This may be the 19th volume, but dammit is it accessible. It actually contains five separate stories some of which were originally a single issue in length and others running four issues. That said, all of these stories vary wildly and all of them have top notch talent attached to them. Given the 328 pages that flesh this meaty trade paperback out though, is it good?
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
War! What is it good for? Deadpool! And these are his very best combat classics! Dig into Wade Wilson’s take on Sun Tzu’s Art of War, the definitive work on military strategy. (What? It’s totally in the public domain, and ripe for being ripped off!) Then, get the real story behind 1984’s Marvel Super Hero Secret Wars! You think Wade wasn’t there? You think he hadn’t even been invented yet? Think again! He’s on Battleworld, and he even has his own secret shield! He isn’t on that other Battleworld though, only his ghost is. But Deadpool’s widow Shiklah can wage war better than Sgt. Fury – and she has her own, monstrous Howling Commandos! Plus: Deadpool vs. Brute Force!
Why does this matter?
Writers Pete David, Cullen Bunn, Gerry Duggan, Paul Scheer, and Nick Giovannetti deliver the story and those are some fantastic talents. Then you have artists Matteo Lolli, Jacopo Camagni, Salva Espin, and Scott Koblish drawing it. Those are names you either know or will know soon.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
A huge cast appears in the Secret Wars story.
This collection opens with the complete zany out of your mind plot you’ve come to expect from the character with the Deadpool Bi-Annual issue. The animal-robot superhero team Brute Force is looking to take some folks out at a perfectly innocent aquatic animal park. Scheer and Giovannetti write this one with plenty of humorous Deadpool dialogue, topical humor (Blackfish was widely seen at this point), and a nice sense of weird humor with the talking animal robots. It’s highly enjoyable and even ends with some sexual humor with little kids watching. Who doesn’t love that!?
That is followed by Peter David’s Deadpool’s Art of War which was originally a four issue story weaving Sun Tzu’s Art of War into the main narrative. Somehow I missed this tale, which was great fun. It’s cleverly plotted to weave in Tzu’s lessons as Deadpool attempts to make a buck off selling a rehash of Tzu’s ideas. This, of course, leads him into creating mischief and an all-out war breaks out between all of Marvel’s heroes and Loki. Scott Koblish draws this series and it’s incredibly detailed and never skips a beat. It’s a crazy idea that works partly because of the high concept of The Art of War being weaved in, but also because it’s big in scope.
The next story is Cullen Bunn’s Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars which is another story I somehow missed and wish I hadn’t! This four issue arc follows the original plot of Secret Wars, but integrates Deadpool. If you’ve read that classic tale you’ll love this because it’s a nice reminder of that event, but it infuses a bit of Deadpool’s silly nature to up the ante. Matteo Lolli draws this series (with Matteo Buffagni on issue #4) and he keeps it looking sharp and clean. This is followed up with a one-shot by Bunn called Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars: Bonus Round which is quite short, but contains some fun characters like Doop.
Rounding out the volume is Gerry Duggan’s Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos #1 through #4. This is the tale where Deadpool actually checks out early on due to being murdered by Dracula. It’s a series that preceded the great Deadpool: World’s Greatest Vol. 8: Till Death Do Us… and has a comical ghost-Deadpool narrating much of the tale. The cast of monster characters is quite hilarious (Marcus the centaur with a Symbiote has no weakness though he is diabetic) and Duggan introduces them with great gusto.
Closing out this volume are quite a few variant covers, sketches, and cover breakdowns for a variety of the books within. The cover sketches by Koblish are a highlight and it’s fun to see how he starts to frame the covers.
Koblish kills it on art.
It can’t be perfect can it?
I rather enjoyed most of this volume with little to no detractors save for some stretches that weren’t quite as funny. The Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos does put into question what you’re allowed to put into a Deadpool collection even if he’s a ghost narrator who pops in and out. It’s also worth noting these stories are disconnected so a narrative from beginning to end is not to be found here.
Is It Good?
An overall enjoyable experience that has an eclectic mix of stories. By far the first two-thirds is the most fun and a real blast mostly because Deadpool is featured in these stories. That said, an entertaining trade paperback that gives readers a good sense of Deadpool in his varietal delivery of comedy to the masses.