A Monstrous Task: I’ve never pitched or written a Deadpool book. But given the character’s wacky canon and reality-smashing tendencies, I imagine you could whip just about any storyline, use plenty of silly voices and mouth explosions, and the editors would likely give you the ol’ green light. But also still call security, maybe?
That said, writer Kelly Thompson has nonetheless assembled a truly neat-o story for this “reboot,” with one Wade Wilson cast as the brand-new king of Marvel’s monsters. Oh, Deadpool!
Unleash The Funnies: For the most part, I agree with my colleague Dave Brooke regarding issue #1: it was a generally entertaining start, and a great premise true to the character’s oddball M.O. That said, Thompson’s story does a few cool things right off the bat.
The set up is quick and effective, and a lot of issue #1 is dedicated to DP learning about what it takes to be a true king of the monsters (i.e., boring bureaucracy, mostly). There’s also a lot of potential in upping Deadpool’s weirdness amid the already wacky world of monsters. Plus, there’s a great “straight (wo)man” in Elsa Bloodstone, and if Deadpool needs anything, it’s a patient foil for his silly shtick. Yet despite all that promise, so much of this series’ potential success will come beyond the set up, and just how much the jokes land before the big punchline.
A Deep, Dark Heart: In some regards, issue #2 falls right in line with its predecessor. The bulk of the issue is structured around a film shoot on Monster/Staten Island, which pretty much opens the door for a lot of hilarious moments. Mostly around Jeff the Land Shark (he has my heart!) and disagreements with monsters, all of which work pretty well as a “seamless” mega-joke. But from that framework, there’s a lot of different elements spun in. Like, the arrival of Captain America (a serious moment I’ll address shortly), the shifting allegiances of Ms. Bloodstone (leading to the issue’s big cliffhanger), and the appearance of the “new” Kraven (who is the most “direct” bad guy thus far).
The best Deadpool stories happen right at the intersection of the absurd and the serious. Whether it’s pitting ‘Pool against Cap in a matter of humans vs. monsters, or spinning in deeply complicated characters like Bloodstone and Kraven, Deadpool is best when there are real stakes involved. His brand of chaos needs to be controlled, and giving it structure prevents any book from becoming a parade of increasingly asinine humor.
The stuff with Cap, especially, gave me minor goosebumps; It was a dynamic that fostered a proper bit of development and made the book even more relevant. It’s just great to see a serious side of Wade that still maintains his outsider status. We need a reminder he’s more than a walking bag of jokes, and by doing so, we can feel deeply invested.
A Case Of The Sillies: While I’m sold on this book by the end of issue #2, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still real issues. As much as I think Thompson is taking the book in a great direction, there’s also a fear that some parts of the book are either short-sighted or under-developed.
There’s a thread that emerges about missing monsters (including Deadpool’s assistant, Bellus), and while it’s still early for it to develop, my initial reaction ranges from disinterest to a fear that such an angle won’t have time to matter in the larger scope. Similarly, with a few different antagonistic elements (Kraven, Cap, Bloodstone, etc.), there’s a distinct possibility that some of the potential storylines may falter or that things will become too crowded to have any real impact. But perhaps my biggest concern is the actual monsters. Clearly Thompson wants to provide space to explore issues of individual rights and our “us vs. them” mentality, but sometimes the monsters here feel like little more than fodder for Deadpool’s jokes.
Again, I recognize we’re only at issue #2, but these are possibly fundamental flaws that could impede an otherwise promising book. More needs to be done to streamline and maintain a proper focus on the important elements (Deadpool and the monsters, and their place in society) to prevent this title from being bogged down by its own aspirations. I want to see this story maintain a focus on the humor of these giant issues without letting things fall apart or lean too heavily on flashy guest appearances or the 1,000th joke.
Whiplash Art: If the book has a problem with understanding itself, then the art doesn’t much help matters. I quite enjoy Chris Bachalo’s drawings/pencils; they’re somewhere between a Rob Liefeld comic and Looney Tunes, and that blend goes a long way in fostering that mix of the absurd and the serious. But then there’s about 100 inkers (Wayne Faucer, Livesay, Al Vey, Jaime Mendoza, Victor Olazaba, and Tim Townsend), and that’s where things get super complicated. For the most part, these folks are able to blend their styles enough to make things more or less cohesive, but there’s still “miscommunications.”
There’s parts of this book that feel more colorful or more organic than some other parts, and sometimes that happens page to page but even between panels. And to an extent, I could see how that “effect” may be jarring in a good way, playing with light and detail in a way to delightfully confuse someone’s sensibilities in this, a book about monster politics in 2020. But it mostly comes off as irksome, this clear reflection that the book still needs to do a lot to find itself and strive toward greater unity and cohesion. The better art and story can align, the more everything tells a fluid story amid the shiny sights and silly gags.
Bend & Stretch: There’s another really important part of any good Deadpool story: it’s got to be flexible. Without that ability to bound between ideas, emotions, and levels of reality, it can never flourish. In this regard, the latest Deadpool series is success thus far. But if the king wants to enjoy a dynasty lasting more than a few issues, it needs adjust its crown pronto.