Deadman as depicted on the cover of The Deadman Collection (2001). Art by Neal Adams.
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceStrange Adventures #205 (October 1967)
Created byArnold Drake (writer)
Carmine Infantino (artist)
In-story information
Alter egoBoston Brand
Team affiliationsJustice League Dark
Seven Soldiers of Victory
Sentinels of Magic
Justice League

Deadman (Boston Brand) is a superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. He first appeared in Strange Adventures #205 (October 1967), and was created by Arnold Drake and Carmine Infantino.[1]


Arnold Drake spoke on the development of Deadman and revealed the 1966 original concept sketch of the character, which was initially a muscular skeleton. Drake further stated, "They were looking for something to bolster a magazine that was about to die, and I came up with Deadman, and they were going to turn it down, [but] then they bought the idea, but decided to turn down the title, because they were afraid, that the board would not permit them to title [the comic Deadman], because of the comics code of authority, so I said you fight for that, its a good title, they did and Deadman Succeeded.[2]

Drake later recalled in an interview, "So here I was in the middle of a Zen-Buddhist movement and I thought, "Maybe I can use that for my main character."[3]

Publication history

Boston Brand's debut as Deadman in Strange Adventures #205 (October 1967), with art by Carmine Infantino.

Deadman's first appearance in Strange Adventures #205, written by Arnold Drake and drawn by Carmine Infantino,[4] included the first known depiction of narcotics in a story approved by the Comics Code Authority.[5] The series is most associated with the art and writing of Neal Adams and the writing of Jack Miller, who took over from Infantino and Drake after the first story.[4][6] The first story and all of the Adams stories were reprinted in 1985 as a seven-issue series.

Although he appeared from time to time in the 1970s and 1980s as a supporting character in various comics, including Jack Kirby's Forever People, Deadman did not get his own series again until 1986, in a four-issue limited series written by Andrew Helfer and drawn by José Luis García-López, which picked up the story where Adams left off. Deadman's next major storyline was in Action Comics Weekly, in 1988–1989. After this, he starred in the two-issue series Deadman: Love After Death, drawn by Kelley Jones and written by Mike Baron. This was followed by the limited series Deadman: Exorcism in 1992, also written by Mike Baron and drawn by Kelley Jones. Jones' gaunt, zombie-like rendition of the character would later appear in the pages of Batman. There was a Deadman ongoing series in 2002, which lasted nine issues, as well as a couple of standalone issues. His cameo appearances also continued, including several issues of Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing, and Neil Gaiman's The Books of Magic. He had a cameo in books two and three of Batman: Gotham County Line, which was released in November 2005. In 2009, Deadman was a featured title in the Wednesday Comics.

The character and self-titled series have won several awards, including the 1967 Alley Award for Best New Strip (by Arnold Drake and Carmine Infantino in Strange Adventures), and the 1968 Alley Award Hall of Fame (for Neal Adams). DC Comics published a slipcased hardcover edition collecting the original Deadman stories in December 2001. Deadman's retconned origin is revealed in Brightest Day #14 (2010), written by Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi. Deadman has a 3-part mini-series called Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love written by Sarah Vaughn with art by Lan Medina.

Fictional character biography

Circus trapeze artist Boston Brand performs under the name Deadman, a stage persona that includes a red costume and white corpse makeup.[7] When Brand is murdered during a trapeze performance by a mysterious assailant known only as the Hook, his spirit is given the power to possess any living being by the Hindu god "Rama Kushna" to search for his murderer and obtain justice.[8] It is established in Green Arrow (vol. 4) #4, that Deadman believes Rama is the supreme being of the universe.[1]

At the end of the Neal Adams story line, Deadman seems to discover the truth behind his murder and the ultimate fate of Hook, who killed Deadman as part of an initiation into a society of contract killers who then kill him to silence him. However, the real Hook is one among many one-handed men who work for an organization known as "The Scavengers". This group steals advanced technology for a profit. Fighting the Scavengers also led to Deadman gaining an artificial body for some time, thanks to the influence of the Forever People. This group had rented rooms from Trixie Magruder, an old circus companion of Deadman.[9]

Various missions

Rama also maintained a city for some time, called Nanda Parbat. The most evil people in the world came to live there, where Rama's power kept them sane and good. One of the worst was Darius Caldera, who almost destroyed the world when he left the city. Nanda later fell due to a combined military and mystical force. All the evil people are now back in the real world, still a danger. Brand's twin brother, Cleveland, is killed while possessed by Boston, while doing Boston's circus act. The killer was out to kill Boston Brand. His "benefactor", Rama Kushna, also dies to defeat Jonah, a spirit similar to Deadman. Around this time, Deadman assists the Spectre in defeating a newly formed demonic being and werewolves. Formed from the skeletons of many souls in hell, this blue-eyed, blonde-haired being comes to Earth to foment chaos and death. It manages to actually remove much of the Spectre's substance. Deadman is forced to merge with Spectre until things are stabilized.

Later, Deadman receives a birthday present from his diminutive friend, Max Loomis. Max places himself in a trance so he could "meet" Deadman and the two take a pleasant journey down "memory lane", mainly Deadman's more pleasant memories of Nanda Parbat. Soon after, Loomis meets with old circus friends and Deadman involves himself in a case of suspected murder. Deadman wants to go after the escapees of Nanda Parbat, but Max thinks pursuing the murder is a better course.[10] Over several years, a mysterious stranger has Deadman travel through time to try to save the souls of deceased heroes from the menace of Caldera. Due to the mental influence of various forces, Deadman is unable to use the knowledge of the timestream to benefit humanity. With the assistance of the spirits of the deceased heroes, Deadman defeats Caldera and the powers behind him. Max Loomis provides vital help on the material plane. After that, Boston and Loomis decide to hunt down the other Parbat escapees.[11]

Youth and Hell

In the Sins of Youth incident, Deadman is one of the dozens of heroes reduced to a preteen age by Klarion the Witch Boy and an alien machine owned by Doiby Dickles. He is still a spirit, now with a lower-case d on his chest. He assists Secret in confronting Teekl, Klarion's companion, in an effort to restore everyone. He also joins in the fight against mystically created and mystically altered villains. During the Day of Judgment incident, Boston Brand travels with a group of heroes to the frozen wastelands of Hell. Their goal is to restart the demonic fires, thus recalling all the demons from the earthly plane. An accident strands Brand and the others under the frozen waters of the River Styx, forcing them to live out what would be, to them, Hell. For Brand, it is that the sharpshooter hits him in the shoulder, thus he survives. Brand feels he needs to die to learn "how to live". His battles against the demons would come back to haunt him. In the four-part Black Baptism miniseries, Deadman and several other "Sentinels of Magic", the magical group formed out of the Day of Judgment incident, are hunted by the Diablos. Partly fueled by revenge, they subdue many of the Sentinels and drain their magic. The JLA eventually rescue them all and destroy all the Diablos.

Blackest Night

Main article: Blackest Night

Boston Brand begins to hear the voices of the dead and his own remains calling for him to protect them.[12] Being a spirit, he is unable to stop his body from being raised as a Black Lantern. He attempts to possess his own body but is ejected after experiencing extreme physical and emotional pain during the attempt. He assists Batman, Robin, and Red Robin in repelling the invasion of the Black Lanterns.[13] Deadman manages to save Commissioner Gordon from the Black Lanterns by possessing the body of his daughter, spiriting them both to safety.[14]

Deadman is later sent by Batman to possess the body of Jason Blood, invoking the power of Etrigan. Deadman uses Etrigan's demon flame to hold back the Black Lanterns, but struggles to maintain control over the demon's body, finally being forced out. Deadman then frees Batman and Red Robin, who had frozen themselves to escape the Black Lanterns' onslaught.[15] He is later seen inside the Black Lantern Damage's ring, apparently having followed Jean Loring, Mera and the Atom when they shrank down into it.[16] He frees Mera and the Atom from Loring by briefly possessing her, allowing them time to return to normal size. During this incident he says he believes possessing the Black Lanterns causes him damage.[17] He is later seen at Nanda Parbat, attempting to stop the Black Lanterns attempting to pass through the spiritual barrier by taking over their bodies and ripping them apart. He briefly loses himself to a Black Lantern's personality, but is saved by the Phantom Stranger. The Stranger convinces Deadman to enter his body again, telling them it is his destiny to bring it within Nanda Parbat. With the Stranger's help, Deadman is able to force the black ring off his body, bringing it through the gate of Nanda Parbat. The body, which the Stranger states is of "singular importance", is placed under the gatekeeper and Blue Devil's protection, and Deadman heads out, intent on sharing the information he gleaned while inside the Black Lanterns with Hal Jordan.[18] In the aftermath of the final battle, Deadman, wearing a White Lantern ring, is resurrected by the power of the white light.[19]

Brightest Day

In the 2010–11 miniseries Brightest Day, Deadman discovers that his white power ring can restore the dead to life,[20] and begins to acclimate to living again, including exercising self-preservational habits,[21] though he expresses reservations about being alive again. As he attempts to learn what his mission on Earth is, he teams up with Hawk and Dove.[22] Deadman learns that he will cross paths with the person the Entities chose to guard the Earth.[23] The Entity also instructs Deadman to embrace life and those around him, as he led a selfish life in his previous one, realizing the value of others only after he died. In learning to appreciate his new life, Deadman realizes that he and Dove have fallen in love,[24] and reconnects with his grandfather.[25]

The Entity also tells Deadman that when Nekron attacked Earth, the contamination of his presence on the planet manifested itself in the form of a "dark avatar" who will try to destroy the Star City forest, which is the key to saving Earth's soul.[26] The Entity reveals that Earth's savior is Alec Holland,[27] and the "dark avatar" is a corrupted Swamp Thing, which once thought that it was Holland, but now believes itself to be Nekron. In the forest, Captain Boomerang throws a boomerang at Dove, but it impacts Deadman instead. As his dying act, he gives his white power ring to Holland, transforming him into a new Swamp Thing, who destroys the corrupted, original Swamp Thing. Unable to return to life, Deadman and Dove, heartbroken at being denied a happy life now that he can never again be resurrected, share an emotional farewell.[28]

The New 52

In The New 52, Deadman's origins are rebooted in the initial run of the anthology series DC Universe Presents. After living a selfish life as Boston Brand, he is forced to possess people as Deadman following his assassination, to set problems in their lives right, so he can avoid an eternity in Hell.[29] He also features as a member of the supernatural team, Justice League Dark. Deadman uses his possession talents to help take down various supernatural threats, such as Dr. Mist and Faust Sr. Despite their earlier claim, he and Dove try to rekindle their love. However, their attempt fails miserably as Deadman insists on carrying on their relationship forward using borrowed bodies, while Dove shows disdain and repulsion to the idea. Furthermore, by helping out June Moone, they both gain the enmity of a crazed Enchantress.[30]

DC Rebirth

As part of the DC Rebirth relaunch, a three-part miniseries, Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love was released in October 2016.[31] The story featured the creative team of writer Sarah Vaughn and artist Lan Medina.[32] Deadman also appears in the Trinity book, focused on Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, along with his fellow Justice League Dark teammates Zatanna and John Constantine.

Dawn of DC

Knight Terrors

In the Dawn of DC relaunch, Deadman becomes a central character in the "Knight Terrors" crossover event. While possessing Batman, Deadman engages in a battle with the villain Insomnia and reads his mind, seeing glimpses of Wesley Dodds, Doctor Destiny's fate, and a ritualistic cult sacrifice that creates a Nightmare Stone. Seeking answers, Deadman escapes Insomnia's attack and goes to Dodd's grave with a canister of Lazarus Rain, which resurrects him as a zombie. Despite being in zombie form, Dodds quickly realizes Deadman's presence, and inquires the reason for his resurrection and who Insomnia is. Upon questioning, Dodds remembers the Nightmare Stone, and recalls to Deadman an unfinished case from the younger years of his past life, where encountered a strange death cult that believed in "some god of nightmares."[33]

His attempt to stop the cult's sacrifice was somewhat successful, for he was able to put all of the members to sleep - except for the determined leader who fatally stabbed himself. That one lone sacrifice was only enough to make the Nightmare Stone briefly appear for a very brief moment before vanishing. Upon being asked by Dodds, various Justice Society members stated that they never encountered anything like the Nightmare Stone. However, Doctor Fate once told Dodds that an "item that bridged dream and the waking world was dangerous... and should never fall into the wrong hands..." Giving thanks for what was revealed to him, Deadman offers to return Dodds to his grave. Determined to resume his still-unfinished case, Dodds insists on joining Deadman to find the Nightmare Stone and defeat Insomnia.[34]

The New Golden Age

In the pages of "The New Golden Age", Deadman was sought out by Doctor Fate and Detective Chimp so that they can understand more about Hauhet who is the new guiding force behind the Helmet of Fate.[35] When a Huntress from a possible future arrives in the present after her visit to 1940, she finds herself in the company of Deadman, Doctor Fate, and Detective Chimp.[36] As Huntress had told them about what happened in her future and her encounter with Per Degaton, Deadman asks if she is the daughter of the Huntress that they know. She answers by telling them that Helena Bertinelli was a friend of her mom Catwoman. When Huntress shows them the snow globe that took her to their time, Deadman and Detective Chimp plan to take the snow globe to Madame Xanadu to see if she can provide them with some answers. Deadman also mentions that Madame Xanadu owes him a favor.[37] After getting a reading from the snow globe, Madame Xanadu states to Deadman and Detective Chimp that they have to get the snow globe back to Huntress or else Per Degaton will kill her without it. After Per Degaton is repelled, Deadman was with Madame Xanadu and Detective Chimp where she tells them what Per Degaton plans to do.[38] Deadman was with Madame Xanadu, Detective Chimp, and Deadman when they arrived at the area where Huntress was speaking to Batman.[39]

Powers and abilities

As a disembodied spirit, Deadman could not be seen or heard by most others (certain mystics could still perceive him), was able to pass through objects, and could fly or float. He was able to possess any living being (human or animal), control their actions, and could communicate with people through another's body. Furthermore, the possession process is nearly instant in transition, enabling Deadman to possess different bodies in rapid succession for tactical advantage in combat. In one storyline, however, he could not control certain criminal henchmen he possessed due to their minds being under post-hypnotic suggestion (since their minds were not truly theirs in that instance). The people he possessed retained no memory of the experience. He has issues possessing those with stronger minds like Batman and is often forced out in a short amount of time. Deadman also has problems with magic as his spiritual form can be manipulated by it to some degree. In the Justice League Dark animated movie, Batman needed to remain in contact with all teammates, but couldn't because of Deadman, and Batman didn't want Deadman to possess him, so Batman asked Constantine to relay Deadman's words to him, but Constantine refused and instead cast a spell to allow Batman to see Deadman. It is implied that Deadman can make his host stronger if the possession is willing, as shown when Batman allowed Deadman to possess him during the "Knight Terrors" event.

As a living human, he is an Olympic-level athlete well-trained in acrobatics. As a wearer of a White power ring he possesses whatever powers the ring confers upon its wielder. These powers, so far, include flight, invisibility (or the ability to cloak his presence), teleportation, healing severe wounds, making solid energy constructs, and the power to bring beings back to life. He had no control over these new powers and the scope and limitations on those powers are as yet undefined. The Black Lantern power ring gave his reanimated corpse similar abilities, but it reanimates the dead instead of fully resurrecting them.

Other versions

Kingdom Come

Deadman appeared twice briefly in Mark Waid and Alex Ross' Elseworlds story Kingdom Come, first as an extra in a metahuman bar (alongside Rorschach, Obsidian, and the Question), and second when Norman McCay is traveling with the Spectre, where he offered some words of encouragement to Norman and explained how the Spectre has lost touch with his humanity. He appears as a skeleton wearing the tattered remains of his Deadman uniform. He introduces himself as simply "Boston", and also appears in the sequel The Kingdom as a guide to time-lost, deceased versions of Superman. This version of Deadman was made into an action figure by DC Direct for Series 3 of their Kingdom Come line.[40]

The Books of Magic

Deadman also appears in Neil Gaiman's story The Books of Magic, looking very similar to his appearance in Kingdom Come. He possesses the body of several people throughout the comic, trying to warn Timothy Hunter about a coming danger.


In 2006, a DC Comics imprint Vertigo traded some of its trademark characters with others of DC's. Among the swaps was Vertigo's Jonah Hex in exchange for Deadman. The result was a continuing series published later that year.

Bizarro World

Deadman also had a brief comic in the book Bizarro World where he was interested in meeting girls and dating while in Limbo.

Superman & Batman: Generation II

During Superman & Batman: Generations II, Deadman is summoned by Doctor Occult to assist the third Batman (Bruce Wayne, Junior, the son of the first Batman) to investigate the elderly Joker's apparent delusions that Batman is trying to kill him. By possessing the Joker's body, Deadman discovers that the Joker is being haunted by the ghost of Dick Grayson. Grayson's ghost is seeking revenge, as the Joker killed him when Grayson was in the role of Batman. While the Joker's insane mind makes it difficult for Deadman to possess him, he is able to hold on long enough to allow Alfred Pennyworth's ghost to convince Grayson to pass on.


Deadman appeared briefly in Jeph Loeb's "Absolute Power" story arc in Superman/Batman, in which he attempted to possess Superman after he and Batman killed off all the monks of Nanda Parbat (under orders from their adoptive parents, who saw the monks as a threat to their plans in an alternate timeline). Deadman is prevented from using Superman's strength to kill Batman when Batman uses a spell from Zatanna to trap Deadman inside a crystal.


In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint storyline, Boston Brand is part of Haly's Circus, featured in a show alongside the Flying Graysons. Boston is still as obnoxious and arrogant as he was before he died and does not wish to be a part of the circus. Brand makes fun of the circus' fortune teller Doctor Fate until Fate gives him a vision of Boston himself standing over a dead Dick Grayson. Before the next show, Boston tries to convince Dick to go solo as he himself had. However, Dick tells him that family means too much to him. Dick poses the question that Boston's seeming fearlessness could stem from his insecurity of being alone.[41] Haley Circus is attacked by Amazons who want the Helm of Nabu. While Boston, along with the circus, is running away from the Amazons, they are rescued by Resistance member Vertigo. When they are hiding, Boston tells Dick to leave his father since he's fatally wounded, but Dick refuses. Before he dies Dick's father asks Boston to protect his son.[42] Later, Boston and Dick are running around the countryside looking for reinforcements, when they are soon caught in an explosion. It appears that they both survived the explosion, but when Boston tells Dick he is okay, Dick walks through him towards Boston's dead body behind him. Boston realizes that he is now a ghost whose presence cannot be seen or heard. He helps Dick, keeping him safe from the Amazons. Meeting up with the Resistance, Boston aids Dick who has become the new Doctor Fate and lets him know that he is not alone.[43]

In other media



Video games


Collected editions

Title Material collected Page Count Year ISBN
The Deadman Collection Strange Adventures #205–216; The Brave and the Bold #79, 86, 104; Aquaman #50–52; Challengers of the Unknown #74 342 2001 978-1563898495
Deadman Book One Strange Adventures #205–213 176 2011 978-1401231163
Deadman Book Two The Brave and the Bold #79 and 86; Strange Adventures #214–216; Aquaman #50–52; Challengers of the Unknown #74 168 2012 978-1401233884
Deadman Book Three The Phantom Stranger (vol. 2) #33, 39–41; The Brave and the Bold #133; Superman Family #183; World's Finest #223, 227; DC Super-Stars #18 176 2012 978-1401237288
Deadman Book Four DC Special Series #8; Adventure Comics #459–466; DC Comics Presents #24 168 2014 978-1401243241
Deadman Book Five Deadman (vol.2) #1–4; Secret Origins #15; Challengers of the Unknown #85–87 176 2014 978-1401246112
Deadman: Lost Souls Deadman: Love After Death #1–2; Deadman: Exorcism #1–2 200 1995 978-1563891885
Deadman by Kelley Jones: The Complete Collection Action Comics Weekly #618–626, Deadman: Love After Death #1–2; Deadman: Exorcism #1–2 272 2017 978-1401271671
Batman/Deadman: Death and Glory Original Graphic Novel 92 1996 978-1563892288
Deadman: Deadman Walking Deadman (vol. 4) #1-5 128 2007 978-1401212360
DC Universe Presents Vol. 1 featuring Deadman & Challengers of the Unknown DC Universe Presents #1-8 192 2012 978-1401237165
Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #1-3 160 2017 978-1401268411
Deadman Deadman (vol. 5) #1-6 160 2018 978-1401281410
Deadman Omnibus Strange Adventures #205-216; The Brave and the Bold #79, 86, 104, 133; Aquaman #50-52; Challengers of the Unknown #74, 84-87;
Justice League of America #94, World’s Finest Comics #223, 227; The Phantom Stranger (vol. 2) #33, 39-41;
Superman Family #183; DC Super Stars #18; DC Special Series #8; Adventure Comics #459-466; DC Comics Presents #24;
Detective Comics #500; Deadman (vol. 2) #1-4; Secret Origins #15; covers from Deadman #1-7
944 2020 978-1779504883


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  13. ^ Blackest Night: Batman #1 (August 2009)
  14. ^ Blackest Night: Batman #2 (September 2009)
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  30. ^ Justice League Dark #2 (2011)
  32. ^ Sarah Vaughn On ‘Deadman: Dark Mansion’ And Why Queer Ghost Stories Matter by Elle Collins, Comics Alliance, February 17, 2017
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  34. ^ Knight Terrors (2023) #1-2 DC Comics
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  42. ^ Flashpoint: Deadman and the Flying Graysons #2 (July 2011)
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