REVIEW: Deadpool Killustrated #1

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Do you like wacky, over-the-top fun comics? Do you like smart comics that discuss meta-fictional theory to get at the underlying nature of humanity through the nature of storytelling? Me, too–Do you know where I can find any of those? This week I review Deadpool Killustrated, an excuse to show the Merc-with-a-mouth stab beloved characters from classic fiction. Is there more to it than that? Find out after the jump.

Deadpool_Killustrated_Vol_1_1Deadpool Killustrated #1
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artists: Matteo Lolli
Colors: Veronica Gandini
Inks: Sean Parsons
Letters: VC’s Joe Sabino
Editor: Jordan D. White
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Deadpool Killustrated:

In the previous miniseries Deadpool Vs the Marvel Universe, Deadpool (not the 616, main universe version) was driven crazy crazier crazy in a new way: his ability to break the fourth wall changed into an horrifying recognition that he and everything that he knew were products of fiction. In the resulting existential crisis, a much grimmer ‘Pool kills everyone, everyone on Earth, to free them from their empty existences. Having finished off his Earth, he moves on to destroy parallel Earths across the Multiverse.

“BUTCHERING STORIES”!

Now I’m a fan of Deadpool. I love his wit, humor, the running jokes, pool-o-vision, the schizophrenic inner bickering and his deep-down core of decency. This version of Deadpool has none of these. There are the occasional pop-culture references, but that’s it. Our title character is just a psychopath who wants to destroy everything because everything is pointless. That could work for a super-villain, but even an anti-hero needs more complexity than that.
Of course, there’s another constant to the character: hyper-violence. The first problem with that is that over-exposure can make the reader numb to the impact of shocking action. The second problem is that there is a delicate balance that must be maintained when writing for a character with a healing factor. There must always be some sense of danger, that the protagonist could fail. When ‘Pool (or frequently, Wolverine) is shown shrugging off one lethal wound after another, the story grows bland no matter how many beheadings we see (see also Cena, John).
Now I can’t overlook the detail that sucked me into this issue: the gimmick of crossing Deadpool with Classics Illustrated. For those of you younger than my socks (I’m looking in your direction, Zack), Classics Illustrated was a series of condensed, comic book versions of classic literature that allowed kids to claim that comics were educational. In this incarnation, Deadpool travels to classic fictional worlds to destroy them and thereby get closer to the writers (i.e. us). It’s not a bad premise but the execution is lacking. Sure, Deadpool kills Don Quixote, the crew of the Pequod and Pinocchio, but he just stabs them all. No ironic twists. No literary allusions (OK, maybe the one with the Vision). When ‘Pool drops into the fictional setting, he doesn’t subvert the time-honored storyline to comment upon it and it’s place within the greater cannon. He just stabs someone. Just showing elements from books doesn’t make you Unwritten. The plot elements need to be connected in a way that makes sense. Admittedly, that’s a tall order, but that’s why you don’t see it attempted very often.

FEET ARE OVERRATED

The art was pretty good, and the cover is fabulous. In a vacuum, the cover would make a great poster. Inside, the art is Liefeld-ian but with (usually) much better backgrounds. That sounds worse than I mean it. Lolli reminds me of the Rob but avoids the worst of his excesses. It kind of fits with the subject given that Deadpool is a creation of Liefeld and ‘Pool-as-anti-hero is deeply rooted in the style of the 1990’s.

THE BOTTOM LINE: I’d rather read Moby Dick

And I don’t particularly want to read Moby Dick. I served my time; I got my English degree.

I give Deadpool Killustrated #1 one and a half stars—an improvement on the previous series (feint praise indeed) but fails to provide satisfying amounts of either Deadpool or literature. The final page reveal hints at a hook that could be worth following-a new protagonist that we can root for against Deadpool. Promising, but for me too little, too late.

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Rating: ★½☆☆☆

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