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Silver Age September – Deadman’s Search for the Hook!

After a month of spotlighting the strange (if endearingly strange) history of comic books (and especially the Silver Age), I think it is worthwhile to show the comic books of the Silver Age that are simply great stories period. Here is an archive of all the Silver Age comics features so far!

As I mentioned the other day, while I’m mostly sticking with one-off issues, occasionally I’m going to “have” to feature longer arcs, just so that we don’t leave out some of the best Silver Age stories. For example, Neal Adams’ run on Deadman in Strange Adventures #206-216. Great stuff that I didn’t feel like picking just one issue from, as the run as a whole was impressive.

Enjoy!

After debuting the character in Strange Adventures #205, Carmine Infantino turned the art duties over to Neal Adams, who would draw the book until the Deadman feature ended in Strange Adventures #216.

Jack Miller wrote most of the early stories before Adams took over as writer himself for the last handful of stories (with a Robert Kanigher-penned tale also mixed in).

The basic set-up of the series is explained pretty well in this opening of one of the later issues…

So with that out of the way, the rest of the series continued “The Fugitive” style – Deadman is searching for the person who murdered him, and each journey to search brings him into one wacky adventure after another (when he possesses people, he can use his acrobatic abilities in their body – this leads to some awesome Adams action sequences).

The stories are pretty straightforward, but the more Adams drew of the series, the more complex the book became and the more interesting it became – mostly on the art side, but the stories weren’t bad, either.

In this one story, Deadman suspects the acrobat who followed him as the “greatest acrobat alive” as perhaps being the man who murdered him, but he soon finds out that the acrobat (the Eagle) is actually just using his abilities for crime.

Deadman gets an innocent bystander (whose body he possesses) into the mix and he suddenly realizes that he is putting this poor guy into deadly fire, so he does whatever he can to save him, and boy does Adams draw the following sequence beautifully…

deadman8

Click on the last picture to enlarge!

This was basically every issue of Deadman – it was a fun book.

Sadly, it only lasted roughly 12 issues, with Adams wrapping up the plot in an issue of Brave and the Bold.

But the Deadman character has remained in play ever since, with later writers and artists expanding on the stories Adams and Miller did!

10 Comments

The Crazed Spruce

September 10, 2011 at 3:25 pm

It’s been said before, but it bears repeating, Neal Adams is one hell of an artist, and he frikkin’ shined in this series.

Y’know, there’s a rumour floating around that the creator of Supernatural is trying to put a Deadman TV series together. I hope it gets picked up, ’cause if any character deserves greater exposure, it’s this one. (And now I’m cursing myself for leaving him off of my Top 10 list. But that’s a gripe for another feature….)

Looks awesome. Has this run been collected anywhere?

Spruce re: the TV series – you read my mind. I wish they’d quit doing remakes of shows (Charlie’s Angels, Hawaii 5O) and emphasise new ones. Deadman is tailor-made for TV (although the inevitable comparisons to Quantam Leap would occur somewhat).

I love Deadman, and love the new exposure he’s currently getting in the DC Universe. Neal Adams has always been a favourite artist of mine as well, especially his art from that 70′s era. A perfect combination of art and story, although even I can admit that costumes wasn’t Adams’ strongest ability. Eagle’s costume is just shocking.

Gotta LOVE 60′s NEAL ADAMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nathan, the TPB collecting Adams’ run was released recently.

http://www.dccomics.com/dcu/graphic_novels/?gn=17556

I have Adam’s collections of his GL/GA, and Batman work. Now I want this too.

nice was hoping neils deadman run would appear here for the work was a perfect fit for this column

Wow, I love that art and the story seems very good too. Many of these DC books are a discovery for me so this series has been right up my alley.

One bad thing though: the coloring is horribly drab. And lazy. It’s like the colorist was too lazy to differentiate anyone that wasn’t absolutely vital to the plot. Whole backgrounds just slathered in green or red or purple. It’s okay once in a while but he really overdoes it. This applies moreso to the top sequence more than the bottom sequence. Bottom sequence still has somewhat drab colors but is at least less lazy.

Wowee, love that splash page. Adams’ bodies have a real physical heft and these panels are exciting as the men move dynamically through space on horizontal and vertical axes . Love the different ‘camera angles’ too.

This run was a year and a half at the end of the 60′s – at the time, that was actually somewhat respectable. NOTHING was working for the publishers in the late 60′s. Distributor’s reports usually took 6 – 8 months to come in with final sales. That’s why there were so many short run titles at that time. The fact that Deadman’s strip ran almost 18 months indicates that its sales were not horrible. The title went bi-monthly about 8 months into the run, but that would have been a response to the pre-Deadman issues most likely. According to the Standard Catalog, before Deadman, the circulation was about 140K, and went up to about 165K during the first year of Deadman, and then back down to 147K or so at the end of the run. Great numbers today, but not in comparison. X-men was the runt of Marvel’s hero line at the time and still was selling 235K per issue in 1968, right before it was cancelled. A DC comparison title, Superboy, was selling 500K+ per issue in 1968. When you compare 500K to even the 165K at its height, cancelling Deadman from Strange Adventures makes more sense economically.

and I believe that if he wasn’t the colorist, Neal Adams had a lot of control over how his work was colored in his DC run. I’ve read numerous interviews with Adams and others who were around at the time talking about how Adams came in from comic strips and advertising and revolutionized how DC produced its books, including coloring. So if he’s using solid colors in the background, it’s most likely by his choice, not some anonymous colorist. I believe that EC did this quite a lot, as did Marie Severin (with EC connections) while at Marvel.

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