New Reviews of Old Comics
Check out the cover. Yeah, the cover is very cool, but look at how big the Comics Code Authority stamp is! It’s definitely larger than the DC/National Comics “logo” (if you could call a dot with some text a logo) and it’s almost as tall as the Strange Adventures logo. That’s how important the Code was back in the day following the big scare where some people thought comics were corrupting the mind of the nation’s youth. My opinion is if your kid is going to be corrupted by something written in a comic book they have other issues going on to help push that corruption along. Plus, comics of the 1950s and 1960s have nothing on the video games of today for dominating a kid’s ever diminishing attention span. How old do I sound?
Deadman is the star of a Jack Miller scripted story titled “How Many Times Can a Guy Die?” with art by Neal Adams. Boston Brand, the Deadman, is running down a list of people who might have wanted to kill him when remembers a fellow circus acrobat named “Eagle” who had it out for Boston. He recalls a specific time when they had a bit of fight scene on the high wire where Brand made the “Eagle” admit he was not only a “sparrow,” but a coward. Oh, those acrobats are such prima donnas. As he snaps out of the recollection he comes across a billboard advertising his old circus, now featuring the Eagle; it helps the Eagle, unlike Boston Brand, is still among the living. Being a ghostly form has its advantages however, as Boston is able to walk around and hear what’s going at the circus without being noticed. That is until he hears something he doesn’t like, takes over someone’s body and lays the Eagle out (again). Sadly, that’s where the story ends.
The back-up is a six page, un-credited story called “Gorillas In Space!” Two scientist buddies happen to meet up with a spaceship that is landing on Earth; a spaceship that is carrying gorillas. As if that weren’t shocking enough, the gorillas speak English because they were once Earthmen who flew into space and evolved into gorillas. If this all seems a little too fantastic, keep reading, because one of the scientists isn’t buying it either. He sneaks on to the ship and finds gorilla suits; disguised as a fellow “gorilla” he learns the true story; the gorillas are aliens in disguise! Being the hero scientist he is, he takes control of the ship and turns it over to the army. Later he tells the other scientist he became suspicious when he noticed the faux gorillas never blinked. How clever.
I bought this comic entirely for the Deadman story; I think he’s a very under-rated character. Plus anything with Neal Adams artwork is worth looking at. Adams doesn’t disappoint with great storytelling and outstanding work on the action sequences. In particular I loved the first page where the tombstones were arranged to form “Deadman” reminiscent of Eisner’s “Spirit.” Fellow “Spirit” know what I’m talking about. The rest of you need to read this classic title. Miller script is very enjoyable, but makes me wonder if every Deadman story contains a flashback about how he became Deadman, or does it just seem that way. The back-up story was just that, a back-up story. An OK read, but not anything you’d go out of your way to find. Deadman, on the other hand is very worthwhile.