Sunday, 9 March 2014
Deadpool: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Into its third volume the Deadpool MAX! series continues to be one of the best things Marvel are putting onto the shelves of comic shops. But it’s for a different reason than in the first two volumes (read about those here and here). While those books succeeded by emphasising Deadpool’s comedy, something which hasn’t been done right enough during the character’s twenty-plus year history, the third succeeds by exploring Deadpool’s more tragic elements.
It was something that could have failed. The title had been set up as something funny and so that’s what people had come to expect from it. But writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn do such good exploring Deadpool’s history with Weapon X, and the stolen memories and deformed cancer patient sufferings that come with that, that you find yourself swept along.
In hindsight they were making readers care about Deadpool during their first two volumes too. But because they were doing it with humour, something you’d expect from the character and his titles anyway, it wasn’t noticeable. Also, you don’t tend to read something funny and think to yourself “yes, I am beginning to care about this character.” They’re a talented pair of writers.
There are still laughs though. Even when Deadpool finds himself fighting through North Korean concentration camps alongside deformed X-Men clone experiments he’s given wises to crack. But it’s the first two issues of the volume that are home to most of the laughs. The first is once again told as a flashback. It takes place in the seventies and sees Deaders teaming up with Iron First and Power Man to take on The White Man. Every joke you could expect with a villain who’s chosen that name is used, usually by or within earshot of Power Man. It’s gloriously silly, and a great start to the collection. It also helps to balance out the more grim surroundings of the rest of the volume.
Much was made before the arc started coming out as singles of Wolverine and Captain America’s involvement. While they’re used well and there’s a logical reason for their team-up with Deadpool they do at times feel a little surplus to requirements, like they’ve been added to the title to encourage crossover readership. Both are well written though. Cap in particular. He’s a character I don’t usually care for (which can’t just be because I’m not American) and it was nice to see him believably presented as a compassionate, caring man instead of the military genius poster boy he tends to be in various Avengers titles.
The new art of Declam Shalvey takes some getting used but it’s fine once you do. Even if you’re not keen on it it can be overlooked because the writing is so strong. Posehn and Duggan continue to be the best writers to ever work on a Deadpool title. And this title continues to be one of the greatest successes of Marvel’s NOW! initiative.