Deadman

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deadman

[′ded‚man]
(civil engineering)
A buried plate, wall, or block attached at some distance from and forming an anchorage for a retaining wall. Also known as anchorage; anchor block; anchor wall.
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Deadman #6 © 2002 DC Comics. (Cover art by José Luis Garcia Lopez.)

Deadman

(pop culture)

Despite never gaining the high sales it deserved, Deadman has been one of the most influential and critically acclaimed characters in superhero comics. Deadman was conceived by maverick writer Arnold Drake in 1967 and first appeared in the pages of Strange Adventures #205, in what was to be artist Carmine Infantino’s last strip before becoming editor-in-chief of DC Comics. The tale starts with the death of its star, Boston Brand, a daredevil trapeze artist assassinated by a sniper in the middle of his act. But death is not the end for Brand, as a disembodied voice (of Rama Krishna, a sort of god) tells him that to avenge his death he must roam the earth in ghostly form until he finds his killer. Unfortunately, the only clue to the killer’s identity is that he has a hook on his arm, but Brand now has the convenient ability to enter people’s bodies and take them over.

The strip was blessed with an unusual setting—Brand’s circus with its colorful performers— an intriguing quest at its heart, and an unconventional, complex hero. Brand was an argumentative, egotistical, and somewhat self-pitying character who, despite his powers and stylish costume (as a ghost, he still wore his acrobat’s red high-wire outfit, complete with white death’s-head mask), was no better than the reader. In 1967, this was revolutionary content and in retrospect Brand can be seen as the first “mature” superhero. Another revolutionary factor in the strip’s critical appeal was the art of Neal Adams, who took over the feature for its second installment. Adams came to the strip from the world of advertising and newspaper strips, and brought a realism to comic books that had never been seen before. He also had a gift for dynamic drawing and stylish design; Deadman was peppered with pop-art effects and witty in-jokes. In short, this was a very cool comic.

Over the next two years, Deadman roamed the country endlessly, tracking down the Hook in what was very much the comic book equivalent of the 1960s television show The Fugitive. In his travels, he came across supervillains (such as the Eagle), drug pushers, Batman, and a group of killers called the League of Assassins. The strip’s complexity and depth were perhaps too much to take for most readers, and after its twelfth installment, the series was canceled. Undeterred by this, Adams went on to draw further Deadman appearances in numerous comics, including Aquaman, The Justice League, The Brave and the Bold, and Challengers of the Unknown. Editors finally revealed Deadman’s killer to be an assassin in the pay of a mysterious criminal called Sensei, and the pair went on to tangle with each other throughout the 1970s.

While it is true that Deadman was then relegated to a relatively minor status, he nevertheless continued to appear in backup spots in Adventure Comics and Phantom Stranger, which were notable for their high quality. A 1986 miniseries—the first of six relaunches as of 2004—drawn by José Luis Garcia Lopez (Adams’ talented successor on the strip), featured a final showdown with Sensei. The strip showed Deadman finally regaining his human form only to lose it again, vowing to continue his fight against evil, wherever it may appear. For a while later on in the decade, DC repositioned him as a horror character, now looking more like a living skeleton than a well-toned superhero, but recent miniseries have been very much in the intelligent, elegant tradition of Deadman’s early days.

As a commercial project, the strip has never rewarded DC’s continued faith in it, though the publisher has repackaged the Adams run on several occasions, as have several European publishers (the feature is highly regarded across Europe). But in introducing the concept of “serious” superhero strips, Deadman was clearly the precursor to the likes of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, and it is now widely viewed as one of the key strips of the 1960s. Deadman joined the title team in the comic book series Justice League Dark, which debuted in September 2011. —DAR

deadman

A buried concrete block, log, plate, or the like, which serves as an anchorage, e.g., as an anchor for a tie to a retaining wall; depends on its own weight and passive pressure from the soil to hold it in place.
References in classic literature ?
These things attended to, and the hangings draped once more about the couch that they might hide the gruesome thing beneath, the girl once more threw her arms about the Englishman's neck and dragged him toward the soft and luxurious pillows above the dead man.
Automedon, valiant son of Diores, lashed them again and again; many a time did he speak kindly to them, and many a time did he upbraid them, but they would neither go back to the ships by the waters of the broad Hellespont, nor yet into battle among the Achaeans; they stood with their chariot stock still, as a pillar set over the tomb of some dead man or woman, and bowed their heads to the ground.
On this Menelaus and Meriones took the dead man in their arms and lifted him high aloft with a great effort.
After a strained moment of silence, he leaned across and said, very quietly, but watching the effect of each word upon the face of him he had sent for, "Alan, in a locked room at the top of this house, a room to which nobody but myself has access, a dead man is seated at a table.
The sergeant picked up a card which lay beside the dead man on the floor.
At last the lawyer laid down the dead man in his blood upon the road, and got to his own feet with a kind of stagger.
Killed by a dead man, you see -- killed by a dead friend, in fact.
Those two stood over the dead man as though they had been bewitched by a charm.
Naturally superstitious, they fully believed that they had seen the disembodied spirit of the dead man, and now they cast fearful glances about them in expectation of the ghost's early return to the scene of the ruin they had inflicted upon him during their recent raid upon his home, and discussed in affrighted whispers the probable nature of the vengeance which the spirit would inflict upon them should he return to find them in possession of his gold.
You're a dead man if you waste another moment on it.
When one went down before my sword another scrambled over the dead man to take his place; and thus, taking an awful toll with each few feet gained, I came to the spacious glass-walled watchtower of Kadabra.
The fellow on shore was between sleeping and waking, and going to start up; the captain, who was foremost, ran in upon him, and knocked him down; and then called out to him in the boat to yield, or he was a dead man.