Friday, October 16, 2009

Deadpool #900 Review

Deadpool has been in just about everyone's mind recently, making appearances in all kind of books, plus his two ongoing series and a recent mini-series. Deadpool #900 is the next step in that evolution for the character, as it launches a third ongoing series while at the same time kindheartedly mocking the recent renumbering some Marvel series have gone through. What initially sounded like a joke, has an all-star line up of many of Marvel's up-and-coming writers plus some old warhorses that have been in the industry for a long time. Because the issue is made up of short stories, I will be breaking down the review for each part of the book. Hit the jump for the whole image-filled review.

Close Encounters
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Chris Stagg

This one was one of the stories I was most looking forward to, as I am a huge follower of the church of Jason Aaron. Deadpool has just finished another job and is on the way for a "clean-up", when he is abducted by aliens and hilarity and/or death ensues. The bad part is that there's not much to the story, and all the beats you hear in every other alien/comedy mash-up are there: cows, anal probing, and crop circles. Aaron turns up the dark comedy aspects to 11, and Deadpool gets anally probed, chews his arm off to escape, and beats the crap out of some aliens with his own arm as a bludgeoning weapon (I'm pretty sure I have seen this before, but can't remember where). A serviceable story, but not very memorable. I particularly liked that the artist portrayed Deadpool as truly scarred, not just with a skin condition as some other ones do.

Silent But Deadly
Written by Fred Van Lente
Art by Dalabor Talajic

With that kind of title, you would think that this is all about fart jokes, but in truth is the best story in this whole anthology. Remember those great "'Nuff Said" issues that Marvel released some years ago? This is basically the same thing, an almost complete silent issue where Deadpool battles some mimes that have the power to turn their thoughts into reality. For example, if a mime acts like he has a sword, then he can actually stab people with that imaginary sword. It's a short story, but it's perfect. It's off-beat, but at the same time, Deadpool's character is subdued enough that the jokes don't get in the way of the action, making for a visually entertaining (if somewhat short) story. Thankfully, Fred Van Lente does not overplay the double personality either, a character trait that has been added to Deadpool very recently, that I don't particularly like very much.

Shrunken Master
Written by Mike Benson
Art by Damion Scott

This one is very weird, but ambitious story. It's about Deadpool going to a psychologist where he talks about his problems (the double personality, and the illusions). I thought it was just going to be a parody of a recent story in Amazing Spider-Man, or the old X-Factor issues with Doc Samson, but the story turns around and Deadpool is actually there to kill the psychologist because he abused of one of his former patients. I did like this story, because it shows that even though Deadpool is a mercenary, he still has a soft spot, which goes along with the interpretation of the character in Cable and Deadpool (one of my favorite series). The art was interesting, as it played with different perspectives and layouts, but it looked a little too cartoony and at times abstract for this story. The surrealism is fine for a study of the psyche, but Deadpool's body looks to be made out of Jell-o or some equally wobbly material.

Pinky Swear
Written by Joe Kelly
Art by Rob Liefeld

A lot of people were excited for this story, as it paired one of the creators of Deadpool and the man that spearheaded Deadpool's first ongoing series, and is a big part of the success and current popularity of the character. That being said, this is the weakest story of the whole book, bad in just about every level. Deadpool is apparently fighting some random foes along an unnamed woman, when he travels (off panel) to meet up with a former classmate. He had made a bet with this guy, and the time frame for the bet (20 years) has just finished, so he's there to cash the reward (or so he thinks). The humour was a pretty big miss for me as it came off very forced, although it did have one funny "pouches" joke, and the story not very interesting. Liefeld continues to be Liefeld and there are many problems with the art, such as everybody grimacing/shouting, and very uneven eyes.

What Happens in Vegas
Written by Duane Swierczysnki
Art by Shawn Crystal

More than a Deadpool story of it's own, this is a short parody and mocking of CSI-type of show, where a group of cool detectives investigate a murder. In this case, Deadpool just happens to be the corpse of the story and he narrates everything that's happening around him as the investigation is under way. I have seen CSI all of two-times (as we all know that Law and Order is the superior franchise, right?) but I was able to get most of the jokes in this thing. In the end, it turns out that Deadpool set up the murder scene as a way to avenge someone else. Not a very good Deadpool story, but pretty funny nonetheless. Oh, and the chicken joke got a chuckle out of me.

Great Balls of Thunder on the Deep Blue Sea
Written by Victor Gischler
Art by Sanford Greene

In this story, Deadpool goes on vacation on a cruise and annoys every one of the other passengers. There's one passenger that decides to fight back though, none other than Doctor Octopus himself! Deadpool and Doc Ock find themselves in an epic ping pong match unlike any other. Deadpool wins (it's his book after all), but the good Doctor does not take kindly to it and a fight erupts, destroying the boat and ruining everyone's vacation in the process. It's a pretty short story and passable, nothing to write home to complain about, although I did like the art on this quite a lot.

One Down
Written by Charlie Huston
Art by Kyle Baker

This is a pretty ambitious story, but lingers too much, and ends up being not very effective at all. It's a retrospect of sorts of Deadpool's life, as he talks to one of his voices, which turns out to be the author writing this comic. There's plenty of 4th wall breaking going on here, but no subtlety at all in using it. Deadpool wants to rest, but he realizes that he is not going to get any down time until the readers stop demanding stories about him, so he sets out to kill all his readers one by one. The art is an incredibly clashing mix of overly rendered computer images (usually the background) and simplistically raw pencil lines. After reading the story, you understand that this was done on purpose to go along with 4th wall breaking theme of the story, but it is incredibly confusing as you read the first time. Like I said, it was an ambitious story, but it didn't resonate because of the poor choice of art and because the story lingered on too long in providing some of the highlights of Deadpool's life.

Back of the Book

After all the original pages, there's also a reprint of the Deadpool Team-Up one-shot that was released years ago, which goes along with the fact that the series is going to be called Deadpool Team-Up after this issue. I tried to read this story, but once I saw The Disco Beyonder from Secret Wars 2 was involved, I just skipped it (I'll come back to it another day, I'm sure). I think they could have done better with the back-up, if they had put Deadpool #11 (the issue where he impersonates Spider-Man in the 60's), they could have probably caught more readers to stay with this series. There's also a cover gallery, another staple of anniversary issues that Marvel has been releasing, of all "900" Deadpool covers.

Verdict - Check It. Some good, some bad stories within this book. If you are a Deadpool fan, this is a must read as there are plenty of gags and jokes to keep you busy. For everyone else, I don't think this is the best version of Deadpool to present, so I can see why people might not like it or understand the cult following this character has developed. The price is a bit steep, at 4.99, but it has almost 70 pages of new material and a reprint, so it's not a bad deal by any means. The best story is by Fred Van Lente, who is also writing the next issue in the series (issue #899), so I am looking forward to what Deadpool Team-Up has to offer.

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Clarke said...

And it was dedicated to Bea Arthur, Deadpool's one true love. That alone was worth the price of admission for me.

Klep said...

Law and Order is definitely the superior franchise.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

I gotta say, I'm not a big Deadpool fan, don't think I ever actually bought a Deadpool title, but I picked this up because $5 for 104 pages, and the writers involved, had to know, and I have walked away very satisfied.

The Van Lente silent story was very cool, and I loved that it was a cool short punch. The Swierczynski story was great, hit a lot of good little gags and kept me in, as did the Aaron story, though it wasn't great it was certainly enjoyable. Gischler's cruise story was also very funny and enjoyable for what it was.

I thought Benson's story was a little crazy, but it kept me in, and Kyle Baker's art was all that stopped me liking Huston's work more. I love that they tapped so many of the 'crime' writers of Marvel to pen these short stories. I also loved the fact that they were short and I could enjoy them and still have more to go on with.

The Joe Kelly/Rob Liefeld story had a funny premise, the pinky swear was good, but the execution seemed a little lazy. Then there's the team up reprint that just wouldn't end. I didn't really like the art and there were no jokes, just slabs of exposition, that's not the Deadpool we paid addmission for.

Overall, I enjoyed this hugely and have no regrets for buying it. I got plenty of cool little stories that I liked, and sadly only really one massive floater to avoid, and there were plenty of laughs. When I get a Deadpool comic I'm not looking fro Criminal or Daredevil, I'm looking for a cheap thrill, and I got it. Got it in spades because it took so long to read.

I'd tell a Marvel fan to surely check it out, though I won't be on for anymore issues. Have to budget somehow. Thanks for the review Matt!

Matt Ampersand said...

Ryan, I did notice that a good portion of the writers involved in this series are the "crime" writers that Marvel has. The only exceptions being Joe Kelly and Fred Van Lente (although he wrote one of the Noir mini series if I am not mistaken). I think all the writers involved are going to continue writing for this book (in rotation), seeing as how FVL is going to write issue #899, and Mike Benson is going to do #898. They haven't announced the rest though, but that's my theory.

Anonymous said...

Dunno if it's the same use of an arm as a weapon that you were referencing, but it happened in 'Stone Island'. Which was in 2000AD a few years back...

smkedtky said...

@Matt: Great review. I agree that Van Lente's SILENT BUT DEADLY stole the show and PINKY SWEAR fell way short of my expectations and was a major disappointment from Kelly.

My biggest problem is with GREAT BALLS OF FIRE... It wasn't bad. It wasn't really good either. It was just another story that left me wondering why Victor Gischler was given DEADPOOL: MERC WITH A MOUTH. Do you know why? So far, his writing has been average, at best and I see little reason why Marvel gave him any book much less a new ongoing.

Don't bother reading the reprint. It has a timeless quality to it in that after all this time it still reads as bad. The quality of the story PLUS the length of the story took away from DEADPOOL #900 because, without it, the book could have carried a lighter price tag.

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