The Deadman, born Boston Brand, was a well known trapeze artist who was killed by newly joined member of the League of Assassins, The Hook. (It wasn't personal, the mission was only for initiation purposes.) For the many kindnesses that Brand had performed during his life, Deadman was saved and given his powers by Hindu goddess of balance, Rama Kushna, so that he should find his killer and settle the score. He began to hunt for his assassin, knowing only that the man had a hook for a hand.
When Deadman learned that a villain called the Hook was a member of the League Of Assassins, he was certain it was the same man who killed him. Along the way of his journey, Brand continued to interact in peoples lives, doing good deeds in his own way. One of the people was another aerialist known as the Eagle. They would first meet in St. Louis where the Eagle tried to kill him during a performance while in the air. Boston Brand as Deadman would see justice done as the Deadman when the Eagle was hired to replace him. Deadman eventually tracked down the Hook, only to watch him die at the hands of the Sensei, leader of League of Assassins.
Deadman was created by Arnold Drake and Carmine Infantino for the comic Strange Adventures #205 His initial appearance is the first comic story to be approved by the Comics Code Authority to include the use of narcotics. Deadman's first story won the Alley Award for Best New Strip in 1967.
Original Continuity: New Earth
The Dead, the Hook and the Sensei
The man that became Hook was once Roy Martin Matson. At one time, Matson was the Sensei's protege but Matson failed at his attempt to assassinate Senator Kane, a former astronaut who had the ambition to become the United States' next president. Matson used a high-powered rifle to take out Kane but Kane's personal bodyguard saw Matson from afar and took the bullet for the senator. Matson was ordered to abort the mission by the Sensei's facilitator William Smith. The Sensei was disappointed that Matson had failed to conceal himself from Kane's security detail but he was willing to give Matson a second chance to redeem himself. As punishment, Matson was order to perform Yubitsume, a Japanese ritual that is meant to atone for one's offense or failure toward another. Matson's focus was on the blade that hanged over his finger while unaware that the Sensei had an axe in his hand. Just as Matson was about to perform the ritual, the Sensei takes one swift stroke and Matson's right hand is severed. Matson screams in agony as the Sensei gives him his next mission. The Sensei tells Matson that he must find and kill a worthy target who possesses prowess and agility. With Matson's handicap, he must now succeed in perfecting his marksmanship or face the consequences.
Matson arrives in Gotham and finds a poster of Boston "Deadman" Brand as the main performance at Hill's Circus. Matson decides to target Boston Brand in order to regain the Sensei's good favor. Matson succeeds in killing Boston while he was in mid air during his trapeze performance. However, Brand's spirit lives on thanks to the intervention of Rama Kushna and begins to hunt down the Hook.
Deadman's first opportunity to find the Hook takes place when his spirit is summoned by Ms. Magruder, a retired medium from Hill's Circus. Magruder has recently opened her home to the Forever People, a band of teenagers from New Genesis. The Forever People were present when Magruder tried to summon the spirit of her fallen carnie comrade. At first, Magruder's powers were working and Deadman started to take shape in an astral form. He was only visible to Magruder's psyche but Marc Moonrider's Mother Box made Deadman visible to everyone when it bunched together his ectoplasmic atoms.
Deadman told everyone his sad story and about the man with the hook for a right hand. After hearing his story, the Forever People were determined to help Boston achieve inner peace by bringing his murderer to justice. Serifan, Moonrider, Vykin, Big Bear and Dreamer designed a robot that could latch onto Deadman's ectoplasm thereby enabling him to control and inhabit a physical form. Serafin designated this robot as the Follower and designed it to look like Deadman in order to drive terror into the man who murdered Boston.
Unfortunately, the Forever People's stay on Earth has aroused the attention of the Scavengers, a team of highly trained thieves who steal the latest tech from all four corners of the globe. The Director of the Scavengers wants the New Genesis technology that the Forever People possess. The Director has had an operative spy on the Forever People and the operative's latest report disturbs the Director. The operative disclosed that he saw someone resembling Boston Brand within the company of the Forever People.
It turns out the Director was once a member of the League of Assassins just like Matson. Anyone who has failed the Sensei on a mission, has had their right hand severed and replaced with a hook as a sign of dishonor toward the League's reputation. The Director started the Scavengers organization in order to appease the Sensei by equipping his assassins with the latest advances in weaponry. The Sensei was pleased by the Director's ingenuity and rewarded him for his continuous efforts in supplying the League. Director also developed an affinity toward other failed assassins who endured the same punishment as he did. The Director along with the other failed assassins created a board of directors who each controlled a certain operation around the globe. Each director raised their hooks with pride and the Scavengers were born.
The Director was well aware that the Sensei had taken Matson under his wing and despite his failure to kill Senator Kane, the Sensei had given Matson a second chance to prove himself worthy within the ranks of the League. Matson turned down the Director's offer to join the Scavengers but the Director still felt a personal responsibility to protect his handicapped comrade from the wrath of Deadman. The Director orders one of his operatives to steal the Follower robot before its completion thereby slowing down the Forever People's efforts and allow the Scavengers to dissect the Follower for any promising tech. The operative was successful in stealing the Follower robot but he failed to anticipate the tracking device that Serafin installed inside the robot.
Deadman and the Forever People track the robot to the Director's Scavenger Depot. Deadman infiltrates the Director's quarters and finally takes possession of the Follower. Once he was inside the robot, Deadman noticed the Director's right hand was actually a hook. Deadman automatically assumed that the Director was his murderer. Deadman charged after him but the Director came prepared. The Director used a replica of Mr. Freeze's freeze gun and froze Deadman's robot body. The Director was disappointed that he had to destroy such a priceless piece of machinery but he was proud none the less when he shattered the robot's frozen body into a million pieces.
Deadman was once again reduced to his spectral form. The Forever People made short work of the Scavenger operatives and managed to apprehend William Smith, the manager of the Scavenger Depot. The Sensei placed Smith within the Scavenger organization in order to make sure the Director wasn't holding out on the League. As Deadman wept over his short period of being physically visible, Dreamer used her illusion casting abilities to terrify the Director to the brink of a nervous breakdown. The Director and Smith were now under the mercy of Deadman. The Director informed Deadman that there are many Scavenger directors who have a hook for a right hand and they would rather die then divulge any information.
Boston was left with a dead end. Forever People wished Deadman the best of luck in finding his killer but they took the liberty of escorting Smith and the Director to the proper authorities. Deadman returned to the realm where Rama Kushna resided in order to seek more guidance. Unfortunately, Smith was able to escape the Forever People's custody and returned to the Sensei's side.
Hook, Line & Sinker
Rama decides to give Deadman one more opportunity to bring the Hook to justice. Rama's guidance leads Deadman to William Smith who was just contracted to kill a mass murderer named Phil Carling. Deadman follows Smith all the way to Hong Kong. Smith takes the beeline to an antique shop filled with relics and curios. Smith greets the shop dealer and opens the suitcase that he brought with him from Gotham. The suitcase was filled with money. Deadman presumes that a third party must have paid Smith to kill Carling but Smith's services belong to someone else who benefits from the blood money.
The shop keep takes the suitcase full of money and gives Smith another suitcase along with a note. Smith reads the note and swallows it in order to dispose of any evidence. Deadman follows Smith who goes behind the antique shop and finds a car. Deadman tags along as Smith drives the car to his next destination which is the Hong Kong Waterfront. As he was driving, Smith opened the suitcase and pulls out a strange looking gun.
Smith searches all the gin mills along the waterfront until he finally found his quarry...the Hook. Hook notices Smith at the other end of the bar and opens fire. Smith was unable to get a clear shot because Vishnu, the Indian mystic who was present at Brand's murder, was in his line of sight. The Hook escapes to the docks where he had a boat waiting for him. Hook's boat was fast but it was no match for Smith's dead on aim. Smith uses his strange gun to shoot the motor of Hook's boat but rather than stopping the boat, the bullet caused the engine to explode.
Smith grabbed his own boat and searched the wreckage of Hook's getaway boat. Smith finds Hook floating on a piece of the boat and still alive. Smith disarms Hook, binds him with rope and places him in the trunk of his car. Deadman was glad that the Hook had survived Smith's attack because he wanted to dish out his own brand of justice. Deadman followed Smith to the mountainous countryside of Hong Kong until they reached a temple. Smith drags Hook out of his car and brings him before a ghastly stone figure who kinda resembles Buddha.
Smith then activates a trap door by pushing a fake stone tile. Smith and Hook are then transported to the caverns beneath the temple. Deadman follows the two assassins but his attention is turned away when he notices an armory full of strange weapons and artillery. Deadman figures that the Scavengers have been working with Smith's employer. All of sudden, Deadman hears jeers and shouting from a room across the way. Deadman finds Hook standing in the middle of a room surrounded by other assassins who have nothing but contempt for him then a cloaked figure enters the room. The figure unveils his cloak and reveals that he is the Sensei. Deadman recognized the Sensei as the shop keep that Smith had met with earlier.
The Sensei expresses his disappointment that the Hook has failed the League three times. The Hook tries to convince the Sensei that he did kill Boston Brand to prove his worth but he couldn't explain how Brand managed to return from the dead. Boston remembers that his brother Cleveland had kept his trapeze act going in order to trick his brother's killer and lure him out into the open again but Boston's mind was more overwhelmed with anger. Boston couldn't that the Hook had murdered him just to prove himself to a League of Assassins.
The Sensei was well aware that Hook made a second attempt to kill the supposedly resurrected Boston Brand but even then he failed to kill Cleveland Brand thanks to Deadman's involvement. The Sensei could no longer tolerate Hook's ongoing line of failure so he decided to end Hook through combat. Boston couldn't let the Sensei kill the Hook so he took possession of Smith's body and tried to defend the Hook. The Sensei felt a presence over Smith so he disarms Smith and immobilizes him. The Sensei then turns his attention to the Hook.
Boston had only one other option and that was to enter the Sensei's body. Unfortunately, the Sensei's body was the current host of Jonah, Rama Kushna's former crusader of Nanda Parbat. As long as Jonah inhabited the Sensei's body, Boston could not enter. The Sensei put an end to the groveling Hook who had taken quite a beating from his former mentor. The Sensei sends a deadly blow to back of the Hook's head. Boston watched as the Hook's body lay on the floor with his back facing Boston. Boston cries out to Rama that "It can't end this way."
The Sensei disposes of Hook's body by activating a trap door that leads to a river that flows beneath the temple. Just like that, Boston watches as his killer's lifeless body flows down the river's current into nothingness. The Sensei then commands his assassins to leave the room. The Sensei sits down and enters a state of meditation. With Jonah's help, the Sensei communicates with Boston. The Sensei tells Boston that he is well aware of what Hook meant to him. The Sensei asks "You have walked among evil men to find your killer but now he has suffered for his crimes. Does this not put things in balance?"
Boston exclaims his gratitude that the Hook's death was met with swift justice and the Sensei smiles by saying "Then you are satisfied?" The Sensei's question angers Boston. Boston says "Satisfied? It should have been me who dealt the final blow not you. What you did is a mockery of justice. A farce. A fraud. There is no balance here." Jonah then speaks by saying "Now, you have learned as I did. Rama's greatest yet cruelest lesson is to live with an eternity of frustration and dissatisfaction."
Then with his brother Cleveland and new friend Batman, Deadman then prevented the League of Assassins taking control of the fabled Himalayan land of Nanda Parbat. Deadman was subsequently called upon to do the duties expected of spirits, such as him, greeting those entering the Land of the Just Dead. In this role Deadman guided the Phantom Stranger, the Spectre, Etrigan the Demon, and Swamp Thing in order to rescue the spirit of Abby Arcane after she was murdered by her uncle. Deadman has teamed up with other spectral heroes, joining the Phantom Stranger and Swamp Thing to combat the threat of a "primordial shadow" that imperiled Heaven and Earth. When Asmodel usurped the power of the spirit of wrath, Deadman formed part of a strike force of sentinels of magic with Doctor Occult, Felix Faust, the Phantom Stranger, Ragman, Raven, and Sentinel assembled by Zatanna to oppose the fallen angel. Deadman continues to work with people on Earth, hoping one day to achieve a peaceful reward.
After the restoration of the timeline post- Flashpoint, Deadman continues to find himself under orders from Rama Kushna, inhabiting bodies and trying to help them solve the problems in their lives, but with no answer as for why or for how long. He continues his relationship with Dawn Granger as well as joining the supernatural and magical band of misfits known as the Justice League Dark. Despite their earlier claim, he and Dove try to rekindle their love. However, their attempt fails miserably as while Deadman insists to carry on their relationship using borrowed bodies, Dove shows disdain and repulsion to the idea. Furthermore, by helping out June Moone, they both gain the enmity of a crazed Enchantress.
Major Story Arcs
Original Continuity: New Earth
With the coming of the Blackest Night, the body of Boston Brand was raised by a black power ring. The ghostly Deadman tried his best to thwart the ring's attempts to control him, but to no avail.
Deadman then decided to seek the help of someone he had previously possessed, Batman. How he can operate as both a Black Lantern and his spectral self has yet to be revealed.
Throughout Blackest Night, Deadman possessed many Black Lanterns and traveled through their ring cortex in order to learn more about them. With each possession of a Black Lantern, Boston felt both psychic and physical pain, but he learned how to end Blackest Night and stop Nekron. He then possessed Guy Gardner and told him how to end Blackest Night.
At the end of Blackest Night, Boston Brand was one the the twelve dead superheroes chosen by the white light to be reborn after the destruction of the black light. Due to the fact that "Deadman" is partially dead, he therefore returned to his human form.
As the reborn Boston Brand was waking through a cemetery, he encountered a deceased bird adjacent to the grave stone that had the name "Boston Brand" inscribed on it. He took the dead bird "into" his palm, but when it made physical contact with his hand, the bird was miraculously reborn. Then, as he caused the bird to alight to its nest via the use of his bodily muscles, a white lantern ring appeared on his middle finger, and the white light pleaded him for assistance for an unapparent reason. Brand appeared at many locations involving recently reborn superheroes. Throughout these scattered appearances, Deadman questions why he was brought back and a voice responds, "Help Them" referring to the other 11 that were brought back. Deadman's final apparition is to Star City, and at the culmination of his questioning, the voice responds, "Help me LIVE" at which time the power of the white ring overtakes him and a star shaped forest is resurrected in the exact spot of Prometheus' explosion in Cry for Justice.
The ring then teleports him to a boat where he witnesses a pirate attack. Arthur Curry and Mera intervene and as they are fighting the pirates Boston sees Arthur commanding dead sea life like when he was a Black Lantern. He tries to talk to him and Mera but the ring is keeping him hidden. The ring then teleports him to the planet Qward and orders him to fight. As he turns around, he finds out who the ring wants him to fight: The Anti-Monitor. He then begins fighting him using the ring: first he projects the image of the 11 other heroes and villains that were resurrected injuring Anti-Monitor. The Anti-Monitor fights back and as Boston is falling he tells the ring to create a safety net which it does.
The ring then teleports him to Dove's room as he hits the net. As he talks with her, Hawk attacks him but Dove tells him not to. After revealing that he resurrected the bird and created the forest in Star City, Hawk takes him to the cemetery where his brother Don Hall is buried in hope of resurrecting him. Boston's attempt fails, and when he tries to resurrect Holly Granger, Dove's sister, the ring warns him not to try. He chooses to ignore it and Holly resurrects as a Black Lantern, however Boston projects an image of Don Hall and puts her to rest again.
The ring then orders him to "Eat a cheeseburger". It turns out Boston hadn't eaten since being resurrected because the ring kept teleporting him to places.
They go to eat a cheeseburger and after they do, the ring teleports them to the White Lantern saying that Boston is now ready.
Hawk attempts to pick up the lantern but is unable to, however Boston picks it up with ease. As he does, the 12 heroes and villains that were resurrected each receive a mission while temporarily transformed into their White Lantern forms. The missions are necessary in order to find a new champion to replace the Entity of the White Light spectrum who is dying. Boston's mission is to live again, and in order to do that, the Entity explains through the ring that he has to find the chosen one to protect Earth and replace the Entity.
Boston then decides to ask Hal Jordan for help in finding out who the champion might be and orders the ring to take him to Jordan. However as he starts teleporting, Dove grabs onto him and goes with him to Hawk's shock.
Finding Bruce Wayne
When Boston saw the Bat-signal he figured that Bruce Wayne was the chosen one to wield the White Lantern Ring. Boston knew that Bruce has been lost in time, and eventually found his way back, so he thought that the ring was just waiting for Bruce to get back into modern times. Leaving Dove behind, Boston quickly put on his mask (the Deadman face) and started to do acrobats all over Gotham City's rooftops. Boston ran into trouble with Mr. Freeze's gang, and Boston wanted to take these villains down, since he's never fought anyone with his own body. Just before Mr. Freeze was about to kill Boston, Batman jumped down and crushed his glass helmet. Mr. Freeze started to lack oxygen and Batman threw him into the Freeze van. As Boston was going to introduce himself, Bruce Wayne already knew who he was. Boston was surprised, however, he told Bruce that the ring has chosen him to be the herald of the White Lantern Corps. Bruce was a little shocked, but the ring (surprisingly) flew off of Boston's finger and onto Bruce Wayne's. Bruce saw everything that the White Lantern Ring has done with Boston, and also told him about the people whom have risen from Blackest Night.
Sadly, Boston gave the ring to Batman at the wrong time. A near unconscious Mr. Freeze henchman shoots Boston in the chest. White Lantern Batman reacts and destroys the gun and easily knocks out the henchman. With Bruce and Dove standing above Boston, Boston lays on the ground in his blood. Seeing his life flash before his eyes, Boston's first flashback is when he was 10-years-old talking with his Grandfather. Boston (as a kid) is talking to his Grandpa about him never wanting to get old. Boston Brand (as Deadman) is watching his younger self talk with his Grandfather. When Boston's Grandfather told him that being old is a privilege and not a right, Boston ignored what he had said and went inside to see what was on TV. The White lantern ring stated that, "Scars are the bullet points of life", the next flashback was when Boston was with his girlfriend. While ordering a cheeseburger with his girlfriend, Audrey. While waiting Boston was being an impatient jerk, and didn't listen to what his girlfriend had to say. She left the car in tears, while Boston was in question about why she left? The ring appeared with another statement for Boston, "Who would go to your funeral"?
The last flashback was when he was in the show biz. Operating under the name "Deadman", Boston was even more of a jerk than as a child or a teenager. Boston's friends (or enemies) in the circus didn't like Boston one bit. Sure he was making Haley's Circus money and keeping it open, however he was only looking out for himself and wanting to get rich without anyone telling him what to do, or what not to do. As Deadman was watching himself go out on stage, he couldn't prevent himself from getting killed and becoming the man who he is today, Deadman. As the current Deadman looms over his body, he talks to himself about not caring about anyone until he became a ghost. So once he decided that he wanted to live his life, and the ring gave him his life back once again. Batman had already left, and Deadman wanted to see if Bruce needed more questions answered. However, Dove and Deadman thought that the ring probably already gave him all the answers needed. So in the end, Boston kisses Dove, and Batman looms over Gotham City talking about a new subject. Maxwell Lord!
Boston moves in to Dawn's apartment afterward. He contacts Oracle and finds out that his grandfather is still alive and is living in an assisted living home. Dawn encourages him to visit him. He and his grandfather are happy to see each other and Boston takes him for a motorcycle ride as his grandfather can no longer ride. He creates a ramp using the White Power Ring and as they are happily flying through the air, the rings power levels begin to rise to his surprise.
It was revealed that Captain Boomerang's mission for throwing the boomerang was to free Hawk as an avatar of war from the Lords of Chaos because his act of saving Dove would have broken their hold on him to be his own self. However, he failed to catch the boomerang and instead it was caught by Boston Brand, who ended up dying in the process and used his final act to move his white power ring to Alec Holland and bring back Swamp Thing and cleanse the Green from Nekron's influence. In the process, Digger was restored to his full health but Boston was once again returned as Deadman with no way of being restored to life again. Leaving him angered as he lost his chance with Dove and that he got "screwed" again for living his life. "Life's Not Fair" was what the Entity was trying to teach him in the first place.
Hawk and Dove
Boston first appeared in the Hawk and Dove mini series in the beginning of the reboot. It is revealed that he can now be seen and heard, despite being dead. He continues his relationship with Dawn, much to Hank's anger. Boston mainly stays on the side-lines as Hawk and Dove are forced to battle Condor and Swan, villains with similar powers attempting to kill all avatars and gain power. Condor and Swan eventually capture Deadman to use as extra energy. After this, Deadman is left drained, and temporarily invisible, and Dawn says they need to rethink they're relationship.
Justice league Dark
Boston is shown frequently staying at Dawn's apartment, and arguing with his previous lover. Dawn is concerned he is "cheating" on her when he possess other women and learning about them. After June Moon arrives, Dawn doesn't want to help, but Deadman decides to help by possessing her to find traces of the witch pursuing her. Dawn leaves, and Deadman talks with June, only to be interrupted by a mysterious portal. June becomes terrified, believing it's the witch coming to take her, and runs away. Deadman looks into the portal to find Shade the Changing Man attempting to recruit him to the team.
He and June run across the country attempting to escape the witch's madness. He and June are then trapped in a gas station against The Witch's minions. Shade then appears with a portal for Deadman. Deadman joins Shade but realizes June cannot get in the portal and is left in the gas station.
June is about to be attacked when she is saved by John Constantine. John sends her back to the witch, saving the world. Deadman then attacks John, furious that he "killed" June.
Powers and Abilities
As a spectre, Deadman has many supernatural abilities, most notably, the ability to possess other living creatures. The possession is strong enough to allow Deadman total control of the host body, although some particularly strong-willed persons have been shown to be able to resist the possession and exorcise Deadman from their bodies.
He possesses the ability to fly and cross the boundaries between the land of the living and that of the dead with ease, and as such, he maintains an intimate knowledge of the supernatural world. Deadman is also invisible to most people, with the exception being those with similar supernatural abilities to his own. This, along with his intangibility, are out of Deadman's control.
As a human, Boston Brand was an elite gymnast and trapeze performer, capable of phenomenal feats of agility and strength.
Weight: 201 lbs (91.17 kg)
Eyes: Blue as Boston Brand. White as Deadman. Brown as reborn Boston Brand.
Hair: Black as Boston Brand. Bald as Deadman. Whitish-black as reborn Boston Brand.
Justice League Unlimited
Deadman made his animated debut in the highly acclaimed DC animated Universe in the third and final season of 'Justice League Unlimited' in the episode 'Dead Reckoning' voiced by Raphael Sbarge. In this episode, Boston helps the Justice locate Gorilla City and possesses both Superman and Batman along the way (notably during the time he occupied Batman's body, Deadman had made Batman use a gun to kill).
Prior to this he had made appearances in the comic book based off Batman: The Animated Series which is to part of the DCAU.
Batman: The Brave and The Bold
He appears as the main side hero in seventh episode "Dawn of the Dead Man!". He presents to Batman´s spirit and offers his help possessing people, since Batman was buried by Gentleman Ghost and only had two hours to run out of oxygen. The heroes made contact with Green Arrow possessing Speedy so they could go to cemetery and help unearth Batman´s body.
Gentleman Ghost manages to summon an army of dead criminals in order to destroy London. After Green Arrow disinter Batman´s body, Deadman possesses the body and save Batman´s spirit. Returning the body to Batman, the heroes fight the undead army, during the battle Deadman Posses Speedy´s body. After defeat Gentleman Ghost, Batman thanks him and promises to seek justice in his case. Its shown the light that he was waiting appears and surrounds him. At the end of episode Deadman reappears and help Batman fighting against an Asian gang, telling Batman that he will look to those responsible for his crime.
During this episode a flashback of his murder was shown. He was performing a balancing act when a mystery shadow shot him in air and killed him. He only remembered that the man that shot him had a hook instead of a hand.