Written by Sarah Vaughn
Illustrated by Lan Medina
Colored by Jose Villarrubia
Lettered by Janice Chiang
Review by Matthew Iung
It would seem that DC Comics is on the road to bring back the “Prestige” format. With its latest foray into the styal with Deadman Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love. The title alone screams pulp horror magazine in such a big bad way. The story it self has a wonderfully lovecraftian charm to it. A young couple moves into a house, one of them has an unseen ability. Then a strange demon shadow man that is all consuming and dangerous haunts them. After trying to escape they die horrible deaths. Now lovecraft never had Deadman to fight of his villains and granted he probably would have preferred things that way. That’s what makes this pulp style story different from the more classic tales. It’s also quite different from the standard comic book story as well. Deadman the title character doesn’t take over narration until halfway through the book and even then he still isn’t quite leading. Keeping our focus on the new characters.
One of the nice things about this story is that it doesn’t seem to inhabit a particular time or universe. It’s a refreshing break from events and the larger universes.The fusion of pulp horror and superhero comic book makes for a good read and gives the story a lot of ways it could explore both of its influences. The story itself is good and the dialogue reads well but the book’s strength is in its characters and their histories. Berenice our for the most part lead character and narrator can see ghosts of all manor including Deadman. Nathan Berenice’s boyfriend is a writer and has been having crippling headaches that have gotten worse since they moved into the new house. Then there is Sam.a friend of Berenices who gets more than friendly more than once and for unknown reasons can’t be possessed by Deadman. Berenice has a lot of conflict in her life right now. Moving to a house with “history” as Bernice would put it. Places a lot of stress on her that see can’t express to anyone close to her in fear of them leaving. Her exact feelings for both Nathan and Sam are unclear but there is conflict there to say the least. Then on top of all that she has to choose (more or less) to trust one ghost in a red jump suit to fight a demonic shadow.
Art and story really work together in this book making everything cinematic while reading. There are beautiful splash page and creepy pannile of just shadow man at the end of a hall. Its also no walk in the park to fill a book of this length with nothing but story. The art style is has a canvas grain to it and the ghostly forces are colored brilliantly colors with shuttle hunes coming off them. All of the characters look very real and complement each other in each panel they appear in together. The reader gents a sense of how tall people are and how there movements differ from one another. The book over all has such a different feel for anything DC is putting out right now. While it may seem hearing at first it turns out to be very refreshing.
Before delivering a verdict it’s important to talk about the physical book itself. In the opening the prestige format was cited as being brought back. Prestige format as a term was coined by DC Comics and used for the first time for Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Over time it became a way to refer to square bound books with a cardstock cover that were normally between 48 and 64 pages. More recently a format resembling prestige has popped up and been used for longer director’s cuts like Multiversity or Dark Knight III. Now because Deadman Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love is in this format it means that the book is 48 pages of uninterrupted story. The only add that can be found is on the inside of the back cover and it’s for Supergirl season two.
Verdict Check it out. This is a really fun story with a lot of room both functionally and physically. Where most will hit the first speed bump is the price. The book is $5.99 which is a jump from the Rebirth titles regular $2.99. Now what may lessen that blow is that this is a bimonthly book but that could just as easily halt a prospective reader. Again with Rebirth titles being pumped out biweekly the market is just a little different. All of that doesn’t take away that this is an excellent story with an art team that does fantastic work in bringing every page to life with a lovely painted style.