Deadpool mania has once again reached maximum velocity, with the sequel film somehow exceeding the quality of the first while the merc with a mouth finds himself leading three comic series within the last month. Deadpool got his “Fresh Start” last week with a brand new #1 that was sadly underwhelming, trying too hard to mimic the film instead of simply being something new. Fans of the regenerating degenerate should definitely look to Cullen Bunn’s Deadpool Assassin #1 to pick their spirits up- it’s a hilarious, action packed, and chaotic debut that feels more like a true fresh start than the actual “Fresh Start.”
Cullen Bunn has plenty of experience writing Wade Wilson and it shows throughout Deadpool Assassin. This doesn’t feel like a specific writer’s spin on Deadpool, this simply feels like Deadpool. The humor is on point, Mark Bagley’s art is perfectly over the top, and the story stakes are as low as ever allowing the comedy and insanity to carry the series.
A low stakes story is in no way a detriment to this series, in fact, it’s a welcome breath of fresh air from years of Deadpool being entangled in universe shaping events run or randomly embroiled in an intergalactic apocalyptic conflict like in last week’s Deadpool #1.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Duggan’s six year run on the character that placed him in the midst of many major events, but it’s nice to see Wade actually return to straight up mercin for once- a promise that was made but not kept in his “Fresh Start” debut. The low stakes don’t bog the reader down with unnecessary dramatics, shifting the focus to the irreverent humor that makes Deadpool so enjoyable in the first place.
There’s irreverent humor aplenty in Deadpool: Assassin #1 and more often than not each joke truly lands, eliciting soft chuckles and chorts from me as I read. Some writers take on Deadpool assuming simply being random and zany makes for a funny story, but Bunn understands there’s actually a level of nuance to Wade’s random humor that makes it so charming. There’s plenty of memorable jokes in this issue that will have longtime Deadpool readers grinning from ear to ear, like a quip about the amount of fiber needed to pass a bullet or a subtle jab at the disembodied voices Deadpool heard in his head in classic runs.
Speaking of classic Deadpool stories, the entirety of Deadpool: Assassin feels like a return to the Wade Wilson of old without feeling like a retread. Rather than pair Deadpool with a character that he is really only with in the movies, Bunn and Bagley pair Deadpool up with his old pal Weasel like in classic Joe Kelly or Daniel Way stories. Meanwhile, the general pace of the story and focus on comedy is reminiscent of the days before the merc with the mouth was the merc with a multi-million dollar franchise.
Bunn even makes great use of Wade’s fourth wall breaking antics, taking it past just a silly gimmick. Sure, Deadpool turns to the reader every so often to make a funny joke, but Bunn usually employs fourth wall breaks to allow Wade to advance the plot or offer exposition in lieu of mundane narration.
The action sequences drawn by Mark Bagley are truly chaotic in the most entertaining and beautiful ways. There’s no stylization to Deadpool’s encounters here- they’re deranged, messy, and soaked in blood in a way the exemplifies Deadpool’s “Wolverine with guns” fighting style. The level of gore is perfect too. It’s not over the top enough to feel campy yet it’s prevalent enough to give this book a real adult, R-rated feel like the visuals seen in the movies.
Occasionally the art is a little too chaotic, causing the reader struggle to follow the flow of a fight. Also, there’s sometimes too much dialogue crammed onto a cramped panel, taking away from both the dialogue and the art.
This book stumbles when it pauses the action to focus on Weasel’s life. Weasel is an integral part of Wade’s universe, but this series and this particular issue seems like a weird time to take a quick dive into Weasel’s fleeting masculinity due to marriage. Maybe it’s because I am not married (sup, ladies), but these moments fell completely flat for me as I anxiously speed-read to get back to the more entertaining, comical action sequences.
While not every Deadpool story penned by Cullen Bunn is a hit, more often than not a book written about Wade Wilson with the Bunn name on it is going to be an enjoyable ride. Deadpool Assassin #1 is one of those enjoyable rides, telling a low stakes story that remains hilarious and entertaining in an issue that feels like a true return to classic form for the character.