Best Shots Review: Marvel NOW! DEADPOOL #1
Written by Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn
Art by Tony Moore and Val Staples
Letters by Joe Sabino
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by George Marston
'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10
Marvel's titular "merc with a mouth" starts a new chapter in Deadpool #1 as part of the Marvel NOW! brand with a new employer, a new mission, and the same old bag of tricks.
There was a time, at the start of Deadpool's career as the premiere meta-character in comics, that his shtick felt edgy and offbeat, employing a madcap, rampaging style of comedy and adventure. Now, something like 15 years on, he's less like the comedian who pushes boundaries and shocks an audience, and more like the lounge fly who's making one last tour of Vegas, trotting out the same material that used to make us jump from our seats but now feels like old hat.
I was really hopeful that new writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn - himself the essence of that young, hungry comedian - would capture that feeling of insanity and brevity that made Deadpool a household name to begin with, but it seems like the pair are too intent on matching the "Deadpool formula" to really add much of their own personality to the mix. Some writers are able to use Wade's insanity, or some would say, "awareness" to their advantage, but this pair treats it more like a crutch, like it's all the reason they need to focus on the silly dialogue and ignore the concept behind it. In short, they're forcing it. At first glance, the idea of Deadpool taking on a slew of eerily re-animated dead presidents seems like the kind of concept that's just crazy enough to work, especially with Tony Moore on board, but in practice, it's less about any kind of commentary or metaphor, and more about puns, gags, and more puns. There's still a real opportunity hear to turn things around, and there are moments of brilliance, such as Abraham Lincoln shooting Wade in the back of the head, that point to a grander intent for this title than what's actually making it to the page, but as it stands, this feels more like a gimmicky mini-series than an actual direction for the character.
Tony Moore, like Duggan and Posehn, is an inspired choice to take on Deadpool, though there are times throughout this issue when it feels like he's wasted on a script that isn't particularly visual. Moore's layouts can be claustrophobic when coupled with a writer (or writers) who don't have the right grasp on pacing the action sequences, and that's at play here, though there are some truly great pages where Moore really gets to play up his strengths, such as the splash page featuring numerous dead presidents gathering together in some kind of zombie caucus. Also, Moore's character design, particularly for Wade himself, never leaves anything to be desired. For his part, colorist Val Staples gets some things very right, and some things not so on the mark. His handling of the dead presidents, and again, Wade himself, is terrific, adding just the right amount of eerie green pallor to the zombie-commanders-in-chief, and really playing up the unsettling nature of 'Pool's physicality, but there's not quite enough charm in general to set a mood.
What could have been the start of a brilliant re-focusing of Deadpool as a character, and as a title, has instead started out as a way to rehash the same kind of draggy, uninspired silliness for its own sake that causes characters like Wade Wilson to collapse. Without a solid foundation, all the one-liners and goofy dialogue in the world won't make a book work, and unfortunately, it seems that writers Duggan and Posehn are focusing too much on making sure every panel contains a joke, and less on telling much of a story. Posehn should be well aware, comedy is all about the set up, and the timing. He's mastered it on stage, but on the page he's clearly still finding his footing. There's still potential here, but this is an inauspicious start.
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