Here’s the good news about Deadpool Annual #1: it contains genuine, gut-bustlingly funny moments. Mostly. I’ll get to that in a second. There are so many moments of pure, gory mirth packed into this issue that I had to take several breaks to recover from my laughing fits. That’s always been the strength of Deadpool as a concept: namely the ability to juxtapose instances of disturbingly graphic violence with fourth wall-defying yuks. By taking readers into these exotic realms, Deadpool has been able to win the hearts of comics readers and casual fans alike in the relatively short time he’s been a player on the scene.
Split into two stories from different writing and artistic teams, Deadpool Annual #1 displays the hallmarks of what makes Deadpool such an indelible and enduring character. The first one is a new classic, the second perhaps not so much.
There’s certainly a gimmick to the first story, written by Gerry Duggan & Brian Posehn and drawn by Scott Koblish, but it’s an engrossing one! It’s by far the stronger of the two narratives provided in the issue and within the first few pages of this new annual, readers will sense they’re in for something special. Subtitled DEADPOOL AND HIS INSUFFERABLE PALS, the story is an obvious tribute/rip-off of Spiderman and his Amazing Friends from the ’80s. (Lil’ Deadpool himself pitches the story as the basis for a new TV series, and Koblish draws the story in the cheap animation style of the era). In short, Peter Parker inexplicably disappears and, needing a roommate Angelica Jones and Bobby Drake (Firestar and Iceman, respectively, who share an apartment with Peter) sublet their already limited space to our favorite Merc with a Mouth, Wade Wilson. In their search for Spider-Man, the trio encounters the machinations of the Sinister Six. But unlike the typically sterile confrontations between heroes and villains of the Reagan Era, Deadpool unleashes his, let’s say, singular brand of shoot-first-and-don’t-ask-questions-later philosophy to the proceedings.
It goes just about as well as you can suspect.
What commences is about one of the funniest things I’ve read in a long while. All the hallmarks of what makes Deadpool just a bonafide cultural phenomenon are present. There are in-jokes, references to pop culture, a healthy smattering of excessive violence, and (dare I say it?), a bit of a mysterious air about the whole thing. Duggan and Posehn provide top-notch comedy writing in this section, with plenty of references to the recent movie (and the inevitable sequel) and lame puns galore. I feel that long-time fans and new readers will be engrossed (and hopefully, grossed-out) by the first three-quarters of this annual edition.
The second story contained in the Annual #1, titled Nü Flesh is… well, let’s just say I had no idea what the hell was happening. There was something about genetically-modified biodrones, a “teen Asian goth chick,” and shadowy military R&D groups creating WMD. I’m not quite sure. Even the meta-commentary that proceeds the comic acknowledges Adam Warren’s story is a “confusing” one; Warren also drew this part of the comic. Maybe there was just something I wasn’t getting with this story. I felt it was a complete slog and the opposite of what a Deadpool yarn should be, nu? It seemed like an odd addendum and one that I couldn’t fully wrap my head around. Maybe someone would be kind enough to explain it to me?
In either case, Deadpool Annual #1 does a solid job of building on what has been an outstanding year for Deadpool and condenses into a steadfast, humorous comic that focuses on the fundamentals of what makes Wade Wilson a great comic book character. There are some stumbles along the way, but even an imperfect Deadpool comic provides enough laffs to make it a worthwhile investment. Best enjoyed with a chimichanga.