Happy Halloween y’all! Today we’re checking out Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #1 (hereafter Deadman). I haven’t read many romance comics, but I love ghost stories and Deadman is one of the best characters in the DC Universe.
Deadman follows a young woman named Berenice who has recently become engaged to be married. She’s driven by her antique-dealing friend Sam to Glencourt Manor, Berenice’s new home. The manor is owned by Berenice’s fiance, Nathan, an author who is desperately trying to finish a new book. But something malicious is stalking the house, and it’s up to Deadman to defend Berenice and company from the horrors that lurk in the shadows.
Writer Sarah Vaughn takes the helm in putting this story together. Overall, Vaughn does solid work, giving each character a distinct voice and pacing the plot well. No scenes feel meaningless or drawn out, and in this single issue, which admittedly is twice the length of a standard comic book, the reader gets a solid look at the personas of Berenice, Sam, and, to a lesser extent, Nathan and Deadman.
That leads me to one of my biggest gripes about the issue: there’s a little too much Berenice, and not enough Deadman. For a comic with Deadman’s name in the title, I’d have liked to see the character do more, but perhaps his role expands in subsequent issues. Furthermore, Berenice is an interesting character given her ability to see and talk with ghosts, but at the same time the reader isn’t given much reason to root for her: she’s a good person, but she doesn’t have a specific goal other than “not die” once the villain shows up.
Furthermore, while the narration does a decent job in the story, at times it feels overused and I wish Vaughn would step back a bit and let the art team do more visual storytelling. There are also a couple of awkward instances of dialogue, notably a scene where, out of nowhere, Berenice lectures Deadman about proper pronoun usage; it’s a fine point to make, but at the moment it comes it feels jarring.
The art team, consisting of penciller Lan Medina, colorist Jose Villarubia, and letterer Janice Ching do excellent work. Glencourt Manor feels like a character all its own, with extensive details in each room. The muted palette, with a few key spot colors like the red in Deadman’s costume, helps build out the air of foreboding that pervades the story. Ching, in particular, does great work with choice of panel placement and coloration, especially important as the story is dialogue-heavy.
Deadman #1 is a decent comic. I definitely enjoyed the story, which had more horror than romance, at least for the first issue. I also am not sure what the “forbidden” aspect of the love is, other than some attraction implied between Berenice and Sam when the former is engaged. I’m interested to see where the story goes over its remaining 2 issue run, but especially hope that the next few issues let the art team breath a little more and offer more opportunities for Deadman to cut loose.
-Overuse of narration
-Not enough Deadman
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