For those familiar with my blog will know my review process focuses heavily on the character and the style of exposition. I try to imagine what the creators are aiming for and their motivation for the plot facets. As I write this review, I feel as if I have cheated, as if I have peeked through the looking glass and taken my pick of the delights. This is because I met Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire and gained an insight into their Deadpool and what they were trying to achieve. It is fascinating for me because I was able to receive the answers to the questions I often pose. It is for this reason that I post this review in a bid to encourage you all to read this book.
Deadpool is an extremely popular character and seems to be everywhere but it is a captivation I have never shared until the Marvel Now launch. Posehn and Duggan are no strangers to television and comedy writing, and presented a hilarious first arc. There were some naysayers, mainly ‘pool loyalists who thought his character not serious or evil enough. But I have yet to find a modern telling which reflects back to the classic Joe Kelly run, and may never will. Whatever your feelings are towards Wade, it is certain that his popularity is greater than ever which can only be a good thing even if his character has become superficial. Since its relaunch, Duggan and Posehn have brought depth back to his personality in a very tactful way. The dead presidents arc was a constant stream of hilarity but as we moved to the demonic possession arc, we met a more vicious man with agent Preston for a conscience. The current arc has taken him further and has not only made him more serious but attain credibility amongst a supporting cast of Wolverine and Captain America. What is superb about this arc is that both super soldiers are teaming up with Deadpool for a solid reason, not just to boost sales of the book. It is an extremely well written piece of narrative and deserves full credit for their portrayal of Wade Wilson.
The story develops on the premise of an evil man, called Butler, who has been kidnapping Deadpool on a regular basis. He has been abusing his healing power to harvest his organs to breed pseudo-mutants for the North Korean army. Cap and Logan join the ride as ‘pool tears up the prison camp looking for two particular inmates: his daughter and baby-mamma. As you can imagine bringing a family factor into a Deadpool equation is a tall order, especially when he is so typically comedic and aloof. The tone of the book radically changes because the prison they break into, not only contains the husks of well-known X-Men, but also their original families. The break out goes an opportunity for subtle homages of well know characters and allows gestures of heroism and martyrdom. The comedian that is Wilson is still delivering smart quips but at a lesser speed and inappropriateness. In fact Deadpool is very much the hero in the book as he plays the morality card to Wolverine on a number of occasions, whilst gaining the respect of Rogers who is very much the supporting character. Both associates are perfectly juxtaposed representatives of Deadpool because Cap is the man ‘pool would love to be but Logan is the man who he knows he is progressing towards. Where the true brilliance of the book lies, in the believability of this character transformation. It has been slowly developing and the insertion of Agent Preston into Wade’s psyche is a perfectly played stratagem. Deadpool is now hurtling towards an end game that will change him permanently. I thoroughly realise the naivety of that comment in the current age of comics, but I have faith in the creators and the man paving that story, Declan Shalvey.
This final issue allows Declan a full run at a variety of situations. The penultimate issue saw an unmasked hideous Wade ruminating amongst a pile of rotting corpses. It is pretty hideous and macabre but then again, it is supposed to be. What is impressive is depicting the breakdown of a character very rarely affected by anything, and that is where the artist succeeds. The times of heroic action and heavy violence are also well stressed as you can see gritted painful expressions, and Shalvey is not afraid of showing the results of heavy impact. His pencilling style is quite defined and detailed at the same time. This avoids the murky feeling that sometimes afflicts intricate artists. A large amount of credit is also due to Jordie Bellaire as her colouring skills are essential on this issue to help distinguish the flashback sequences. She plays them as a contrasting pale red and blue, where Wade is always in red in a blue environment. What really highlights the horror of his story is the denser red colours of violent acts and blood. It’s ethereal on the one hand but then horrific on the other, emphasizing the resounding notes of his memories. The prison setting is suitably coloured dark green and brown, with our heroes lighting up the scene, but Jordie really gets the chance to shine in the bright lights of Tokyo City.
Interestingly Declan had relished the idea of drawing popular heroes and enjoyed taking Deadpool in an austere direction. His timing on this book is perfect as he has arrived for the evolution of ‘pools character, that allowed him to draw him as he wanted. His collaboration with Jordie is perfectly attuned as she helps him distinguish between characters, environments and flashbacks. It is a gorgeous looking book, even though the subject material may be quite gruesome. The whole comic has a set of creators completely harmonised in tone, plot and characterisation and everyone plays their role impeccably. This new approach to Deadpool would falter dramatically if that was not the case, and we are left with a refreshing and rejuvenated Wade Wilson, even if his organs aren’t.
“Death before experimentation”