First thing that popped in my head when I heard Mrs. Deadpool and The Howling Commandos was the latest Secret Wars tie-in? The image of an eye-patched, female Deadpool leading an elite World War II-era special unit into battle, gritting a cigar between her teeth, spouting Caitlyn Jenner jokes and quoting Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury. “Well let me know if ‘real power’ wants a magazine or something.”
Then I saw the cover to issue #1 with Deadpool’s sultry succubus queen wife among a crew of assorted grotesqueries and Universal Horror-themed monsters and remembered: Ain’t no girl Deadpool here. That’s Shiklah. And this looks… pretty damn good, actually. Even better than my deranged daydream.
Let’s see if that guess of mine was on the money, yeah?
Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos #1 (Marvel Comics)
Deadpool (well, his ghost anyway), in customary meta-fashion, breaks down life for he and the wifey on Battleworld: Nonexistent. That’s because in this reality Deadpool never survived his throwdown with Shiklah’s on again/off again boyfriend Dracula:
This might technically be Shiklah’s comic book but DP’s name is in the title for good (monetary) reason. Complain all you want about the character’s oversaturation; his presence as narrator here bolsters the overall experience, providing welcome levity to the whole horror vibe. Writer Gerry Duggan (fresh off the final issue of the recent Deadpool ongoing) is one of the few to really nail the character in all aspects since Fabian Nicieza and Joe Kelly and he extends that talent well to the titular characters here.
There might not be much in the way of story progression (Shiklah discovers a MacGuffin that she needs to find the missing piece to) but Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos #1 shines through the introduction to its lively cast. The Howling Commandos in particular are already a lot of fun and feature a goofy charm that complements Shiklah’s hard-boiled demeanor; Werewolf by Night, The Living Mummy, Frankenstein, Man-Thing and Marcus the Minotaur with a Symbiote (which makes him a centaur. Also, I think he’s also a werewolf on top of it all) all have roots in the macabre/horror side of Marvel and should provide solid synergy with Shiklah in the issues to come. And damn, do they all look incredible thanks to Salva Espin’s superb artwork.
Espin’s style leans towards the cartoonier side a bit more than I usually like, but the characters are so packed with energy and realistic anatomies/movements that they’re impossible to ignore. There’s never a dull panel, especially when it comes to close-ups; the emotion he’s able to evoke through myriad facial expressions and body postures is some of the most impressive in the game.
My one gripe is that we don’t get a good idea of anyone’s power sets or backgrounds, but I’ll reserve judgement until we’re closer to the end of the series to see whether Duggan plans to divulge that information by other means and later on. Fans that aren’t familiar with Shiklah be warned — you might want to brush up with some back issues of Duggan’s Deadpool run if you want to know her deal.
Is It Good?
The story hasn’t fleshed out yet but Duggan’s clever introductions, Espin’s lively art and the unique characters/premise have already piqued my interest for what’s to come in issue #2.