When Deadpool rolled out the Mercs for Money under the Marvel NOW! initiative, his squad consisted of C-list characters that represented particular constituents of his own makeup (which makes their split-up all the more demeaning if you think about it).
Slapstick (as you can probably tell by looking at him) represented Deadpool’s preposterous, cartoony side — highlighting the character’s tendency to delve into the sort of capricious, Looney Tunes-esque ludicrousness that, while aggravating to some fans, unmistakably attributed to his overwhelming popularity and reputation for comic relief (also: internet meme darling status).
Marvel’s hoping to milk some of that sentiment with a brand new Slapstick Infinite Comics series — which means we’re here to answer the question: is it good?
Slapstick #1 (Marvel Comics)
Why does this book matter?
After a mutiny in the Mercs for Money (of which Slapstick was a chief proponent), Slapstick’s striking out on his own; it’s his first time as the focal point since a four-issue mini-series in 1992 and it’ll be interesting to see if the farcical nature of the character can find success in 2016.
- Co-writer Reilly Brown had this to say about artist Diego Olortegui in an interview with Marvel.com: “His art has the one thing I really wanted in an artist for this story, and that’s the ability to draw in a classically trained, realistic, illustration style, but seamlessly fit in an exaggerated cartoony character like Slapstick, and have him stand out as different, but still look like he’s part of the same world as everything else. It’s not easy to find an artist with that kind of versatility, and Diego nails it.”
He’s right. Olortegui sets the scene well with your run-of-the-mill “shady misconduct going on by the docks” scene involving some standard hooligan looking dudes:
When of all of a sudden:
Olortegui is able to display this quasi-Roger Rabbit meshing of the cartoony Slapstick and the more realistic comic book characters/locales several times over by issue’s end without any glaring incongruities, so on that note alone — his art is definitely a highlight of the book. (And let it be said, that Slapstick is probably the perfect character for the Infinite Comics format.)
- The bad guys’ comments are a bit corny, even for a Slapstick comic — but damn, that giant mallet incisor slapshot move looks like it hurts:
- If you thought Slapstick’s cartoonish appearance meant this book was going to short on the violence, you’d be wrong; just because Slapstick can’t get hurt doesn’t mean he takes it easy on his enemies.
- “Mooom, what’d I say about talking about my dingus at the dinner table?!” A conversation that only the kid who “broke his arms” on Reddit would find comfortable.
- Damn, Slapstick’s family (besides the little kids) are kind of dicks. Then again, they’re also housing a crazy cartoon clown equivalent of post-metamorphosis Gregor Samsa, so maybe I could cut them some more slack.
- Slapstick really doesn’t know who Spider-Man is? Even for an electroplasmic cartoon clown, dude needs to get out more. And lots of thanks Spidey gets for his flagrant, “I’m here to boost your first issue’s sales,” guest appearance.
- Speaking of this issue’s special guest-star, Slapstick’s rapport with him ends up falling a bit flat. Van Lente and Brown make the connection feasible by making the issue’s McGuffin revolve around Parker Industries, but there’s nothing about their banter or overall interaction that ultimately couldn’t have been duplicated by another character. Yeah, I know. Slapstick ain’t gonna sell himself… yet.
- The “boss fight” enemy’s computer programming conditional expressions-laden speak and design is cool.
- Hey, it’s Quasimodo, the Quasi-Motivational Destruct Organism. The four other people reading this issue that know where this character’s from just soiled their Stan Lee drawers.
- So Quasimodo‘s both the only person that can hurt Slapstick in this issue… and possibly the only that can help him find a cure for his condition? Color me intrigued.
When there’s a “TEEF” sound effect, you know that shit’s painful.
Slapstick would make Jim Carrey proud with that Zippo lighter flatulence trick.
Is It Good?
If Deadpool’s clownish side is your least favorite aspect of the character you’ll probably want to steer clear, as Slapstick dials it up another notch. Despite that, let’s not forget that Slapstick is his own character and a fairly unique one in the Marvel Universe, which is a bonus that works in his favor. The nature of the character harbors elements of previous successful characters of his ilk before him, such as The Mask, The Creeper, Mr. Mxyzptlk, and obviously, the character who he’s been most closely associated with lately, Deadpool.
That being said, there’s still about as much reason to empathize with our protagonist as there is Gogo Dodo from Tiny Toons, given his completely farcical nature — but beyond the meta-jokes, puns and ham-fisted humor there’s something promising brewing beneath the surface. Fans of Slapstick from Deadpool & The Mercs for Money (there are a few of you out there, yeah?) or those looking for a fun (though gruesomely comedic), carefree diversion could do worse.
I’ll be around for Slapstick #2.