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When Netflix first announced that they were going to make a series about Dead Boy Detectives and then released the first official teaser, I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. I know that Dead Boy Detectives aren’t newcomers in the universe of Sandman comics that have been going on for more than three decades now, but they’re quite absent in the popular media compared to more cliche comic characters we can never shut up about.

So, there aren’t too many pairs to compare to feel like “these two are just too good to be replaced”. However, the fans of DC Universe’s ‘Doom Patrol’ always have had a soft spot for Sebastian Croft’s Charles and Ty Tennant’s Edwin, and they’d been asking for a really long time now for these two to have their own show, so seeing new faces replacing the old ones have been trivial for some.

Not for me though. I wasn’t sure how Jayden Revri and George Rexstrew would be as the dead boy detectives, but I love the concept of dead boys roaming around Earth and solving supernatural cases. Netflix has been on a roll recently with adaptations like – Avatar, One Piece, Parasyte, Witcher, and many more. This new adaptation hasn’t disappointed as the skeptical me has liked it.

Perfect Cast Perfect Blast

A lot of actors out there could do the characters justice, no doubt. But the charm Revri and Rexstrew brought to their respective characters in Dead Boy Detectives is unmatchable and one of a kind. Partly because they understood the assignment and played their roles to perfection, and partly because a little bit of their actual selves were integrated into the personalities of the characters.

For instance, Revri is half Indian himself, and so is Charles, and because of that, some of his struggles had been a little too familiar to more young people now than before. And George had been pretty invested with the crew on how he, as an Edwardian schoolboy, should look and appear, and needless to say, this is why Edwin is a lot more proper than how the Dead Boy Detectives comics imagined him to be.

And it’s not just these two. Kassius Nelson as Crystal Palace hit it out of the park for me. Too mystical for a medium, but hey, we’re talking about a show where ghosts can do a lot more than your typical wandering souls. She’s ballsy, witty, and knows how to keep them boys in line. At the same time, as a teen girl, she’s figuring herself out. Isn’t that all of us? It might have taken time for her to grow on Edwin, I was team Crystal from day one.

Crystal’s Washington apartment neighbor Niko Sasaki’s bookshelf is stacked with Yaoi books, and manga posters on her walls. Niko loves to collect stuff that is either pastel-y or crystal-y; or resembles heart, or more precisely, love. She has this demeanor that’d make her a perfect manga character, from her hair to her dressing sense to how she sees the world and the way she responds to everything, made me want to be her friend real bad.

Girly walks like she’s skipping with ballet shoes on, yet that won’t stop her from smacking the villain hard with a frying pan when things are bad. She’s good at asking questions and delivering the funniest one-liners with the most deadpan expressions. I just realized I’m talking more about her than the top-billed characters of Dead Boy Detectives. Yes, I couldn’t help myself when Yuyu Kitamura was so adorable as Niko.

Dead Boy Detectives | Official Trailer | Netflix

Creative Shift From Original Lore

With Neil Gaiman as the executive producer, many elements from the original arc of Dead Boy Detectives are intact, but Netflix did take some creative liberties. Edwin Payne died in 1916 and was dragged to hell because of his stupid bullies who accidentally sacrificed his soul to hell. And then Edwin managed to escape hell 70 years later and started wandering off on his boarding school grounds where he was last found alive.

The way he met Charles Rowland and how he died is a bit different than how Gaiman and Wagner imagined it to be. Charles met Edwin when he died of hypothermia and internal bleeding after a traumatic event. They decided not to move on to the afterlife and kept themselves busy since 1986 by helping other ghosts resolve their issues and move on. Hence, their case-solving agency “Dead Boy Detectives” was born.

In the present day, the Dead Boy Detectives find the teen medium Crystal Palace early in the first episode. Robbed of her memories after an unpleasant affair with a handsome demon she now wants to find herself by getting those memories back. But at the same time, Crystal is too adamant about saving a little girl on the other side of the pond which brings us to the short-lived yet thrilling adventures of the trio.

Dead Boy Detectives - Poster - Deshi Geek
Dead Boy Detectives – Poster – Deshi Geek

Dead Boy Detectives Is More Than Scooby Doo Gang Solving Supernatural Crimes

The team of two dead boys and two warm-blooded girls solving supernatural crimes in a small port town of Washington does remind me of the animated gang in a van that popularized the use of expressions like “Jinkies!” and “Zoinks!”, but the dead boy detectives and their friends are a lot more than that.

First of all, it’s not just about dealing with ghosts and deadly shrooms; or discovering ghosts. With each episode, I discovered that Dead Boy Detectives is trying to communicate as delicately as possible with its audience through events disguised as ghost troubles. The Sandman universe is rich with intriguing characters and their unique journeys, but the close-to-life subtext beneath it all had never been this transparent.

Dead Boy Detectives deal with real-life struggles of how recklessness of bullying can cost so much, even lives. Then in one episode, there was this beautiful allegory of the experiences of the women, who were here before us, shaping us as the women we are today and how this can be our ultimate strength. Crystal’s demon problem is a clever take on having to deal with an abusive partner.

Stories of abusive and neglectful parents and the impact on their children; boyfriends and girlfriends with no respect for boundaries, choices, or privacy; victims becoming aggressors over time; abused children fearing to become the parents they never want to be; trusting and then getting betrayed in love; they touched on all sensitive aspects of relationships that can send an impressionable teen into spiraling.

Dead Boy Detectives | Official Teaser | Netflix

Dead Boy Detectives Is Not About Solving Cases, It’s About Love And Friendship

Speaking of teenage troubles with relationships, Dead Boy Detectives is a story about love and friendship. Charles and Edwin couldn’t be more different. Not because of the 70-year-long generation gap, although this makes up for interesting fashion choices. I would follow this version of Charles Rowland anywhere. Before Dead Boy Detectives, I didn’t even know I needed him.

As if his soft black curly hair, that one ear piercing, the metal necklace, and the jacket paired up with those leather gloves weren’t enough, they had to give him a ride-or-die personality with that bat he starts swinging whenever there’s trouble nearby. Stop fighting about the bear and man in the woods, and start crying that Charles Rowland is the perfect ghost boyfriend, yet he’s non-existent in your life.

Edwin Payne on the other hand had to be adopted by Charles for this undead duo to become the lovely evergreen detectives they are. As mentioned earlier, Edwin dresses like a fine gentleman and is very uptight about changes. I dug the dark academia vibe he brought with him. Kept wondering where he found some of the books in his collection, ‘interesting’ is a very mellow adjective to describe them.

As a long-time student of linguistics, dude’s knowledge about the ancient languages of the earth made me want to become his pal. But pretty sure he’d hate me at first given how invested I’m in Charles. Yup, Edwin is deeply in love with Charles, but his Edwardian values mixed with Edwin’s personality make it difficult for him to acknowledge those feelings. He also fears what this would mean for his friendship with Charles.

Dead Boy Detectives - Still - Deshi Geek
Dead Boy Detectives – Still – Deshi Geek

Is ‘Dead Boy Detectives’ Part Of The Sandman Universe?

It has always been in the comics. Looks like Netflix also has the same plan with their versions of the characters. The siblings Death and Despair were seen in two episodes doing what they do best. So, we can always hope for Dead Boy Detectives crossing roads with Dream. And given the entanglement Edwin has with hell, maybe Lucifer Morningstar too? Either way, it’s a great time to be a fan of the Sandman universe.

Should You Watch?

I’ll say, definitely give Dead Boy Detectives a watch. Lovely characters played by lovely actors, adrenaline-raising fight scenes and climax, comedic deliveries that will live in your head rent-free, and then there are those moments that will make your eyes foggy and heart heavy. And you don’t wanna miss out on the story of how Charles and Edwin met.

If you were a fan of Netflix’s Lockwood & Co., and have been heartbroken by the news of it getting canceled, pick up the broken pieces and give Dead Boy Detectives series a go. Similar trio, similar trope in many ways, and the boys are super British, you’ll love it! Also, must keep the viewing figures high if we don’t want Netflix to pull the plug on this one as well. I completed the series two days ago and am still sad about it. I honestly want more adventures of the Dead Boy Detectives, where Charles and Edwin will continue solving cases with a little help from their friends.


Nafisa Maliyat loves writing and everything unpleasant, ranging from horror movies to Dhaka on a busy day. The plot twist is, she's not from Dhaka. And young Noam Chomsky is the reason she still feels motivated to study Linguistics, the discipline she's majoring in.

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