A match made in hell, truly.
Given their shared penchant for skintight red body suits and employing quips as weaponry you’d think that Deadpool premiered as a clone as part of the much-maligned Spider-Man 1990’s storyline. Rather, the regenerative merc premiered shortly before that elongated crossover in New Mutants #98, as conceived and drawn by Rob Liefeld, the creator who has unabashedly admitted he was attempting to emulate Spider-Man. Despite, or maybe because of, their similarities the two character danced around each other for about two decades (well Mary Jane danced in the infamous Deadpool v1 #11) until they formally met in Mike Benson and Carlo Baberi’s pretty good 2009 miniseries Suicide Kings and then shortly after in Daniel Way’s Deadpool run as illustrated by Paco Medina.
The two crisscrossed a few times over the years since then, recently in Deadpool v3 #10 (Brian Posen; Gerry Duggan; Mike Hawthorne), a team-up with the Superior Spider-Man, and in the first issue of the newest edition of Uncanny Avengers (Gerry Duggan; Ryan Stegman) where Spider-Man quit the squad due to Deadpool’s inclusion.
Context on the history of these two is important because 1) There really isn’t any and 2) Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness channel all of it into the utterly sensational Spider-Man/Deadpool #1.
I had notoriously high hopes for this series and the premiere met my expectations with surplus. The first page sports what should be the book’s bailiwick, excellent, hilarious banter over clean, powerful art. As Peter Parker and Wade Wilson snap and squee at each in the middle of a battle with Mindless Ones in hell (or some version of it) it’s evident that the creators are natural fits for these super powered fremenies. The plot, which waits until the very end to deliver a hook, doesn’t even matter in this one, the jokes and action are that good.
Fans of wisecrackin’ Wade know the creative team of Kelly and McGuinness well as they were behind the character’s first true breakout back in 1997. This issue has a lot of polish and the complex clarity of the art allows for visual gags like a poop-infused Hydro-Man and dislocation of Deadpool’s groin. Kelly, who had a stint on Spider-Man a little ways back, absolutely pins the characters to their current mythology, which is weirdly in tune: typically unlucky hunk now sporting huge bankroll.
When these two have met previously it’s been contentious and oddball, with Spidey typically refuting and rebuking Deadpool for his malicious and frivolous approach to just about everything. Kelly captures that essence well: Peter really doesn’t like this guy, and unfortunately Wade is going to be Wade. Still, the title of this opening arc is “Isn’t it Bromance?” and that shines through when the acerbic back-and-forth starts to slip into dirty riffs and real talk. Parker getting PG-13 is a fine line, and funny as hell when it’s toed.
McGuinness excels doing superheroes and specially is built for the Marvel style. That extends to these characters who can very much do well in big, bombastic comics. The inks by Mark Morales give the smooth pencils some edge and shade and refresh McGuinness’ style for a story that combines light and dark in an extremely dynamic way. The cover tells you all you need to know in that regard.
Spider-Man/Deadpool #1 just plain works. From a marketing standpoint it’s a huge winner, a concise idea with two enormously marketable properties both on the cusp of pivotal movie debuts. The series could be a financial hit, and that would mean more of what I read here. That’s a good thing.