My favorite characters usually fall under certain themes, like -
supernatural types like Dr. Strange - The Spectre - Dr. Fate
and hard-boiled mystery men like Rorschach - The Question - The Sandman (Golden Age)
So I guess it's no surprise that my favorite character is a combination of these and yet very different from these at the same time.
Deadman was born Boston Brand, a tough talking, hard drinking, cocky star attraction in the Hill's Bros Circus until disaster struck, he was shot dead by a sniper. Oddly he didn't move on from the earthly plane like most dead people do, instead he stayed on Earth and was given the power, by Rama Kushna, to take over peoples bodies so that he could find his killer.
The thing that drew me to this character most was the art by Neal Adams who drew the early issues in Strange Adventures. As most of you know Neal Adams is one of the all time greats in the field of comic art and personally I consider this very early, very experimental work of his, some of his best! As for experimental, check out this trippy page that Neil drew of Deadman's meeting with his patron god, Rama Kushna -
I also really like Deadman's look. I think the costume that Carmine Infantino created for him is one of the best out there. I love heroes with solid red suits like Daredevil and the addition of the death-like mask just makes whole thing work.
Unfortunately, since Adams departure from the character, no one has seemed to know what to do with him .Even Neil didn't really know what to do with him I mean what do you do with a immaterial hero? It's hard to put him in any kind of danger isn't it? And the vengeance scenario could only work for so long.
There have been a few takes of Deadman that I didn't care for, mostly in the 90's when they had to make everyone "dark". Mike Baron and Kelly Jones did a version of Deadman where they put him into a horror type book. Well, not being crazy about horror, it's no wonder I didn't like it.
Don't get me wrong. I love Alex Ross's work, and loved Kingdom Come, it's just that this is not the Deadman that I know and love.
One of my favorite takes on Deadman wasn't published in a book. It was by Mignola who did a few covers for the 2002 short lived series. Even though he didn't illustrate the stories his covers spoke volumes, as much or more than the interiors. They have a haunted feeling about them that speaks to you even though you don't quite know what they are saying. If only we could get some issues of Mignola Deadman!