Batman / Deadman: Death and Glory Review

(This review may contain spoilers for the story content.)

Introduction: For Halloween, I figured that it would be appropriate for my next review to be on Batman, a hero who operates during the dead of the night, and Deadman, a hero who saves the day now that he is dead. Specifically, I am reviewing Batman/Deadman: Death and Glory, a graphic novel published by DC Comics in 1996. Batman (Bruce Wayne) has teamed up with the spectral Deadman (Boston Brand) before, but this horror story is the one time they shared billing on a comic title. For anyone who does not know who Deadman is, he was a popular circus acrobat who was murdered during a performance but whose spirit was given the ability to possess living beings and act through them by the Hindu goddess, Rama Kushna. And, of course, I am sure that I do not have to explain who Batman is. Now, onward with the review I go.

Plot Summary: Batman is in the middle of taking down the Joker when he blacks out, coming to with a knife in his hand at a woman’s throat and a massive force of Gotham City police officers aiming their firearms right at him. Batman is wanted for murdering an entire restaurant full of people. He deduces he was possessed by a spirit and tentatively suspects his old friend Deadman. Borrowing a book from Felix Faust, Batman casts a ritualistic spell to make Deadman solid enough to question and/or arrest him if needed. The spell backfires and almost destroys Deadman’s essence. Boston survives, though, and speaks through Alfred, explaining that the villain responsible is the yang to his yin, the Clown. Much like how Deadman is the ghost champion of Rama Kushna, the Clown is the ghost champion of the Devil.

Batman casting a spell.png
Batman casting a spell to solidify Deadman

Meanwhile, a man named Frederick Chaplin is hunting down another man named Albert Yeats. Frederick sold his immortal soul years ago for financial success. Now, the Devil is coming to collect, and the only way for Frederick to avoid damnation is to offer up the soul of someone who was born on the same day at the same time as himself. Albert Yeats fits that description. As such, Chaplin has hired a mystic mercenary and his half-animal henchmen to hunt Yeats down, and the Clown is hunting Yeats as well. Saving Yeats’ life and preventing his soul from going to hell is important because Yeats’ soul is supposed to reincarnate, and the resulting new life is supposed to be the Second Coming, sent from Heaven. With Yeats’ soul in hell, the Second Coming would never happen. Because of this importance, Batman and Deadman work together to stop these supernatural threats and ensure that Yeats’ soul is saved. Eventually, the succeed, but Yeats dies less than a year later from a terminal illness (one he said he had at the beginning of the story). Boston escorts Yeats to as close to Heaven as he is allowed.

Plot Analysis: This graphic novel was filled with so much strong content. The plot was compelling, and the scripts were purposeful. The underlying theological concepts of religion and morality permeated the text in a way that was clever and not “in your face.” While both Batman and Deadman have had darker stories, this one was the first honest-to-goodness horror comic featuring these characters I have read. Robinson’s well-crafted story stimulated my intellect, and for this reason I enjoyed this story far more than my modest words can actually articulate.

Characterization: Robinson explores the characters of Batman and Deadman in interesting ways, giving each of them an element to his character that had not been seen beforehand.

  • Many writers have had the opportunity to use Batman. As such, he has been given a variety of portrayals. Many of these portrayals depict Batman has someone who favors science, someone who feels at uncomfortable when dealing with the supernatural. This story throws Batman into a situation that is out of his element, and watching him cope made for an entertaining story. Furthermore, I believe I recall Batman denying magic on at least one occasion in a comic I have previously read, but in this story Bruce is casting a spell? I imagine Batman must have been in a dire situation if he felt compelled to perform a mystical ritual. This graphic novel may be the only time Batman has ever used magic, so this story is noteworthy.
  • Batman and his relationship with religion has also differed, sometimes drastically, between writers. Sometimes, Batman has made references to God in a way that would seemingly indicate he was a believer. Other times, Batman has claimed to be an atheist. Here, Batman seems to at the very least respect religious ideas such as the Second Coming, as he told Albert Yeats that it was an honor to meet him.
  • For Deadman, Robinson created a foil for the hero, something he had not particularly had before this story. Boston has had adversaries—one of which being his predecessor, Jonah—but he has not had someone who was the opposite side of his coin. I believe the Clown is exclusive to this book, but he made for a formidable foe. And the Clown’s psychotic, violent, evil-for-evil’s-sake personality also shined throughout his scenes.
Deadman vs Clown.png
Deadman taking on the Clown in spectral, ghost-to-ghost combat


Art: 
John Estes delivers some extraordinary art. The art is consistent, and it matches the horror theme of the book with its blurring pencils and darker colors. The art accentuated the story’s eerie vibe in a powerful way. The more gruesome elements were amplified because of the art, and I can respect it. The art may deviate from the “standard” style that other comic fans and I are used to, but I believe there is no question of its quality and effectiveness. Estes drew, inked, and colored the entire book himself, and I have to give him a high level of credit for using his art to augment the plot in such a dynamic and straightforward manner.

Final Remarks: Batman/Deadman: Death and Glory is a solid read. I have an appreciation for Batman, and I have read nearly every appearance of Deadman that I can get my hands on. Nevertheless, even without my pre-existing knowledge and fondness for the characters, I would still find this graphic novel as compelling as I did. Robinson’s writing and Estes’ art coalesce into a fine work of graphic literature that intrigues the mind in addition to entertaining it. I am surprised that I had heard so little of this graphic novel before I picked it up on a whim, but I hope this comic review encourages some of you out there to read the story if you get the chance. For my first Halloween-themed comic review, I could not have been more satisfied with a comic selection.

Closing: I know I have said a lot about this story, and I hope you have enjoyed what you have read. If you have any thoughts on the comic or on my review, feel free to comment below. Thank you for reading, and I hope you have an amazing day.

Embrace Nerdom,
-Nerdy N8

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8 thoughts on “Batman / Deadman: Death and Glory Review

Add yours

  1. For the record, my valued readers, when I posted this comic review, it was still Halloween (Oct. 31) for me. However, WordPress’s timing is a little off from my own, marking this review as being posted on Nov. 1. I am sure that the date of this review’s posting ultimately does not matter much, but since I claimed this post to be for the sake of Halloween, I wanted to clarify just in case anyone happened to wonder why the dates did not align.

    Alrighty, carry on, and if you are reading this comment, that means you have likely read this comic review—so thank you!

    Embrace Nerdom,
    -Nerdy N8

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  2. I dig it! I’ve got quite a bit of Deadman reading under my belt as well, the only one I haven’t enjoyed was Adams’ recent mini. I may have to pick this up, it seems like the writing AND art are top notch.

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  3. Well, my immediate reaction to your review was ‘Oh no! Don’t give away the ending of the story N8!’

    …but then I realized my questions about the BD:D and G graphic novel were not centered around Yeats and if he gets to Heaven.

    My questions:
    * How does Batman ‘get away’ with the restaurant murders – possessed or not?
    * Why has no one ever mentioned that Batman massacred a bunch of people?
    * Batman can use magic?? Untrained???

    And this foil to Deadman called The Clown. Once Batman has experience with it, how does he not suspect that all his Arkham villians (like, oh, The Joker) are actually The Clown?

    You realize that I’m not asking you to answer these questions. It’s good that you left them open-ended for the reader, otherwise why go looking for the BD:D and G graphic novel.

    It’s similar to the premise in Batman:Damned so far. So much so that it now makes me wonder if this ‘Clown’ is back in the Black Label. And if Batman/Deadman was in regular continuity.

    (Sigh) Another book for my ‘to read’ list. Thanks N8.

    BTW – still waiting on a review of something you don’t like. As much as you don’t like not liking something. Castle of the Bat is something I was very excited about. But then I read it.

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    1. I did intentionally leave the answers to your question out of the review as to leave a little mystery, but given that some readers may be wondering some similar things, I may touch upon those points a bit here in the comment feed. This way, you or others can read on if you wish to know.

      As such, I would like to issue yet another **Spoiler** Alert.

      Okay, so, for your first question, the Clown had possessed Batman and made him kill all of these people so that the police would pursue him—which would lead to Batman himself finding Yeats (whom the Clown was hunting). After leaving Batman, the Clown immediately possessed Commissioner Gordon, which explains why Gordon was commanding his men to shoot Batman to kill throughout the graphic novel. To help prove Batman’s innocence, in the climax of the story, Deadman fought the Clown while they were ethereal, and Boston purposefully riled the Clown up so that their combined spectral energies would be strong enough to allow those with latent psychic abilities (and apparently there are more so with latent abilities than most people would realize or expect) could see and hear them. Deadman also instigated the Clown into talking and admitting his deeds, so that people would hear the confession. They were in the middle of a circus tent, so they had a large audience. Even though only a few dozen people were able to witness the fight, enough of them, including a couple police officers, were able to corroborate the story enough to get Batman off the hook.

      As for your second question, I likewise wondered why this incident was never brought up again. I mean, the reason Batman killing has so much significance is because Batman has a no-killing rule in his personal code of ethics. For this reason, I would have expected Batman to have been a little more torn up about these events, perhaps even in other Bat-titles. But alas, that does not seem to be the case here.

      As for the point about magic, I believe that the idea is that anyone who pays meticulous attention to the instructions in a spell-book can probably perform a spell. To be fair, though, Batman’s spell failed and did not have the desired effect. This failure shows that not just anyone can perform magic when untrained. But, I would cite Batman’s meticulous attention to detail to be the reason why he was able to get as far as he did, even when he is untrained. Still, it is certainly a fun fact to know that Batman, who has often denied magic, has actually used it before.

      As for the Clown, I would wager that a reason Batman would not assume that the Arkham villains’ actions were spurred by the Clown would be that the Clown could only possess one person at a time, and the many villains in Arkham are actively crazy at the same time. If the Clown was possessing one, then the person would have at some point returned to a state of sanity once the Clown left. Furthermore, the Clown has a parallel (but opposite) purpose as Deadman. Deadman is compelled to travel around doing good whenever he can. He is not allowed to stay in one location. As his foil, the Clown is compelled to do evil whenever he can, but he likewise cannot stay in the same location—at least, that is my logical assumption.

      I hope my explanations and thoughts regarding the issues you brought up helped assuage some of your questions.

      As for the review on something that I did not particularly love, we shall see. I am usually the type of person who can find at least one redeeming quality of something I overall did not care for and focus on that good quality. So any post where I am not personally recommending the comic may still have some level of praise to it as well as criticism.

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  4. Heh. Some way of getting Batman off the hook for murder. “Your honour, i saw two spirits fighting at the carnival and one said he made Batman do those bad Bat things in the name of satan…. yes, weed was just made legal in my country, why do you ask?”

    As for magic, Zatanna spent how many years learning the focus needed for backwords magic. Whereas Batman’s focus is more on rationality and deduction. It doesn’t seem an easy thing to just pick it up overnight – even for the Bat-God.

    Good point on why Batman wouldn’t assume the Clown could be responsible for Arkham. If he possesses someone a la Deadman, then the period of time is typically short. Sometimes only seconds.

    Now I’ll have to think of some other questions that the graphic novel will answer. It still feels vaguely ‘elseworldsy’

    Your reviews are always interesting, and thus far have introduced me to books I didn’t know at all. ☑️

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  5. I’ve just read it and I agree with everything you said. It was a very fluid read, with a good plot and great art. That really set the tone.

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    1. I am happy to hear that you found the time to read “Death and Glory,” and I am especially pleased to hear that you enjoyed it. Thank you for reaching out and commenting to let me know! Have a nice day, and congratulations on a hard day’s work of Embracing Nerdom.

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