"Paradise Lost": Though he doesn't fully understand it, Boston Brand has come to think of the House of Mystery as his home, and he suspects that the rest of the Justice League Dark feels the same way - which may explain why
- I was one miserable bastard back when I was a flesh-and-blood man named Boston Brand -- but when I was the acrobat they called Deadman... two-bit circuses like this were the only places I could find a little peace. And a freedom... to reach beyond myself.
- — Deadman
Synopsis for "Paradise Lost"
Though he doesn't fully understand it, Boston Brand has come to think of the House of Mystery as his home, and he suspects that the rest of the Justice League Dark feels the same way - which may explain why John Constantine is sticking around, despite how everyone feels about him. The team's leader, Zatanna once had a relationship with him, but Boston can't imagine why.
Seeing Zatanna leading the team, Boston has seen her show great strength and power - and sadness, which may be attributable to the loss of both her parents, though she would never say so. This suits Boston fine, because he feels as though he has his own secret - something he isn't even fully aware of, niggling at the back of his consciousness. While wandering the house, Boston encounters Nightmare Nurse in a hitherto unknown kitchen, and she admits that she's been feeling restless. He confides that he doesn't blame her for what happened with her and The Between, though she feels he should. She had saved the whole team's lives, though, and that counts for something to Boston. Pleased, she attempts to kiss his cheek, and her lips pass right through him. Grinning, she jokes that one day she'll whip up a spell to make him a bit more substantial. He muses on that thought for a moment, but as Asa leaves, the kitchen melts away to a snowy landscape where he is screamed at by hundreds of familiar souls.
He recognizes the location as Nanda Parbat, which ought to have been shifted to another dimension by the guiding spirits of the city. Even so, there it is, and he can feel it calling to him. As he approaches, though, he feels himself falling dangerously, and begs his gods for help before landing with a splat on the floor of the kitchen, back in the House of Mystery. Rushing to his aid, Zatanna determines that he has taken the appearance of melting as a reflection of his mental state, and uses her magic to reform him. After telling his story, Zatanna decides that if he feels he needs to get to Nanda Parbat - wherever it is - they will find a way to get there.
However, the spell that Zatanna, Asa, and Constantine use to locate it goes awry. Asa explains that there is deep cloaking magic around the city, but they could not penetrate it. The city is therefore beyond their reach. Sadly, Boston thanks them for their efforts, and leaves the House of Mystery in favour of finding another home for tonight. He slips into a circus tent after hours, recalling how he had loved his life as an acrobat, but not his life as a man. Even under the big top, though, all he can think is that he needs to find Nanda Parbat. He had only been to the city once before, when a man named Brahma Dass gave him the choice to move on to the afterlife, or remain a ghost to help souls in need. He had stayed because he wanted to make up for some of his actions in life, but when he was in Nanda Parbat, for that brief time, he felt that the city knew him. Like he'd been there before.
There in the circus tent, Boston is joined once again by Brahma Dass, who reminds that when the children of Nanda Parbat call, the city always answers. Magically, they are transported back to the ruins of the city in the Himalayas. Brahma reminds that this is no longer Nanda Parbat. The real city lies beyond the dimensional rift, and Boston will get there on the back of a dragon.
Meanwhile, the rest of the JLD arrive in the big top tent wondering where Boston has gone to. Soon after arriving, though, they are attacked by dark spirits. Zatanna explains that these are embodied spells, which has the fortunate benefit that they can be undone with a counter-spell. Knowing that someone is trying to prevent them from following Deadman, Zatanna worries that this attack means he is in danger. She casts a spell to dissolve the dark magic spells, and probing the residue she hopes to determine who cast them.
The dragon carries Boston to Nanda Parbat, where he is greeted by strange blue-skinned people who explain that they have been with him for some time, hidden within his consciousness. Now that he is with them, they will at last be able to exact retribution against the architects of paradise. To Boston's horror, they people transform into one massive creature. Confused, he wonders who they are. They respond that they have many names and forms, but he may call them Pantheon.
The JLD arrives in the ruins of Nanda Parbat, where they discover the rift through which Deadman passed. As they pass through it, Swamp Thing worries that all of the life on the mountain was terrified by something that was there with Boston, before he passed through the rift. Even so, they leap through after him, and are surprised to find more destruction on the other side. They have found paradise, but they have found it too late. Soon, they are under attack by the Pantheon, which Zatanna identifies as a kind of thoughtform.
Boston Brand, meanwhile, wakes in pain, and realizes with a start that feeling pain means that he's alive again - but he's in chains too.
Appearing in "Paradise Lost"
- Brahma Dass
- The Batman 75th Anniversary Variant includes headstones for Drake Arnold and Roger S. Marshall, which when reversed refer to Arnold Drake and Marshall Rogers, who were key creators in the history of Deadman and Batman.