Editor's Note: Deadpool #900 arrives in stores tomorrow, October 14.
Plot: The "Merc With a Mouth" celebrates his 900th issue in the series of odd, 4th-wall breaking stories.
Comments: Marvel's current overexposed property (just behind Wolverine and Norman Osborne) has become the recipient of the company's recent renumbering that's allowed to put some of their flagship titles in the triple digits.
The joke is, of course, that the character, being everywhere and as exposed as he is has reached a tremendous milestone and should reach the anniversary treatment. Without the goofy numbering the issue could just as easily be an annual given its format: it's more or less an anthology of Deadpool stories, some plot-based, others character based.
What's interesting is the high level of quality given to the entire production. With the issue clocking in at 109 pages (this includes a reprint of "classic" Deadpool #1), Marvel has put together some interesting artists and writers to tell some of the character's weird tales.
Here's what I thought about 'em:
Close Encounters of the ****ed Up Kind by Jason Aaron and Chris Staggs: Right out the gate I was worried about the total package with this weak entry from Jason Aaron (a rarity, actually) as 'Pool faces off against some nasty aliens and turns a probe around on them. One of the things I respect about Aaron's writing is how he's usually able to balance black as pitch humor with dire violence.
Unfortunately, it feels a bit puerile here as we get a series of anal probe and trailer trash jokes.
Silent But Deadly by Fred Van Lente and Dalibor Talajic: Thankfully, FVL (with the wildly talented and prior to now unheard-of Talajic on art) brings it with this short but hilarious riff on an obvious but effective joke. I'll try not to spoil the punchline, but the setup is that Deadpool is tasked with taking on some particularly nasty mimes on the city streets.
Again, it's a fairly obvious joke and reminds me of an old sketch from The State (yes, I'm old!) but it's a joke that speaks to the character of Deadpool and the mostly wordless strip actually works because of the star.
Deadly Shrunken Master by Mike Benson and Damion Scott: This is the first of two stories in the book seeking to deconstruct the character and maybe take him to a serious place. Here, Deadpool visits a shrink, ostensibly to figure out what makes him so defective.
It feels kind of like a Punisher setup, to be honest and the "punchline" as it were is fairly obvious from the start. The meat of the story does take Deadpool to some interesting places and actually evokes Sam Kieth a bit with the bruising introspection that threatens in a couple of places. This feeling is further reinforced by Damion Scott's art which brings to mind Kieth through a graffiti filter.
When are we going to see this guy on Spider-Man?
Pinky Swear by Joe Kelly and Rob Liefeld: Nope. No easy Rob Liefeld jokes here. This story is visually coherent and it's kind of funny in a bluntly dumb sort of way. This is very much the keeeeeeeeeeerazy Deadpool complete with sticky porno pages and half-assed teenage bets gone awry.
I'm not going to complain too much since the story did make me chuckle a couple of times and Liefeld showed up to do the work. I'm not going to hate on that.
What Happens in Vegas by Duane Swierczynski and Shawn Crystal: This CSI riff feels stale by a couple of years as a dead Deadpool has his body investigated by a quirky team of cops. It's a fairly stupid revenge setup enlivened by the angular but lively art.
Great Balls of Thunder on the Deep Blue Sea by Victor Gischler and Sanford Greene: First off, I love the work of Sanford Greene – it's appropriately cartoony without being child-like. In this case, it's great with this setup where Deadpool makes a nuisance of himself on a cruise vacation (featuring a special guest). This story provides a visual of a certain character playing ping pong – something I thought I'd never see.
This is another wacky Deadpool story but it works because it keeps flowing from one bit to the next as a series of vignettes. It's actually almost cute all things considered.
One Down by Charlie Huston and Kyle Baker: This is the second of the introspective stories offered up in the book as well as the most meta. It's an extended internal conversation as Deadpool and the two voices in his head duke it out about his relationship to violence and the meaning of his very existence. The story asks why we read stories featuring such a fundamentally broken character and how his setup is naturally resistant to comedy – if anything, on a long enough timeline Deadpool is a tragedy.
Kyle Baker is on art here and it's a little off, only because the (I presume) computer enhancements to the images makes them look a little stiff and some of the colors and effects (particularly the ample blood) feel like a separate layer on top of everything else. Still, it's appropriately moody for the story and helps to make it my favorite of the lot.
Deadpool #1 (reprint): I've never read any of the original issues of Deadpool, so this was an interesting experience. The story straddles the line between the goofy excess of the character and his tortured beginnings. Setting it in Japan gives it the feel of a satire of a Wolverine story, with the character travelling East in the past to find himself but learning hard lessons in the process. I can't say it's aged particularly well, especially since those tropes were about 20 years past their expiration date during the initial publication, but the story supplies enough tender moments to make you care about this masked madman.
Final Word: Marvel has outdone themselves with this book but as an aside I would love it if they scaled back Deadpool's exposure a bit so that we can savor the character instead of having to go through what will be the eventual backlash.
If you liked this review, be sure to check out more of the author’s work at Monster In Your Veins
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