By: Gerry Duggan & Brian Posehn (Writers), Tony Moore (Artist), Val Staples (Colorist), Joe Sabino (Letterer)
The Review: So, it’s a comedy book. I’m not sure why I’m so surprised that Marvel chose to take this direction for the Marvel Now! Deadpool relaunch. After all, the evidence was pretty conclusive from the preview pages and the appearance of comedic actor and stand-up Brian Posehn on script duties. Maybe it was because (from what I could gauge through internet forums, comic book shop chatter etc.) there was a consensus among fans that a return to the Joe Kelly-era Deadpool was the preferred option. Insane, wise-cracking and maniacally violent, yes, but with a twisted vulnerability at his core; a sad clown hiding two machetes and an M60 in his pants. Instead Duggan and Posehn have played the book for straight-up LOLs. Which is fine – as long as they can actually get you to laugh. It’s not always the easiest thing to do in comics.
The set-up provides a decent enough stage for the mirth-making to play out on. A brief bit of exposition at the start of the book shows how a patriotic Necromancer has taken to reanimating the bodies of America’s greatest non-living-Presidents so that they can save America from poverty, political division and Disney’s rampant subjugation of the entire entertainment industry (well, something like that anyways). While S.H.I.E.L.D. admits they’ve got to do something to stop the likes of Nixon and LBJ tearing Manhattan asunder, they’re also not totally keen on the idea of the Avengers being seen decapitating heads of state, zombie or no. Deadpool has no such haughty reputation to worry about however. After witnessing the Merc With A Mouth tussling with FDR (now imbued with super-strength and a whole host of other undead powers) S.H.I.E.L.D. offer him the gig.
Duggan and Posehn really try their best, keeping the jokes coming at a constant break-neck pace, Airplane!-style, though as such there’s little room for any real drama or depth. Humour can be a decisively subjective matter so I wouldn’t go so far as to say “this book isn’t funny” but…well, I don’t know, I guess it all just feels a little safe at best and a little awkward at worst. Somewhere hidden in here there might be a hilarious Deadpool MAX book trying to get out, but this isn’t it.
While we could argue at length over the success of the comedy aspects of this issue, I’d hope we can reach a larger consensus on the quality of the artwork. It’s Tony Moore drawing a cast of characters who are largely either undead or composed of hideously scarred, bloodied flesh, so a tick in the ‘win’ column was pretty much always guaranteed. I’d loved to have seen him let loose on a couple more splash pages, but alas, the quip-laden script has a heavier panel count in mind. There’s still lots of deliciously gruesome details packed in amongst the action however – spilt entrails, detached arms and some great caricatures of JFK, Reagan et al. Fiona Stapes gives the blood and guts a vivid sheen and the zombies a gleeful glow that highlights their putridity and the dark magic that powers them. It’s a good looking book that just needs a little more space to spread its wings before it can truly soar.
Conclusion: Hilarity is presumably set to ensue, but for the time being Deadpool is landing a little flat. As an introduction to the character for new readers it hits a lot of the important beats – Wade’s healing factor, his outsider status, the character’s irreverent tone – and it probably benefits from a certain distance from wider Marvel continuity. But for a ‘re-launched’ title there doesn’t seem to be much of a break with what came before; if that’s the case, you have to ask why Marvel bothered at all. To grab an easy sales-spike by dropping it into the Marvel Now release package? I guess if that is the ploy, it’s one that’s totally worked on me. But picking up a #1 issue on a whim and sticking with a title for the long haul are two completely different things, and I’ll reserve judgement for now on whether or not Deadpool proves to be a Pull List essential.