COMIC BOOK REVIEW: Deadpool #1 (Back in Business’ and ‘Good Night)

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Deadpool is back, rising from the ashes of his attempt at basic human decency. Mayhem, explosions, and levels of violence guaranteed to lead to life-long trauma ahoy!

Deadpool #1
Writer: Skottie Young
Artists: Nic Klein & Scott Hepburn
Cover Artists: Nic Klein
Colorist: Ian Herring
Publisher: Marvel

What You Need to Know:

After his abortive attempt at heroism flipped belly-up in the toilet-bowl of life, Wade Wilson decided that the only sensible option was to mind-wipe himself and go back to work as a Merc. He’s set up shop in a shopping mall, with Negasonic Teenage Warhead acting as his secretary. I’m absolutely certain that this will go well. There won’t be any negative repercussions to this at all.

What You’ll Find Out:

Deadpool #1 opens with a shot of a ratty cinema in New York City. Deadpool is watching a film called ‘Best Friends Buds’. He’s shoving popcorn into his face and laughing at the terrible acting. The cinema is almost totally empty: just him, a couple who appear to be on a date, and a group of five bikers sitting a few rows behind him. In the bottom panel, the largest biker gets up to leave.

On the next page, Deadpool’s (pink) iPhone rings. Deadpool answers. It’s Negasonic Teenage Warhead calling to remind Deadpool to get to work killing his target — a man named Rocko. They banter until one of the bikers from the back row calls him out for talking on the phone during the film. Deadpool ends his call and tells the dating couple to leave. Then he asks the biker if he’s Rocko. The biker replies that Rocko is in the toilet but that he’ll be back in a moment to kick Wade’s ‘kool-aid-colored superhero ass’. Deadpool banters, and Rocko (an enormous lump of greasy muscle wearing jeans and a leather vest) materializes behind him. Deadpool shoots Rocko in the chest. Rocko pulls the bullet out with the tips of his fingers and flips it at Deadpool’s forehead. On the next page, we see Deadpool flying, head-first, through a plate glass window. Deadpool lands on a pile of motorcycles and Rocko comes clambering after him, followed by the bikers. The next page treats us to several visceral close-ups of Deadpool’s breaking bones and shattered teeth. Fingers fracture, ribs crack, and femurs penetrate DP’s jolly red suit.

Screenshot_20180613-080209Screenshot_20180613-080209On the next page, Rocko stands astride Wade’s body and says ‘Why don’t you reach into one of those pouches and give that poor sucker their money back?’ Deadpool stands up and says, ‘Refunds are only applicable upon failure to complete the job.’ Rocko turns, enraged, ready to tear Wade’s head off, but Deadpool opens up one of the pouches on his waist, draws out a string of grenades, and says, ‘I’d like to point out that you shouldn’t clown on pouches. Pouches are perfect for holding all kinds of things.’ He then wraps the string of grenades around Rocko’s neck and pulls the pin.

The next page consists of a fiery explosion. Deadpool walks out of it, masked, but otherwise naked (a Deadpool-mask censor-sticker delicately applied across his junk to protect gentle readers from the sight of his hows-thy-father) and approaches the biker who originally called him out in the cinema. The biker says, ‘No f@#£&-+ way.’ There is a fragment of intestine clinging to his shoulder.

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Deadpool plucks the vicerae away and informs the man that he will have to pay a penalty fee for failing to tell Deadpool that Rocko was a superhuman when the contract was being drawn up. The biker refuses, so Deadpool takes his fee (a briefcase full of money) and rides off on the biker’s motorcycle.

The second story picks up where the first left off. The art is slightly different, it’s more detailed but the lines are less precise. Deadpool parks his motorcycle in front of a defunct shopping mall and strides in, naked (still clutching his briefcase full of money) past the security guard (they banter) and into a build-a-bear stand-in shop whose owner bugs Wade about his late rent and provides him with a pair of makeshift underpants forged from ‘stuffy parts’. There is a unicorn-head in front.

Deadpool and Negasonic spend two pages bantering in their office. Deadpool fills the readers in on the background of his regression from wanna-be hero to his original factory settings and says that the thing that he needs to get his head back in the game is ‘my very own Event!’ He thinks that something cosmic would be nice.

The next page takes place ‘in space and stuff’ where the Guardians of the Galaxy are playing monopoly. Rocket and Drax are arguing over whether Drax can buy 37 hotels at one go. They are interrupted by Groot, signaling that something very, very bad is coming.

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A massive spread reveals a Celestial riding on a giant steampunk motorcycle. In the bottom of the panel, Starlord says, ‘Probably should warn someone, right?’

On the next page, we see Starlord calling Tony Stark while the Avengers are at dinner. He says that the earth is about to be destroyed by a guy named ‘Groffon the Regurger’ and that there’s a weapon on earth that can defeat him, but that Tony isn’t going to like dealing with the person who has it. The image accompanying that little piece of information is Wade, playing with a Man-Thing action figure and his own Stuffy-manties. A square at the bottom of the page says ‘to be continued’.

But the story isn’t over. Not yet. The brain bleed continues for another ten pages.

On the next page, Deadpool (wearing a ‘Magneto was Right’ shirt) is talking with Negasonic about coming up with a sympathetic backstory to get on the good side of women readers. Negasonic is dubious that Wade could ever be sympathetic, but he tries anyway.

There’s one page of him combining his origin with The Incredible Hulk (an experimental gamma-ray cancer-treatment gives him superpowers! Woo!) but he concedes that ‘this one needs to be workshopped a bit’.

Next, he tries a Spider-Man pastiche (painting himself as a bullied teen who was bitten by a radioactive spider) but one of Wade’s own imaginary bullies says, ‘wait…why did you get swords from a spider-bite? I’m having a very hard time connecting these dots.’

DP’s next attempt is a take on Superman. He’s an alien baby whose adoptive parents raise him as a Merc. Negasonic points out that being a trained, alien, killer is probably the furthest thing from sympathetic. Deadpool agrees and starts in on another hypothetical story.

On this page, a pair of wealthy parents, and their well-dressed son, exit a cinema. They’ve been watching a film called ‘Good Night’. Suddenly, walking down a dark and dreary alleyway, something strikes them from the shadows. The father falls first. The mother crumples after him, her pearls bouncing dramatically in a puddle of blood.

The little boy looks up in terror. He sees Deadpool, who says, ‘Do me a favor. Don’t grow up and be a cliché. Stay away from caves and dressing up as some sort of mammal while seeking revenge on injustice.’

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Negasonic interrupts to ask if this actually happened. Deadpool says, ‘Yup. Totally.’ He concedes that he really doesn’t have a sympathetic backstory and asks Negasonic if she thinks that kid is doing ok. The final panels show three men being thrown into an alleyway wall. A figure stalks off into the night, leaving the words ‘Good Night’ written across the wall in blood. This story will also be continued, it seems.

What Just Happened:

After an experiment in moral complexity in several of his previous books, Wade Wilson returns to form as the merciless. Merc. Skottie Young’s writing is appropriate for this less complicated take, leaning as it does on witty banter and clever visual gags. In terms of characterizations, Deadpool and Negasonic are pretty spot-on (even if Negasonic is basically exclusively tuned to her cinematic persona) but the guest stars feel a little bit off, as though their personalities were sacrificed for the sake of a joke. This is especially true of the portrayal of Drax, who is very much in slightly stupid movie-mode throughout his appearance. But hey, this felt very true to what it might be like if the Fox-Disney merger actually goes through (my fingers are crossed!) and Deadpool crosses paths with The Avengers.

I enjoyed the mixture of extreme, graphically-depicted violence and bad sex jokes (especially in the scenes with the biker gang) but I have to say that I miss the balance of humor, violence, and heart that was more clearly present in the series that just ended. There isn’t very much to say about these stories. They set the tone for what is to follow, and they did so very well. The art was largely impressive and while the styles utilized by the artists were complimentary, they remained distinctive. This could prove to be an entertaining series to follow, for the kind of person who enjoys both musical theatre and pro-wrestling. Fortunately, I can’t be the only one out there who meets those criteria.

Rating: 7.5/10

Final Thought: Deadpool resets to his original factory settings, abundant pouches and unicorn undies included. This book is good for fans of musical theatre and pro wrestling.

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