By: Paul Jenkins (writer), Bernard Chang (artist), Blond (colorist)

The Story: To understand the meaning of life, take a few courses in quantum physics first.

The Review: What with both Wonder Woman and Herc coming out this past Wednesday, this seems to be the week of dealing with gods and all their intrigues, doesn’t it?  One thing you’ll surely learn after observing so much divinity firsthand is that even the humblest, most benevolent gods have things to hide.  While these particular immortals generally have well-intentioned motives in keeping secrets, they almost invariably turn out for the worst.

Case in point: for all of the motherly caresses and kisses Rama bestows on Deadman, she can’t soothe over her extremely pregnant pause before answering his demand as to why he stays connected to his charges even after finishing his work with them.  Nor does she look him in the eye when she assures him “You are precious.  You are loved.  You are my champion of souls, dear Boston Brand.”  In short, her behavior comes off more suspect than comforting.

Essentially, even after the fairly drastic move Boston made last issue to summon her presence, she comes and goes without leaving him any more enlightened or informed than he was before.  She simply reiterates the fact that his understanding of, well, everything is still weak and that this is his biggest, best chance to earn some purpose for himself.  These parallel dimension dialogues may serve some essential purpose to the story, but for readers, they just seem repetitive and dull.

For all of Rama’s fancy, airy talk, Deadman isn’t fooled for an instant.  After leaving his current host in a very comfortable position (nothing works wonders for depression more than a hot lady in  short skirt and sweet jacket, I always say), Boston takes off for answers on his own, and body-hopping hijinks ensue.  A broody Deadman is well and good, but he’s at his best when he possesses his way through obstacles, jokes in plenty: “What is this?  Frickin’ airport security?”

All this takes place in the Moonstone Club, an exclusive, occult nightspot, patronized by a whole crowd of people savvy with the ways of the supernatural.  Here we have more of the softer side of DC’s mystical world, where werewolves wear old-fogey spectacles and demons enjoy a good stand-up act (“This guy runs into a bar.  And it’s, uh…full of vampires.  So he orders a Blood Lite—”).  Light and enjoyable, but maybe not the best fit for the tone this series goes for.

After all, Deadman’s end game involves reaching a library (conveniently attached to the club, for some reason), guarded by a wrinkled old lady with seraph wings, and containing the books of fate for every person, ever.  Once she reveals the grim conclusion to Boston’s story, you have to wonder how he’ll handle it, considering the fact he’s already dead.

Chang does fine work, especially in nudging the characters’ faces into believable expressions.  Most priceless is the face on the woman at the bar when she realizes she just told an amputated vet to bite her.  Chang also draws some great posturing, like Boston’s reckless shrug when he possesses a bouncer and punches out the club manager.  Overall, Chang has a populist appeal that sticks to straightforward storytelling without much risk.

Conclusion: Too much ethereal conversation, not enough body-snatching action.  We need less chit-chat about the purpose of life, and more purposeful living.

Grade: C+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – I do like the idea that vampires can get wasted on plasma.  Turns a blood bank into a liquor store, essentially.

– Does anyone else find Rama’s constant, tender touching pretty creepy?