Saturday, March 11, 2017

Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love - a 3-Issue Deluxe Comic Book Series

The Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love was a gothic horror series published by DC Comics in the early 1970s (with the fifth issue, the title changed to Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion, and it's format changed from gothic tales of suspense to tales of horror and terror, with a host by the name of Charity coming into it with issue seven).  After only fifteen issues, however, it was cancelled in 1974, thought never to be seen again.

The series' host, Charity, did appear in James Robinson's Starman series from DC Comics, but that "Dark Mansion" did not return.

Until now...

Whether it was simply to retain the copyright to the title or whether DC actually believed comic readers might enjoy a bit of gothic suspense again, who knows.  All I know is DC definitely tickled my fancy with the three-issue mini-series, Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love.  The covers alone were enough to draw me in, hearkening back to the days of those gothic novels from the '60s and '70s.  But the story - WOW!  A young woman is brought to this mansion by her fiance, who needs to the time and seclusion to write his book.  The funny thing is, Berenice begins to see ghosts - including Boston Brand, better known in the DC Universe as Deadman.  But the ghost that haunts this mansion is after something.  Deadman tries to help the ghost, but her intentions are unclear, and he soon realizes he has to help the living residents of the house before they become victims of the ghost.

In true gothic fashion, Berenice feels an undercurrent at the mansion.  Something is off about her fiance, Nathan, but she can't put her finger on it.  Her good friend, Sam, is ready to stand at her side, but his attentions only make Nathan jealous.  Meanwhile, Berenice joins forces with Boston Brand to determine what the ghost that haunts the mansion really wants - is she a victim or is she hell-bent on revenge?  As the nights grow longer, the terror rises until Berenice stumbles upon the truth - one that puts her very life in danger and reveals a dark truth about the man she loves, the house she is in, and the ghost that could destroy it all!

Author Sarah Vaughn weaves a wonderfully gothic tale of twisted and tainted love, ghostly hauntings, and a surprising twist that makes you realize nothing was ever as it seemed throughout the story.  And while I was initially a bit leery of having Deadman thrown into the mix when I first heard about this story, any fear I had was quickly laid aside once I read the book.  Good ol' Boston Brand was seamlessly woven into the tale in such a way that it simply would not have been as good without him.  Lan Medina's art is drop-dead gorgeous (no pun intended) - definitely the perfect choice for this chilling tale.  Just look at the covers of the first two issues if you have any doubt.

It's truly a shame that this was only a three book mini-series.  I would absolutely love to see more tales told in this vein. Surely there has to be a fan base of gothic-tale-loving fans out there that would support on ongoing book such as this (or at the minimum, a couple of mini-series each year).  With all of the supernatural and demonic possession movies that seem to be populating the movie theaters these days, some ghostly tales such as this are bound to hit it big right now!

The Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love is one place you definitely want to visit!  I would recommend this even to readers who aren't necessarily fans of comic books - the story is worthy of the gothic stories of old!

RATING:  10 failed binding spells out of 10 for a truly spooky tale of suspense that leaves the reader longing for more!

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