Deadman is a ghost, formerly a circus acrobat named Boston Brand, who was murdered during a trapeze performance by a mysterious assailant known only as Hook. His spirit is given the power to possess any living being by a Hindu goddess named Rama Kushna, in order to search for his murderer and obtain justice. However, Brand finds himself obliged to help others while on his search, using his power to intervene and control living persons to help the innocent. The criminals used the traveling circus they worked for to smuggle "snow"—either heroin or cocaine. Ultimately, Boston finds out the truth about his murder and came to accept his role as an intervenor in mortals' lives.
Over the course of several years, Rama Kushna has Deadman confront the sorcerer Caldera multiple times over the fate of the souls of several deceased superheros. Two of them are The Flash (Barry Allen) and Robin II (Jason Todd). During the Robin incident, he tries to possess the Joker but was driven out by the man's insanity. Rama also maintained a city for some time, called Nanda Parbat. The most evil people in the world came to live there, where Rama's power kept them sane and good. One of the worst was Darius Caldera, who almost destroyed the world when he left the city. Unfortunately, Nanda later fell due to a combined military and mystical force. All the evil people are now back in the real world, still a danger
His twin brother Cleveland is killed while possessed by Boston, while doing Boston's circus act. The killer was out to kill Boston Brand. His 'benefactor' Rama Kushna also dies in order to defeat Jonah, a spirit similar to Deadman. Around this time, Deadman assists the Spectre in defeating a newly formed demonic being (and werewolves). Formed from the skeletons of many souls in hell, this blue-eye, blonde-haired being comes to Earth to foment chaos and death. It manages to actually remove much of the Spectre's substance. Deadman is forced to merge with Spectre until things are stabilized.
Later, Deadman receives a birthday present from his diminutive friend, Max Loomis. Max places himself in a trance so he could 'meet' Deadman and the two take a pleasant journey down 'memory lane'. Soon after, Loomis meets with old circus friends and Deadman involves himself in a case of suspected murder. Deadman wants to be going after the escapees of Nanda Pavrat, but Max thinks pursuing the murder is a better course.
Youth and Hell
In the Sins of Youth incident, Deadman is one of the dozens of heroes reduced to a pre-teen age by Klarion the Witch Boy and an alien machine owned by Doiby Dickles. He is still a spirit, now with a small d on his chest. He assists Secret in confronting Teekl, Klarion's companion, in an effort to restore everyone. He also joins in the fight against mystically created and mystically altered villains. During the Day of Judgment incident, Boston Brand travels with a group of heroes to the frozen wastelands of Hell. Their goal is to restart the demonic fires, thus recalling all the demons from the earthly plane. An accident strands Brand and the others under the frozen waters of the River Styx, forcing them to live out what would be to them, Hell. For Brand, it is that the sharpshooter hits him in the shoulder, thus he survives. Brand feels he needs to die in order to learn 'how to live'.
The Blackest Night
The coroporeal remains of Boston Brand were recently raised by a Black Lantern Ring making him one of the of the Black Lantern Corps. Deadman, having newly learned of Blackest Night attempted to possess his corpse but was unable to control its actions and was forced to leave the body due to the agony involved. He did however receive impressions of what was going on in Blackest Night and was able to inform the Lanterns on how to defeat Nekron. He was one of twelve individuals resurrected by the power of the white light, startled to find himself among the living once more.
The Brightest Day
Following the Blackest Night, Boston is now the only person still in possession of a White Lantern ring. The next day he shatters his own grave with a sledge-hammer. The white ring takes him to each of the resurrected heroes and gives them all missions. Boston then turns Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Firestorm into puddles of white after they complete their missions. They get turned into the elements of fire (Firestorm), water (Aquaman), earth (Martian Manhunter), and air (The Hawks). After they defeat the black lantern entity Captain Boomerang throws a boomerang at Dove. Hawk fails to catch it and Boston jumps in front of her. the boomerang lodges itself into his chest and kills him once more. He is put in a beautiful grave and is brought back as a ghost. However this time people can hear and see him. What he will do from there remains to be seen.
Powers and Abilities
Possession: Deadman has the ability to possess other living creatures. While doing this, he maintains full control over his selected target, and can even speak through them. A host body gifted with a particularly willful spirit however, has been known to exorcise Deadman's presence from their form. Typically whenever Deadman abandons a host form, they maintain no knowledge or memory of their actions while possessed. Deadman can only possess one human being at a time. Prolonged attachment to a specific host places Deadman at risk of a permanent bonding (the nature of which has been known to vary from time to time).
Invisibility: Deadman cannot be visibly perceived by other human beings. This is an automatic ability, and one that Deadman has no control over. Beings gifted with supernatural prowess (Madame Xanadu for example), may be able to see Deadman's true form.
Intangibility: Deadman can pass through anything and everything. This is an automatic ability, and one that Deadman has no control over.
Spirit Travel: Deadman possesses the ability to "fly" between the lands of the living and the lands of the dead. When possessing a human form however, Deadman is limited by whatever physical restrictions apply to the host body.
Master Gymnast: Deadman is a professional acrobat and gymnast.
Deadman possesses the physical strength level of whomever he is possessing at any given moment.
Body Possession: the health and nature of whichever host body he is possessing at the moment may place certain physical limitations on this ability. If Deadman possesses the body of an out of shape, middle-aged man, he will not be able to tumble as dexterously as he would were he in possession of a more athletic specimen.
another weakness of deadman is that some certain individuals with exceptionally strong wills can resist him from possessing them.
- Self-powered spiritual flight. Deadman has also been known to play "hopscotch" with physical bodies, leaping from one form to the next in rapid succession.
- Coming Soon
- Boston's brother, Cleveland Brand, occasionally posed as the Deadman during performances.
- Deadman's trapeze outfit was the inspiration for Dick Grayson's original Nightwing costume.
In Other Media
- A DCAU version of Deadman made an appearance in the Season three episode of Justice League Unlimited entitled "Dead Reckoning". Actor Raphael Sbarge provided the voice for Deadman.
- Deadman appeared in the new Batman: The Brave and the Bold TV Series and was voiced by actor Michael Rosenbaum.
- The DCAU Deadman appeared in Batman: Gotham Adventures 06 (based on The New Batman Adventures) where his origin was very much alike to his mainstream comic except he was in the Haley Circus and Rama Kushna was male. He was friends with Dick Grayson, and he was in an issue before he gained his powers in The Batman and Robin Adventures #15. This version did not appear any more in DCAU, save a brief one-panel cameo in an issue of Batman Adventures.