(Marvel Comics, 2014)
Written by Duane Swierczynski
Artwork by Pepe Larraz
Color Artwork by Nolan Woodard
Let’s face it no one has ever accused Deadpool of being too cerebral, in fact he can be downright goofy at times but hey that’s why we love the Merc with the Mouth so much. DP has a gift for irreverence, a knack for sarcasm and a blatant disregard for convention, in other words he is one heck of a fun character especially if you need a break from the deep, heady and complex narratives running through so many of Marvels marquee titles these days and for any writer worth his chimichangas Deadpool provides a perfect vehicle to tell those stories that are just a little too far out for Cap and the gang. Deadpool vs. X-Force teleports us back to the decade that gave us Bill Clinton, Lollapalooza, grunge rock and Seinfeld, the 90’s. Duane Swierczynski does a spectacular job of capturing the essence of that bygone era; the story is raucous and full of flying fists, bullets and pop culture references. He masters the self-deprecating banter taking to task the tendency to overuse pouches, shoulder pads and shiny metallic limbs. This book exists to poke fun at a time that almost killed comics with inflated print runs and special covers of every kind including by not limited to; die-cut, chromium, glow-in-the-dark and embossed. At last we can laugh, we the faithful have weathered the storm that threatened to engulf our beloved sub-culture and now the industry is stronger than ever. Better creators, less pandering to the secondary market (aka the scourge that is the speculator) and a deeper respect for intellectual properties in general have all combined to improve the quality of material made available by everyone from the Big Two on down.
In this second issue of a sort of “What-If” story set in continuity before the events of New Mutants 98, Swierczynski cleverly progresses the narrative through history to the civil war which provides fertile ground for re-enactor puns as well as some battlefield action and antics. Of course the time traveling mutants are packing some pretty substantial fire power, out-gunning the civil war soldiers to an impossible degree. Swierczynski wastes very little time on exposition opting instead to dive right back into the action from issue #1 with both feet. His pacing and staging are extremely quick which leaves little time for head scratching and nit-picking, you either keep up with the break neck tempo or get left behind, this band of time jumping X-Men move through the pages with purpose leaving a trail of dead in their wake but it’s all in good fun. This series is not complex but it is far from hare-brained; the humor is clever, the wit is sharp and well-timed, the dialogue is spot on in its precise balance of comedy and lunacy.
Visually, artist Pepe Larraz and colorist Nolan Woodward prove to be a proficient combination. Larraz’s portrayal of Deadpool is consistent with the best renditions of the character throughout DP’s notorious career. The artist’s use of facial expression is especially effective; particularly considering Deadpool appears masked throughout the entirety of the issue. The little details speak volumes in this case and Larraz uses them with precision to fantastic result. His energetic approach to panel placement and page structure brings a sense of excitement and exhilaration to Swierczynski’s fast paced narrative. Larraz’s colors are vivid harkening back to the vibrancy of the 90’s while maintaining a cutting edge depth and richness that was not possible at that time. This book is a collision of 90’s tropes and current elements resulting in an entertaining trip down Memory Lane via time travel and some pretty darn solid writing and artwork.
Deadpool vs. X-Force brings the noise in a big way, brash and brazen it is as entertaining as they come. This one guarantees the guffaws True Believers, so strap on your Walkman, throw in the Nirvana cassette and skateboard down to your local comic book shop like it’s 1994 again and pick this one up. Remember what Seinfeld taught us some pretty great stories are about nothing. (4/5)
Shawn is an aspiring writer/ artist who has been reading, collecting and living comic books for over 30 years. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, their son, lots of cats, dogs and other various finned and furry friends.