Comicscape: Deadpool NOW! (

By:Joel Rickenbach
Date: Wednesday, November 07, 2012

What a long, strange trip it’s been. Deadpool has been the unlikeliest of successes for Marvel over the past 20 years. A character that was once just a bit of a goof on DC’s Deathstroke (Slade Wilson, Wade Wilson… get it?) has become one of Marvel’s most recognizable characters. He’s gone beyond being the court jester of the universe to juggling multiple titles, something only a few solo characters have achieved. He’s about to appear in his own video game after an appearance in Marvel vs Capcom 3, and he’s had a movie long in production after being portrayed by Ryan Reynolds in Wolverine: Origins. It must be said- Deadpool has been a bit overexposed in recent years. Sure, we all love the “Merc with a mouth”, but there’s only so much madcap swashbuckling we can take before it gets a bit stale. It’s interesting, because to write Deadpool it takes a different mindset than your average comic formula. Writers used to dealing with cosmic threats and hero’s journeys are now faced with something even more challenging- Comedy. I admit, it’s been really fun to see the lighter side of some of the writers who have tackled Deadpool over the years. Sometimes it felt like they were finally unchained and went off the reservation, and sometimes it felt like they were trying too hard to strike a balance between insanity and Marvel continuity. Lucky for the dermatologically challenged anti-anti-hero, Marvel’s continuity is getting a facelift. With the Marvel NOW! Era in full swing, they’ve taken the opportunity to scale back Deadpool to just two titles- A self titled book, and as a member of the Thunderbolts, which I would say is the right amount of Deadpool. The new deal also gives Marvel a chance to get a fresh set of eyes, brains and beards on the book. This time they’ve looked outside their stable, and brought in writer Gerry Duggan (The Last Christmas) and comedian Brian Posehn (Mr. Show, Fart and Wiener Jokes) to craft the words, and original The Walking Dead artist Tony Moore and colorist Val Staples to handle the art. This had me pretty excited, as I had started to drift away from Deadpool a bit in the past few years. Like I said earlier- overexposure, it has been the true death of many characters, so this stripping down and refocusing was a chance to keep the merc’s mouth running with a fresh voice. I just hoped he didn’t talk too much.
Right off the bat I have to give Deadpool #1 a nice, if a little snooty, “Well played, sirs”. On the day after one of the most hotly contested Presidential elections, Deadpool drops with a story about our founding fathers rising from the grave to “Take back America”. It’s a nice twist given the fact that more than one candidate has run on that very platform. Who’s responsible for all the patriotic reanimation is also a brilliant little idea. We all have those family members or friends on Facebook etc. who post pictures and links from the lunatic fringe on either side. They threaten to march down to Washington and take care of business themselves. Well, that’s just what this bearded fellow in the opening pages of Deadpool does, handy book of black magic in tow. He recites an incantation, and a zombified Harry S. Truman rises from the grave. It’s immediately apparent that Truman has a few more bombs to drop now that he’s been exhumed. Lucky for us, Captain America is on the scene, unlucky for S.H.I.E.L.D., Cap is a bit overzealous, and is branded “Decapitain America” by the papers. It’s a PR nightmare, and Cap is quickly removed from the situation as more former presidents are coming back to life and terrorizing the nation. S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Preston is assigned to the case, but can’t use any known heroes to solve the problem. So, who you gonna call? That reference to Gostbusters is no accident, Duggan and Posehn used the film as an inspiration, and the proceedings definitely have that particular vibe. Deadpool isn’t Agent Preston’s initial choice, but once she sees him in action against a supercharged FDR, he gets the job, benefits and all. Things have escalated even further, as George Washington has returned, and is rallying the un-dead elected at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Deadpol heads in, locked and loaded, to dispense his own brand of impeachment. I don’t want to give away the jokes, but the most inspired bit is when Lincoln shoots Deadpool in the back of the head and says “I’ve always wanted to do that.” Classic.
I really enjoyed this first issue, it’s not a home run, but it’s definitely a hit. There seems to be a little bit of the status quo going on, I’m not sure if that’s Marvel editorial mucking about, or Posehn and Duggan trying to retain what has come before. I hope Posehn and Duggan go as far as they can with the character. This new book should really be a blank canvas for them to explore what comedy in comics can be. This is not so say they haven’t injected to book with their own flavor, they definitely have, I just can’t wait to see more of it in future issues. Another tip of that hat I’ll give them is they know how to use the visuals for humor as much as the words, and that is something sorely ignored by many writers. There’s some great sight gags (was that Patton Oswalt?), and Moore and Staples really bring a lot to the table with their art. Moore’s pencils are detailed with the right amount of light heartedness, and at times some of the wider shots almost remind me of Sergio Aragonés’ work. The splash page of inside Independence Hall is particularly impressive. Staples’ colors give all the undead that not-so-fresh undead glow, and the book as a whole is appropriately colorful for the story at hand.


I know there’s a lot of diehard Deadpool fanatics out there, so I’d love to know what you think of this new era of motor-mouthed mayhem. After one issue it’s getting a thumbs up from me, and zombie Teddy Roosevel

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Joel Rickenbach is a curator of cult cinema at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA, and can be heard every week talking film, TV and other geekery on the You’ve got GEEK podcast. Follow him on Twitter and hilarity will no doubt ensue.