DC Universe Presents #5
Written by Paul Jenkins
Pencilled by Bernard Chang
** Since I’ve just now started covering DC Universe Presents, I won’t be writing a full Review for the title’s first arc, “Deadman: Twenty Questions.” Starting next month, regular reviews will be written for each issue and it’s completed arcs. ***
In the final chapter of “Twenty Questions”, the first arc in DC Universe Presents, Deadman goes philosophically head-to-head with the deceitful goddess Rama for the fate of his soul. If that sentence alone doesn’t get you pumped about Deadman, I don’t know what would.
Paul Jenkins has done a fantastic job reinterpreting Boston Brand’s story for the ‘new 52.’ By giving Deadman a less altruistic path, Jenkins gave us a five-part tale of higher beings flawed by their very nature (much in the same vein as recent Green Lantern arcs concerning the Guardians of the Universe) and how a simple question can change everything. Jenkins spent the first four issues of DC Universe Presents delving into Deadman’s abilities, his ‘style’ of heroism and how he fits into the new DC universe. At the same time, he wove a philosophical thriller based on the questioning the meaning of life and existence. What makes the arc so satisfying is that you don’t need a background in critical analysis to understand the sentiments and feeling create by these questions, by pondering the essence of life. Jenkins’ technique involves boiling down the various philosophical idioms presented to their most minimal form and presenting them in fun anecdotes. And while that made for an awesome build-up, it was great to see Brand speaking so frankly to Rama in this final issue featuring Deadman.
While Brand knows he can’t “win”, in as much as being free of Rama’s grip, but at least he can alleviate some of the pressure before giving in to her control. Through a mildly complex series of connected ideas, Brand explains that gods feel no humility which means they could never think to ask one of the most simple, yet most important, questions mortals feel every day of their lives: “Why me?” Everyone has, at some point in their lives, felt victimized and that shared sentiment cannot be felt by those with no true humility. In a true ‘thinker’ piece, Jenkins crafts a damn near-perfect origin story for Deadman before letting him go to exist between the pages of other books until DC sees fit to give Brand his own ongoing.