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Review: Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #2

deadman_2Deadman: Dark Mansion of Love #2 begins nice and slow with Deadman and Adelia, a ghost who haunts Glencourt Mansion, getting to know each other and even musing on the philosophical nature of death and the fact that they are trapped in the house. But Sarah Vaughn’s plot ends in utter chaos and darkness as she turns the haunted house genre on its head. In Deadman #2, the ghosts are trapped, and the humans are free… for now. But Vaughn, artist Lan Medina, and colorist Jose Villarubia don’t lose sight of the character relationships that make this more than just a Gothic romance as protagonist Berenice struggles with her relationship to her boyfriend Nathan and her possible romance with Sam while Deadman and Adelia bond beautifully in the story’s first half.

Medina’s art in Deadman #2 is both lush and haunting depending on the color that Villarubia decides to use, but his design for Adelia is always freaky. She is a woman, who was probably murdered by her new husband and forced to live in the place where she died, and something gives me the chills about her. Adelia is like a ghost from Crimson Peak while Deadman is more friendly and charming despite the fact that he possesses other people’s bodies and has huge existential crises about what comes after death. They are both Berenice’s secret as she and Nathan grow apart while he spends all his time writing his book instead of with her.  On the surface, he gives off a workaholic vibe, but Medina adds some Gothic touches to him by having his workspace be a locked study. And in the Gothic tradition when something is locked, you don’t want to open it.

One thing that I have really enjoyed about Deadman as a series so far is how, dare I say it, normal Berenice acts in response to the spectres and horrors surrounding her. She acts like an intelligent human being with a head on her shoulders instead of like some kind of pearls clutching Gothic heroine or a Final Girl. Instead of exploring Glencourt willy-nilly, she goes into town to research the house, Adelia, and Adelia’s husband, who she deduces murdered her. But even in the library stacks, she still has a poet’s side and talks about old history books and records are basically a series of tragedies. Also, out in town, she reconciles with deadmaninteriorSam and almost thinks about kissing them as Medina and Villarrubia’s art goes from the idyllic small English town to the shadow filled beauty of the opening pages. Somehow, Sam and Berenice are caught up in this tragic romance, and this is true physically as well once the shadows return at the end of the issue. Vaughn and Medina even foreshadow this on the first page she appears as the stack of old letters she is going through kind of resembles a magical circle like she’s having a seance.

It’s kind of depressing that she is spending more time with words written by dead people (Plus ghosts.) than her real, flesh and blood partner. She can’t even confide in him about the fact she can see Deadman and Adelia. Berenice and Nathan’s relationship lacks the rush of romance of hers with Sam and Deadman’s with Adelia so his marriage proposal falls hollow at the end. However, the effect of putting a ring on her hand triggers some insane dark magic and ensures that the closing issue of this miniseries will be its most Gothic yet with the interplay of helpful spirits (Deadman), vengeful and sympathetic spirits (Adelia), mortals, and scary spirits.

Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden #2 is a suitably haunting follow-up to its flawless first issue, and Lan Medina and Jose Villarrubia give Deadman and Adelia some real chemistry in the first half with their play of red, black, and ghostly white in the dark environs of Glencourt Mansion. Splitting the book between Deadman and Berenice’s narration continues to be a clever device from Sarah Vaughn as both characters do some soul searching. Deadman #2 is filled with thoughtfulness and reflection on love, death, and tragedy that erupts into a full-out horror comic by the time you turn the final page.

Story: Sarah Vaughn Art: Lan Medina with Phil Hester Colors: Jose Villarrubia
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review