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

The Story: Raise your hands and start screaming, we’re riding with the devil tonight!

The Review: Having taken quite a few philosophy classes in my college days, it’s a bit sad to reflect on them and realize I took away absolutely nothing which I can honestly say still applies to my life now.  In my defense, I can only say that when you learn philosophy, you don’t really learn a way to live; no philosopher worth his salt will give you a straight answer to anything, much less give you an outline for living.  All you get for your questions are more questions.

That seems to be the running theme in this installment of Deadman’s quest for answers.  You remember all those people he possessed and failed to help?  His frustration at being unable to solve their problems stems from the fact that he was perhaps never intended to find answers for them at all.  He realizes, “It’s not about answers.  They all represent a question.”

And who better to answer those questions than the Son of Morning, one of the big know-it-alls in the universe and beyond?  Unfortunately, the whole sequence of Deadman asking the SOM twenty questions feels like an exercise for Jenkins to cop out on us as many times as possible.  Using a mix of metaphor and wit, with little cleverness or true logic, SOM answers each of Boston’s question in a way that makes you feel that it’s a waste of time to ask the question at all.

Let’s look at a couple good examples, shall we?  Deadman starts off with a biggie: “What is the meaning of the universe?”  SOM: “It was a failed experiment, abandoned by its creator.”  What’s particularly annoying about the answer is not only does it not truly respond to the call of the question, it’s incomplete.  An experiment to do what?  Why considered a failure and abandoned?  I think we can all agree on the lameness of this point.

Other times, Jenkins just goes for the most convoluted, tortured analogy possible, one that feels like he’s just running off his mouth.  “What is fate?” Deadman asks (and let’s forget about the ridiculousness of the very question here).  “Think of it as a tapestry, rather similar to cheap linoleum, which is printed on the fabric of the space-time continuum.  Your job is to tread on it until it tears, and then sew it up again with conscious thought.”  In the words of 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon: “What the what?”

Then again, it may very well be the whole point of this issue is to understand that it’s pointless to ask such questions, if only because you can’t do anything with the answers anyway—unless you’re out to stick it to an all-knowing divinity.  If there’s one thing you can trust the SOM’s word on, it’s that Rama won’t be happy to find Deadman asking questions behind her back.  In contrast to the cool, collected lady we’ve grown accustomed to, Rama turns up the crazy eyes to max and acts downright belligerent: “I will punish you and the innocent lives you have defiled.  You will all pay the ultimate price: an end to the meaning of your existence.”

Chang again delivers dependably clear, straightforward art that works well with the script, but doesn’t really make waves.  While the roller-coaster ride through the universe could have been a good opportunity for him to go all out, aside from for a bit of distortion on Deadman and SOM’s faces (a natural consequence of speeding through the dimensions), we don’t really get anything all that spellbinding.

Conclusion: A long, rambling talking-heads issue that clears up absolutely nothing except Deadman has one more enemy to worry about.

Grade: C

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – I don’t know if this has been eating away at anybody as it has me, but what’s the story with the Son of Morning’s dead eye?  Godly revenge or just an affectation to freak out the mortals?