Sam and Berenice are two central characters in the three part Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love published in late 2016 and early 2017 which is set in an unnamed locale. Sam has a passion for antiques and is lucky enough to make a living buying and then selling pieces in their own shop. A pickup truck which closely resembles a 1940 Dodge “Job Rated” model that makes for an easier job hauling antiques is Sam’s choice of rides.
Berenice is a recent transplant to the area, having moved with boyfriend Nathan Delamere into Glencourt Manor, built in 1876, as part of the caretaker staff while Nathan works on writing a novel. Berenice and Sam have a strong friendship and they both feel an attraction to the other which doesn’t go unnoticed by Nathan. Rather than being concerned by it, Nathan views it as more freedom to work alone. Berenice isn’t at all knowledgeable about antiques yet accepts Sam’s invitation to attend a show as a way to know Sam better. While at the show Berenice feels drawn to a particular bowl a vendor specializing in Korean antiques has on display because it reminds Berenice of her grandmother and her extensive collection.
As you might surmise from the title “Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love” the supernatural is an central element in this Southern Gothic horror story. The first issue unfolds quickly and we learn that Deadman has been drawn by a force to Glencourt Manor and is now trapped inside it along with its resident spirit, the ghost of Adelia Ruskin and wife of its builder Edward Ruskin. Berenice is able to see and speak with Deadman, abilities that manifested when she was an infant as a flashback reveals. A desire to live openly about this part of herself became the catalyst for a woman named Talia to end her relationship with Berenice. Since then Berenice has kept this hidden from everyone else. Sam is skeptical of the supernatural yet unknowingly proves to be immune from Deadman’s ability to possess the living much to his consternation to which Berenice secretly plays witness. As matters intensify, Nathan’s behavior becomes increasingly odd then alarming. All pretense is dropped after Berenice crosses a figurative and literal boundary and reveals his motives and culpability in the occult manifestations. Sam and Berenice put faith in one another and act quickly with Deadman’s aid to put an end to the chaos in spectacular fashion.
Early in the story Berenice drops the Korean bowl and it breaks into many pieces. Sam, knowing Berenice loves it, asks permission to try to fix it. Later, Berenice surprises Sam by visiting the antique shop to apologize for creating some tension between the two. Sam voices unequivocal support of Berenice because Berenice has always accepted Sam as Sam when other people in Sam’s past have been unable to accept Sam for being non binary. Berenice is overjoyed to discover Sam has repaired the bowl. Sam and Berenice hug and for the first time ever Berenice experiences a vision of a possible future — a future with her and Sam in a relationship.
At one time a story like this might easily end in tragedy for characters like Sam and Berenice. Thankfully, Vaughn knows how to write beautiful endings.
Sam and Berenice’s creators are Sarah Vaughn and Lan Medina. Sam’s last name is never mentioned. This may be a subtle inference that they’ve cut ties with birth family. Berenice’s full name is Berenice Yoon Milonas. They each first appeared in Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #1. Vaughn resists defining Sam and Berenice’s sexuality in character dialog. However, pansexual may be a close label.
Art by Lan Medina and José Villarrubia.
Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love is available from Amazon or check with your local comic shop.
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