Monday, January 3, 2011

Secret Origins starring Deadman #15 (June, 1987)

Sweat trickled down the sniper's brow as he prepared to assassinate the man in the motorcade. He missed. The hatchet man didn't when the Sensei of the League of Assassins took Matson's right hand for incompetence. Matson would have to make amends with another, successful assassination.

The Sensei was being possessed by an Aryan spirit named Jonah, previously an aid to Rama Kushna, now "the fallen one." His power grabs forced Rama to move against him and restore balance. Lacking the ability to interact with the physical world, Rama would need earthly agents.

Rama Kushna summed the turbaned Indian servant Vashnu and the westerner little person, former private investigator Maxwell Loomis from the icy mountain holy place Nanda Parbat.

Boston Brand was an aerialist with a high wire act he felt was a sure enough hit to save Hills Brothers Circus. He terrified his girlfriend Lorna by dressing as Deadman and "falling" from the trapeze until being slowly lowered from a nigh invisible wire harness.

Vashnu and Loomis arrived by plane to the United States, where they recognized a post for the Deadman show as a sign from Rama Kushna. They joined the Hills Brothers Circus as performers without wages, as Brand's act still wasn't bringing in an audience.

The now hook-handed assassin again took aim at the politician, but his target was obscured by "Deadman" promoting his act with a demonstration that riled security. However, the politician accepted his offer to attend the circus.

Attendance swelled thanks to the famous audience member. Rama Kushna revealed to Vashnu that Boston Brand would be her agent. Vashnu knew that it was Jonah who used Sensei's body to direct Hook. Vashnu projected the illusion of being the Sensei, found Hook, and instructed him to target Boston Brand instead of the politician. Brand was shot dead in midair by a rifle.

Rama Kushna had sensed Boston Brand's nobility and love of life, which she could use to guide him to a greater destiny.

Deadman once had a simple origin, as he was selected almost at random by a sniper looking to get in with the League of Assassins through a highly visible demonstration of prowess. Deadman's origin pivoted on finding new purpose in his senseless death, by avenging himself and helping others.

So many layers of convoluted conspiracy and metaphysical babble were layered into Deadman's back story, that this sixteen page "Secret Origins" tale was largely inaccessible to new readers, had virtually nothing to do with the original Deadman comics, never actually showed Deadman in action, and was a boring, disjointed mess.

It was called "Death Like A Crown," and it was aggravatingly written by Andrew Helfer, all the more so because it could have been well served by the attractive art of a young Kevin Maguire, with solid inks by the veteran Dick Giordano.

No comments: