Current Reviews


Deadpool #1

Posted: Tuesday, September 9, 2008
By: Steven M. Bari/Erik Norris

Daniel Way
Paco Medina (p), Juan Vlasco (i), Marty Gracia (colors)
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Deadpool #1 arrives in stores tomorrow, September 10.

Steven Bari:
Erik Norris:

Steven Bari

After much anticipation, Deadpool is back! And he's as stupid and psychotic as ever. Just the way you love him.

This Secret Invasion tie-in opens with the landing of a Skrull dreadnaught inside Turner Field during a Braves game. A mixture of panic and despair pass over the crowds like a cheerless wave as the Skrulls declare the earth theirs and baseball the first thing to go. Suddenly, the Skrulls detect a "non-human" presence inside the "Home of the Braves." Hidden beneath the lovable "Phanatic" mascot costume is the only thing that stands in the way of the Skrull Armada: the gun toting Merc-with-a-Mouth, Deadpool!

Way, who previously wrote Deadpool into an arc of Wolverine: Origins, continues his multi-dimensional psychotic exploration of the character. Deadpool still talks to himself and is aware that he is in a comic book, but Way adds a layer of dementia to this awareness. With the addition of "Pool-o-Vision," we see his hallucinations at work, turning the Skrull soldiers into adoring fans begging for autographs. When Deadpool comes to, he is returned into the mist of battle with a piece of his skull missing. The effect turns the humorous gag into a real threat, which in turn allows the reader to suddenly invest new emotions into the character beside affection: pity, concern, and fear.

Medina complements this direction by developing a dichotomy of dispositions between the Skrulls and Deadpool. The shape-shifting aliens are somber and brutal, willing to kill their own just to take down the Merc-with-a-Mouth. Their leader's eyes remain unsurprised, calm, and stoic throughout the battle, even when it's clear that the mercenary has the upper hand. The resoluteness of the Skrulls' portrayal is antithetical to Deadpool's nimble, goofy, and unstable depiction. The ungraceful landing, the silly look in his eyes as the aliens waylay him, and his body language undaunted by the danger around him serve to drive home the point that this guy is really a danger to himself and everyone around him.

Luckily, he's surrounded by hordes of Skrull invaders, so it all works out. Deadpool #1 is great start for the series, as it provides the mood, humor and pathos of things to come. Yet this is not the same interpretation of the character from previous series, Cable and Deadpool. Unlike that satirical, heroic-yet-flawed persona, Way chooses to focus on the more demented aspects, which makes him less heroic and more of wild card. You don't quite know what Deadpool is going to do next and the uncertainty brings an excited anticipation to the page. And with an ending like this, you know there are going to be more crazy-ass antics on the way.

Erik Norris:

The "Merc with a Mouth" is back. Having always been one of my favorite Marvel characters, Deadpool returns to the frontlines of the Marvel Universe, dressed as the Philly Phanatic, with his own ongoing series and Skrulls to murder.

The thing I was most scared about going into this new Deadpool series is that the 'pool (as I like to call him) wouldn't have anyone to play his antics off of. Cable made the perfect companion for Deadpool because where Cable was always stern and serious, Deadpool was….well….Deadpool. That book was the perfect "buddy" story, having just the right amount of intrigue, drama, action, and comedy. So that means Daniel Way (who I want to add doesn't have a good track record with me) already had the odds stacked against him when deciding to go the solo route with Deadpool. You have this character that works best when he can make fun of, and play off, his surrounding cast now completely alone.

I'm happy to report though that Way dodges this bullet with a simple technique and rather creative use of inner-monologue captions. What I mean is that Deadpool now has two voices for himself. Consider it the little angel and devil on his shoulders, if you will. One obviously represents Deadpool's current A.D.D. ridden mind while the other plays devil's advocate to every stupid plan he hatches. And he hatches a lot of stupid ideas in this first issue alone. Time will tell if this technique grows old and readers start yearning for the days of old where Deadpool gets a rough-around-the-edges partner to pester, but so far, so good.

What I think will hurt this book most is how it's a Secret Invasion tie-in for its first two issues. I understand Marvel's reasoning for this: launch a series dedicated to a B-list hero riding the coat-tails of the big Marvel Epic, and even if fans are unfamiliar with the lead, they will buy it because of the tie-in aspect and hopefully popularity will snowball from there. However, I know some will see that Secret Invasion banner on the top of the cover and skip the issues until Deadpool gets its own fresh start. Some people just want good stories on their own merit and by making these initial issues tie-in to a big event seems like it would deter potential buyers from dipping their feet in the pool, so to speak.

For my two cents, I do think Daniel Way and company handle the tie-in rather well, but it doesn't seem like this series would be pitched starting with a Secret Invasion tie-in in mind. And while this might be obvious, it just screams editorially mandated, which is everything Deadpool (a frequenter of breaking the 4th Wall) stands against. Come to think of it, an acknowledgement on the book's first page would have been a perfect opportunity to fit another gag into these 22 pages.

It also took me by surprise to find out Paco Medina didn't work on the Cable & Deadpool as his pencils line up with exactly how I remember that book being drawn. This, in turn, means this new book looks great. I think the cartoony style works best for Deadpool instead of opting for rippling muscles and super iconic shots in every panel. Deadpool is 100% a trickster involving himself in Looney Tunes-esque situations, and it's nice to see the art reflex that.

Overall, I would say Deadpool #1 is a success. Daniel Way broke his track record with this specific reviewer, delivering a comic that I smiled all the way through without any moments of cringing. Paco Medina, and the rest of the art team, had some great visuals to occupy Way's script, the depiction of the Philly Phanatic being one of the book's highlights. And most importantly, Deadpool is back in some form. While the Secret Invasion aspect of Deadpool #1 is a bit off-putting, it still delivers a great introduction to the character. Therefore, just consider these first two issues a defining character study on how whacky and idiotic Deadpool really is.

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