This first issue shows a lot but explains very little. Brothers Scott and Brandon are copilots of a jet that crashes in London, killing one brother and putting the other in a coma. Meanwhile, readers get flashbacks to the brothers’ lives, including their childhood, the death of their father, and the fight they have over a mutual girlfriend. One of the brothers seems to manifest the traditional Deadman powers at the end of the issue. And that’s about it.
Okay, so this comic is written by Bruce Jones, one of the worst of comics’ current writers at “writing for the trade,” but couldn’t he have explained some of the plot holes in this comic? Like how exactly does the brother get the power to possess bodies? Or why they are not-quite-dead, not-quite-alive? Or, most importantly, how in the hell does the entire bizarre scene of the plane crash happen?
The plane crash scene in this comic is so strange and unrealistic that it has to be some sort of dream. Somehow two brothers are flying a United jet to London. They are both in the cockpit, but one is in uniform and the other isn’t. There is some note about the brothers taking drugs to stay awake, though one keeps falling asleep. There appears to be a navigator in the cockpit, but he’s also asleep, and there’s a woman who tries to keep them awake but is shooed out of the room. If all of this is confusing and odd to you, well, I feel the same way. I keep looking at that scene, trying to make sense of it. Is it supposed to be a dream? If Jones intends the scene to be literally true, it makes no sense whatsoever on any level. And if it’s a dream, why doesn’t the scene feel more dreamlike?
It’s all very confusing, and for me makes me not really want to return for future issues. If all issues of Deadman will be this confusing, what’s the point in bringing it back?
The book’s saving grace is the gorgeous artwork by John Watkiss. Watkiss’s dramatic line work gives the book what energy it has. The two-page spread on pages two and three is intriguing and compelling, but what I really enjoyed were the ways Watkiss’s art draws parallels between the flashbacks and the current-day scenes. His characters look consistent from panel to panel, page to page, echoing themselves repeatedly. It’s a subtle way of creating character by showing personal quirks, the mark of a very experienced and intelligent artist.
I loved the Watkiss art, but there’s just not enough in the story to make me come back. To me, the intense confusion of the plane crash in this issue completely detracts from any potential intriguing elements of this series.