Sunday, 1 December 2013

Deadpool: Soul Hunter

The second trade paperback of the current Deadpool series brings a few new things with it. Chief among them is a new artist. The distinctive, emotive work of Tony Moore is out, replaced by the work of Mike Hawthorne and, for one issue only, Scott Koblish. The deliberately oddball plot of ghostly presidents invading America is also gone, replaced by something that allows for similar japes without feeling at all repetitive. There’s also a little exploration of the lead character’s origins, something Deadpool’s mostly avoided in his twenty years of Marvel appearances.

If you’re worried that giving ‘The Merc With a Mouth’ a definitive origin story will ruin him you don’t need to worry. Writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn are as aware that humour is what makes the character work as they were in their first six issue arc. They don’t overload on revelations. It’s more just a few hints and teases as to Deadpool having a past beyond the Weapon X here. And that’s a good thing, because over the last few years Deadpool has become one of the publisher’s more popular characters. Giving him a more substantial past helps to make him less of a Wolverine knock-off.

Fun is still the order of the day with this book though. That’s clear from the first issue of the collection, which sees Koblish come on board to provide the art for an eighties-inspired flashback story which sets up the rest of the issue. This includes amusing cameos from Peter Parker and J Jonah Jameson and Deadpool invading the fabled Genie in a Bottle Iron Man story. It’s the sort of story that’s perfect for Deadpool.

The central plot sees Deadpool having to track down members of the public who have gained superpowers by making deals with a demon. One is invulnerable to harm. The second is a clear (but well-meaning) riff on DC’s Aquaman and how ultimately useless his basic power is. Another is a businessman who can see into the future and who is modelled on a certain New York billionaire.

Along the way the current day Spiderman appears (that’s Doctor Octopus’s psyche in Peter Parker’s body, fact fans), along with a bunch of C-list villains. Seeing Deadpool battle the likes of Lady Stilt Man, The Trapster and his long-time pal-slash-enemy The Taskmaster in a climactic fight scene is a highlight of the book.

What’s most noteworthy about this collection in comparison to the first is that it could be considered a team book. Deadpool is still joined by the ghost of Benjamin Franklin and throughout the book as the soul of SHIELD Agent Preston in his mind. When he hooks back up with Michael the SHIELD psychic from Dead Presidents the team is complete.

As with the first collection Soul Hunter is a fun and enjoyable read written by people who know how to make Deadpool funny as well as interesting. That’s a rare combo, as history has proven. If you’ve ever wanted to read a Deadpool comic this is the series to begin with.

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