The wedding bells are primed and set, Deadpool’s getting hitched and everyone’s invited!
I’ve always loved comic book characters. Always. Comic books didn’t become a hobby until my early teens. I can’t remember exactly where and when I discovered him but I immediately gravitated toward Wade Wilson, an outcast with a smart mouth and penchant for kicking ass. Deadpool existed in an area occupied by no other character in his realm, a figure of satire woven neatly into the fabric of the Marvel Universe with the simple explanation of: “He’s insane.”
Flashforward to Marvel NOW! and Deadpool cash money, a near-guarantee in terms of solid sale numbers. Deadpool miniseries are being pushed out with regularity, and we’ve seen entire volumes of his previous adventures hit the trade market in recent years. Marvel understands the commodity it has. It’s a shame Fox Studios doesn’t.
Under writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn the fourth wall shattering anti-hero has taken on a grim and gritty feel, shedding the silly for a sardonic tone. After his discover that he’s suffered mental and physical manipulation since his Weapon X days and that he possibly bore a possibly dead child he’s become a little closed-off and impatient. So naturally, much in his impulsive fashion, the clod of cancerous mass decides to get married.
I won’t drone too much on about how dumb it is to have the entire wedding plot ascend in the digital only The Gauntlet. I’ve stuck to the core series in the last few months and have paid dearly for it. Damn those money hungry executives!
A mixed bag overall, Posehn and Duggan have respected the character but nudged him to clichéd areas. I’ve absolutely loved some portions and sequences of their run, but there are vast passages of boring material that, while fresh for Deadpool, are worn in the genre. He’s a character that’s two to three decades behind his contemporaries, so something like matrimony seem novel and edgy, I guess. Meanwhile, Marvel and its Distinguished Competition find clever and frustrating ways to keep their protagonist single in other books. Is it parody or event-style comics at it worst?
The maturation of comic’s most immature figures is overdue and overdone. I can’t say I’ve been a big fan of the move toward more dramatic tones. The darker moments are effective, but the inherent weight of a family have tampered with the comedic elements. I’m in the opinion it’s almost always a bad choice to burden a previously unburdened character with a spouse or offspring. It’s no botch job, but it makes me wonder where the impetus comes from to normalize superheroes. We use them to escape to fantasy and then some homebody writer makes them into our parents.
The first section of this stuffed 80-page behemoth is one the better single issues by the regular writers Posehn and Duggan. We’re (re)introduced to Deadpool’s bride, the lovely Shiklah, succubus, Queen of the Underworld and ruler of the Monster Metropolis. After rescuing her from the clutches of Dracula the two fell in love over in that digital series I didn’t read and have decided to tie the knot. “The Wedding of Deadpool” is a wonderfully paced and thoughtful story, giving the Crimson Comedian a quiet, happy pause in the action of his normally hectic life. The cameo and in-jokes are plentiful, and that’s a deeply needed quirk that’s peppered in at the right moments. Somehow the writing the duo turned me on to the new couple’s affection for each other. It’s a tough bit of jerky to chew on, for sure, but for now I wish Shiklah and Wade the best,… that is until we find out she’s the Beyonder or something.
When Tony Moore took his unexpected sabbatical right after the first arc I imagine Marvel was in bit of a tough position. Though the book has lacked a primary artist Mike Hawthorne has taken up the bulk of the penciling load and has done an ardent job on a series with a difficult tone to capture. Hawthorne’s pencils in #27 are his best yet, a very crisp and precise job overall, with little wasted space and emotion where it counts. The colors by Bellaire are a treat. Although her frequent collaborator (Declan Shalvey) is no longer on the book she has remained and it’s a good thing. Her choice of flat tones and minimal use of shading give the book a distinct quality.
The layouts are very nice, the highlight being a silent double splash of the reception (the real reason for weddings), a duo of pages bursting with energy and good times. The paneling in the style of photo booth pictures is an inspired choice in particular. If you ever wanted to see Hercules make it rain on She-Hulk here’s your chance.
Deadpool #27 is a nice reprieve for a character that has been pulled through the muck recently. Though I always read every issue with anticipation I’ve disliked some of the core aspects of the run like abundance of Agent Preston and the previously mentioned family burdens and it only appears these type elements with ratchet up in the coming months (hellloooo, Origin Sin). On the flip the entire creative team, from writers to the rotating artists and seemingly omnipresent editor Jordan D. White understand Deadpool’s role in the greater Marvel landscape. Poignant while still managing to deliver funny moment this is a great era for the character.
The wedding is nice and all but the real reason this issue is so damned good are the ten backup stories by a litany of former Deadpool creative talent. Marvel managed to rustle up every single notable writer that ever contributed to a Deadpool ongoing, and while that feat is feasible because of his short history it’s still an awesome gift to fans. After thoroughly reading these backups its very obvious that Marvel encouraged the writers to venture back and recapture the essence of their respective runs, and in most cases this was a true joy, but not always.
“Operation Ballerina Drop” by Duggan, Scott Koblish and Val Staples works as the framing sequence for the shorts which all revolve around Deadpool’s previous marriages. Set at Deadpool’s roaring bachelor party the front part of the piece is many there for utility.
The next backup falls in the style of the missing fill-in issues that punctuate each arc. “#$%@-Faced in Vegas” by Posehn, Koblish and Staples is something straight out of my private f
an fiction folder, detailing the near-hitch of Wade and Ms. Marvel. Set in the 80’s it centers on the invasion of phallic shaped space aliens of the face hugging variety and might be the funniest section of the whole comic. Posehn does a fine job in delivering a wholly absurd tale in just a few pages and there’s a pacing to his dialogue that show off his writing chops.
Special props go out to Scott Koblish and Val Staples who not only labored in the magnificent and lively (Guinness record setting) 236 character cover but show off their skill and versatility in the opening two shorts. The first one is done in Koblish’s more neutral style and is works a lot into a small space. The Vegas story is done in the highly amusing retro style that normally does most of the legwork in those throwback issues.
Original Deadpool writer Fabian Nicieza returns in “With This Hand, I The Wed” with art by Scott Hepburn and Val Staples. The story focuses on the long dead Copycat, a shape shifter that worked as one of Wade Wilson’s early supporting characters and love interests. Tapping in to the “generally crazy” tone Deadpool imagines his onetime girlfriend as a sock puppet on his right hand, a “marriage” that ends in a fight with Firebrand. Nicieza is one of the great Deadpool writers and shows why with a goofy yet meaningful story. Also, it features the origin of DP’s fascination with chimichangas, a rad little nod to a definitive character quirk. Scott Hepburn’s pencils tell the story perfectly, and just like his work on DC’s Rogues Rebellion the style works in the darker sectors of superhero comics.
Mark Waid hasn’t worked on Deadpool in twenty years, and rumor has it he wouldn’t have accepted the assignment on 1993’s Deadpool: Sins of the Past if he was fully aware of the character’s makeup and personality. Waid is simply one of comic’s best and most consistently entertaining writers, and his contribution works in a way the others don’t, but geez he goes a little hard too on the 4th wall breakage. “Continuity Spontiunity” isn’t terrible, but it is slapped together, very loosely tying into the marriage theme by having Wade meet and wed a private dancer named Genosha (which I think is a play on stripper names like Africa, India and America… I think).
I give Waid credit in experimenting a bit with the form. He writes in editor Jordan. D White as a character communicating with Deadpool through the ever familiar editor note text boxes and it only kind of works. John McCrea doesn’t do a fantastic job executing the script, but then again maybe he did because it’s all over the place both in local and concept. The lack of inker really fuzzes up the clarity, and the panel flow is a tough going. I have no doubt McCrea could be a fine Deadpool artist, but not here.
“The Niagara Bride” presents the return of two of the best creators to work on Deadpool, Joe Kelly, the writer who first redeemed the onetime C-list villain, and Paco Medina, a main cog in the Daniel Way run on the title. Both artists do what they do best. Medina is a very sleek and heavy hitting artist, a guy built to draw superheroes duking it out. Kelly excels in throwing absurdity at you whilst hiding a soulful reveal that makes you remember how big of a heart the protagonist has. In all its blathering madness their contribution is one of the issue’s strongest stories.
The next one is a bit of a departure stylistically from the rest of the lineup. Christopher Priest and Niko Henrichon unite for a somber tale that peers at one of Deadpool’s strangest girlfriends, Death. “Fanged” is told through a slanted lens and demonstrates the mercenary’s tonal range. Niko Henrichon utilizes a method that makes the story seem like a faded memory, and the use of rounded edges on the panels that take place in a submarine show off his storytelling ability. Priest had an pretty mediocre run on when he took over for Joe Kelly but his return to Deadpool makes a point to stick in your mind like a hatchet to the brain.
The first issue of Deadpool I ever bought was #51 (v2), smack dab in the middle of the Jimmy Palmiotti era. “Quickie” brings us right back to that time, a magical week where Deadpool hooked up with a string of gorgeous girls who ended up all being, you guessed it, Copycat in disguise. That’s about it for highlights in terms of story, the extra focus on Vanessa Carlysle. It’s very meandering, and doesn’t choose to go very far down either the dramatic or comedy paths. Artist John Timms style is vibrant, sponsoring overdeveloped anatomy and above average acting/framing skills. Timms does a fine job illustrating what’s there, but his talents would have been bettered served in something more eccentric.
The first main Deadpool ongoing had sustainability problems throughout. Times have changed, but there were periods when sales gimmicks, like rebranding the series as miniseries, were employed. Frank Tieri only wrote eight issues but his revival of Weapon X in the pages of Deadpool were a hoot and the audience is taken back there in “So Deadpool Walks into a Bar…”. In this yarn Deadpool wanders into Weapon X HQ with an uninvited guest, his new wife Lurleen, and catches the ire of associates Malcolm Colcord, Sabretooth, Copycat (!) and Gairrson Kane. It’s not an extremely clever story but it works because Dexter Soy wills it so. The story is essentially a bunch of people standing around but his choices in regard to layout and camera angles liven the piece up. Additionally, the acting and expression are really good. It’s hard to refute his skills, particularly in settings more suited for his effective method of rendering and a teasingly sinister undertone.
Gail Simone hasn’t written for Marvel in a long time. Too long! I’m a pretty big Gail fan. She’s undoubtedly my favorite Deadpool writer, but “Eulogy for a Winkie” is filled with too much bland rehash from her short but memorable run. It’s great that all the writers were given the freedom to go back to their tenures and fiddle around with the old pieces but Simone does nothing new. The entire gag of the comic is that cowgirl Outlaw, a Mutant (ahem) endowed with super strength, puts Mr. Wilson through an intensely carnal honeymoon, one which finds Deadpool begging for a time out. “Death by snoo-sno
o” has been done so I’m not too sure what the hell Simone was really doing with this story, and in a way it’s a little offensive. Are men so incapable of saying no to sex that they would face certain harm to have it? Nitpicky, yeah, but when Rhino made a appearance for no reason I wondered how much Gail really put into this. It’s a nostalgic, even in the art. Alvin Lee used to work for UDON, the studio that collaborated on most of Simone’s Deadpool and is successor Agent X. This story could be ripped from those series and you wouldn’t know the difference, and as I already complained about, that hurts more than it helps.
Fabian Nicieza returns to gives us a Cable and Deadpool wedding story, this time hooking up Domino and Deadpool in order to work an undercover mission . This one is really wedged in there. It’s set up too quickly and ends even quicker. It’s very forgettable overall. So much so that the editors credited Dexter Soy as a creator, which I’m almost positive is wrong.
The next story also features as creator misprint but I’m nearly sure it’s by Victor Gischler and artist Bong Dazo. Set during the early events of the Merc With a Mouth ongoing Deadpool attempts to marry a passed out Dr. Betty, the blonde buxom scientist that was tied to Wade for narrative reasons I can no longer recall.
Deadpool’s second ongoing marked the point where the oversaturation began and Gischler’s take on the character is where the character started to slink toward caricature. In “Savage Land – The Other Niagara Falls” we get the sex-crazed, short-sighted frat boy Deadpool that is diametric to other versions. We also get the white caption boxes and Headpool, reminding us that Deadpool’s straight man shouldn’t be another Deadpool (or Madcap, whatever). Bong Dazo does a good job, improving on his previous work that I’ve mainly loathed. His style has gathered more depth, texture and perspective, moving away from the oily, unrefined product of a couple years back.
The final full short is the “The Space Racist” written by Daniel Way, the most prolific Deadpool writer. The Carlo Barberi drawn story looks back at one of the wives we did know about, a hippo-like alien named Orska introduced in the middle of a space arc that pitted Deadpool against Id, the Selfish Moon. Since Way is known for tossing ideas quickly it’s nice to see him go back and revisit a weird concept that only halfway succeeded. Barberi is a veteran of the Deadpool game and excels in the same way that Paco Medina does, by mixing the smooth and powerful.
After 78 pages I had a bit of bone to pick with the creators. All of ’em. Where was Taskmaster? Answer: hiding at the bachelor party the whole time! In the latter part of “Operation Ballerina Drop” Duggan closes this huge issue with a tautly powerful scene between the villainous version of the Wonder Man/Beast bromance. Bravo on that one, forreal.
Even though it will cost you a whole ten dollars this special issue is mega worth it for hardcore fans. Casual Deadpool readers might have a hard time placing much of anything so I hesitate to say it’s an excellent comic. I praise Marvel for promoting one their rising stars, and even though I have reservations about the whole marriage thing I’m always for characters being pushed into uncomfortable areas. Maybe that was the point of Gail Simone’s backup?