Deadpool Annual #1
Written by Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn, and Adam Warren
Art by Scott Koblish, Adam Warren, and Chris Sotomayor
Lettering by Joe Sabino
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by David Pepose
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
While Wade Wilson has run the gamut in terms of comedic platforms for the Marvel Universe, my favorite use of the character has always been as a way to poke fun at the very conventions of comic books, to give us nerds a gentle elbow right in the nostalgia bone. And with Deadpool Annual #1, perhaps the most innocent of Marvel lore falls under the Merc With a Mouth’s filthy crosshairs, as Deadpool finds himself the replacement guest star of Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends.
In many ways, writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn channel the frat-boy funny of Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool here, if only because of how Wade’s crudeness is on full display next to these wholesome cartoon characters. (When Aunt May visits looking for Peter Parker, for example, Iceman says “we need to get out of our uniforms!” leading Deadpool to gleefully yank off his skivvies behind him.) Having a dirty, scarred-up slob parked in the living room is already a very funny contrast to the straight-laced Iceman and Firestar, but Duggan and Posehn wind up taking their most dark and subversive angle yet, as we discover that Deadpool’s horrible influence is more contagious than we think, leading to an over-the-top violent battle royale against some iconic supervillains.
Artist Scott Koblish, meanwhile, continues to showcase his versatility, adopting the clean and simple designs from the ‘80s cartoon. Yet he’s also able to add some very, very dark comedy to Deadpool and his Amazing Friends, particularly a hilarious three panel sequence of Mysterio’s head exploding into red mist from inside his glass dome. (“What a great illusion!” Electro says in amazement, before Doc Ock has to tell him that that is in fact real blood.) There’s also some great little in-jokes about the original Amazing Friends’… questionable production values, with Koblish reusing panels again and again with only minor variation. In certain ways, Koblish’s style here actually reminds me a little of Kaare Andrews, especially when these G-rated villains show some terrified expressions when they get a little bit of hard-R-rated justice.
That said, while the premise is rock-solid, Duggan and Posehn do run up against some of limitations of their threadbare source material, and so the punchlines for this annual occasionally feel a bit one-note. (Shocking and subversive as hell, but still one-note.) Unlike some of the previous comic riffs of this series, such as the old-school Power Man homage or even the current series’ 2099 spinoff, there winds up being a limited amount of things for Deadpool to do, other than to brutally murder bad guys (and the occasional chimichanga or fart joke). There is one fairly funny reference to "Kraven’s Last Hunt," but it comes so fast that it’s easy to miss, as do some decently chuckleworthy epilogues.
Meanwhile, Adam Warren gets a backup story in this annual, and while I ordinarily find his work on Empowered to be just the right balance of earnest and subversive, his particular flavor of writing doesn’t seem to jive with Deadpool’s. Pitting Wade alongside a superstrong robot named “Gothic Lolita,” it feels like Warren isn’t able to strike the right balance between his characters, with Gothic Lolita’s lengthy amounts of dialogue slowing the story to a crawl and forcing Deadpool out of his own book. Warren’s artwork is cartoony and beautiful, however, with some fast-paced and kinetic action bits like Deadpool riding a rebar while shouting “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar,” but his black-and-white bonafides might betray him a bit, as Ryan Kinnaird’s colors look very out of place.
While I wouldn’t necessarily call this annual a must-read, there’s something goofy and fun about this admittedly disposable read. Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn, and Scott Koblish are carving out a very funny niche in the Marvel Universe with these nods to comic book history, and while not every installment is going to be created equal, the premise alone will bring plenty of readers to this book’s gruesome conclusion.