DC‘s 2016 relaunch has already produced some unexpected gems, and the return of Deadman is our latest recommendation as Halloween draws near. Deadman’s new miniseries, the wonderfully titled Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love, embraces the delicious melodrama of gothic romance.
Deadman is a relatively obscure DC character, belonging to the supernatural oeuvre of comics like Swamp Thing and Justice League Dark. He’s the ghost of a circus acrobat, depicted as a deathly pale man in a lurid red costume, and he’s able to possess the bodies of the living. But for the purposes of the new comic, you really don’t need to know his backstory.
Written by Sarah Vaughn (Alex + Ada) and drawn by Lan Medina (Fables), Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love is as overwrought and gothic as the title suggests. Think Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak, but set in some approximation of the present day.
It’s a classic ghost story, starring a young woman who moves into a haunted mansion with her boyfriend, and desperately tries to hide the fact that she can see ghosts—including Deadman, whose red jumpsuit looks anything but silly in the gloomy atmosphere of the mansion.
This comic’s appeal lies in its use of vintage romance and horror tropes without becoming a tongue-in-cheek pastiche. It could be set any time in the past 40 years, but the diversity of the main cast is refreshingly modern, casually featuring queer and nonbinary characters in lead roles.
The dark, painted interiors of the mansion—and, strangely enough, the lettering style—are reminiscent of the late ’80s heyday of Vertigo’s horror like Sandman and Hellblazer, while the heroine’s internal monologue is clearly inspired by vintage romance comics. And it all comes together in a setting that originated with books like Jane Eyre and Rebecca, now familiar thanks to decades of haunted house movies.
Deadman‘s long, 50-page format means we only get a new issue every two months, but luckily that means you have plenty of time to pick up issue #1 for some Halloween reading.