I had intended to save this review for next Monday, and do this week's books today instead. But I couldn't find either of this week's books, so they'll have to keep until next week. The vagaries of existence.
Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #3, by Sarah Vaughn (writer), Lan Medina (illustrator), Phil Hester (breakdowns), Jose Villarrubia (color artist), Janice Chang (letterer) - I love how Stephanie Hans drew Adelia on that cover, where she's burning up from the inside.
Adelia nearly kills Nathan, but Deadman is able to bring her back to her senses long enough for her to flee. While Nathan passes out, Bernice, Sam, and Boston investigate the room he's been writing in, and learn Nathan is actually Edward Ruskin, Adelia's husband and murder, still alive through dark arts. He's actually returned to keep Adelia's spirit bound to the house and make sure it remains standing, since his life force is tied to it. Which is too bad for him once everyone else realizes the truth, because Bernice starts burning the house down, and Boston keeps Nathan where he is while Adelia finishes the job. Adelia is free, Sam and Bernice are together, and Boston, well Boston is stuck going to help the next person in need. Someone has to draw the short straw.
I didn't expect the reveal about Nathan. I'm not sure what I expected, but not that, so points to Vaughn for surprising me. I feel like there's a significance to Bernice being able to see ghosts, and Sam not only being unaware of them, but seemingly resistant to anything they can do. Almost as though Sam cancels their abilities out. I don't know what it means, though. I wonder how much I'm missing not being familiar with the conventions of Gothic romance, horror, whichever this is. I get that you have the sweet, somewhat timid young woman and the guy she thinks she loves, so creative but physically frail. And that guy is actually horrible, but there's another person, who the young woman is also attracted to who supports her and helps her make it through. I think that's fairly typical of the genre as I understand it, but that's broad strokes. Actually, Boston's presence as a spirit, so that he understands that side of the world she lives in, is he another version of the "other person"? Different side of the coin from Sam? There's nothing romantic between Boston and Bernice, but there's friendship and understanding.
I did notice Nathan, having been caught not writing, but messing with dark magic, trying to brush off his lies and make everything about Bernice invading his privacy. Typical shitty, controlling partner behavior. And Bernice sees through it, even if she doesn't fully grasp the danger of the situation.
Adelia seems to swallow the light when she appears or is especially stressed. It's in moments where the trauma of what she suffered is especially strong, so it's blocking out everything else. Which makes Boston's ability to be present significant. As someone who can approach her, touch her, understands what it's like to be murdered. Although when she fully unleashes her pain she becomes a dark shadow, but her light is buried underneath it (her face emerges at one point when Boston pleads with her, as the shadow draws back, like how Venom would pull back from Eddie' Brock's face sometimes). The good in her is being overwhelmed, the trauma blocking the person she was and could have been, if not for her husband. The panel of her sweeping Nathan's body (with Boston driving) up into an embrace, but one of hate and revenge, that was good work. Medina, Hester, and Villarrubia convey the mood well, even if I kept getting distracted because Nathan's face at times looked like it was drawn by David Finch (he had those scratchy little lines along the jaw Finch favors). It seemed out of place in the book, but not a deal-breaker, just something strange.