By Daniel Way (writer), Carlo Barberi (pencils), Juan Vlasco (inks), Marte Gracia (colors), VC’s Joe Sabino (letters)

The Story: Deadpool quits his job in Las Vegas in typical bloody fashion. While wandering away from Sin City, however, our favorite Merc runs into a creature who thrives on seeking out sin: the Ghost Rider.

What’s Good: Let me start by saying that this issue has one of my favorite Deadpool covers of all time. It contains one of the best visual illustrations of the two elements of what makes ‘Pool such a fantastic character. First, we’ve got humor—both in the old “bang!” flag joke, and the smiley face on the gun. Once you look past that initial gag, though, the expectation it sets up is turned on its head by the pile of corpses—slain, of course, with steel darts complete with little “bang!” flags attached to each one. This paints a picture of a supremely talented and supremely dangerous death-dealer, but one with a rather ridiculous (and ironic) sense of humor. THAT is the Deadpool I love, and also happens to be the Deadpool that Daniel Way writes. Thank God someone’s doing right by the poor Merc these days.

Ghost Rider makes a very interesting foil for ‘Pool. Their conflict could have been built up a bit better, but their fight, brief though it is, is still a lot of fun to watch unfold. As good as the fight is though, it’s actually the dialog between ‘Pool and Johnny Blaze that really makes this issue stand out. It isn’t very often that we get to see ‘Pool be (mostly) completely serious, but his final line—coupled with the flashbacks induced by Ghost Rider’s Penance Stare—give a very real sense of how tired Deadpool gets with his eternal lot of life. That’s something you expect to see in a Wolverine comic, but not with Deadpool. The moment is a small but important one, and it’s nice to see that Way is able to humanize the Merc a bit.

What’s Not So Good: Way usually does a great job at finding a balance between humor and drama/violence. This issue definitely leans towards the heavy side, with a lot fewer quips than in a usual ‘Pool script. I don’t count that a negative personally, since I really enjoy where Way seems to be taking the character, but for folks who just want to pick up the issue for some lighthearted Deadpool one-liners and skull smashing, it might not go down quite as easily. (I do think there was some huge humor potential in the Deadpool/Penance Stare concept, but Way chose to play it almost completely straight. Oh well.)

Conclusion: Despite lacking a bit in the humor and story progression department, this issue is a nice done-in-one breather that allows both Deadpool and the reader to refocus on exactly who he is, and what he’s trying to do. After the madcap insanity of the last storyline, that’s not a bad thing. It doesn’t bring anything new to the table, but it’s definitely not bad either.

Grade: B-