DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS VOL. 1: DEADMAN & CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN (DC, 2012; Softcover)
Collects DC Universe Presents Nos. 1-8 (cover dates November, 2011- June, 2012)
Writers: Paul Jenkins (Deadman), Dan DiDio and Jerry Ordway (Challengers of the Unknown)
Artists: Bernard Chang (Deadman) and Jerry Ordway (Challengers of the Unknown)
This is my third foray into DC's New 52, and I have to say that I enjoyed it immensely. I am familiar with Deadman, less so with the Challengers of the Unknown. It was interesting to compare and contrast these soft reboots since I am knowledgeable about one and not the other. (I recently picked up both Challengers of the Unknown Archives but Godzilla knows when I'll get around to reading them.)
Deadman's origin makes more sense here than the original Silver Age version, although it lacks the energy and spontaneity. It also lacks Neal Adams. Ha! Paul Jenkins does a solid enough revision, ironing out details while almost completely ignoring the whole League of Assassins aspect to his original origin. It was a bit silly in all honesty. Boston Brand's identity gets far less use here than it did in the original series, and he also seems less alienated and less mentally unstable because of that.
One huge difference in the story is that Rama Kushna assigns Deadman people to possess and live their life until he learns his lesson and is allowed to move on as opposed to him randomly possessing people while trying to find his killer. Something isn't kosher with this arrangement, and it is here that we find out what this new Deadman is really made of. Bernard Chang's artwork is very good but I find the soft color palette strips it of its energy.
Like I stated above, I own both Archives of Challengers of the Unknown and look forward to reading them someday. For this portion of the books (issues 6-8) we get former DC head honcho Dan DiDio collaborating with DC stalwart Jerry Ordway. I've always been a fan of Ordway's but thought that he was semi-retired. The truth is that he recently went public with the fact that while he has been under exclusive contract with DC, DC has chosen not to give him any work, which means that he starves. If DC doesn't want him they should cut him loose. I'm sure that Marvel would love to have an artist who can draw in the classic comic book vein on staff.
The Challengers are a reality show, and these “Unknowns” journey to the Himalayas for their new season. One of their team members, Clay, has a talisman which opens up a hidden city in the mountains. Without giving any more away, they end up finding out what makes all of this mystical stuff tick. There's so much potential with this creative team, but so far there's been no further issues solicited with these characters in them. My knowledge of the original series is pretty much non-existent, but I'm pretty sure that it wasn't a reality show that brought them together. Purists are probably outraged by this reboot, but as a new fan reading a new-to-me concept, it worked, and worked well.
I hope to see more New 52 Deadman and Challengers of the Unknown in the future.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.25 out of 5.
The OCD zone- DC has recently upped the quality of their trade paperbacks, which I will cover in greater detail below.
Paper rating: 5 out of 5. This book has a decent weight coated stock paper which is perfect for material with modern computer coloring.
Binding rating: 4 out of 5. Like nearly all softcovers, this has glued binding. Calm down.
Cardstock cover coating rating: 5 out of 5. DC has been using the same wax-coated cardstock covers that Marvel has since they launched the New 52 line of trades.
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