(Marvel Comics, 2014)
Written by Brian Posehn & Gerry Duggan
Pencils by Mike Hawthorne
Inks by Terry Pallot
Color Artwork by Jordie Bellaire
This series has been one of my favorites since the very first issue. As any long-time Deadpool fan can attest, our beloved Merc with the Mouth has certainly had more than his share of ups and downs, and boy were some of those downs bad. We have seen badly drawn versions of DP stuck in ridiculous plots that went nowhere, we have watched as the wise-cracking anti-hero has been teamed-up, guest-starred and cameo-ed almost to death, in fact if not for his healing factor I don’t think he would have survived this hackneyed Deadpool Corps, the awful “artwork” alone would surely have killed a less tenacious character. However, Deadpool soldiered on to see a return to the glory once bestowed on him by the likes of co-creator (the good one) Fabian Nicieza and Joe Madureira in the first Deadpool mini, then by the nearly legendary Mark Waid and Ian Churchill in the four issue follow up which led to the first on-going series by Joe Kelly and Ed McGuiness. Over the years Deadpool has been handled by some of the best writers and artists in the business in both mini and monthly series; Daniel Way, Victor Gischler, Duane Swierczynski and David Lapham to name a few, before landing in the hands of the gifted creative team of Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn for his Marvel Now series.
Duggan and Posehn have succeeded by striking and maintaining a precarious balance of humor and humanity. The initial arc was decidedly more on the humorous side as were several of the standout one off issues but once the creative team found that resonating chord, particularly on The Good, The Bad and The Ugly arc they have not looked back and Deadpool has never been better. Admittedly some of DP’s antics have been toned down but that has in no way neutered the Merc’s trademark Mouth; that rapier witty and penchant for the thinnest veiled innuendo is still there, in many ways the character is funnier than ever because there is a precision and a real sense of timing to the humor now.
In these early post-Original Sin issues, Duggan and Posehn seem to be re-establishing that balance that was a little skewed during the event tie-ins. The dramatic element provided by Deadpool’s desire to be a positive part of his newly discovered daughter, Ellie’s life takes center stage in this issue. Wade is obviously not the traditional father figure but this does not stop him from wanting to be the best father he can be given the circumstances of his life. The writers also do a really clever job of tying the events of the pervious arc as they pertain to the North Korean Mutants as well as the digital first, Dracula’s Gauntlet mini-series into a cohesive and engrossing narrative. Although Dracula is not at his most regal or fearsome in this issue as he plods around all but disembodied in an archaic Spider-Slayer suit, he does provide the catalyst for some of the books most gut-bustingly funny scenes involving a semi-naked Deadpool and a homeless Irishman, trust me it’s hilarious. However, The Prince of Darkness can scarcely maintain Deadpool’s attention which is focused on his relationship with Ellie and his marriage to Shiklah, who just happens to be Dracula’s former love interest. Duggan and Posehn also touch on Deadpool’s slightly more respected position within the structure of the Marvel Universe and how this has altered the way he is perceived and treated by the other Marvel Heroes, who are now, like it or not, his colleagues. The final scene between DP and Tony Stark offers a chase to spotlight some seriously sharp dialogue. Tony and Wade’s relationship is strained but there is a mutual respect that gives all the verbal jabs and insults a kind of brotherly sense of good-natured ribbing. That is not to say that Wade does not require Tony to use every ounce of his patience when dealing with him, but that’s what makes these scenes so priceless.
This Deadpool is poignant, more so than perhaps any other incarnation of the character. There is a sadness just beneath the surface that defines him more than any of his jokes or banter. Deadpool knows sadness on a molecular level; the things he has seen and lived through are tragic but he refuses to give in and in that way his sadness becomes his strength; granted the humor Deadpool employs as a coping mechanism probably keeps him from seeking his own ultimate demise but it is the balance of light and dark within him that makes him such a complex character, especially when in the hands of a creative team like this one.
Recently the visual aspect of this book has been somewhat lacking, specifically during the Original Sin tie-ins however, with the return of Mike Hawthorne that is no longer the case. His art works so well with the material and he is able to walk that edge separating the humorous and dramatic sides of this narrative right along with Duggan and Posehn. Hawthorne’s dramatic sense of staging and deep understanding of the physicality of the characters, as far as posing and body language within a given panel or page is brilliant. Jordie Bellaire’s vibrant pallet provides the colorful coup de grace as this creative team collaboratively kills this issue. (5/5)
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.