DCAU #142: Second Chances

IN THIS ONE... Dick returns to Haley's Circus to investigate crimes he thinks might have been orchestrated... by Deadman?

CREDITS: Written by Ty Templeton; art by Brandon Kruse and Rick Burchett.

REVIEW: Behind a great cover, there's a pretty great Robin story that takes him back to Haley's for a limited engagement, one that introduces Boston "Deadman" Brand to the DCAU in a fairly unusual way. We know Deadman as the ghost of a trapeze artist, but this story sets him up as a living aerialist some time before he ever gets shot and trapped between the realms of the living and the dead! With the first Batman animated series officially over, things seem to have relaxed on the tie-in comics front, and we can now start to see many more characters that would have fit that universe, but just weren't adapted for it during the four-season run. It may clash with TV appearances down the line (Justice League Unlimited in particular brought in a LOT of characters), but as there are no guarantees a character like Deadman will ever make it in at this point, feels perfectly fine.

And in any case, he's not the superhero (if I can use the term) he'll eventually become. His history makes you think he might by the end of the story, but Robin saves the day in spectacular fashion and saves the man who, until very recently, had been his number 1 suspect. But just being a jerk - and Boston answers to that qualifier - doesn't make you a criminal. It just means people are more willing to think the worst of you, and that you could make a fine patsy for those who really are dirty. And surprises there too, though completely justified.

The issue gives us Robin calling a particular jurisdiction and Batman trusting him enough to not interfere, some solid detective work, a fight with a lion thrown in for fun, and whether this appearance leads to Deadman's origin story in a later comic, or as a winking prequel for comic book fans, a well-used guest star.
IN THE MAINSTREAM COMICS: In the original story, Deadman did not work at the same circus Robin and his parents had, but it doesn't mean he couldn't have performed there earlier in his career. A brochure for what looks like the Himalayas, seen in his bedroom desk drawer is a reference to his eventually working as an agent of the Hindu goddess Rama Kushna, "based" out of Nanda Parbat, a mythical city in those very mountains. Though it seems like Vashnu and Linda are Deadman-related characters (especially the former, since he doesn't have much to do in the story), they are inventions of this comic. C.C. Haley - in the comics, "Haly" - did not turn to crime, but in the New52, was killed to give Nightwing something close to his heart to investigate.

REREADABILITY: High - Top notch. Pays tribute to a larger DC history while also confounding expectations.


American Hawkman said...

Worth mentioning that the Deadman introduction in the tie-ins is explicitly necessary to be in the show's continuity for the JLU episode with Deadman proper to work.

Siskoid said...

Whooo! I was hoping it would be that way! The DCAU is becoming a real cross-media universe!


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