Writer: Victor Gishler
Pencils: Bong Dazo
Cover: Arthur Suydam
Today we ask an important question: Is it actually possible to have too much Deadpool?
Deadpool, aka Wade Wilson, was originally an X-Force villain, introduced during Rob Liefeld and Fabien Nicieza’s run on the title. A high-tech gun for hire with fast moves and a smart mouth, Deadpool has an artificial version of Wolverine’s healing factor that means he can survive more or less anything. Sadly the healing factor also leaves him brutally scarred and is a contributing factor to his questionable sanity. Due largely to his caustic nature, Deadpool struck a chord with fans and over the years has shuffled sideways from villain to confused anti-hero. He is often used by writers to satirise other superhero titles and frequently breaks through the third wall.
Whilst more or less a persistent presence in the Marvel Universe since his introduction, there has been a recent surge in Deadpool’s popularity, possibly owing to a rather excellent extended cameo in Wolverine: Origins. Or possibly just because he hangs out with a Hydra agent named Bob.
Deadpool currently has three titles: his eponymously titled ongoing, the 6 issue Suicide Kings series (co-starring Spidey, Daredevil and the Punisher, who ruins the colour co-ordination), and now this second ongoing. He has also recently appeared in Thunderbolts and X-Force, and his Marvel Zombies incarnation has played a small and then a big part in the Marvel Zombies 3 and 4 series. Or a big and then a small part, if you consider he was full bodied at the start of Marvel Zombies 3 and a decapitated head in Marvel Zombies 4.
It’s this last cameo that serves as the inspiration for the opening arc of Merc with a Mouth. In the first issue Deadpool was given a rather vague assignment by terror-geeks AIM to go and retrieve a devastating bio-weapon from the Savage Land. After the obligatory Ka-Zar meet and greet Deadpool bumps into his AIM contact, the comely Dr Betty and, through the cunning medium of being captured by a bunch of cavemen, discovers that the prize he is racing for is none other than his own zombified head.
So, by the start of this issue we have Deadpool, plus an equally chatty zombie Deadpool head. From this point on the book should essentially write itself don’t you think?
Sadly this doesn’t prove to be the case. Over the course of the issue Deadpool manages to thwart his head’s cave dwelling hench folk, collect his prize, fight off a couple of Dinosaurs, flirt appallingly with Dr Teenage Fantasy, and then get captured by Hydra.
As plot beats go these all feel pretty standard, but given we have two Deadpools in the mix this should really all just serve as fodder for our deranged protagonists to crack wise about. Sadly the opportunity to overcome the rather standard plot with the wit of the lead is lost… because it’s just not very funny.
Deadpool is usually handled by writers with a real flair for wit. In ‘pool’s other ongoing, Daniel Way has made me laugh out loud pretty much every month (a pleasant surprise from the same writer of the usually dry Wolverine: Origins) and Fred Van Lette brought a zing to the zombie incarnation in the two series mentioned above. By contrast, Merc with a Mouth feels like Deadpool by numbers – he is flippant and sarcastic as you would expect, but none of the material is very original or inspired. By way of example, Zedpool asks his parallel “I Don’t suppose you could spare some brains. Heh-Heh. No I don’t suppose you can,” a line so predictable the punch line can be seen coming over the horizon. So we have a Deadpool book that isn’t particularly funny, which doesn’t bode well.
The other challenge with this issue also has its roots in Marvel Zombies. Within that collection of mini-series the zombie virus has been established as an insatiable force that spreads like wildfire and compels all who are possessed of it to eat any living thing in sight. Yet in this series we seem to have zombie cavemen who are more intent on tying people up and a zombie head that has numerous opportunities to take a chomp but doesn’t bother. The most ridiculous, out of a bunch of scenes that strain credibility, is when Deadpool actually waggles his finger in Zedpool’s mouth. Of course I am aware this is a Deadpool series, so everything should be taken with a pinch of salt, but the effects of the zombie virus and the level of threat they present has been so well established that I spent most of the issue wondering why the Savage Land wasn’t already amok with the undead. Perhaps if there was some exposition to explain this, or if the humour was strong enough that it justified ignoring what had gone before, but sadly this is not true in either case.
In fairness the writing does evidence some imagination in the action scenes. Deadpool uses his severed arm to great effect and housebreaks a velociraptor in a rather permanent fashion. It’s also in these scenes that the rather marvelously named Bong Dazo seems to raise his game on the pencils. The action scenes are vibrant and clear. Sadly, when there is no a-shooting or a-stabbing the art seems to take a drop in quality. Hopefully over time Dazo will address this consistency issue as in certain scenes he does a fine job, but for now it’s a case of not bad but not great.
Couple this with the writing and you have got a book that I can’t really recommend. So the answer then, certainly from Marvel’s perspective, would seem to be that you can indeed have too much Deadpool. By virtue of his presence elsewhere what we essentially have here is a book that you are at liberty to ignore. Even if you are a Deadpool fan, you can get a superior fix elsewhere.
Arthur Suydam’s cover is rather fantastic though, so I would endorse wandering to the comic shop just to stare at it for a little while. It’s not like you are doing anything constructive right now, is it?