Rama Kushna has a need to restore the balance between good and evil, and she plans to accomplish that through one man, Deadman. But Deadman lost what he loved the most, and he fled into insanity, loneliness and despair. He no longer craves the balance of good and evil because he has seen that no matter what he does, evil doesn’t diminish. Deadman started out in a dark place (being a ghost and all), but where this collection picks up he is in a very, very, very dark place.
Fast forward to Carl and Kathy, out on a romp in the forests of Vermont, they want to find a secluded space to have a little romp, unfortunately they picked the place that the now mad Deadman has been occupying. He possesses Kathy and terrifies her husband Carl with some twisted sexual revelations. That sets things into motion.
Meanwhile Hugh Pye is having time go missing, blank spots in his memory that coincide with people turning up dead. His therapist feels that there is something more than medical to the situation, something spiritual, and she feels like she is in over her head. So she contacts Madame Waxahachie. Waxahachie puts Hugh into a trance to see what is lurking in his subconcinece and finds the Deadman there imitating a priest who has charged himself with ridding the world of sinners. Things are horribly amiss.
Through her trance Waxahachie finds the church that Carl and Kathy were attacked in. The church that Deadman is dwelling in, the place that he has retreated into insanity in. Waxahachie is invading his space and he doesn’t want that. So he once again takes possession of Hugh to go into the woods and rile up some metalheads that are partying out in the woods. While he is doing that the psychiatrist, Joanne, and Waxahachie explore the dilapidated church and inadvertently set free three evil spirits that dwell within the church.
A Roman solider a native American and a crazy minister are all loose in ghost form, and possess the bodies of the metalheads in the woods, making their way back to the church they seek to all possess, killing Hugh in the process. Upon their return they kidnap Joanne and Waxahachie and take them into the bowels of the ancient church, with the plan of killing what they perceive as witches. Which snaps Deadman out of his existential stupor. He suddenly realizes that he has become a force for evil and that he needs to redeem himself, so he posses the corpse of Hugh to go redeem himself. Which of course is where the cliffhanger is.
This is a dark book, and for that reason is spot on. Deadman is truly crazy in this book and they make it look it. Kelley Jones (who has some amazing runs with Batman, and Sandman) has a spindly and dangerous look that really fits the character of Deadman. Everything is off kilter and edgy it just fits the nature of a character mad with sorrow and loneliness An image that is bolstered by Mike Baron’s (who won the Eisner for Nexus) writing that doesn’t flinch from getting really intense. He doesn’t shy away from darkness or any of frightening nature of the spiritual world.
This is a great one off on the Deadman title (split up into two nearly trade size books), that really gets into the darker side of what Deadman has to deal with. The insanity of only knowing incorporeal spirits. The desire to live in a dark place because you have become a dark being. There is so much analogy to depression in this book, that it becomes very powerful as the tale goes on, without losing hold of the very superhero nature of Deadman. This is a fantastic take on the Deadman.