Deadpool enters the Marvel Now orbit with— no, wait, I’ve already written that. Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn and Tony Moore are the creative team relaunching Marvel’s Mischievous Mercenary, with a book which manages to pull off a series of funny jokes. Interestingly enough though… most of them don’t involve Deadpool himself.
That’s not a knock on the book, particularly. The first issue is surprisingly strong, and certainly one of the better issues of Deadpool in a solid while. The storytelling is the key here, with Duggan’s plotting (my assumption, apologies if wrong, is that Duggan does most of the structural and dialogue work here, buoyed with ideas and creative suggestion from Posehn) making sure that the premise of the book doesn’t grow stale. And that premise is promisingly crazy: somebody has brought all the dead Presidents of the United States back to life. And now they’re all mad zombies.
Once that reveal is made, the story snaps away quickly, aware that simply showcasing a succession of zombified presidents will tire the joke out far too soon. At this point, it’s clear that this is far less of a random grab-bag and a more structured, thought out storyline. And the storyline is definitely funny, with several great lines, many of them from the varying presidents. However, the dialogue isn’t the only source of humour. The actual pacing and scene shifts in the issue are funny in and of themselves, transitioning neatly between sequences with tongue in cheek each time. And then there’s Tony Moore.
Moore’s artwork is great here, resisting the urge to make things as cartoony as they could be. His use of timing in the panels is very well done, and he adds to the jokes of the script, rather than takes away from them. He also seems to be taking particular delight in making the book incredibly gory and vulgar, taking all the violence and gleefully making it as over-the-top as possible. The entrance of Deadpool is a particular ‘highlight’ in this regard. It’s crazy, and so clearly done to cause a reaction that it’s a genuine joy to see what depths Moore will take us to next. Not for kids, this. Or perhaps — especially for kids? And of course, the mighty Val Staples takes all this in his stride, with some great flickers and touches of colour as he gives the book a distinctive tone and feel.
This does bring us to the Deadpool problem here. With a more concrete central story and structured take to the world of Deadpool, the eponymous merc-for-hire actually feels a little out of place in his own book. His quips and referneces – half of which, granted, I’ve never gotten because I’m a little Englander – fall flat when compared to the funnier one-liners thrown out by his supporting cast. And this isn’t just the villainous presidents themselves, but also the characters who find themselves fighting back against the zombie Prezzes. Deadpool says something random but not necessarily funny… and is then out-quipped by the woman stood to his right.
That problem aside, Deadpool #1 is a fun opening issue for a series which feels like it suddenly has a whole new burst of confidence. It’s an entertaining start, which establishes a mission statement quickly… and then throws a pile of blood, quips, and zombies at it. If the creative team can keep momentum going at this pace, we should be in for a very entertaining series, actually.