After world-ending Secret Wars, Marvel published new set of first issues, introducing its most popular (and some of the more obscure) characters into its all new, all different universe. How did this change go for Deadpool?
I have been a fan of Deadpool for a while now. There are many takes on Merc with the Mouth, most of them silly and juvenile; it does not mean it is bad, simply flat and one dimensional. In my humble opinion as good as he is as a comic relief, Deadpool shines the most when he is written as a sad clown, someone who uses laugh and humor to hide the pain of his existence and Gerry Duggan understands it very well and served us some really heartfelt moments during his previous run on the character.
All New All Different branding had shaken up Wade Wilson’s status quo. The super hero community still does not trust Deadpool and is not thrilled by his existence, however the general public loves him! For some reason he had become the most popular and beloved hero in the world. He made fortune by franchising himself and is the money behind the Avengers. Oh yeah, he is an Avenger now too (Unity Squad, not the main team, but an Avenger nevertheless).
The story in this volume revolves around two subjects. First is Deadpool’s new business idea, the Mercs for Money; a bunch of Marvel D-list heroes and antiheroes saved from oblivion and obscurity. I mean seriously, unless you have encyclopedia-like knowledge of Marvel comics, there is no chance you have heard about Slapstick, Foolkiller or Stingray. Wade hires them to parade around as him so that HE can take more contracts as a mercenary. The second is an impostor with obsession about Deadpool, trying to frame Wade for a series of murders. While the latter actually moves plot forward and develops Deadpool, the mercenaries plot is more of a gimmick meant to promote other comic book series (Deadpool & Mercs for Money, or the solo series of Foolkiller, Slapstick and Solo hitting shelves next month). While there is nothing bad in it per se, it is a typical maneuver in the industry after all, I found the characters boring. Which is a shame since they took the page time ™ (it is like a screen time in the movies, just in comics)from the colorful ensemble of characters surrounding Wade, like his wife demon queen of a wife Shiklah, daughter Ellie or a ghost of Benjamin Franklin (I am dead serious).
But does this book deliver on the sad clown Deadpool that I love so much? Yes it does. It is still a funny book. Wade is a horrible entrepreneur and his banter with his employees is full of comedy. Same thing with Shiklah’s and how she deals with not being a top priority of her husband any more. Unfortunately some of the best jokes are self-referential and require familiarity with previous Deadpool series (Luke Cage’s cameo for example). It is also a dramatic book when it needs to be. There are heartfelt moments, which strip the characters to the bones. Also villain is truly terrifying and I am very pleased with that, because I did not believe they will pull it off (I am not spoiling it in here, heck it yourself). But again, self-referential.
The art is good. Mike Hawthorne feels the characters very well, and manages to make all the pages pleasant to look at. The comic booky designs of majority characters contrast with more gore moments. I am still stunned by the design of the villain.
There are some really great moments, however they are in a very mediocre book. There is even a special issue completely in Spanish, which shows the origin of one of the mercs, Deadpool’s Mexican copycat, Massacre. I am not fluent enough in Spanish to appreciate or judge it. The Deadpool 2099 story at the end announces an interesting conflict, yet again, futuristic Marvel is not that interesting.
Marvel added tagline the world’s greatest comic magazine! on Deadpool’s issues. I am afraid it is not true. If you are new to the Merc with a Mouth, start with the previous run and Dead Presidents.
Three out of five superhero dance-offs.