Sunday, January 12, 2014

Strange Adventures #205

Strange Adventures #205 (On Sale: August 1967) is a classic masterpiece, the introduction of Arnold Drake's Deadman in a chilling and brilliant cover by Carmine Infantino and George Roussos, featuring what Drake called, "the best bit of writing I ever did," the caption:

"This man who was just murdered is our hero! His story begins one minute later -- Introducing... Deadman"

Inside we have the wonderful "Who Has Been Lying in My Grave?" by Arnold Drake, Carmine Infantino and George Roussos. Boston Brand, a trapeze artist and minority owner of a circus, walks the circus grounds before his nightly performance as the aerialist Deadman. He discovers a local constable poking around the grounds and chases him away. He then discovers that Leary the barker is stealing from the box office. He also catches Heldrich the animal trainer getting drunk. He fires Heldrich, then heads to the big top.

After reaching the top of the trapeze, Boston is shot by a sniper with a hook for a right hand. He falls to his death. Then his astral form is met by Rama Kushna, a Hindu spirit goddess. Rama allows Boston to walk the Earth as a spirit until his killer is caught.

Boston, now truly a Deadman, begins the search for his killer by checking up on the circus performers. He discovers that he is invisible, but can temporarily take control of human bodies. While inhabiting the body of Tiny the strongman, Deadman discovers Heldrich and Ramsey, the constable, making a drug deal. Deadman stops the crooks, then resumes the search for the killer, the Hook. Reprinted in Brave and the Bold #97, DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #5 and Deadman #1.

I came late to Deadman, as I hadn't really started collecting comics till next month. but once I found him I quickly found all the old issues and was simply blown away by the concept and the execution. As far as I'm concerned, this book marks the beginning of the Infantino reign at DC and the beginning of my golden age of comics. New ideas, new characters, new concepts were all coming to DC and this book was the first shot across the bow of the stodgy old DC.

Sure, Deadman is now more associated with Neal Adams than his creators, Drake and Infantino, but it was these men, not Adams, who had the stroke of brilliance that Neal would take off and run with. When I met Arnold Drake years later at the San Diego Comic-Con, he didn't wear a shirt proclaiming he created the Doom Patrol or Stanley and His Monster or even It Rhymes with Lust, the first graphic novel,. No, his t-shirt proudly declared, "I'm Deadman's Daddy!"

My copy of Strange Adventures #205 was in very good shape when I bought it, but is now tattered and ragged after a multitude of readings. This was simply one of the best comics I ever read.

Jack Miller takes over as Editor.

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