Graphic Novel Review: A Deadpool Deadfest

Spider-Man and Deadpool

Spider-Man and Deadpool - Credit: Archant

More Deadpool than you’ve ever experienced before, as we take a look at the following releases... Spider-Man/Deadpool: Isn’t It Bromantic? Deadpool and The Mercs for Money: Merc Madness Deadpool World’s Greatest: End of an Error Deadpool World’s Greatest: Deadpool vs Sabretooth

Spider-Man/Deadpool: Isn't It Bromantic?

Spider-Man/Deadpool: Isn't It Bromantic? - Credit: Archant

(Panini Books)

Apparently you can never have too much Deadpool, or at least that’s what Marvel Comics would have you believe… Determined to put that theory to the test, this reviewer immersed himself in the recent adventures of the Merc with a Mouth to see whether the current glut of series featuring the character are just a cynical movie cash-in or actually fresh and entertaining stories worthy of publication. Beware, this way madness lies…

Teaming-up two of a comics company’s biggest-selling characters is an obvious marketing ploy dating back to the early days of DC’s World’s Finest, but will only succeed in the long-term if the title is supported with strong writing and art. So who better to headline inaugural volume Spider-Man/Deadpool: Isn’t It Bromantic? than two of the latter’s all-time greatest creative team, Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness?

With Spidey having quit the Avengers over the inclusion of Deadpool to the team’s line-up, the relationship between the duo starts of somewhat fractious, but that’s the trigger point not only for the long-term story arc of this series, but also the initial developments of this first narrative.

Deadpool: World's Greatest - End of an Error

Deadpool: World's Greatest - End of an Error - Credit: Archant

Can Deadpool find it within his twisted psyche to change for the better? Will his burgeoning friendship with the webslinger transform the gun-for-hire into, dare we say, an actual hero? Or will his latest contract, to take out a corporate monster responsible for experimenting on live human beings, prove impossible to resist?

What happens when Spider-Man realises that the target in the crosshairs of Deadpool’s rifle scope is his alter ego, Peter Parker? (Spoiler alert: it won’t be pretty!) And will this a case of the creative team actually planning a proper narrative structure instead of making it up as they go along be par for the course from now on, or just a flash in the pan?

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Unlike the US, which is the world’s second largest Spanish speaking country, few people in the UK are fluent in the language, which makes a whole issue of Deadpool written in the tongue somewhat hard to get through. The version of Masacre: Tres Punto Uno in the original Spanish features in The Mercs for Money: Merc Madness volume, whereas a deliberate bad translation into English can be found in World’s Greatest: End of an Error. Did we really need both? Probably not.

Despite having joined the renowned ranks of the Avengers, Deadpool has also formed his own team, the Mercs for Money, a group of guns-for-hire including Stingray, Masacre, Solo, Slapstick, Foolkiller and Terror. In Merc Madness, they unwittingly come into possession of a Rigellian Recorder robot which has apparently been programmed with information about future events, details which various criminal elements will kill to get their hands on…

Deadpool and the Mercs for Money: Merc Madness

Deadpool and the Mercs for Money: Merc Madness - Credit: Archant

The diverse mix of characters work well with the innovative plot, which twists and weaves its way towards a satisfying ending, and bodes well for future storylines featuring the team.

After an auspicious debut volume, the main Deadpool book lost its way somewhat in the End of an Era follow-up, which seemed to be treading water before the next major storyline (more of which later). There’s the introduction of Deadpool 2099, a futuristic inheritor of the title whose escapades we return to further down the line, and who has an unexpected connection to Wade Wilson himself. The other issue is a 25th anniversary special which casts the spotlight on the various mercenaries Deadpool has allied himself with. It’s a decent enough anthology, but only adds to the feeling that this second collection is a mishmash of stories with very little in common other than vague links to Deadpool, who barely features at all.

Things pick up substantially in the next book in the series, World’s Greatest: Deadpool Vs Sabretooth, which follows up on a long-running assumption that the feral mutant was responsible for killing Wade Wilson’s parents, when it was actually Deadpool who did the deed, something he has forgotten following manipulations of his mind and memories.

After gaining a new sense of morality and responsibility during the personality-switching events of the Axis crossover, Sabretooth has taken on the burden of the Wilsons’ deaths to protect Wade from the devastating consequences of realising he murdered his own mother and father.

Deadpool: World's Greatest: Deadpool Vs Sabretooth

Deadpool: World's Greatest: Deadpool Vs Sabretooth - Credit: Archant

With a poignant ending and a remarkable grasp on the lead characters’ convoluted history, scribe Gerry Duggen may just turn out to be one of the foremost Deadpool writers of the past 20 years.

And so, I come to the end of my Deadpool banquet, and find myself gorged on clever quips, bloated by excessive violence, and saturated with juvenile humour. It was an interesting experiment, and certainly not without its merits, but I’ve reached the point whereby I’m starting to hear an internal monologue and that can’t be healthy.

There’s certainly plenty to feast on here, but I’d recommend smaller portions in future.