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DC Universe Classics
by Rustin Parr

Comics, like anything, have far more "misses" than "hits," especially when it comes to creating characters, be they heroes or villains, that stand the test of time. Typically someone is created by the needs of a particular story and any number of factors relegates them to the D-List of forgotten-hood. Sometimes, against all odds, something about a character works and he hangs on. Not as a major player in most cases, but as a crucial tertiary member brought in from time to time to fulfill an important role in the story. Deadman is one such character.

Once a leading high-wire artist for a traveling circus, Boston Brand was felled by an assassin's bullet. Impressed by Brand's many acts of kindness during his life, the Goddess of Balance, Rama Kushna, allowed him to return to Earth as a spirit to find his own killer. After avenging his death, Rama Kushna assigned Deadman the task of welcoming new souls to the afterlife. From time to time, Deadman has lent his assistance to living heroes in situations of interdimensional crisis.

This is one of those rarest of all DCU figures - a character with an entirely new sculpt! And thank god it finally didn't go to a Super Powers re-do (yes, yes, they're very cool, but why spend all that money on a novelty figure and shortchange characters from canon?). The key to Deadman's look is thinness and the only way to do that in this line was to start from scratch. Fortunately, it turned out pretty darn good. There is some odd line work on the shoulders and right bicep, but in general all of the sculpting and proportions look really good, and actually make the figure look taller and thinner than he really is. The hands are particularly well sculpted - extended in length just enough to be a little creepy (they're so subtley affective and effective that they alone make the figure look supernaturally disproportionate) and with excellent wrinkles and stitches that sell the "these are gloves" look.

Unlike most potentially generic body parts, Deadman's forearms have a sculpted line at the end of the gloves rather it being just a paint application. The feet also sport Deadman's trademark fairy booties (like classic Robin! Oh, how charming). The belt is a separate piece - again, something that could have easily been painted on, but now helps break up the costume and allows for variation on future body re-use. Conversely, though, the "D" on the stomach is only a paint app, no sculpture there. It's a good, big size, but the top of it really inhibits the mid-torso joint because the "D" can easily get covered up. The upper torso is very character-specific with grooves along for the comically gigantic collar to be glued into.

The head, though, is a bit of a problem for me. My concept of Deadman is that he's a good guy, but the head is very "scary, evil zombie." While its well sculpted it just seems a very odd choice for the figure. I mean, if they needed to make him more "sexy" to casual buyers then... I would be more worried about the costume, which is horribly dated and goofy.

The paint on Deadman is uniquely great, my figure hasn't a problem in sight. The gloves, booties, belt and collar-interior are a bright red which really pops and accentuates. The figure is cast in a dull maroon with musculature "highlighted" but a slightly darker spray. The bare chest and head are a perfect dead-person-gray with more gray to accent. The eyes and teeth are white and perfectly painted and the mouth is a black that also cleanly separates the teeth (that alone is shockingly excellent paint for a mass market figure).

All in all this is just an expertly executed figure. The only problem is that he too suffers the double-barbell of doom that causes the head to only swivel horizontally - as always Mattel refuses to let any figure be perfect. At least we/they now have a new slender body in the cannon that can get used when needed. The exaggerated musculature detailing on the shoulders is a bit of a distraction, in terms of possible reuses, but the bulk of this figure could easily become Saint Walker from the Blue Lantern Corps [or maybe Ragdoll from Secret Six! --ed.]. The extended hands do a lot to making this figure achieve that otherworldly disproportionate look of Deadman, but with a normal set of hands this body could work for a new, taller Sinestro or any number of the DCU's thinner cohorts.

There is a variant of this guy out in the world that takes a cue from the Gentleman Ghost figure - his legs and feet fade to translucense to prove his otherworldliness. Deadman is just an all around solid figure, and considering he comes with the Collect-N-Connect Kilowog's right arm (you know... the one with the ring) this is truly a must-have figure.

-- 02/04/10

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