Review: DEADPOOL: BAD BLOOD 'A Drolly & Dynamic Throwback to X-FORCE, Ammo Pouches & Splashy Set Pieces' (9/10)

Deadpool: Bad Blood

Deadpool: Bad Blood OGN
Written by Rob Liefeld, Chris Sims and Chad Bowers
Art by Rob Liefeld, Shelby Robertson, Adelso Corona, Marat Mychaels, and Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Lettering by Joe Sabino
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

The past is literally haunting Deadpool in his first original graphic novel Bad Blood. Returning to the well filled with big guns and big action, Rob Liefeld teams up with X-Men ‘92 writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers, a small army of game inkers, and colorist Romulo Fajardo, Jr. to deliver a drolly and dynamic throwback to the heyday of X-Force, ammo pouches, and splashy set pieces.

Deadpool has a bit of a problem, and that problem usually ends up killing him in horrible ways at random points during his day. That problem’s name is Thumper, and finally the Merc With a Mouth has grown tired of being some brusier’s punching bag and decides to fight back, enlisting the cold-as-ice Domino to help bring the goon down. But, of course, things quickly go pear-shaped and as Deadpool continues to pull on the thread of Thumper’s origins, he finds the sweater that thread is attached to is a thick wool pullover made out of Wade’s past and the mutant heavyweights he’s met along the way.

Full disclosure, Deadpool stories don’t really light my fire, and aside from a few choice arcs (Deadpool MAX! Anything comedian Paul Scheer did!), most leave me feeling cold at best and irritated at worst. But despite my grumpiness, Deadpool: Bad Blood is a consistently entertaining showing from the anti-hero, who is enjoying possibly the biggest surge in popularity he’s experienced thus far.

I found much of my enjoyment was pulled from Rob Liefeld’s inclusion and the entertainingly accessible way Chris Sims and Chad Bowers write Deadpool. We will get to the latter in the second, but first let’s talk some Liefeld. Right from the jump, you know this is a Liefeld joint, but probably not the kind you are anticipating. While he is once again drawing such ‘90s mutant luminaries as Shatterstar and Cable, his art throughout this OGN is tightly focused, opting to pare down his usual bombast for something much more cinematic and character-focused. This is evident and impressive throughout but shines especially in one of the story’s final set pieces where Wade and Thumper are fighting as they teleport from location to location in big, bold double-page splashes that envelop the reader in action.

Backed by focused, sketchy inks from Liefeld and Shelby Robertson, Adelso Corona, and Marat Mychaels, as well as colors from the bold brush of Romulo Fajardo, Jr. this is Liefeld at his most theatrical. Liefeld seemed to be aiming for a balanced mixture of the gaudy but enthralling visual tone of the ‘90s and the more “filmic” style of modern comic books, and thanks to his restraint in blocking and set design team's great production efforts, Bad Blood makes a great effort toward that goal, standing as an shiny tribute to comicdom's recent past.

The scenes themselves are dressed a bit sparsely for my taste, with little to no scene props or defined backdrops, but that spartan stage allows Liefeld and team’s characters and Fajardo’s colors to really stand out; the latter’s contributions having given heavily to the OGN’s simultaneously modern and throwback tone thanks to boldly and heavily shaded reds, calling to mind Wade’s new on-screen costume, and muted, but eye-catching splashes of color in classic X-Force’s costumes.

Though a focused and activated Rob Liefeld is one of the great treats of Bad Blood, Chad Bowers and Chris Sims’ script provides a few more just for good measure. Working from a story from the Merc’s co-creator, the pair take his lead and also provide a nicely balanced characterization that captures the spirit of the character while making great use of his sordid history and quirks, shedding or simply side-stepping a lot of his more annoying qualities. Sims and Bowers cast Wade as a dry Chevy Chase-esque softie, capable and willing to dispense cartoonish levels of violence, but one that also is able to recognize friends and work to earn that friendship. Deadpool is rarely afforded this kind of character development or self-awareness, with him dismissing current continuity and handwaving away some of his heel turns provides the story one of its funniest moments, but Chris Sims and Chad Bowers take a chance on it, and Bad Blood pays off big time as a result.

You know why it’s hard to recommend a Deadpool book to someone? Mainly because you never can tell just what version of Deadpool they might like or what kind of story you are going to get. Thankfully Rob Liefeld and a crack team of professional Deadpool fans have solved that problem for you, and produced Deadpool: Bad Blood. Now no more will you have to agonize over a rack at your comic shop, sweating over what will be the perfect trade to give your friend. Just pick up Deadpool: Bad Blood and let the ammo pouches, dynamic artwork, and skewering wit do the rest.

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