Saturday, October 20, 2012

Deadman Lives Forever!

For sure, one of the strangest Deadman adventures after the demise of his own series in Strange Adventures, was his two-issue guest shot with Jack Kirby's hipster Supertown kid-gang, The Forever People.

This story arrives at a time when Kirby was apparently trying to move two of his three original Fourth World series away from their core storyline of war with Darkseid and more into a more typical narrative framework.  The Forever People meet up with an aging flapper named Trixie Magruder who takes them in.

They are taken by her offbeat ways and her attempts at a seance conjurs up more than they bargained  for when Deadman arrives. It turns Trixie saw Boston Brand's murder and informs his ghost that despite all the evidence to the contrary, The Hook is still at large. We then almost immediately meet a pig-faced villain who plots behind the scenes, and it's revealed he possesses a hook. It all comes together.

All this is shaken up though when a wannabe Frankenstein type craves one of Serifan's cosmic cartridges for his own use, specifically to give life to his monsterly creation. The Forever People frustrate his plan, defeat his shambling Golem, but do meet Deadman in the meanwhile.

The Forever People take pity on the disembodied Deadman and using Serifan's cosmic cartridges create and quicken a "Follower", an organic body double of Boston Brand. Deadman takes up residence in this clone eventually and now has a corporeal foothold in the world once more. A secret organization of high-tech thieves dubbed "The Scavengers"  ruled by men with hooked hands makes off with the Follower but Deadman and the Forever People get it back.

I enjoy of Kirby's DC stories from this period, but even a fanboy like myself must admit this one seems a bit out of joint. The revelation that Deadman's quest is not over seems unconvincing and contrived. I do like the way Kirby draws Deadman, but it sure is different from the moody images we've seen before from Neal Adams. The story lacks the emotional punch of earlier Deadman epics, and despite all the reanimated bodies there seems little in the way of a thematic core to this story.

As far as I can tell though, this is the last we see of the Follower and the next time he shows up in a comic, Deadman is once again just a ghost and the gang of hooked villains seems yet another red herring. More on some of those adventures later. 

For the record, I read this story this time in the turn-of-the-century black and white and gray reprints of The Forever People. These much more somber renditions of the story are better really for stories with a horror element such as these Deadman tales.

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  1. Apparently, Jack had Deadman foisted on him by the 'higher-ups', and didn't really want to use the character. He did so merely to be amenable.

  2. I've read that too. That though begs the question of how on Earth did the bigwigs at DC think Kirby was going to develop this project. Deadman seems singularly apart from Kirby's whole approach. That said, there is a whopping big ad in the last half of this tale for The Demon, Kirby's the "new" title, so maybe just maybe they thought these "horror" characters were related.


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  3. That two-parter was an interesting experiment but Deadman was a poor fit in Forever People. The character may have been more suited to New Gods which always seemed darker and more atmospheric than the flower-child philosophizing of the FP.

    My copy of FP #10 is signed on the cover by The King himself ( well, allegedly... there's no certificate or anything )so it looks like Big Bear is saying "Deadman.. Look out for.. Jack Kirby!"