By: Brian Posehn, Gerry Duggan (Writer), Mike Hawtorne (Artist), Val Staples (Colorist)

The Story: Deadpool deals with Agent Preston presence in his mind as he needs to save Michael the necromancer from a deal he made with the devil.

The Review: This issue marks the beginning of the second arc for this title, along with a change in artist, as Tony Moore was only there for the six first issues. With the zombie presidents threat being gone along with that superstar artist, does it mean that this title is dropping in quality?

In many ways, I’d say no, but it does shift a bit in its approach to the character and his adventures. While the zombie president story was filled with big and bombastic action, this one manages to be a bit lower on that, focusing a bit more with the consequences of many things that happened after that gruesome conflict. It all begins with the situation Agent Preston, one of first supporting character that was introduced in the latest arc, and her situation within Deadpool’s own mind. Here, we catch the sight of just how Deadpool’s mind look like, in the first page, no-less, as the much more level-headed woman has to cope with Deadpool’s insanity. This, in a way, gives us something that Daniel Way gave us quite a lot, as there is now Preston’s thought in pink dialogue boxes, announcing the return of the internal monologue that Deadpool had in his tenure on the title. While Way had not been the inventor of such a thing with the character, he had popularized and used it a lot during his run, so to see it return here in a new form is a pretty neat twist that does respect what came before.

Preston’s situation, though, is akin to others as Deadpool now has a completely new supporting cast in his book. No Hydra agent named Bob, no Weasel, no Blind Al, this time we have Michael the necromancer, the ghost of Benjamin Franklin and Agent Preston, as Duggan and Posehn do try to make this title theirs. While this may be something a bit frustrating for older Deadpool fans, I applaud them for their initiative in creating something new. Sure, we could have gotten Weasel, the tech genius that gets abused constantly or the pathetic Bob, but instead we got a fat black woman that inhabits his mind, a necromancer that works for S.H.I.E.L.D and the ghost of Benjamin Franklin, which is in itself pretty much ripe for comedy.

As much comedy there is in these characters here, it seems that both writers decided to give more emphasis on the plot instead of the jokes here, which does give a nice balance here. Here, we see the devil from last issue (the pretty awesome ‘’80’s’’ issue) as he unexpectedly return to give Deadpool a hard time, claiming that his new friend Michael had pledged his soul to him and that the merc with a mouth needs to kill some of his ancient contracts in order to save him from eternal damnation. Needing the necromancer who had put Preston in his head to begin with, Deadpool needs to save him in order to make sure he gets her out safely. Of course, like a lot of superhero comics out there, this premise leads to an action scene, where Deadpool fights man that is impervious to damage, an invulnerable being if you will. The action scene in itself concludes in a logical manner, yet it lacks a bit in spectacle as it pales a little bit in the exercise in excess that was the first arc with the zombie presidents.

One of the main reasons for that, unfortunately, is Mike Hawtorne. The man does a very good job here, but his style and his approach is very different than Tony Moore’s own, which does make a rather sharp contrast. While the art of Tony Moore was bombastic and rather cartoony, Hawtorne goes for a tad more realistic approach, both in characters, lines and his approach to violence. While the characters looks very good and have very evocative poses, he lacks the explosive and exaggerated approach that Tony Moore has, which makes the action scene rather unimaginative here. Something that is actually quite surprising, in a good way, would be the background here, as Hawtorne does seems to be rather good at including a good level of details in each panel, which does help set the tone of Deadpool wackiness much better. The craziness does seem a lot crazier when it is set in a typical, ordinary city, as it does create a contrast of the violent and ordinary that does heighten the art a tad.

Something else that heightens the art would be the ever professional Val Staples, with his rich palette of colors. He does employ a rather vast number of different colors here in some scenes, like the inside of Deadpool’s head or the chamber’s of Preston son during the night. Not missing a beat, most of the colorization ranges from adequate to pretty great, with Ben Franklin ranging in the great, as his ghost aura is pretty consistent and is colored rather well here, giving him an air of the supernatural he should have.

The Conclusion: Giving us a bit more plot here to set the second arc starting, Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn manage to balance out humor and story in a neat way, giving way for more time with the supporting cast and with Deadpool as more of a character and less as a walking punchline. While Mike Hawtorne is not Tony Moore, he does a pretty good job nonetheless thanks to his characters and his background.

Grade: B

Hugo Robberts Larivière