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Deadpool: Games of Death

Posted: Tuesday, March 17, 2009
By: Alex C. Lupp

Mike Benson
Shawn Crystal, Lee Loughridge (colors)
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Deadpool: Games of Death arrives in stores tomorrow, March 18.

Plot: Deadpool is hired by one Mr. Kilgore to find his misbegotten son. In the process the "merc with a mouth" has to disguise himself as an old martial arts master and participate in an insane and often inane reality-TV show. Hilarity ensues.

Comments: There is no denying it; "The Crimson Comedian. The Regeneratin' Degenerate. The Merc with a Mouth" is everywhere. He has his own ongoing. He's guest-starring in the upcoming "Messiah War." He's got a mini-series coming down the pipe. He's got a cross-over with the Thunderbolts. And then there's this little gem of a one-shot, which is nothing short of brilliant. Brilliant, that is, for a Deadpool comic.

If you are looking for something deep, or the second-coming of Watchmen, don't look here. If, on the other hand, you're easily amused by pointless violence, adolescent humor, and more violence, you're looking in the right place. Mike Benson takes all the stereotypes and clichés of reality-TV, and uses them to great comedic effect. You get everything from a Chuck Norris knock-off, Jed Booker, to a less-than-politically-correct Mexican, Crazy Boy, all vying for supremacy on a remote island. The only catch is that the challenges they face are deadly, and only one of them will survive to win a million dollars. The use of a reality-TV as a framing device is a great idea. Reality-TV and Deadpool have one thing in common and that's an unhealthy obsession with money, sprinkled with an overdose of narcissism. So bringing the two together can only lead to good things, and it does as Deadpool dodges the life-threatening challenges and masterfully comes out on top.

There is humor in this book, but there is also a fine sense of danger. Despite his ludicrous behavior, Wade Wilson is one of the most dangerous men in the Marvel Universe, and this comic book never loses sight of that. He plays the game laid out in front of him, and never allows us to forget for one second that he doesn't take to being played kindly. By the end it is more than clear that no one messes with Deadpool, and doesn't live to regret it. It all works to great effect, and plays into the mix of dark humor. One second Deadpool is nearly slashed to pieces by a tiger, the next he slashes a man in half - all of which is very violent and gory, but tempered by Deadpool's ridiculous behavior and great comedic timing that it will have you laughing in no time.

The art, I cannot say enough about it. Shawn Crystal's art works perfectly. It is a great mix of cartoony exaggeration and humor with pure grit and gore - all of which works to enhance the dark humor. There's a mean looking panel that shows the face of a man who has just been scorched by a flame-thrower, and then there's all the silly expressions and poses struck by Deadpool. It is a perfect match for the story being told.

Final Word: This one-shot surprised me. I did not expect something so good, and while I had previously discounted Benson's upcoming Deadpool mini-series, Suicide Kings, I am now seriously considering checking it out. So, while there is an overabundance of Deadpool these days, so far at least, it seems to be a good thing.







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