Deadman, real name Boston Brand, was a wandering spirit.
Boston Brand was a circus performer who was murdered during a circus act, and consequently forced to dwell in the Earthly realm as a ghost. He was told that once he brought his killer to justice, his exile would be lifted, so he turned to Batman, who helped him solve his murder; however, Deadman still remained a ghost. Then, under the guidance of The Master—a Himalayan monk—it was revealed that his destiny was avenging the Master's death, rather than his own. This unfortunate incident took place moments after it was prophesied at the hands of Devil Ray, when the Legion of Doom raided the temple of Nanda Parbat. Deadman possessed the body of Rampage and attacked the Legion, but he was exorcised by Tala. The Legion stole the Heart of Nanda Parbat, a mystical totem that contained the souls of hundreds monks. Upon this, the deity-guide Rama Kushna informed Deadman that he had to retrieve the Heart to restore the monks' souls; otherwise they'd be trapped in-between realms forever.
Deadman sought out the Justice League's help, and after briefing the heroes using Superman's body, they headed off to Gorilla City, where Grodd was moving in. Deadman managed to shut down the city's force field to let the Leaguers in. When he spotted Devil Ray, Deadman entered Wonder Woman's body to take his revenge. He thrashed Devil Ray within an inch of his life, but the memory of his Master prevented him from taking it any further. He then used Atomic Skull's body to help stop Grodd's plans. However, later on when Devil Ray attempted to kill Wonder Woman, Deadman possessed Batman, picked up a fallen gun and shot Devil Ray, who was thrust into a panel of wires, unintentionally killing him.
Shortly after, Rama Kushna informed Deadman that his reckless actions upset the scales of karma, even though he was successful in restoring the monks' souls. Deadman still needs to carry on with his work on Earth to balance the scales much to his dismay.
Powers & abilities
Deadman was capable of possessing any mortal being; upon which he could completely control their actions and be in possession of their memories and powers, while they retain no recollection of the happening. As a ghost, Deadman can also pass through physical objects. Deadman was given this power to be used in service of balancing the scales of karma.
Deadman debuted in Strange Adventures #205 (October 1967), and was created by Arnold Drake and Carmine Infantino. Boston Brand was a circus acrobat who went by the stage name of Deadman. One night, while performing on his Hill Bros. Circus, Deadman was shot dead by a man known as Hook. His spirit was allowed to live on thanks to the intervention of Rama Kushna, a Hindu deity who rewarded Brand for his kindness in life. She told him that he would remain a wandering spirit until he brought his murderer to justice.
Deadman roamed the world for his assailant, and along the way, he was compelled to use his powers to help the helpless and innocent. Deadman possessed all the usual spectral abilities—flight, invisibility, and access to spiritual realms. However, his most special power was the ability to possess sentient beings, whereupon he was in fully control his host's memories, actions, and any special power they might have.
When Deadman finally found Hook, he ascertained that his murder was part of his killer's initiation into the League of Assassins. However, Brand was unable to fulfill his purpose, because Hook was killed by another party. Then, Deadman was told he would remain a ghost until he could find balance between good and evil.
Deadman made several allies in his quest, including Swamp Thing, the Spectre, and Phantom Stranger, and he was also a temporary member of the Sentinels of Magic and Zauriel's Justice League of Apostles.
The DCAU Deadman's mention of Batman helping solve his murder was depicted in the Gotham Adventures comic series. In this he was a performer of Haley's Circus and a friend of Dick Grayson. His story here is quite similar to his comic version, he was killed by The Hook as part of an initiation into the League of Assassins under instruction from The Sensei. Unlike his comic version though, Deadman possessed Hook's body and saved his life, then (whilst still possessing him) he turned Hook in to Batman, Nightwing and Robin. Afterward, he seemed to cross over into the afterlife before apparently reappearing in the Himalayas.