Deadpool, Vol. 1: Dead Presidents by Brian Bosehn, Gerry Duggan and Tony Moore – Comic Review [Bellarius]

Deadpool_Dead_Presidents

Taking a look a a very different part of Marvel comics, Bellarius looks into the explots of the merc with the mouth in Deadpool, Vol 1: Dead Presidents. Written by Brian Bosehn and Gerry Duggan and illustrated by Tony Moore.

“You’ve got a psychotic fourth wall breaking wisecracking costumed man fighting undead Abraham Lincoln in a wresting ring. Does anymore really need to be said!?” – Bellarius, The Founding Fields

The odd thing with comics these days is the criticism that too many superhero tales can end up being too samey. You can see where people are coming from with certain examples, AvX, Age of Ultron and the like, but they never seem to take into account tales like this. After all, name one other medium where you’d get evil zombie Washington determined to completely start over with only a masked madman in his path.

Determined to help a United States he sees as having gone horribly wrong, a misguided necromancer opts to resurrect those who led it in the past. Despite managing to succeed in this effort, his spell is soon proven to have the horribly side effect of having brought back their beloved (and some hated) leaders as evil megalomaniacs. Despite Captain America quickly intercepting the first of them, it’s soon realised that having any respectable superhero fighting presidents will be a PR nightmare for SHIELD. Naturally, they soon turn to the one metahuman without respect who can be merrily bought off with plenty of money. Violence, magic, blood and guts quickly ensue as Deadpool storms off to carry out his hit list.

Dead Presidents is perhaps the best example from Marvel in recent years to display how Silver Age zaniness still has a place in the “mature” era of older comics. Embracing the insanity of the idea, Bosehn and Duggen blend it with gory hilarity as Deadpool desperately attempts to bring down the presidents one at a time. Through a mixture of unconventional means, skill and dumb luck he slowly manages to bump them off, but not without SHIELD suffering from the fallout of his actions and more than a few twists. With an idea as insane as this you have no end of possibilities to work with ranging from playing upon the mannerisms and quirks of certain historical figures, to the outright insane situations the modern incarnation of Deadpool is best known for.

Starting right out of the gate, the story establishes the situation and problems within a scant few pages. The pacing doesn’t stop here either as the plot is raced through at high speed between brawls, humour and battles. At almost every moment some new revelation or situation is thrown in, adding to the breakneck speed to the tale and leaving plenty of room for the gags. This is definitely a good point as it never feels as if one is overwhelming the other. While Deadpool might be a character best known for his humour, the comic maintains a coherent story and development throughout. The brief humourous side bits are just that, rather than devolving into Family Guy-esque random scenes. Something which, under the wrong writer, this could have easily become given what is available here. It also helps that the jokes themselves have a surprising variety, with the chances being if you don’t laugh at one then you’re bound to laugh at the one following on the next page.

The unfortunate thing is that while the fight scenes are good, it’s largely down to the artistic talents of Moore and the gags involved. It’s not that the fighting is bad, but the action itself is visibly secondary to the gags and if you were to remove that there’s really not much to them. Most are brief or visibly one sided, and beyond one or two exceptions there are no really outstanding moments which come to mind. In fact a lot of the violence within fights are often only memorable thanks to the gratuitous gore present within them.

This is likely going to be a sticking point within many people as it is almost as frequent as the gags themselves, and can understandably put off people. Sure, it’s about a psychopath armed with katanas in an adult comic, you know someone’s going to get sliced, but by the time you get to the scene with the elephant it feels as if you should be playing a drinking game. Did Deadpool get disemboweled again? Take a shot! This wouldn’t be so bad were it not so highly detailed, and while it’s helpful to have a constant reminder that Deadpool is not supposed to be a likable figure, it can be off-putting very early on.

Beyond the gore and frequent impalement, there is likely to be one sticking point with readers. Many know Deadpool as a figure who sees the fourth wall in a world where others are unaware they are within a comic and his insane humour. However, this tends to only work best when there is a constant straight man available for him to play off of and this time there simply isn’t one. Many figures who might serve as this are either largely in the background or have a more humourous spin put on them to try and make them more in line with the tale. Depending upon how you like the character, he may not hold up as well here as he did on the pages of X-Force.

It’d be dead wrong to say this comic was bad, but just don’t be sure you’re going to like it. Find a preview, look through a few pages and get it if you like what you see. You’ll have a fun ride from beginning to end, and likely even enjoy the cliffhanger ending. Seriously, it’s one of the few at the end of a trade which actually makes you want to read just to see what happens next. If you’re after something similarly jokey and fun on a lighter note, track down Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Grey’s run on Power Girl.

Verdict: 7.0/10

Bellarius

Long time reader of novels, occasional writer of science fiction and critic of many things; Bellarius has seen some of the best and worst the genre has to offer.
Find more of his reviews and occasional rants here:
http://thegoodthebadtheinsulting.blogspot.co.uk/