. Deadman then learns that the photo was taken at 4:00 p.m. the previous Sunday, a few minutes before he was shot at the circus, several miles away. Jeff is exonerated with that information, but Brand decides on a hunch to do a little detective work while he's at it and books a flight to Dayton.

Upon Jeff's arrival, security, acting on a tip, attempts to apprehend him. Deadman figures Morty pulled a double-cross and he uses all his skill as an acrobat to elude the authorities, first riding a baggage cart and then leaping from the roof of a taxi to another vehicle in traffic and ultimately escaping so that he can investigate the crime scene.

Once at the scene, he locates the bullet, embedded in the siding of the house near the place where Lenny Deane died. As he suspected, the faulty sights on the rifle caused the slug to miss. At that very moment who should appear but Morty, packing heat of his own and confirming that he fired the fatal round after Jeff botched the job. Deadman springs into action and knocks Morty out with a terrific blow. He then consumes a couple of sleeping pills to tide Jeff over while he takes over Morty's body prior to a trip to police headquarters to submit a full confession.

The final panel shows a bewildered Jeff telling Martia, his girlfriend, that he apparently got Morty to talk, but has no recollection of it. In the foreground, Deadman grimly vows to continue the search for his killer, The Hook.

The source for this review, "The Deadman Collection" published in 2001, omits the back-up DC Classic reprints found in the first run Strange Adventures issues. In this case, said reprint is "The Earth Drowners!" Written by Joe Samachson and illustrated by Jerry Grandenetti & Joe Giella, originally appearing in Strange Adventures #64 dated January, 1956.

This second installation in the Deadman saga was pretty well done, even though the first few pages were nothing but a rehash of the origin story. I suppose you have to begin somewhere. It just seemed like a lot of space was devoted to the backdrop. It also tended to establish that this was turning into sort of a serial. Boston Brand was on a quest for a needle in a haystack, but you couldn't help but root for the guy and wonder when or if he would be successful in his pursuit. We'll check in again with him in the future, but meanwhile I'll rate this part of his venture with a 6. It wasn't bad, but not the most inspiring material I've read.

Now that our server problems are behind us, we'll be back to regular posting schedules for this feature, so check back often for the latest efforts and by all means, let us know how we're doing. My e-mail address is at your service at professor_the@hotmail.com.

Long live the Silver Age!

2000-2005 by B.D.S.

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