Or – “It’s A High-School Issue!”
One of the best Marvel Comics of the 90’s was the issue of Deadpool wherein Wade went back in time and impersonated Peter Parker during the events of Spider-Man #47, with Blind Al subbing for Aunt May. Though I’m not a huge Deadpool aficionado, that story made me want to see what this one had to offer. Will they be able to capture more lightning in that same bottle? Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
Previously, in Avenging Spider-Man: Peter Parker has a long history of team-ups, with only Ben Grimm (the star of Marvel Two-In-One) coming anywhere near his record. Over the various runs of Marvel Team-Up, he has traveled the length and breadth of the Marvel Universe, and now that he is an Avenger, a member of the Fantastic Four AND starring in a weekly comic, Spider-Man is literally everywhere. Y’know who else shows up all the time? That Deadpool guy. What would happen if they were both in the same place? (My guess: Universal Implosion.)
“YOU KNOW THAT DREAM WHERE YOU’RE STANDING IN KIND OF SUN GOD ROBES WHILE THOUSANDS OF NAKED WOMEN SCREAM AND THROW LITTLE PICKLES AT YOU?”
The story opens with Peter Parker standing in just his tighty-whiteys in a room full of high-school age kids, all of whom are pointing and laughing. Actually, that’s not 100% true, as the credits/coming attraction page has ongoing commentary by the two voices in ‘Pool’s head (the white Helvetica text and the yellow box) arguing about why they would need to explain who Spider-Man is. When the story proper starts, it quickly becomes clear that something else is up, as Spidey seems to be dreaming, but Deadpool is clearly real. Deadpool keeps shooting innocents (as Forbush-Man and the little angry Wolverine creature from Kitty Pryde’s dream in that old X-Men issue, as well as others) run about the halls of his high-school memories. Deadpool blows up the school (!!), leading them into a new level of hallucination, one where Deadpool is dressed as a cheerleader. Thankfully, Spider-Man manages to dream himself some clothes about halfway through the issue, and the two heroes manage to fight their way through another level of dream together, battling the RPG Club (which I am totally taking as a Critical Hit shoutout.)
IS IT LIVE OR IS IT MEMOREX? (NEITHER. IT’S INCEPTION.)
From a story perspective, this issue is amusing, with little references here and there (such as a Breakfast Club parody, as well as Spider-Man looking like his nebbishy high school self) and Deadpool is just meta enough to be funny without overwhelming the story. There are even a couple of good moments for Spider-Man-as-young-Peter, including a good solid punch for one of the villains of the piece without any spider-powers (or at least the illusion of no spider-powers, anyway.) The issue ends with a big swerve, as Deadpool’s story falls apart and Spider-Man finds that he’s been played to break one of his rogue’s gallery out of jail… The bad-man in question is one of the toughest, one of the baddest, one of the most beautiful of the Rogue’s Gallery, a villain so dangerous that he has been used very sparingly since his 1978 debut: THE HYPNO-HUSTLER!!!
CAAAN YOOU DIG IT???
It has to be noted that this issue takes place before Deadpool #50, due to some issues involving Wade’s motivation and such, but the next issue promises to bring the Hypno-Hustler back into the public consciousness to tear the roof off the motha$&#*er as the truly unstoppable villain that he really is.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A FUN READ.
I was more than a little bit worried upon starting this issue, as Deadpool can be particularly hard to write well, and an over-reliance of his “leaning on the Fourth Wall” jokes can grate on me. I am presently surprised to say that this issue was a good read, albeit one that felt a bit cramped, featuring four chapters with four levels of dream, that could have been allowed more space to breathe. From an art perspective, I was a bit more conflicted, as Deadpool looked pretty awesome, while Spider-Man was too Ditko-scrawny for my taste. Worst of all, (and I know, this doesn’t bother everyone) artist Aaron Kuder follows Humberto Ramos’ lead, using the eye-pieces on both Spidey and Deadpool’s masks to squint and widen and give the characters cartoony faux-facial expressions. I really dislike when artists do that, as it’s kind of a “cheat,” to make it easier to draw characters with full face-masks, but it creates a big-foot goofy Don Martin feel for the art that really bugs me. Avenging Spider-Man #12 is a good issue, using the guest character well but suffering from some bothersome art troubles, earning a good solid 3 out of 5 stars overall. A little more room for story, and this would be an absolute must-read, but given that I had no real expectations, I’m pretty happy with the overall reading experience.