The latest issue of Spider-Man/Deadpool is written by Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller fame. Uh, cool… I guess?
Maybe this will be so unexpectedly eccentric that it’ll be worth the cover price? Maybe Disney, and by extension, Marvel owes the tandem of magicians a favor? Or maybe this is the Ninth Circle in Mephisto’s personal Hell for Peter Parker finally manifesting?
Whatever the case, let’s answer the question: is it good?
- Check out our full Spider-Man/Deadpool #11 preview if you want more information about this issue going into it.
- Deadpool has already called Spider-Man ugly and himself “gorgeous” and the possessor of an “electric personality”… and it’s only the recap page. Maybe this won’t be too bad, after all.
- Yeah, we get it. Deadpool is a “fictitious character,” he’s breaking the 4th wall and you’re writing what he’s saying/doing. Just don’t overdo it, Penn.
- … Because there is such a thing as breaking the 4th wall too much.
- Like this. This is how you break the 4th wall too much. Lampshade hanging is cool and all, considering you do actually move on at some point.
- “I’ll just look longingly past the fourth wall and the artist will draw me more chips for a side bet. The artist loves me!” It’s like Penn Jillette’s sole knowledge of Deadpool before writing this was a hastily written outline with the words “Make sure he breaks the 4th wall a lot… ’cause he can do that, you know!” circled in red ink.
- Alright, Deadpool is taking over for Teller in their Vegas act. This has the potential to be at least vaguely amusing.
- “Why couldn’t I just wear a normal guy mask out in public all the time?” Why does everyone forget that Deadpool has a holographic imager that can change people’s appearances? I mean, he used it as recently as Spider-Man/Deadpool #4.
- The Spider-Man portion isn’t trying so hard to be meta-clever. That’s a good thing.
- This villain’s gimmick is amusing enough and Teller pulls off a few card tricks that foil her in the end. At least that fits with the theme.
- “Buns of web,” is actually pretty funny. If the issue had consisted of more of this repartee between Spider-Man and Deadpool and less… uh, self-included Penn and Teller — well, maybe we would’ve been on to something.
Is It Good?
How about a better question: Why did Penn Jillette write this issue? I don’t even mean that in an effort to excoriate either; I’m just morbidly curious as to how this whole effort came into fruition — because it’s a seemingly incongruous matrimony of talents.
Judging Spider-Man/Deadpool #11 solely through the lens of comic book scrutiny, the issue is strange — even by self-professed filler issue standards. The most glaring and likely incorrigible aspect? Penn wrote himself and Teller into the issue. Can you think of the last time an author not named Stan Lee or Jack Kirby self-inserted themselves into a comic book and it worked in even the vaguest sense?
Did CM Punk self-insert himself into his Thor and Drax scripts, successfully hoisting Mjolnir or snap suplexing Drax into a steel ladder because the latter resembled Batista? All in an effort to sell his next Pay-Per-View event? No, thankfully — but that overarching, gimmicky artifice permeates this issue as a whole. Unfortunately, reading this didn’t make me want to go see one of Penn and Teller’s shows in Vegas; it just sort of reminded me they were above ground, which, if I guess was the issue’s purpose — they succeeded on that note.
Admittedly, there is a mildly entertaining story involving Spider-Man fighting a purposely preposterous villain once you get past the first third of the issue consisting of Penn reminding us that he’s writing this issue — but even that is mired by captions… reminding us that Penn is writing the issue.
Spider-Man/Deadpool featuring Penn and Teller isn’t as bad as that time Eminem teamed up with the Punisher, disemboweling people with chainsaws and pistol whipping Frank Castle to the ground — but at least in 2009, Slim was still on a very high rung on the zeitgeist ladder. And that Eminem/Punisher team-up was an appropriately designated one-shot, not interjected smack dab into the running of one of Marvel’s currently best-selling titles.
Force-feeding us Penn and Teller in this issue made about as much sense as Deadpool shaking hands with Alf or the Kool-Aid Man. In fact, the latter might have been even more enjoyable. That being said, I don’t actually think Penn Jillette is a bad comic book writer, per se, especially given that it’s his first Marvel effort; he just needs something that isn’t so self-indulgent to show off his chops (and an editor to tell him “No,” when he decides to actually *be* in the comic he’s writing).